Less than 15 hours left in our kickstarter!

New rewards and stretch goals. CLICK HERE!



  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

The dream: Desert to oasis :-) :-)  RSS feed

 
salima musi
Posts: 8
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi Permies
I have been reading about permaculture and this forum for few months now and when i am about to make a plan and start my food forest and vegetable garden, i really dont know where to start ((
The land is in Morocco near Marrakech with a hot semi-arid climate, mild damp winters about 280mm rain and hot dry summers. Average temperatures range from 12 °C (54 °F) in the winter to 32–45 °C (90–113 °F) in the summer.
I have attached pictures of the very dry soil, it is a 2 acre land, i will dig a well and put a tent up to live in while i am building the adobe brick home.
I am not sure i got everything right from my research, but that's my plan and please tell me if i m missing something:

1- Buy or find some mulch (wood ships, cut lawn from surrounding resorts) and cover about a quarter of an acre to start with (i ll start small and see what happens while i am building the house
2- Get some manure (donkey or cow) and put it on top of the mulch.
3- buy some nitrogen fixing plants from the nursery, plant and water
4- keep watering until they grow
5- in 6 months time the soil should be good enough to plant trees.

Is that right?
 
salima musi
Posts: 8
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Pictures
Screen Shot 2015-03-21 at 18.21.17.png
[Thumbnail for Screen Shot 2015-03-21 at 18.21.17.png]
 
salima musi
Posts: 8
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
and the view of my deserty paradise
Screen Shot 2015-03-21 at 18.21.27.png
[Thumbnail for Screen Shot 2015-03-21 at 18.21.27.png]
 
Dave Burton
pollinator
Posts: 1026
Location: Greater Houston, TX US Hardy:9a Annual Precipitation: 44.78" Wind:13.23mph Temperature:42.5-95F
109
bike books forest garden tiny house transportation urban
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Welcome to permies Salima! Yes, you have the general idea down! geoff lawton's Greening The Desert, Desert Oasis, Gabions, Oasis in American Desert, and Desert Check Dams videos may be useful. They explain some very good techniques for regreening the desert.
 
Jd Gonzalez
Posts: 215
Location: Virginia,USA zone 6
13
forest garden greening the desert hunting trees
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Don't forget Neal Spackman, amazing work in Saudi Arabia.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/user/albaydha[/youtube]

https://instagram.com/al_baydha/

http://www.albaydha.org/who-we-are.html
 
salima musi
Posts: 8
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thank you guys
Yep! I have watched all of these over and over again these last weeks..
I m glad i got it 😊
So no diging, mulch, water, manure, planting, mulch,water again and again and again until my well dries up 😃
Is it a good idea to plant nitrogen fixing plants (comfrey, alfa alfa) at the start of the summer? In June when temperatures reach the 100F / 45C ? Will they be ok if given enough water? or shall i wait for automn (November) ? Which is in 6 months... Such a long wait!! I m too excited to wait but i dont wanna start with a failure 😁 i need to keep my energy up with such a bad soil in an aride climate.
All advices or experiences are welcome
 
Jd Gonzalez
Posts: 215
Location: Virginia,USA zone 6
13
forest garden greening the desert hunting trees
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
You need to capture and retain water/moisture and slow evaporation-

Start with swales on contour to capture and hold water.

Then nitrogen fixing, biomass making, flowering, shade trees in the swales to slow water loss.

Add your biomass inputs as you mentioned, manure, grass clippings mulch.

Plant ground covers that need little water to survive. Any local succulent ground covers in the area? Use those.

Then in autumn I would plant the comfrey and alfalfa.

Godspeed
 
Dave Burton
pollinator
Posts: 1026
Location: Greater Houston, TX US Hardy:9a Annual Precipitation: 44.78" Wind:13.23mph Temperature:42.5-95F
109
bike books forest garden tiny house transportation urban
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
salima musi wrote:
So no diging, mulch, water, manure, planting, mulch,water again and again and again until my well dries up 😃
Is it a good idea to plant nitrogen fixing plants (comfrey, alfa alfa) at the start of the summer? In June when temperatures reach the 100F / 45C ? Will they be ok if given enough water? or shall i wait for autumn (November) ?


Not quite. There are different ways of approaching this. Even with mulching, the high June temperatures will cause evaporation loss, and the seedlings may get too stressed from the direct sunlight. Native trees can be planted in your area to act as "nurse trees" to protect and shade the soil and the seedlings from the sun's desiccating rays. Also, the nurse trees will slow evaporation with the shade they cast and help develop the soil with the biomass they produce. Your fruit tree seedlings can then be grown under the protection of the nurse trees after the nitrogen fixers have done their job under the nurse trees' protection.

Nurse trees are also referred to as pioneer trees because they help in the early succession of ecosystem development. As your fruit and nut trees get taller, the nurse trees can be pruned or cut down and used as mulch for the production trees.

