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Permaculture in Extreme Desert?

 
pollinator
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Steve Solomon, who wrote Gardening When It Counts, also wrote a book about gardening without irrigation. His personal site links to the Soil and Health library, where that book is freely available:

Library website

Interesting stuff.
 
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      Trucking in water is an interesting idea of kathleen Saunders- If you are to start trees off could you tow in water for a micro drip , how much water would you need with a microdrip can it maybe be really very little if you chose desert trees.
      I think it might be a good way to invest money, buy a peice of cheap land fence it off so it can recover from grazing and a few years later it will be worth much more . If you can plant leguminouse plants in it maybe it can get better much sooner. agri rose macaskie.
 
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rose macaskie wrote:
      Trucking in water is an interesting idea of kathleen Saunders- If you are to start trees off could you tow in water for a micro drip , how much water would you need with a microdrip can it maybe be really very little if you chose desert trees.
      I think it might be a good way to invest money, buy a peice of cheap land fence it off so it can recover from grazing and a few years later it will be worth much more . If you can plant leguminouse plants in it maybe it can get better much sooner. agri rose macaskie.



Rose, I can't take credit for the idea of trucking in water -- it seems to be how most of the residents of that area get their water.  I assume that wells would have to be so deep as to be cost prohibitive.  And it's likely that the average precipitation can't be 100% counted on to produce enough in a water collection system.  It's really a pretty nasty place to try to live; the main benefit is the low cost of the land, but I suspect that a person could easily die trying to live off the land out there.

There is other West Texas land available, some of it actually cheaper, in areas that are closer to the towns and may have better chances of actually being turned into something usable.  Take a look at what they have on eBay (but if you are actually going to buy, it's best to go to the area, rent for a while, and look for land in person -- you can probably beat eBay's prices, judging from the properties in our area of Oregon that I see advertised on there).

Kathleen
 
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Kathleen,

I hope you direct the HT person to this thread

Also, in our own homesteading forum there is a thread about "creating a creek in a dry gully" that might of great value in this case.
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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Hi, Paul, I did give her a link to this thread in the one at HT, but I don't know if she's visited here or not.  (I don't spend a lot of time at HT because it loads so slowly on my computer, and typing any replies there is downright painful, it's so slow.)

Kathleen
 
                              
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I am new to all this, and one of my dreams is to restore land like this. 

there are other things, that need to be taken into consideration , for example, how cold does it get?  Moringa oleifera is not very cold hardy, although there is another variety Moringa stenopetala which is a bit more cold hardy but will not take any frost.

How about winds? 

I believe the first plants introduced should be pioneer species that build the soil, ( drought tolerant ) there are many Acacia, Cassia, etc. that fit the bill, trees with extremely deep tap roots, that will bring up moisture, and ad organic matter to the soil.

Eventually you could have your own little "Oasis" in the middle of the desert 

Date palms, Pomegranates, Figs, medicinal herbs, Jujubes, who knows maybe even a mango.

really depends on how low the temperature goes,
 
rose macaskie
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    I so agree with tropic guy i dream of rehabilitating a place like this.
      I suppose you have to admite that geoff lawaton had the joradan river or some sort of water supply for his micro drip watering hot dry and salty but some  water source.This looks as if it is miles from anywhere.
    I was were he was except on the west side of the dead sea and it was real extreme desert not a bush or plant in sight.
    It is not extreme desert is it? Extreme desert is real sand dunes.
    I am not sure i would aprove of trucking in a lot of water to keep an european or american household on but may approve the bit you would need for a micro drip system to get trees started on.
    Tropic guy is right you need to know what the winters are like if you are to chose plants that might do their.
  I read a bit about creosote bush and the agricultural experts have a grass they want people to try where these bushes grow. 
  Bill mollison planted for the people in the kalahari, which looked just as dry as this, a green hedge of a euforbia called euforbia tirucalle to take the place of their stick fence that they had to kill all the trees far and wide to make and there it was, as green big and healthy as anything, so you can find things that will grow in pretty bad conditions. rose macaskie.
 
