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Olive growe/goat land transformation  RSS feed

 
Dawn Hoff
Posts: 504
Location: Andalucía, Spain
26
bee books chicken greening the desert rabbit trees
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We have loads and loads of ideas ourselves about transforming this land of ours, but would to hear and share, what others have done.

We have 6 ha just outside Malaga. The "gardens" around the house is 2000m2 (more like the rock that the house sit on). It is run down dryland, with olives, carob, almonds, prickly pear and a few grape wines. 1-2 ha are pastures - ie. almost dessert hardly and growth at all (a few straws of grass -far between). We have lavender, rosemary and thyme in abundance. We have a spring (or a water mine?) on the land - pretty good, still drizzling water now, but slowly - but after this winter who can blame it? We have a well, it is approved to pump 43.000m3 a year (I doubt it would be able to stand it in the long run- we very much plan to use it as
Little as possible).

Plans next year: To finish the building of the house (it is completely restored, but we need furniture (need to figure out if the kitchen can be used professionally, if so buy - otherwise build?), need to finish grey water system. To install solar panels (need money first, it is comming but slowly - lawyers and tax authorities...). To terrace the rock around the house and put in a market garden inter-planted w. trees so that it will later be a food forest, get more chickens (have 3 now). We are using compost from the local punto limpio, and grass cuttings etc, plus trash from the local mercadillo to build soil (thus the chickens). Host a PDC? Maybe (not teach it but run it, assistant teachers).

Following years: start working the land - 2000 m2 a year is the plan, how far we will get is uncertain. We don't know yet if we will terrace or not. We will plant hardy draught resistant plants, but plan to irrigate to begin with. Need a plan for how to manage the land for the coming years? Run the neighbors goats over it once a year? Or get a donkey (my daughter would like a horse, but I don't know if we could feed one). Or more chickens? Chickens would require fencing ... (Or they sleep on my doorstep).

Future: the whole 6 ha covered in lush green food forest - date palms, bananas, mulberry, coffee - all arroyos have water running all year we will grow sugar cane and make our own mojitos

Ideas and input is greatly appreciated!
 
Dan Boone
gardener
Posts: 1787
Location: Central Oklahoma (zone 7a)
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Thinking about this it's awesome that you have two sources of water, even understanding that you can't pull out large amounts from them on a sustainable basis. You couldn't set up water-hungry crops and count on irrigating them throughout their annual lifespans, but you should have plenty for *establishing* the drought-tolerant trees and perennials that you will want in your food forest.

One thing I've learned in trying to restore my own overgrazed former pasture land is that existing beneficial plants both wild and domestic (like your olives, almonds, carob, and grapes) are worth quite a lot of attention. All your new plantings are longer-term and will (if you're like me) suffer lots of losses and setbacks, but existing stuff with established roots will pay you back in the same growing season for effort like weed control, fertilization, and watering if needed. So while you're building your paradise, leave lots of room for the stuff you already have that fits into your final vision, and lavish it with attention along the way.
 
Michael Cox
Posts: 1667
Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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Using livestock to improve your land might be worth looking at. You describe your 'pasture' as practically desert, and from my observations of similar sounding land in Portugal I know what you mean - from a distance it doesn't look too bad but up close the soil is bare and eroding. The traditional practice in the area I saw seemed to be year round grazing of cattle (very low density) and then mechanical disturbance of the soil. Erosion city!

Savory's work on holistically managed grazing might be of benefit to you- it sounds like live stock don't really factor into your longer term plans but they might help you build soil and improve water retention. If you can borrow from neighbours and control them with some electric fencing you might be on to something. Borrowing cattle for, say, two weeks during your spring growing season and two weeks in autumn might could be something to look into.

You talk about terracing - have you looked at vetiver grass? It forms dense clumps and can make hedges. Hedges planted on contour prevent soil erosion during rainfall events, build natural terraces for crop growing and when cut (once per year with a hedge trimmer) produce lots of biomass for mulching. Doesn't do well with frost, but from what I found researching your climate that might be ok.

Goats are browsers, rather than grazers - they won't do much for improving your grass cover but could be beneficial controlling shrubs and trees.
 
