• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

Desert/Arizona Permaculture Fiction - Some Questions  RSS feed

 
Andrew Michaels
Posts: 75
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hey guys. I'm working on a fictional book set in part in a post-USA Arizona, specifically in Saguaro National Park near Tuscon (Sonoran Desert). I'm somewhat obsessive about correct details in my work, and I'd appreciate it if you could contribute on any of the questions below.

One of the main characters of the book has been toiling away for 30-40 years to transform the lands of the national park into what amounts to a food forest. Think, "the man who planted trees."

He's dug swales to collect water, and uses a ripped off version of Groasis Waterboxxes to get seeds/young trees started. I believe the region receives around 11.8 inches of rainfall a year, which is a ton for a desert.

Here are my questions:

1) What sort of fruit/nut trees and bushes would he be able to grow in the Sonoran desert with swales and waterboxxes but no irrigation? I'm thinking dates, figs, pomegranates, maybe some citrus?  How about Bananas? Any others?

2) What sort of nitrogen fixers would he use? Any other plants? What specific strategies/guilds might he use?

3) I think I'm going to have him build a new house every 4-5 years as it becomes too far for him to walk to the edge of his plantings. Do you think adobe would be appropriate?

4) How might he collect drinking/bathing water? Often people collect from the roof and store in a tank, but would a simple adobe work for this?

5) If you were to go out to the park today and dig a well, would there before enough groundwater to live off of? Is there enough water to support a small town on the park's 91,000 acres? (I think the character who owns the property wants to start building there, but he couldn't before because there wasn't enough water. This make sense?)

6) Would the swales lead to there being dramatically more ground water available for such use?

6) Could you explain how an aquifer differs from ground water? Also, what is the state of aquifers/ground water in that part of Arizona?

7) Is it true that the Saguaro Cacti of Arizona can no longer reproduce because young cacti can't grow up in the beating sun, but require the shade of a forest? I recall molison saying that the forests the cacti originally grew up in were cleared to grow something, and that the remaining cacti will die out without the forests.

How does one test for the water level of an area and the likelihood of it supporting a well?
Might have some more questions later, but these are the big ones. Any input you have would be appreciated. Thanks.

 
Joel Hollingsworth
pollinator
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Two nitrogen fixers I might focus on, would be mesquite (for the landscape) and azolla (for the human). The azolla would be part of an aquaponic system, with tilapia, mussels, and any plants that would need too much irrigation in an open system.

Drinking water could be had straight out of the final aquaponics filter, if the filter system is good enough, or perhaps given a final filtration through terra cotta.

A lot of calories could be harvested from the mesquite via bees (think John the Baptist: legume trees & honey). The closest hive to home might be protected from ants by sitting on a post in one of the tilapia tanks; their dead, any varroa mites, etc. would be shed into the tank and be eaten by the fish. A wick could give them a safe place to drink.

Adobe could be sealed to make a water tank, but ferrocement would be less likely to dissolve if the waterproofing developed some sort of flaw, and might be less work to drain and roll to a new place every few years than re-building an adobe system would be.

A very important feature of the system might be a solar chimney connected to a gravel-lined tunnel, to condense water. I think the tunnel would ideally be on a slope, with an opening about the same height as the top of the chimney, so that airflow reverses at night.

Another important resource would be wind-blown plastic bags, harvested from hedgerows. These can be fused into a continuous sheet using a clothes iron (in this case, the sort with burning charcoal inside) for use as the membrane in a turf roof, to line long-distance waterways...maybe with enough layers, and the proper set of mandrels, this method could produce a waterboxx-style device.

Agave and related species might be important for carbohydrates and cordage.

Prickly pear will be important. It's a great hedge species, has edible fruit and greens, can be a fire break, and can contain herds of ruminants, if keeping some would fit your narrative. Cattle ranchers apparently burn off the spines from some pads, when water and food are particularly scarce, but not so much or so often that the hedge's function is compromised.

Bananas tend to need a lot of water.

I think that having a stable food system would probably produce strong incentives for him to keep his home in place, and gradually adapt his methods to radiate out from that central location. Maybe a two-day commute by cargo bicycle, carrying allegrias and hulled sunflower seeds and kale chips and fish oil as well as some tools and supplies, to do a month's work at an outpost, move the outpost, and maybe bring back some mesquite beans.

It might be worth discussing this with Mikey and Wendy of Holy Scrap Hot Springs.
 
Andrew Michaels
Posts: 75
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
When you mention the aquaponics system, you mean an outdoor one? So its like a stream/pond surrounded by trees so it doesn't evaporate?