rose macaskie
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        I meant to say that if people have been using herbicides on this land it will be harder to restore it to a better condition,
     One peice of my garden had some not too nice neighbor or a neighbor who thought to please by keeping my land free of plants clean as they call it here the aim of many people here as they are rightly afrais ¡d of fires  pouring herbicide on my garden and that bit of land has not recovered yet.
      If herbicides and fungicides have been used, i would put a mulch on the land and a micro drip and seed it with fungi spawn and hope that that would cure it .
      I suppose it would need shade trees as well as mulch for fungi to grow.
      I post a photo of how the soil looks where the herbicide has been put in my garden. the plants you see are moss and a plant called velosilla that has very hairy leaves and maybe like moss gets its moisture and nutrients from the air. Moss gets its nutirents and water from the air but it seems less efficient than this little plant, moss dies in summer this plant does not. agri rose macaskie.
 
rose macaskie
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      I have another idea for scrub land or pretty but not totally extreme desert like this.
        It is to have a solar energy park on it. The panels would give a bit of shade to the ground plants and so it would be easier to get them into better shape. You would have to give up the idea of growing high trees that shaded the panels and concentrate on bushes and herbaciouse plants.
        Maybe you could get trees started, treating them like a hedge, cutting them to bush shape and when the land had got well enough to provide its own shade quickly, when the trees were well enough established to be ready to jump up quickly, move on your solar panals to the next bit of scrub land.

      I have another bit to my idea,
    Maybe you could have dew collectors on the underside of the panels, i should look them up again, there are variose models but i think one  consists of having a net of a material that gets cold quickly at night metal for example and so increases the condensation things that are cold like windows seem to create condensation, so does grass, it full of silica glass, grass, same difference, maybe scientist should look into which plants condense dew best. The answer of scientist woudl be do it yourself pigs . i don't live inthe coutry.
    Hot air can hold a lot more moisture  than cold air. Maybe it can hold a lot of water and feel dry. Maybe you can get lots of water out of the air if you try .
    Maybe one reason deserts are deserts is that with their cold nights the moisture gets condense  and goes into the sand leaving the air dry . Codensing the humidity in the air is the way to dry it. and there are cold nights in deserts, so they certainly condense the moisture in the air.
      I once bought some salts you buy to take the  damp out of damp rooms. They come in a plastic cup and the cup fills full of water in a damp room. I was wondering how much water pants leaves could get out of the air and i put them in my Madrid sitting room in summer,n were it is not damp at all here the bread never molds it goes dry and gets preserved for mounths and the potatoes loose all there turgidity really quickly  and get horribly floppy.  I put the salts in their pot in my dry sittign room and  water appeared in the bowl. They condensed water out of my dry air. cool isn't it .  I do do some experiments . agri rose macaskie.
 
rose macaskie
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  I liked the book that joel hollingsworth mentions i have read it till the end of the chapter on hand looms.
      It was interesting that you can make bottled tomato cheaper than factory tomato because of all the costs factories have  transporting tomatoes to them and away from them and because of their mararketing and storage costs.
      It was interesting that he thought it was a saving to produce food for yourself but not worth it as a business. He said his brother kept hens for money for a year and it only gave him pocket money, the normal experience of a old fashioned woman is to only get pocket money for her pains, you can buy a dress but not start your own business, it always seemed that was good enough for women.
    It was interesting that a cow gives too much milk for a family so you are better off with two goats.
        I thought maybe people who wanted cows milk because they did not like goats milk could import some of those small cows they have in Africa or India . Also, there are still lots of milch sheep races in Spain and probably round the world. A lot of cheeses, classic english ones for example, were made with sheeps milk according to a recipe book of mine. To have milch sheep would be another answer if you don't like goats milk and do want raw milk.

      In the end I got annoyed about all the stories in the book of how easy it was doing everything  making clothes for yourself for yourself for example. I used to make some of my clothes and I am not super efficient at manual work and it took ages, The says its really quick, well some people are not good at doing that sort of thing really quickly. In part it depends on how much time you feel it is right to give to children, parents and such or if you are good at ignoring all other duties, except the one that you want to do or is most profitable for you.
            I can't make a simple dress, in a day especially and so the jobs become long drawn out drudgery. I have done a big share of house work all my life till recently when i write instead of trying to do the house work and it would be hard to tell the difference in the house between now and then,  I was not good at house work.
        It is mentally psychically hard to do something so boring for too long, talking about things that are vital like whether or not we should look after soil, have atomic power, have good education for all and other things that might effect us directly and effect humanity is more vital. Do you want a bar or a tea room in you village, football pitch for the men or swimming pool for all?  Is it better to be conservative or socialist, these are vital themes, life or death to some and that makes them more interesting and so though manual work is good a rounded person needs other things, like you need to be used to talking about them to help you bring up your children, so to pile up your fisical work makes for only one activity and a person with reduced outlets in the world, for less rounded people. agri rose macaskie.
 