Dawn Hoff
Posts: 504
Location: Andalucía, Spain
26
bee books chicken greening the desert rabbit trees
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We do have and for animals long term. We are mostly thinking chickens and pigs (bc if we want a forest, we should have forest animals).

I'll write more later - when I have more time
 
Dawn Hoff
Posts: 504
Location: Andalucía, Spain
26
bee books chicken greening the desert rabbit trees
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We are not entitet sure weather we should build terraces or carve them into the side if the mountain. Building take quite a lot longer... But when there is practically no soil, carving seems counterproductive. The vetiver grass sounds like a good option - but I have heard that it is invasive in Spain? I've been thinking that maybe you could do the same w. lavender or rosemary?

Right now we let the goats across the land about once a year, but we will incorporate other animals later on. We just want to be able to give them conditions that we feel are OK and we simply just can't do that for now. But we have been thinking about a chicken tractor model - pulled by a donkey, otherwise it will not be feasible I think. But I would want to put up permanent fencing, because chasing 50-100 birds around when they get out of the paddock is just too much work (we have 3 birds now, and we are putting up fencing for them in the garden, because they kept finding ways out of the movable fence we had).

I would actually love to get a paddock system going for at few goats and a few sheep - if nothing else to show the neighbor how to do holistic management of goats - He owns almost all the land that sorrowing is, and if that could be regenerated too, we could have so much more water on our land But I would also love to have some merino or something for my knitting, plus having our own goat/sheep milk wouldn't be too bad (don't know how sheep milk tastes, but I'm thinking I'd like it more for ice cream, coffee etc than goat milk), or - in time, a small cow (just the thought of homemade butter hhmmmm). And a few pigs would be nice too.

So what I am thinking is to do a hedgerow system on contour - like I said, we are still discussing weather we should build or dig out the terraces - with the old terraces of olives as guides and then have pastures between those - then in time we might be able to grow wheat on those between rotations of the animals.

The area around the spring Is ripe for development. Does anyone know how the eliminate oleander? The seem to grow everywhere where there is just a little wate, and as I am very allergic to them, it makes it impossible to get to the spring, and to harvest anything around it... I have noticed that they don't grow under carob - but nothing grows under carob except Palm bushes...
 
Michael Cox
Posts: 1667
Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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My understanding of vetiver is that it is not invasive - clumps stay where they are planted and it doesn't form viable seed. I've not heard of anywhere in the world where it has invasive tendencies. It doesn't tolerate shading so can be killed fairly easily by chopping to ground and laying weedblock black fabric over it.

You could probably get a similar effect from other plants but will struggle to find a plant that is as well suited to the job as vetiver; I think I remember hearing about someone using bamboo for a similar purpose on flood plains to catch fine silt.

  • Vetiver has the advantage of making a really dense hedge right at ground level. My experience of lavender is that it forms bushes but at ground level the plant can be actually quite open.
  • Also, as sediment builds up uphill of vetiver the growing buds move up the plant. Many other plants are killed by having their stems buried as the woody parts get fungal infections.
  • Vetiver has a dense and powerful root system that can spread many meters into soil and will find it's way deep into cracks in your stony terrain.
  • An annual haircut with a hedge trimmer near ground level will give you large amounts of chop and drop mulch material to simply set on the ground on your uphill terrace side.


  • My suggestion is, if you are unsure about using vetiver across your whole site, to do a test area. Perhaps 50m planted on contour. Give it a year to get established and see if you like it. You may already be able to see a small terrace forming depending on your rainfall and soil erosion in that time.


    Regarding your plans for using the space: Why are you planning to grow wheat? It doesn't sound like a suitable crop for steep and eroding land. Do you have a plan for a "no-till" crop planting? Have you looked at other tree crops that could grow well in your climate? You could protect these using tree guards for the first few years of life and still have goats/sheep grazing the terraces beneath. You already have olives; what about citrus, figs, grapes, globe artichokes... perennials that once established should find their own water. No harm in letting the goats browse through your globe artichokes after they have flowered for example, so these are not necessarily incompatible with livestock. Mix in a few of the classic soil improvers (n-fixing shrubs, trees and clovers, comfrey for nutrient accumulation etc...) and in a few years you could have built up a rich and thriving terrace with improved soils, good carbon content and moisture retention without ever needing to build or dig out terraces manually.