 
Joel Hollingsworth
pollinator
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
That was my idea, yes. I think the more animal-intensive part of it could be under the shade of a building overhang, and I've seen planting systems that do a lot to reduce evaporation, leaving the roots in a mostly-sealed container.
 
                              
Posts: 34
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Definately not bananas, the monsoon storms shred the leaves and the extremely low humidity is too much for those big leaves.

Second the mesquite, edible pods and beautiful wood as well a quick growing nitrogen fixer.  Second also the prickly pear.  Pomegranate good low water fruit tree for Sonoran Desert.  Olives do great here also. 
Can also grow apples (a couple of Israeli low chill varieties grow here), peaches, plums, apricots, and carob trees for the same water needs as citrus or dates. And grapes with a bit more water.

Native edibles include wolfberry,  hackberrry, and chiltepines.  Maybe your character could be breeding these for bigger fruit. 

Good resource is www.harvestingrainwater.com/ permaculture out of Tucson.
 
Ronald Greek
Posts: 22
Location: Outside Yuma, Arizona
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Nitrogen fixing – I thought this might be interesting for a desert fictional book, and if someone can verify it works, REALLY interesting for a desert homestead…

I’ve not seen this explained or even mentioned anywhere else, but the following is from Molleson’s ”Pamphlet IX Permaculture Techniques” Page 7.

“You will need a sand box, with a trickle-in system of water, and a couple of subsurface
barriers to make the water dodge about. Fill the box with white sand and about a quarter ounce of titanium oxide (a common paint pigment). In the presence of sunlight, titanium oxide catalyzes atmospheric nitrogen into ammonia, endlessly. You don't use up any sand or titanium oxide in this reaction. It is a catalytic reaction. Ammonia is highly water soluble. You run this ammonia solution off and cork the system up again. You don't run it continuously, because you don't want an algae buildup in the sand. You just flush out the system with water. Water your garden with it. Endless nitrogen fertilizer. If you have a situation where you want to plant in sand dunes, use a pound or two of titanium oxide. You will quickly establish plants in the sand, because nitrogen is continually produced after a rain. This solution is carried down into the sand. If you are going to lay down a clover patch on a sand dune, this is how you do it."

http://www.permacultureproject.com/pamphlets/perm07.pdf





 
Haru Yasumi
Posts: 102
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Interesting article unno.  Thank you for the link.

I don't really have much to add to the original post, but how about he has some Salvia columbariae (chia or golden chia)?
 
Ronald Greek
Posts: 22
Location: Outside Yuma, Arizona
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
How about adding to your trees Moringa. (Moringa oleifera or Moringa stenopetala) Other names for it include horseradish tree and drumstick tree (India) and benzolive (Haiti). 

See online information such as at:

http://www.treesforlife.org/documents/reprint-articles-1/eagle%20moringa.pdf/
http://www.echonet.org/content/100underutilized/760

I got my first cuttings from Mark Olsen, who did his Ph.D. thesis on this tree…  There are several places in Tucson selling cuttings/trees, and while I cannot be certain, there is a chance those sellers got their morgina start from me.  I handed out a bunch of seeds and cutting/startings at several “Sustainable Tucson” meetings. 

An extremely fast growing tree, it produces leaves tasting like spinach and pods that look like giant green beans and taste like asparagus. Its seeds yield a cooking oil.

I’ve seen Moringa described as the multi-vitamin tree, it supposedly has a great variety of unusual chemical compounds that are still being investigated for potential medicinal and industrial uses. The leaves are high in sulfur-contained amino acids methionine & cystine, often in short supply, and missing from yam vines (Yam is another of my "recommendations"

Moringa leaves are 7% protein and have extremely high levels of folates, vitamin C, carotenes, calcium, iron, and niacin.

Very drought resistant year round supplier of edible leaves. Leaves have more than 3 times the dry matter of spinach and thus are very easy to dry.  For us (YUMA,  AZ)  it grows well from seeds or branch cuttings.

If I had to bug-out with just two plants to restart somewhere as a primary food source, it would be cuttings of yam and moringa.
 
john smith
Posts: 70
Location: western u.s.
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
unno2002 wrote:
If I had to bug-out with just two plants to restart somewhere as a primary food source, it would be cuttings of yam and moringa.