                              
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Rose,  your mention of condensation reminded me of a story about how the Spaniards, used trees in the Canary Islands, to collect water, they condensed so much water out of the air, they used a cistern to collect it.

I couldn't remember where I read that story, or what species, so I tried doing a search didn't take me long.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pinus_canariensis

I know other things should be taken into consideration like how this tree may raise soil PH, but maybe that's exactly what is needed.

Not sure how these would do, on this dessert land, because this tree is not that cold hardy.  but for the tropical deserts we have here in the Dominican Republic, they should do well alongside, Moringa, and such.  If its the type of desert that has a short rainy season, with plenty of dry months, something like Baobabs should do well.  plus I just love the way they look.

Can you imagine driving across some flat featureless desert and all of a sudden see :



 
rose macaskie
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     Tropicana guy, the boababs are lovely. and that light how i like light. I have thought that it would be worth doing tree tourism.
       American red woods are very big it must be and experience seeing them and i  have seen a photograph of a cactus tree in yemen called a desert rose tree that looked like an enormouse potatoe with a little bunch of flowers growing out of a corner of the top of it to mention the strangest trees i have come across.

     Birdman, I have found some information looking up water harvesting. that might interest you or make you feel more hopefull about expanding the possibilities on your land if you use new methods. Really new ways are an experiment, it is not like doing something everyone has always done, that you can feel sure about.
     There is a video of a man who found he could make a garden in Tucsan in the Sonoran desert, you find it with the words, "permacultrue sonoran desert", though it is not the only video you find with those words ther are about two more. He is called Dan Dorsey. agri rose macaskie.
 
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Tropicguy wrote:
there are other things, that need to be taken into consideration , for example, how cold does it get?  Moringa oleifera is not very cold hardy, although there is another variety Moringa stenopetala which is a bit more cold hardy but will not take any frost.



Brain blast - how about breeding moringa trees for cold hardiness. If they could take hard frosts, they could literally grow anywhere on Earth - SUPERTREE!
  Anybody know if the different species can cross pollinate?
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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Kirk Hutchison wrote: SUPERTREE!



Ailanthus altissima is very nearly a supertree, if you can overlook the poison and the poor-quality wood it produces.

I'm fond of polyculture, though, and of regional diversity. Any best tree will be specific to a place and time and group of people.
 
rose macaskie
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  birdsman i have been thinking about the difficulty you have growing trees in near desert . HTe lee side of the atlas moutains in marocco is also a place hta suffers from lack of water all the water falls on th eatlantic sid eof the atlas mountains.
  I read that in the desert it can be hard to grow young trees because the sand is so abrasive in a sand storm tha tit kills the young trees, that made me think more about your problems.
  As to solutions i remembered reading about the japanese wrapping up their trees instead of exposing them to frosts that might kill them a length we don't go to to protect our trees but we could break the boundaries of what is deemed suitable care for trees and start to wrap them up, so maybe you could wrap them up against the wind or screen them or build covers for them.
  In the south of Spain in almeria that is desert or near enough to desert, they have a sea of plastic, some say you can see from the moon or from space, were they grow summer vegetables for winter for Europe- I have been summering there once, it is a nice wild sort of place and seen the green houses  they are quite roughly costructed from the stem of a a catuseus succulent type plant that sends up a strong stem for its flower when it flowers so local materials to hold up the plastic, roughly made greenhouses so you could do the same with shade cloth instead of greenhouse type plastic.  Of course what anyone person can do deppends on their exact economic situation. and how much free labour they have in terms of themselves or their family to put up constructions or how many kilometres of construction they want. agri rose macaskie.
 
rose macaskie
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      I have read that the progression up from the sort of land in the photos of the extreme desert is scrub, ei  bushes like the ones in the photo, then the apearance of grass prairie and lastly trees.
    The progression down, is for the wind to carry off all the lighter particles as the ground is uncovered, clay sized and other less small, small mineral particles and organic material untill all that remains is sand sized particles,  leaving you with a  a sand dune  ntypoe desert the hypper extreme desert. agri rose macaskie.
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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There's an interesting thread over on HomesteadingToday -- a fellow named Chuck, who is apparently an embedded photo-journalist with our military in Afghanistan, has posted some pictures and comments on agriculture (and culture) there.  Talk about extreme desert!  It makes me thankful for what we have here in our semi-desert!

