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Reforestation - Growing trees in arid, barren lands - by Seeds and Clay cubes (no watering)

 
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i heard that plantings seedlings with autumn olive trees would hasten their fruit production. the tree needs to be planted around 3 foot from the seedling tree.


something else interesting i heard about a lot in india. a person i know and trust put a large nail at the 4 foot height in a male papaya tree. the next year it bore fruit. when i told that story many people validated this would work with papayas.
 
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Very interesting Carlotte, both the seedlings and nails.

What trees and plants see or understand is a huge subject, that is beyond me.

I visited your site !!! you do great work - thank you


Kostas
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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UPDATE
Planting Plans for this Month

For this year I have plenty of seeds

* about 80 kg of almonds - will not use all of them
* about 30 kg of apricot seeds - in the previous year's only had apricot seeds we saved from our kitchen and our own trees - 1 to 2 kg at the most
* about 3 kg of Mirabolano Plum - 7500 seeds +/-
* about 250 grams of apple seeds (Malus Antonowka) - approximately 10,000 seeds

I will also collect as many wild pear seeds as I need, and cactus pads. Again I am reluctant to plant the laburnum near populated areas.

In the previous year's the planting was dominated by almonds since it was easy to purchase them locally.

I will use the apple plum and apricot seeds to fill in the areas previously planted.

We started planting last week - 6 friends with their small children, joined us to plant a small area about 1000 square meters - we spend 2 very pleasant hours, and we hope we will see good results starting this spring.

The goal again for this year is 20,000 seeds in the ground.

Kostas
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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UPDATE -LAST YEAR'S PLANTING

In December (2014), I planted, 1/2 hour south of Thessaloniki, in four different places on my farm, a variety of seeds to see whether they will sprout and then to see if they survive the long hot summers - I am hoping to have an addition or two to almonds, apricots, apples, wild pears, and laburnum.

I planted prune stones, goji berries, quince seeds, pear seeds and others (I lost my notes) - while last year was a great, pleasant surprise (apples etc) - this year was the opposite - almost nothing sprouted - some prunes sprouted and then died - we have 1 quince tree that is alive - no goji berries.

We are thankful for what we have - the almonds, apricots, apples, wild pears, and laburnum are more than enough to create the desired ground cover and improve the soil. There are so many factors involved that conclusions cannot be reached by one try.

I heard from our friend on the island of Amorgos -Nondas - he indicated that the almonds and apricots sprouted - none of the other seeds I send him sprouted - he did not say how many.

I also heard from our friend in Cyprus (Giannis) - he indicated that 2 almonds, one apricot and 1 more he cannot identify have sprouted - I do not know how many he planted - so we have no percentages.

It should be noted that none of the clay cubes sprouted - they were small, made without any straw or compost - they were made as an afterthought and the results fit the effort put into the work - the older large clay cubes I placed south of Thessaloniki also did not sprout - they were more than 2 years old - when I broke them up, I saw that the almond and apricot seeds had either dried out or rotted - on the positive side, despite the heavy and frequent rains, the large clay cubes did not fall apart - they straw reinforcement works.

When I visit the Sparta region next month - I will check and see how things are going there.

Kostas
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Seed Test Trench Video

I just uploaded a video showing how we test to see if a seed is viable and can be used for reforestation/ground cover in an area. A few people asked here it is.

A small trench is dug, seeds are placed in and covered - the area is marked so it can be checked in the spring and it should be noted what percentage of the seeds sprouted, and then at the end of the summer we check to see how many survived without watering. The depth of seed placement is important - it depends on the size of the seed - the soil cover above the seed should be 2 - 3 times the size of the seed - so deeper trenches for almond seeds - 3 cm (about an inch) and small cover for apple seeds - a centimeter should be the minimum cover .

The viability of a seed needs to be checked over a few years before it is rejected or accepted for use.
Prior to large scale planting, many seeds should be checked this way - the starting place should be what grows wild in the area - look at the sides of the road and see what is growing.

This is the most important phase in trying to repair an area. If you plant seeds that will not viable, you will waste a lot of time and effort.

Masanobu Fukuoka, San said that it's the responsibility of the farmer to learn what wants to grow in his land and grow it - not force the land to produce what he wants. It's not easy - but once you know, life is easy.