Jd Gonzalez wrote:You need to capture and retain water/moisture and slow evaporation-

Start with swales on contour to capture and hold water.

Then nitrogen fixing, biomass making, flowering, shade trees in the swales to slow water loss.

Add your biomass inputs as you mentioned, manure, grass clippings mulch.

Plant ground covers that need little water to survive. Any local succulent ground covers in the area? Use those.

Then in autumn I would plant the comfrey and alfalfa.

Godspeed


I generally think that is a good assessment of what to do. If earthworks are going to be used, it is highly recommended to do those first.
 
Michael Cox
Posts: 1621
Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
51
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Seconding the call for earthworks - it looks like there are small erosion gullies on your soil surface suggesting that in your rainfall events you get plenty of flowing surface water. Your aim should be to catch and sink as much of that water as possible into your soil so that it doesn't flow away across your downstream property boundary. You might also be able to direct more water onto your land by looking upstream. Do you have any drainage ditches or road surfaces uphill that could be diverted to add run off to your land? Think about running on contour swales that would fill whatever running surface water there is.

As others have said, you should aim to get these in place before anything else - they will be the skeleton that everything else you do hangs from.

Swales are described as tree growing systems - they concentrate and sink flowing surface water in the soil which sinks deep and is protected from evaporation. The water moves slowly downslope through the soil from the swale and the deep roots of perennial plants can access this water even months later through droughts. To plan you swales you need an accurate contour map of your land. This can be done using pegs and an A-frame to "walk" along a contour.
 
S Bengi
Posts: 1357
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even distribution
9
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I would plant the land with 90% native nitrogen fixing plants. Then after 2+ kill a few of them and use that as additional mulch. Planting a fruiting berry in the place of the tree you just culled
.
 
Nic Haire
Posts: 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi Salima

It seems like every one else is giving you good advice. I agree with your thoughts on starting small. Whatever you do, do things properly. That way you wont waste your time and effort.
You may want to investigate/experiment with growing under shade cloth in a small area until your trees give you enough shade,
I hope you keep us posted on how it progresses.
 
salima musi
Posts: 8
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thanks guys, i am so glad i m getting all these advices

This is the first plan i made with small observation of land but it will probably change when it is starts raining and i have a better idea or rain flow, wind direction…

I wont be installing any drip irrigation at this point, do you think putting "ollas" right at the beginning next to native nursing trees is a good irrigation idea?
permaculture deisgn.jpg
[Thumbnail for permaculture deisgn.jpg]
 
elle sagenev
Posts: 1275
Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
16
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
salima musi wrote:Thanks guys, i am so glad i m getting all these advices

This is the first plan i made with small observation of land but it will probably change when it is starts raining and i have a better idea or rain flow, wind direction…

I wont be installing any drip irrigation at this point, do you think putting "ollas" right at the beginning next to native nursing trees is a good irrigation idea?


I like the olla idea. Bit more work for you but same basic watering concept. I must admit that I can't run drip all over my property so I'm using milk jugs in an olla similar way.
 
salima musi
Posts: 8
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Yeah ollas are the way to go for the desert, i can get them quite cheap here
I will post my progress in this tread, thank you all and happy permaculturing.
 
S Bengi
Posts: 1357
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even distribution
9
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I would recommend that you planting at the start of the 'wet' season. So that the plants can grow, then go dormant during the hot dry season.

Get alot of native seeds and throw them on the ground, then mulch.
I would focus on growing only super cheap support trees the 1st two years. Then once you have the skill down, and some amount of shade and soil life, kill some of the support trees and use it as mulch. Then spend my money buying and planting expensive productive plants.

Seeing as how you are already working on your house, dont do too many big project at the same time. Use the two year to get cover tree going.
 
Rob Browne
Posts: 65
Location: Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Is the area fenced off? You don't want to be feeding your neighbours goats with your trees.
 
salima musi
Posts: 8
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thanks S Bengi

Rob Browne : I will fence it Hahaha
 
Jeff Hodgins
Posts: 193
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Id go with a fast growing shelter crop like Napier grass
 
Dale Hodgins
gardener
Posts: 6146
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
192
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
It looks very sandy. If you have any rocky spots, try planting among them. My brother Jeff (above) has found that some things do better at the base of a rock pile. When the sand gets to 140, the soil under the rocks may reach 90. Rain washes down, rather than being absorbed at the surface, where it would soon be lost to evaporation. Rocks are the best sun hat.

Rock piles are home to many snakes.
 
Rob Browne
Posts: 65
Location: Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
As you said you were starting small I would be looking at those small washouts and put a couple of swales across them to spread the water into your starter patch. Plant your pioneer species seeds into the swale wall and mulch is up. Starting at the beginning of the wet season is a great idea.

Cheers
Rob.
 