Kathleen
 
rose macaskie
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Kathleen saunders , looked up your Afghanistan forum.
     THe farming we have in europe and america comes from the east , the plough was made in china originally, overgrazing possible comes the east it seems to centre all round islamic countries it seems it didnot exist in africa before we got their. permaulture is curing centuries old habits that come from places like afghanistan.
       Some modern things are good, the factory acts were good, so was  universal suffrage, the vote for all meant that politicians look after the interests of the poor as well as the rich, a little bit. The poor are also called the underpriveledged.
    So were equal opportunities good, the moment the poor got university education they proved they could be university proffesors, before that people behaved as if they were where they were because they hadn't the head to get anywhere else.
    If permaculture is right then it maybe it is one of those good things. You can't force people to take up your opinions but you could offer them. Some people pretend that offering information is the same as forcing people to agree with you, is in itself manipulative,  i have known what real manipulative behavior is,  I have known what it is to have the conversation hedged in so only the information the other wants gets to me gets to me and that manipulative people menace you, if you don't agree with them. There is a real difference between offering information and force feeding others.
      The Afghanis might be clever to get anything out of their land   with the rainfalll they have and also years of war dont help people to invest in the land, and they had years fighting the Soviet Union and then a peace spoilt by the bad effects of the trouble they had just suffered with the soviet union, so with the bad effects of war as well as rainfall. I know i have seen S0pain get rich and how that has changed the amount of trees planted.
    That they are clever to get anything out of it does not mean there is not overgrazing all over the world nearly, so they could get more food than they do out of the land for their live stock if they left traditional farming, as long as they did not take up chemical farming .. First you have to look after your soil then your grass and last your livestock becauise the other way round you don't have food for your animals. .
      THis looking after soil does not happen does not happen if you are ltrying to guard against fires, i fyou are scared of fires  the grass gets decimized, that means bad soils and then less animals. when ithings are bad is when the permaculture ideas are most important and the tradition in afghanistan is ours we inherited it and it is not very good agriculturally we ahve created deserts everywhere and it is chines or afghani fault we inherited from them not us fwe did not pass our ideas to us the oldest civilizzationes come from the east.  agri rose macaskie.
 
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I just read about desert restoration on twitter.
The guy invented a device that collects condensation water (as someone described above) and gives that water to tree saplings and increases their chance to establish,

Their results are pretty amazing. They say 100% of trees established in moderate desert and 90% of these were thriving! And to compare - in regular condition only 10% of trees would survive in that same desert.

Look up this website:
this explains the concept http://www.groasis.com/page/uk/capillary.php
this shows the design: http://www.groasis.com/page/uk/design.php

I was amazed... It's a shame that make it out of plastic...
Sasha
 
paul wheaton
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That's a pretty cool little animation!
 
steward
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does all this talk about harvesting water in the desert recall anyone else of Arrakis and bribing the Spacing Guild with Spice?  just me?
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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tel wrote:
does all this talk about harvesting water in the desert recall anyone else of Arrakis and bribing the Spacing Guild with Spice?  just me?



Oh, me too.

I'm glad the world is not as spiky as Mr. Herbert perceived it to be. Not only is Earth a lot milder than Arrakis, but children can be raised just fine without resorting to the use of a polygraph machine. 
 
                              
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tel wrote:
does all this talk about harvesting water in the desert recall anyone else of Arrakis and bribing the Spacing Guild with Spice?  just me?



Worm castings to the like that god has never seen. 
 
                              
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I was reading how the Canary Island Pine, is able to condense moisture from the air, and supplies almost half of "Las Palmas" Island's ground water.

And I was thinking, how does this work?  I assume that the trees are slightly cooler than the ambient temperature, and the long "needles" collect then drip the water down.