Similarly, learn what trees the land you want to cover/reforest likes to grow.

See YouTube video


Kostas
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Almond Seed Failure Video

Last year we placed many almond seeds in a new area near Thessaloniki - about 2000 square meters area - they sprouted well, grew to about 10 to 15 cm, and then they all died.

They have not told me why they died.

We will go back to this area and place many types of seeds (plus almonds) and see what happens.

See YouTube video


Kostas
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Almond and Apricot Trees in Pine Needles Video

Two videos are uploaded.

They show that almond and apricot seeds do well near pine trees, in soil covered with pine needles. These young trees are not only alive - they are thriving.
It appears that areas affected by the pine beetle can be converted to food forests if the pine trees do not naturally recover.

See YouTube videos



Kostas
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Update Video - Plants 1/2 hour S of Thessaloniki

This area is doing well - it still needs some work - this year we will place plum and apple seeds as well as more cactus pads - more apricot seeds will also be placed.

The end result will be a small miracle - in 10 -15 years - we will have a mini edible forest that constantly will improve the soil, and allow for easily planting other trees - forest trees or edibles - it's easy to plant in a covered area - cooler soil and more moisture.

And it's so easy - start with a small area 1st !!!

See YouTube video


Kostas

 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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And part of a song (Chapin) is appropriate - for all of us !

Oh if a man tried
To take his time on Earth
And prove before he died
What one man's life could be worth
I wonder what would happen
to this world

 
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Hi Konstantinos

I have had easy success with striking carob without scarifying.
The seeds were off the ground so perhaps they had had some time off the tree.

Are there animals that poop the seed who could distribute for you if you feed them?
Birds?

20000 is a lot of progress!

Janet
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Hello Janet,

That's interesting that you were able to sprout the carob seed - I tried everything from sandpaper to boiling water with no luck (this was 2 years ago).

I am told that once the seeds pass through the stomachs of goats, they are able to germinate - I was given a bucketful of carobs, but had no time so far to try it.

Its a great tree - many many uses - it would be nice if it could be used for reforestation purposes !!!

20,000 sounds like a lot - but its not - on level land a person can plant about 500 seeds in an hour - its a matter of getting going - the tough part is to figure what your land wants to grow naturally.

Kostas
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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UPDATE

Well into the seeding project (70% done), and have run into a new problem.

I suspect birds are digging up the seeds and taking the plum seeds - they do not take almonds or apricots.

I suspect birds (common magpie or pica pica) - I have not seen them so its not definite - they find about 10% of the planted seeds in that particular area.

Part of life I guess - its part of the process.

Has anyone faced a similar problem? any solutions?

Kostas
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Apricot seed not taken
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Hello everyone - Happy Holidays and all the best for the New Year !!!

This year's seeding project is done - hope for the best.

Last year we had constant rain - I had to change my shoes 2, 3 times a day - this year we had no rain in December at all - I am sure rain will show up and do its part.

I came across some almond trees and apricot trees that looks like were planted 3 to 4 years ago - they look great.

As time goes by, I feel more confident that we can cover the earth with a green cover, that will provide shade, oxygen and food for all of us.




Kostas
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Almond
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Apricot
 
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HI

I'm really excited by all of your updates. I didn't know about those until I had an email from permies today that said there was a reply to a message I had posted. But I see you've been posting for a while now. I can't wait to go back and read all of your posts.

I was rereading Sepp Holtzer's book on Deserts and he mentioned using pigs to help him scatter seeds and dig up the earth so the seeds not only had good contact with the soil but I'm sure the manure is helping as well as the work the areas.

Just curious have you used pigs? Do you have access to a few to try them?

I can describe a bit more of what Sepp says he does if you haven't read his work.

Sheri
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Hello Sheri,

No have not used pigs, or thought about using them - interesting concept though.

I thought about using goats and spreading/planting carob seeds - have not done anything with it though.

Any suggestions would be appreciated and considered.

We use manure or compost with clay cubes to give the young trees growth and strength to make it through the 1st summer.

Kostas
 
Sheri Menelli
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Kostas,

How much land do you have?