Neal Spackman
Posts: 103
Location: Makkah, Saudi Arabia
20
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
السلام عليكم يا سليمة

Given the low slope, you may want to look into imprinting rather than swales, though that also depends on where you are in the watershed. You get around 5 times as much rain as we do, so if you play your cards right you probably don't have to irrigate.

If your pond is naturally occurring, there are a couple options you can take. Geoff would connect to over-flow swales to that pond for when you get decent rainfalls. If it's not naturally occuring, I would advise against it since open water storage in hot/dry climates is going to cause you to lose a great deal of it to evaporation.

You can do some great mediterranean guilds there--Byron Joel probably has the best sources I know of for guilding in that region. Good luck! There are some other projects going on in Morocco--have you connected with others in your area?
 
salima musi
Posts: 8
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thank you or rocky spot idea!
There is no natural pond occurring on the land, i am planing to dig one and plant some aquatic plants to filtrate the water to make it suitable for swimming and probably growing some edible aquatic plants on the sides, and use the some of the evaporation to create a microclimate to grow a banana and a mango tree, "Hopefully" if it does work i ll just replace them with usual Mediterranean trees to provide some shade to limit evaporation

Imprinting seems effective and by doing those instead of swales i could avoid making a contour map that i find challenging, but i dont know where i can get a machine to make these patterns Morocco and if i find it how much the rental would cost, i wonder if it could be done by hand?

I have sent many emails to get in contact with the owner of a small permaculture farm in my region, it is the only project i found online, they have a blog and run PDCs but i dont have a reply yet, it was 2 months ago...i also contacted a permaculture expert to ask for the fees to have a look at my land and give some advice, i never got a reply it was 3 weeks ago...so no i didn't connect with any one around here, if any are reading this discussion, please get in touch
 
Neal Spackman
Posts: 103
Location: Makkah, Saudi Arabia
20
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I have done imprinting by hand with a team of folks. It is very labor intensive, but it is doable. Are you planning on digging your swales by hand? Might I also suggest fish-scale berms & basins? It's impossible to make a recommendation without understanding where you are in your watershed, how much runoff you typically have in a year, and how much you might expect in a 100 year event.

I will however strongly recommend AGAINST putting in a pond. Mangos and bananas do not need humidity in the air to grow--they create humidity in the air through evapotranspiration. A pond will cause you to lose a tremendous amount of water in an arid setting, when you would be much better off storing that water in a tank, or in the ground. Then again, my assumptions about your climate might be off--are you in coastal Morocco? Are you up in the mountains? On the rain shadow side or the the side that will get a better orographic effect?

Neal
 
Waqas Ahmad
Posts: 1
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I have exactly the same situation here but rather difficult than yours I can see clouds in your photos but where I am doing this it hardly rains 2 inches in a year. Cholistan Desert in Pakistan. My goal is to convert it to a pasture for cows, buffalows, goats, sheep and chicken. Here is how I am doing it.

1. Divide the land in 12 zones and instead of using wire or electricity on the border I am sowing lemon trees at every 5 feet distance and every 4th plant is melburry and every 8th plant is Shreen I dont know what it is called in english and did not find any picture of it I will upload its photo so if anyone can recognize can name it. It is a very common tree here and the good thing about it is that from cows to goats all the animals love its branches and it grows good in deserts for

2. Inside these zones for shade I am using CHINABERRY the goats love its fruit and it also grows very fast.

3. guar, Chickpeas and the natual herbs, weeds and grass I am letting them grow not taking out anything.

4. On the beds of all the trees planted aloevera plants which also works good in the desert.

The trees I have used on the border will stop the sand lemon trees will be clipped to form a hedge and will be providing lemons too the rest of the trees will provide both food for animals and fruit for humans. I completed all this 20 days ago and till now even the harsh winds have started moving the sand arround these trees are all standing fine.

I hope this helps you through your plan. If you or anyone else has any comments or suggestions please do.
 
John Stannum
Posts: 14
Location: NSW Australia
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Zai culture might be your answer. Dig a hole and plant seeds at the bottom. Water and organic matter wash into the holes and stay there.
I have seen pictures of fields of spade sized holes side by side row after row.
In africa large crops of sorghum have been grown this way.
 
Sam Phillips
Posts: 18
Location: Tuscon, AZ
books forest garden greening the desert
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
If you haven't already read these books check out rain water harvesting for dry lands by Brad Lancaster and Alternative Crops for Dryland by Scott O'Bar. Rain water harvesting gives detailed information on building all the main types of earthworks and eventually raising your ground water level and Alternative Crops is a book of perennial crops that show promise. I think the combination of those 2 resources is very practical.
 
Run away! Run away! Here, take this tiny ad with you:
paul's latest kickstarter
https://permies.com/t/65247/permaculture-design/permaculture-design-alternative-technology-live
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!