So maybe it would be possible to have a simple passive device, or solar powered, that is slightly cooled ( maybe by passing sealed water through underground heat exchangers ) that keeps above ground "condensers" cool,  I know there is a big project in Dubai, to de-salinate  salt water in a similar fashion.  but I was thinking in terms of something a bit more passive and not permanent, once you have a forest established, the devices could be moved elsewhere.

another system I have seen, that could be adapted, is the solar Ice maker.  this system uses solar reflectors, to heat a tube with Ammonia gas ( I think thats what they used ), and this expands it into a tank, which is later released back into the original tube.  ( the gas is always sealed, not released into the atmosphere ) is completely passive, and has no moving parts except for the valves.  imagine instead of making ice, the "cold" was used to cool collectors, that could condense moisture from the air?  I have no idea how much water could be produced in such a system.  just throwing ideas out. 
 
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Tropicguy, I read a bit on the Canary Island Pine, and while it may have some features that would lend themselves to a semi-arid setting, they don't have the properties you're looking for.  The Canaries see little rain, but thick mists often roll off the ocean.  The long needles of the Pine collect the droplets and direct them down to the base of the tree. 

It would seem that in many ways the climate is a lot like San Francisco.
 
rose macaskie
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antibubbaq is right i think, the redwood lives because of mists or at least high humidity cominhg in from the pacific, in the air and in the canaries there are thses mists the Azores the mist laden winds are called i think,.. The humidity in them condenses on the leaves leaves liare cool to touch humidity condenses on cool objects ,  and drip off them to the roots .
  what interests me more is how far do leaves absorb moiistures that se3ttles on them not dew that drops off them but absorb wetness on the leaf through the leaf.
      I have read that roots leaves and bark twigs and branches  absorb humidity.

      My observation is that jungle leaves are the best at absorbing humidity. I suppose that brasil leaveas are jungle ones. Ii had a brasil stick given me cut off aparent plant that i put in soil and the leaves that were big did not dry and I dug it up two or three mounths later to see if ti had grown roots and it had not. Incredible you may say the leaves dont allow the water out, conserve water and so stay alive  but i find that hard to believe, I believe they take up humidity from the air. I suppose leaves from the jungle woudl be good at that, there is so much humidity around why wait till it comes up from the roots, why not take it up direct with their leaves, though it is desert plants that need to extract water from the air most .
My trandescantia plants, i like wild plants but my balconise have the normal, town, balcony, plants ,  live without roots an incredible amount of time, a twig cut from them lives for mounths in incredibley dry situations, like in Spainish morning sun in summer lying on the earth of a watered pot and ends up rooting itself.  They are good at living without roots in the heat. b rose macskie.
  If leaves take humidity from the air, then not only mist droplets but maybe just humidity could be secuestered. That woudl explain some desert plants existence..
  i have a paper on how seedlings of the silver pine do better if they have a spray that wets their leaves.
  In  foliar feeding which is putting fertilisers on the leaf the plants take up the nutrients when the leaves are wet after aplication you spray foliar feed on the feed is dissovled in water. they also take up the feed at nigh t with dew, that seems to suggest they take up water too .
 
Daniel Zimmermann
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I think you'd want to try date palms.
 
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I read something about palms in california.. some of the palm oasis in Joshua Tree, where they are dependant on localized shallow ground water.  Local groundwater withdrawal is dropping the water table and killing oasis... I'd have to look it up again... couldn't find it on google...
It makes me think of a Mollison idea... how the runoff from a large rock can be directed all to a single point, where a single edible tree can be planted... migrating from pocket to pocket gathering, eating lizards and grubs.
I figure some places are just desert. 
Many of the great basin tribes lived on deer flesh, and traded in pine nuts, and dried alkali fly larvae, moving from waterway to waterway.
 
rose macaskie
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Some  places are just desert but other places have been made in to deserts by farming and it is the last that are interesting.
  The Gobi desert is eating up land at the moment. Don't you want to stop it? I do.b agri rose macaskie.
 
                              
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Hi

I'm currently living in desert SW.  I would definately use swales and deep mulching.  Do a bit of the Geoff Lawton thing.  Plant mesquite as nitrogen fixer.  It is fast growing.  Our chickens like the leaves off young branches. I'm sure goats would adore.  The bean is edible and depending on the species extremely good. (I just had some for breakfast this morning).  The best varieties are the Honey Mesquite and the Velvet Mesquite (doesn't have much thorns).  The flour is considered a superfood and is growing in popularity around the world.  Brad Lancaster in one of his books  Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond, Volume 1: Guiding Principles to Welcome Rain into Your Life and Landscape and Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond, Volume 2: Water-Harvesting Earthworks describes a mesquite guild.  Read his books. Have your librarian order them on interlibrary loan if you need to.