As I understand it, Sepp spreads some of the pigs favorite foods out and lets them use there snouts as mini ploughs. It roughs
up the ground so he can make contact with the soil as he throws the seed.

I don't know if the pigs eat seed that would come out and sprout but maybe that happens? I'm sure someone else knows far more than I do.

I'd love to have a summary of your project, how long ago did you start and where are you now?

I'm so excited to watch your progress. I'd love to have a nice big parcel of land that I could play with. I live in an area where I'm restricted because I live in tract housing with
lots of rules. I'm still having a bit of fun and learning but I'd love to have animals and a large pond

Sheri




Konstantinos Karoubas wrote:Hello Sheri,

No have not used pigs, or thought about using them - interesting concept though.

I thought about using goats and spreading/planting carob seeds - have not done anything with it though.

Any suggestions would be appreciated and considered.

We use manure or compost with clay cubes to give the young trees growth and strength to make it through the 1st summer.

Kostas

 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Hello Sheri,

I am planting neglected public lands at different locations - hopefully this effort will develop into public food forests - there are large areas in Greece that have been completed deforested and bare.

Bare land leads to rise in ground temperatures and reduced rain falls.

There is a need for billions of trees just in the Mediterranean region. The challenge is to do it with the minimum effort and cost.

Kostas
 
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Konstantinos Karoubas wrote:Hello everyone - Happy Holidays and all the best for the New Year !!!

This year's seeding project is done - hope for the best.

Last year we had constant rain - I had to change my shoes 2, 3 times a day - this year we had no rain in December at all - I am sure rain will show up and do its part.

I came across some almond trees and apricot trees that looks like were planted 3 to 4 years ago - they look great.

As time goes by, I feel more confident that we can cover the earth with a green cover, that will provide shade, oxygen and food for all of us.




Kostas



Καλά Χριστούγεννα!

 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Thanks JD - Happy Holidays

Kostas
 
Sheri Menelli
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That is AWESOME!

Have you inspired anyone else locally to help you yet?

How long have you been doing this project(s)?

Are you digging swales too?

Sheri

Konstantinos Karoubas wrote:Hello Sheri,

I am planting neglected public lands at different locations - hopefully this effort will develop into public food forests - there are large areas in Greece that have been completed deforested and bare.

Bare land leads to rise in ground temperatures and reduced rain falls.

There is a need for billions of trees just in the Mediterranean region. The challenge is to do it with the minimum effort and cost.

Kostas

 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Hello Sheri,

No swales Sheri - if the goal is to reforest millions of acres, digging swales is not an option. The goal I am working towards is mass seeding through the air with clay cubes (Masanobu Fukuoka, San) - until that time I direct seed or use limited amount of clay cubes.

I started around 2004 (I think) - the first few years were full of failure - most seeds will not survive without watering in the summer time - very few are strong enough to make through August. I would place seeds in the ground or with clay cubes, they would sprout in the spring, then they would just die in July and August. Pine trees, many of the acacia species, other conifers, all died - it was frustrating to say the least !!!

The almonds were the first we noticed that survived without care, followed by the apricots, wild pears, laburnum, cactus pear pads, and our favorite apples.

This year we are trying plums (thanks to Caleb Peretz) - these trees are used as ground cover - they are closely spaced, less than 3 feet away - when they grow, they will create new soil and cool climate in the area planted, which will allow the planting of just about anything - at least that's how I hope it will work out !!!

It's not my intention to inspire others, nor do see that as my goal - planting trees by seed or clay cubes is the most economical way to reforest, provided you have identified which trees, shrubs or perennial plants grow in your area.

Once this problem is clearly solved, then it will be up to community organizers/government organizations to plan mass reforestation efforts - it's another skill and another set of capabilities required - not my cup of tea.

Please tell us about what you doing - do you have any experience with this problem and how it's going - any ideas or help you can provide would be appreciated.

Kostas
 
Sheri Menelli
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i'm by no means an expert yet but the reason I mentioned the swales is that the problem seems to be the drought and the seed not surviving. My thought was that if you dug some shallow swales then planted the seeds that maybe they would gather enough water to survive.