    Chickens... no need to chase chickens. Train them that whenever you come you bring tasty treats for them. Someone I know uses a tin can with black oil sunflower seeds (BOSS) which is really good for them anyway. She shakes then can and they know the rattling sounds means treats. Then they follow back to the pen to get fed/locked up.

    Oleander - no direct experience with it. Are you allergic to it on touch? I'd probably pay a local lad to cut it down and burn it for you (biochar). Once the bulk of the growth is gone you can probably safely keep it cut back yourself - trim off the new growth when it appears until the plant weakens and dies.
     
    Dawn Hoff
    Posts: 504
    Location: Andalucía, Spain
    26
    bee books chicken greening the desert rabbit trees
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    What was only when and if we get the soil good enough - and we plan on using Fukoyokas methods, no tilling just enough for ourselves, not a crop we plan to sell.

    My chickens don't really care whatnI bring them once they are in the dog food but either way -
    Moving the fence once a week or every 10 days is far too much work in our rocky soil...

    I can see that I have not explained myself very well. We plan on planting trees between the olives - on contour - around 800/hectare: Figs, Mulberry, Pomegranate, Dates, apricot, peach, apples, wild pears, prickly pear, oak, pistachio, almond, walnut, pine nut, laurel, juniper, acacia, jaquarand, mimosa, honeylocust (ideas are very welcome here). Underneath blackberries, artichoke, rosemary, lavendler, grapes, n-fixing wines. I would plant in fenced rows with small pasture between - for animals and possibly a grain crop (but only in the long run when soil has greatly improved).

    I will try out the vertiver grass and see how it does - thank you
     
    Michael Cox
    Posts: 1667
    Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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    Dawn Hoff wrote:What was only when and if we get the soil good enough - and we plan on using Fukoyokas methods, no tilling just enough for ourselves, not a crop we plan to sell.

    My chickens don't really care whatnI bring them once they are in the dog food but either way -
    Moving the fence once a week or every 10 days is far too much work in our rocky soil...

    I can see that I have not explained myself very well. We plan on planting trees between the olives - on contour - around 800/hectare: Figs, Mulberry, Pomegranate, Dates, apricot, peach, apples, wild pears, prickly pear, oak, pistachio, almond, walnut, pine nut, laurel, juniper, acacia, jaquarand, mimosa, honeylocust (ideas are very welcome here). Underneath blackberries, artichoke, rosemary, lavendler, grapes, n-fixing wines. I would plant in fenced rows with small pasture between - for animals and possibly a grain crop (but only in the long run when soil has greatly improved).

    I will try out the vertiver grass and see how it does - thank you


    Probably my fault - I didn't read back over the whole thread this time, just your latest post. Your plan sounds pretty good. If you are after a grain crop maybe see if you can get hold of some of sepp holzer's seeds. He has a biennial grain that can be sown direct to untilled earth, grows really tall to shade out competition and can be grazed a couple of times before being allowed to set seed the following year. If you are looking for something for your own use this could be it.
     
    Dawn Hoff
    Posts: 504
    Location: Andalucía, Spain
    26
    bee books chicken greening the desert rabbit trees
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    I've heard about that - it sounds great!
     
    Tihomira Shatova
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    Hello,

    I read your discussion and the vetiver recommendations intertwined in it. Do you know where can I buy it? - A vendor that you bought from or if you personally are willing to sell. I`m in Europe and for practical reasons it would be good to find a vendor in Europe.

    thank you!
     
    Dawn Hoff
    Posts: 504
    Location: Andalucía, Spain
    26
    bee books chicken greening the desert rabbit trees
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    I haven't no - but I will go to my local garden center ASAP (should have been this week, but have been tied to the house by little sick girl ). I will let you know if I find it.
     
    I promise I will be the best, most loyal friend ever! All for this tiny ad:
    21 podcast review of Sepp Holzer's Permaculture
    https://permies.com/wiki/54445/digital-market/digital-market/podcast-review-Sepp-Holzer-Permaculture
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