Brad's website: lots of good info http://www.harvestingrainwater.com/

After mesquite, could plant pomegranite, date palm, olive etc now that there is some shade and organic matter and nitrogen.

Also check out Native Seed Search www.nativeseeds.org/ They sell Heirloom seeds from tribes of SW United States and Northern Mexico.  Not Perrenials but annuals breeds that thrive in hot, dry conditions.

 
rose macaskie
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It makes me jealouse, somone trying in real desert though i doubt i would do well in such a situation so why be the one that tries. It is great to hear about it. rose
 
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Location: NE Brazil drylands
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Marsha from semi-arid Brazil (500mm).

Digging down into a place like this not only catches water: it creates instant shade! when I moved onto 23 acres of bare sand, of course the Permies recommended swales, but I resisted, first because there actually was no runoff happening (DEEP sands!) but also because I was afraid of damaging the land with machine so early in the game.

But now we really enjoy molding the land bit by bit: trenches, holes, filled with cocnut shells, sunken gardens etc.

I would first perhaps contact the holistic management people- they really have a handle on managing large, extreme cases like this! The idea of overgrazing is actually more complex than it may seem.

Of course it would be crazy to try to live in such a severe situation like this, unless you have up front money. Believe me! I have never regretted moving onto this land, but have been deeply grateful to have had a dependable supply of outside income for these first seven years.Now the place is wonderfully structured, the land is responding, and we can go it alone from here...
 
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I read this thread a while ago and was thinking about it again and registered to post in it. I was wondering how long is it going to take to turn the land somewhat bearable and then I reread the last post: 7 years.
 
                                  
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We have a interesting situation up here in southern Saskatchewan Canada, in that we live in a semi-arid zone with a yearly average of 14 inches of precipitation, drought conditions in the summer with temps +30c or more, and -40c winters! Talk about extremes.

The Caragana Arborescens is a very drought AND cold tolerant plant.  The Caragana seems to need that cold spell to do really well and it loves hot dry weather!. Its a nitrogen fixer with edible flowers. Its used as a shelter belt around these parts since it takes care of itself. Check out the Wikipedia article on it, pretty neat! Oh, and ignore the part about fertilizing, it grows like a weed.
 
                              
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Hello.  1st post on here, so please be gentle.

I live in the south of Italy, with higher summer temperatures (it was 42º today - 107-ish) and a comparable annual rainfall.

I have to say that the pictures posted earlier in the thread don't really look like desert to me.  There is brush, and while the soil looks poor, it's not dire (as in pure sand.)  It looks like a perfectly achievable goal to convert that land into something....er....greener, and I see no real obstacles to living off a plot of 10 acres or so.

If it were me, 1st step would be to confirm the rainfall figures from several sources.  You can work with a fairly low base rainfall figure, but if you find you get no rain one year, you're in real trouble.

Then get the digger in, and build yourself a couple (resilience) of underground water storage tanks.  As an indication, we get no rainfall for 6 months of the year, and are very water-wise, and have a single 100,000ltr cistern (26,500-ish US gallon?)  It's just about enough, but doesn't give me enough to experiment with different plant varieties, so one day when we've saved up we'll get another one the same size dug.

You need to size the rainwater capture area appropriately, based on that baseline rainfall figure and your tank size.

The next problem you'll face is that the majority of heat/drought tolerant trees are very slow growing, and need a lot of irrigation for the first 3 or 4 years in order to survive.  The trees I'm talking about are the likes of olive, carob, oaks, eucalyptus, acacia, etc..  But as the saying goes 'The best time to plant a tree is last year...'

I'd also get a load of opuntia (ficus indicus sp?) growing.  The reason being that the 'leaves' hold loads of water, and when you come to plant out a shrub, you can chop a few off, dice them up and put them in the hole.  They rot down and provide welcome nutrients & water to the new plant.  They also provide fruit, and act as a great fire- and wind-break.

Then I'd get on with building a home.  Without a doubt, in that environment it would be an earthship.  In fact, the reason I registered and posted is because the landscape in the photos looks very similar to the landscape in Taos (New Mexico?) where earthships seem to be clustered.