I realize that would be tough when you are experimenting with what do do this on millions of acres but I was watching a video of Warren Brush and he brought back a spring and he also raised his water table signficantly in just a few months after doing the swale. Warren lives close to the Santa Barbara area where we have a drought as well.

Konstantinos Karoubas wrote:Hello Sheri,

No swales Sheri - if the goal is to reforest millions of acres, digging swales is not an option. The goal I am working towards is mass seeding through the air with clay cubes (Masanobu Fukuoka, San) - until that time I direct seed or use limited amount of clay cubes.

I started around 2004 (I think) - the first few years were full of failure - most seeds will not survive without watering in the summer time - very few are strong enough to make through August. I would place seeds in the ground or with clay cubes, they would sprout in the spring, then they would just die in July and August. Pine trees, many of the acacia species, other conifers, all died - it was frustrating to say the least !!!

The almonds were the first we noticed that survived without care, followed by the apricots, wild pears, laburnum, cactus pear pads, and our favorite apples.

This year we are trying plums (thanks to Caleb Peretz) - these trees are used as ground cover - they are closely spaced, less than 3 feet away - when they grow, they will create new soil and cool climate in the area planted, which will allow the planting of just about anything - at least that's how I hope it will work out !!!

It's not my intention to inspire others, nor do see that as my goal - planting trees by seed or clay cubes is the most economical way to reforest, provided you have identified which trees, shrubs or perennial plants grow in your area.

Once this problem is clearly solved, then it will be up to community organizers/government organizations to plan mass reforestation efforts - it's another skill and another set of capabilities required - not my cup of tea.

Please tell us about what you doing - do you have any experience with this problem and how it's going - any ideas or help you can provide would be appreciated.

Kostas

 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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No question about it - swales change the microclimate in an area and its a great way to retain water in an area that is susceptible to water run off. I have 2 small ones in my farm and they work great !!!

Kostas
 
Sheri Menelli
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Hi Kostas,

Since you asked: "Please tell us about what you doing - do you have any experience with this problem and how it's going - any ideas or help you can provide would be appreciated. "

So I have a house on about 1/6th of an acre in Southern California. I'm very drawn to reversing desertification and also bioremediation. I have been all over Sepp Holtzer's book, Geoff Lawton Greening the Desert and Neal Spackman's work on Greening Saudi Arabia on 3 inches a year and 100 degrees.

So last year (a year ago October) I converted my lawn to drought tolerant bushes. I did it as soon as the governor had signed a law so that our HOA could no longer fine us for having no grass.

But, despite knowing better, I did it so wrong. I was in a hurry because I had had it torn up for so long, I was coming to the end of being able to get a rebate for the lawn removal (you had to plant it with approved low water plants and have someone come out to verify)

Screwing this up so badly was probably the best lesson I ever had.

My lawn was completely compacted. I dug holes for the plants. I put down landscape cloth (that the guy helping me strongly encouraged) and I added redwood chips/ mulch from the local big box store.

I looked under the landscape cloth in October and the dirt was still just as horrible and hard as 1 year before. It was so bad I couldn't dig 1/2 inch down!

So, I removed all of the landscape cloth and redwood and basically started over. (I kept the bushes that were still alive).

I added 1 Cubic foot of compost and mixed it in. I watered it in too and with some more rain it started to be less compacted.

I dug a swale that was about 100 feet long that snaked through the front. It was about 10 inches deep and 10-12 inches wide. I made some worm tea and put it on the dirt. After a few rains it was easier to dig.

I have just started covering it with brown paper and then a fine real mulch from a mixture of trees so that it will break down. I'm not finished yet but I can't believe how much less runoff I get now. I let the water from my gutters go into that part of the yard and even with a few hundred gallons, it just soaked it up.

I finally found some help so I have to finish the 2 other parts of the front but I'm a convert now to swales and creating that earth sponge.

Friends also do not let friends buy redwood mulch! It does not decompose and it does not help your soil sponge.

After I redo the front, I'm going to finish the swales in my backyard and with the 80x60 foot hill in back. With the rains, I'm hoping to get a lot of nitrogen fixing trees and bush seeds planted on the hill. I've tried seeds in the past but since the rains didn't come, I never had any luck with them germinating.

I think my ultimate goal would be to work on the Salton Sea area which is about 3 hours away in the Eastern / Sourthern part of California. It is an ecological disaster. I wish I had money to buy a few hundred acres and bring it back. It is heavily salted and polluted by all of the agriculture runoff that runs into the Salton Sea. The area is a huge wetland for migratory birds so I think fixing it would be a huge win for the ecology.

Sheri

 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Hello Sheri,

No question about it - you are facing quite a challenge and definitely responding to it!!!

Mistakes are the best teachers - I very weary of easy success but look forward to failures for what they teach.

You are in a difficult and challenging environment your lawn can serve as laboratory for the rest of the region.

At this time of the year you should place the seeds we discuss here in a corner of your yard in a grid 5x5 feet and observe how they do, without watering. Get some alfalfa seeds and seed a 5x5 area - alfalfa is a nitrogen fixer drought tolerant and drops roots down to 6 feet and more - it opens up the soil and lets water seep in and the soil becomes a reservoir. It may need some water initially but then you do not water it again - it's also a food source for humans - the area you seed with alfalfa should be covered with hay or other cover for shade.

Let us know how it goes - you should be able to turn your yard to a mini forest soon that will provide cool shade and food.

Keep us posted - let us know how we can help.

Kostas
 
Sheri Menelli
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Hi Kostas,

I went back and read all of the posts - took quite a long time. Very interesting. I like this forum.

I will try a 5 x 5 area.

There is one thing I'm a bit concerned about. If you do get almond trees growing to maturity at the density you are planting, they will be weak as they will all be vying for the same nutrients. And in watching Stefan's journey in Quebec with his fruit farm, he discovered that he can't have any of the same trees next to each other or he gets pests. So he alternates apple, plum and some nitrogen fixer for example. He has added a great variety of trees.

Have you thought of planting a fruit with a nitrogen fixer in the same hole? I think the Bullock brothers in Washington State do that - they don't do it with seeds but with small trees and they have had good luck with that method (I think it is in Toby Hemenway's book - Gaia's Garden)

Really good time for me to plant - rained a lot this last 2 weeks and so the soil is actually moist for the first time in years.

Sheri
 
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Hi from Australia Kostas ,

It gets extremely hot and dry here in Adelaide, South Australia and there is a lot of barren dry land around. I currently have apricot stones stratifying in the fridge to plant out on public land. After reading your thread I've been inspired to directly sow the rest of the seeds without stratification this autumn and see what happens. I'll post my results.

Alex
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Great Alex - looking forward to your results

An added advantage is you will be reporting results at different months than we are, so we will gather info almost all year round !!!

Kostas
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Hello Sheri,

Glad to hear about the rains - am sure they were a most welcomed guest !!!

I am not worried about competition for nutrients - closely spaced trees are needed in dry areas to provide shade and to quickly improve the soil.

In 5 - 7 years when these trees have grown a bit, I will use seed balls or directly seed nitrogen fixers such as vetch alfalfa etc - we will see how it goes. We should do all we can to cover the ground, as quickly as possible.

Kostas


 
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Steve Farmer wrote:My neighbour brought me a bucket of loquats. I ate what I could for a few days and then dug a hole and threw them all in as complete fruits, that was about 6 weeks ago, let's see if I get a loquat forest.



And this afternoon I noticed some seedlings. These were planted deep, about 20 fruits all in a heap, in mid April this year. I also planted some peach seeds in the ground and in containers (I even stratified some in the fridge) around the same time. But only these 7 loquats have sprouted up so far. With 2 or 3 stones per fruit we will hopefully get a few more pop up in the coming days.

They are in a patch in my garden where there are blackberries & squash, so they have been watered whenever the soil is dry. The soil is well over 90% clay. As you can see I let the weeds grow enough that there is some ground cover, and also to let the roots invade the hard clay. In the 8.5 mths the seeds have been in the ground, temps have ranged from about 15C to 40C. Currently it's about 15C at night and 25C in the day. We were well in the 30s for a few days a week or so ago, maybe this was the boost to tell these loquats spring has arrived. Our island is known as the island of eternal spring so they could have come a bit sooner!