Oh, and one more thing.  If you're worried about a different climate - don't be.  I grew up in cold Northern Europe.  It took me a couple of years to adjust to the climate here, but now it's 'normal.'  You just get used to the climate where you live.
 
paul wheaton
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hugelkultur trees chicken wofati bee woodworking
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Talked about this a bit in podcast 018

 
Posts: 104
Location: Makkah, Saudi Arabia
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Looks like i'm late to the conversation, but i'm doing something in a similar climate in Makkah--we get on average 3 inches of rain a year, with temperatures regularly hitting 50 C (122 F) in the summer.  But the advantage I have over that Texas area is i'm in the mountains, so we can use the mountains as our water catchment and direct it through wadis. 

Here's a list of plants in our guild we'll be using, though I reserve the right to not be held to this list!  Some  of them we know will grow, and some are experimental:


Fruit Trees for Al Baydha

Date Palm Phoenix dactylifera
Pomegranate Punica granatum
Fig Ficus carica
Guava Psidium
Mulberry Morus
Citrus glauca
Citrus medica
Jujube Ziziphus spinacristi
Carob Ceratonia siliqua
Tamarind Tamarindus indica
Drumstick Tree Moringa oleifera
Mango Mangifera indica
Loquat Eriobotrya japonica
Pitaya  Hylocereus undatus
Columar Cacti Cereus peruvianus
Passion Fruit Passiflora edulis
Grape Vitis vinifera
Prickly Pear (Barshumi),


Legume Trees for Al Baydha
for coppicing, pollarding, firewood, timber, forage, mulch, and nitrogen fixing

Leucaena leucocephala
Sesbania Sesban
Parkensonia aculeata
Albizia Lebek
Albizia pavonina
Poiciana Delonix regia
Casuarina spp
Acacia Najdensis, Seyal, tortilis (abu sinaina, haraz, Hashab, Kitir, TALIH)
Gliricidia sepium
Albizia Julibrissen
prosopis cineraria ,


Clumping Plants

Ginger Zingiber officinale
Turmeric Curcuma longa
Cardamom Elettaria Cardamomum Maton



Ground Covers

Portulaca
Coastal Pigface Carpobrotus virescens
Baby sun rose Aptenia cordifolia
Bay Biscayne creeping-oxeye Sphagneticola trilobata
Lippia  Phyla canescen

Vines
Citron melon—citrullus lanatus
Water melon
Kharbiz
Grapes
other cucurbits

Herbs

Rosemary Rosmarinus officinalis
Sage Salvia
Thyme Thymus vulgaris.
Sweet Marjoram Origanum majorana
Oregano Origanum vulgare
Felty Germander Teucrium polium
Jamaica:  hibiscus sabdarrifa
Tagart Bush:  Maerua crassifolia  (native to Mauritania)
Borage:  (syria native)
Nasturtiums


Medicinals:
Horseradish tree Moringa oliveira
Sanamaki (senna):  cassia senna L.  (perennial herbaceous in sandy soil)
Henna lawsonia intermis  (perennial fragrant shrub)
Miswak salvadora persica (tree)
Neem Azadirachta indica (tree)

Cash Crops (trees):
            Frankincense:  boswellia sacra, boswellia seratta
            Myrrh:  commiphora myhrra, balsamodendron myrrha
            Gum Arabic (?):  acacia seyal, acacia senegal
            Miswak
            Locally known Simr (best wood for artistic charcoal)



FENCE PLANTS/Experimentals:

Gianta Agave Agave Salmiana
Ocotillo (Fouquiera Splendens)
Giant thorny bamboo (bambusa bambos)
Buddha’s belly bamboo  (bambusa tuldoides ventricosa)
Robert Young (phyllostachys viridis “Robert young”)
Red margin bamboo (phyllostachys rubromarginata)—excellent fence, shorter in deserts

 
master pollinator
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What a great list, pneal!  Some of those I can't grow because it gets too cold here, but still it is inspiring to see how many things will grow with little water in a hot (HOT!) climate. 
 
Neal Spackman
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I forgot to add:

we're also working in pigeons--for meat and manure--and building what I suspect are the first superadobe pigeon houses.  -Also honeybees.
 
                                      
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I am new to the forum. We have five acres of desert land in southern CA and I want to thank you in advance for all the ideas! Will try to post a photo of the property.
 
You'll never get away with this you overconfident blob! The most you will ever get is this tiny ad:
A rocket mass heater heats your home with one tenth the wood of a conventional wood stove
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