Everyone else I know that grows any kind of peach family thing here, is growing from rooted cuttings they bought in some garden centre so I don't have any local wisdom on growing from seed - until now.



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Konstantinos Karoubas
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This is great Steve !!!

Let's see how they do.

Kostas
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Hey Steve,

I looked through your Facebook photos and activities - http://www.facebook.com/TFSForest

what can I say !!!

Way to go !!!

Kostas
 
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Hi Kostas,

An idea for you, Zai holes.

Zai holes are small holes that are amended with manure or compost, where crops are planted. The hole plus the organic matter allow for slow seepage of water into the land providing an environment for crops to grow in arid areas.

They have been used with great success extensively to regenerate pastures in the Sahel; intensively to regenerate forests and grow food in the Sahel; and intensively to grow vegetables in arid areas in East Africa.

A tree seed and other seeds (grasses, cereals or even veggies) can be sown in the Zai hole. This allows for covering of the ground by the tree and/or grasses and food production or whatever variable you hope to attain.
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Hello Maureen,

Thank You for your suggestion.

The Zai holes are a great idea and as you said have many uses and have been successfully used to grow food trees etc. They maybe, the best way to regenerate areas that have difficult conditions like the Sahel, which actually has been on mind lately. I have been wondering how the tree planting project is progressing "The great Green Wall" - please fill us in if you have any info.

The climate here in Northern Greece is mild enough so the almonds etc can survive without any such intervention, even though its getting more difficult. This year has been a dry spring, and I see that some of the trees I planted in November and December are stressed - I will post an update soon (I hope).

Do the trees in the Zai holes need to be watered during the dry months, or are they strong enough to survive?

Kostas
 
Maureen Njeri
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Dear Kostas,

You're welcome.

I do not know much about the great green wall. Most of my information came from agricultural videos on Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration in the Sahel and parts of Ethiopia. Probably a part of it. FMNR has had a lot of success. You may Google the following: Yacouba
Sawadogo, FMNR, Zai holes/pits/technology, stone berms for more information.

My understanding of the Zai holes is that they are like tiny swales you
amend and plant in. Since they manage water runoff and allow for water infiltration, they may allow your trees to be more resilient to little rainfall.

See this story in Kenya:

http://www.wvi.org/kenya/article/bright-future-farmers-mtito-andei

Maureen
 
Maureen Njeri
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Oh, forgot to mention that most areas in arid Africa depend on rainfed agriculture. Little irrigation takes place at the subsistence level and thus Zai holes in whatever modified form are revolutionary as they allow for a, dare I say bountiful, harvest with little rains.

You may thus not need to irrigate and you're trees may survive/be less stressed/ok/thrive with a dry spring.
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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!!!
 
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Did you try oak, buckeye or manzanita? I don't know if you are focused on edibles and have not read the entire thread, but those trees/shrubs seem to all grow well together in the same dry rocky soil we have here. We also get little to no rain late may to late September. I don't know your exact latitude or elevation or distance from oceans even, but it seems like we have similar growing conditions.

My grandfather who lived in Los Angeles burried an apricot stone in his yard in the 80's and it grew and produced plenty of fruit every year with zero maintenance. It may still be producing, but my grandfather is gone and the house is out of the family. I've always known apricots could grow that way because of that.
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Hi Maureen,

Its very interesting,

Looking into the "Great Green Wall" project, I came across a FAO site (http://www.fao.org/in-action/action-against-desertification/news-and-multimedia/detail/en/c/410205/) - announcing a conference to be held this May 2nd on the progress and initiatives for this ongoing project.

I am looking forward to see what will be reported.

I would be interested to see if we can help in any constructive way.

Kostas
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Hello Andrew,

I have not tried oaks etc -they maybe candidates for higher elevations or further North locations (smaller summers/more moisture) - it's amazing how many trees do not survive the long summers (we are at Thessaloniki Greece) - and it's also amazing to me how fragile young trees grown from seed are. Lack of spring rains can easily kill this year's plants. I looked at the almond and apricots that I planted in November and December and they showed signs of stress (began to wilt) due to the lack of rains. Its drizzling right now and we had some rain a few days ago - I hoping that this will revive the trees.

Kostas
 
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