Which varieties of yam for the leaves do you like?
 
rose macaskie
Posts: 2134
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
  I htought when a young man on posted the information on these forums that he was going to the desert to cultivate it and that he was going to use the desert denting method that turned desert into a a feild of grass that in the bit of bill mollisons videos about dryland strategies the denting machine had been used by and agricultural engineer to green the desert but he did not seem to have any intention of explooting that bit of desert.I thought it woild not work as weell if you wanted to earn money off the grass passign it through live stock unless it weas a very moderate amount of live stock.
  There are soiurces of income in wild land like honey and toadstools eatable fungi that can raise the productivity of the land a lot. agri rose macaskie.
 
rose macaskie
Posts: 2134
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
  In india they have several water harvesting technics, here i describe kunds.  They level out with a slight incline bits of ground and dig a chamber to hold the water that they catch at the low point of the area. the chamber called a tank has  a pretty domed roof. the catchmenta area around these tanks can measure anything from  20m square metres to 2 hectares big.
  To water proof the ground of the catchment area they use murrum, or silt from ponds, and ash and gravel. 
    I have read a account which left me feeling a bit confused about how they make the catchment floor.
   I also got confused about murrum, the first time i looked it up I read it was stones used as paving material but apparently it is lateritic clay of a type that the silicate has been washed out of, red because of the iron in it, that is used in india for huts and  paths as it compacts easily and is impermeable.

  They use pond silt, what is called gley in these forums, or and murrum, and ash, and gravel, to make a surface for  the catchment area of their kunds.
    The description is, the first one,    that they clear the area, take the plants out of it and give it a 2 to 3 or 4 percent gradient. Then they cover it in pond silt and after the first rains use a special method that is of the locality to make it semi permeable. which last part is vague. however th eir are despriptions of how to make a gley coverign to the bottom of ponds in these forums .      or -:

   Where calcium carbonate is availiable below the surface they clean the area of plants and cover it with murrum and after the first monsoon rains put goats  and sheep to trample it till compacted, they also sprinkled it with water if needed, this again leaves a semipermeable surface, our skin is semipermeable. 
    Maybe calcium carbonate is like lime and they are putting on clay, murrum is a type of clay they make a type of ement, cement is a mixture of lime and clay.

  The explanation of the use of ash is that it is not used on its own but on ground partial sealed with with murrum and pond silt, using both seems to me to be  a different recipe from the two above or maybe the two  above are meant to be one, or there is another  recipe in which murrum and pond silt are used together. The ash is spinkled on to repair the other two and  goes into the pores and seals the whole making it, impermeable.

    Gravel is only used if the ground is unsuitable for the other two alone and the other two or one or the other are put on top of the gravel.

  The tanks, underground chambers that store the collected waters are placed at the low point of the catchment area which is not always dead center if the photographes on kunds are correct- I suppose it is logical that the low point should not always be in the centre.   the walls are strengthend with a durable type of wood and then the whole covered with lime plaster and a dome shaped roof put on top . wood and the whole coverd with a dome shaped roof.    I suppose the tank underground chamber does not have to be central just to be were your paved area drains, at its low point, the slope should be of a 3 to four degree gradient. degree slope i am remembering that so i should cheque it out.

Nowdays they make the tanks of kunds with iron beams holding up the walls of the tank ,  lined in concrete with flat roof but they say these modern kunds are not so good as the old ones, the iron rusts and the concrete is not a disinfectant as lime is and doomed shaped rooves kept the whole cooler than flat ones do and stopped the humidity escaping better and i imagien the condensation would roll down the sides of the dome  back into the water . I have used a Marrocan cooking pot that has a sort of whitches hat type lid and it keeps the humidity in the stew unsally well, important in a desert obviously.
kunds of the thar desert waer harvesting thar desert.
    Here in Spain they used to use juniper wood in wells and in the viaducts of romans . the juniperus thurifera which is a very hardy wood

      Maybe a area that merely had a beaten earth floor would work if the earth was clay and not sand, if you have live stock run them on the wet mud of your water catchment area to beat down the mud, after all, a desert storm is not likely to wet the ground well enough for long enough for the water to start to sink in, so it should run of the surface of the area you have leveled with a slight inclination and cleared and maintained clear and free of plants. The maintaining it free of plants is the hard bit if it is not cemented it I suppose.  I dont know much about how rain falls in deserts, do you get long steady rains or storms?  In the on line paper, "Russian stove rebuilt" by carl oehme who rebuilt a mennonite stove he talks of the house walls  talks of a wall made from a horse manure type sod that could not be sawn it had to be chipped away and harse manure plaster. he describes grain in the manure and flour paste is put in cob for walls but horse manure has plenty of undigested grain in it, horses digestion is not as good as cows and so they have the flour paste incorporated.
 

      Manure and mud is a old fashioned or other world, ie. rural Africa, India, type place finish to buildings and floors, floors of camels dung for instance. I read an indian site about it and i have lost the site and the paper i  printed out, said manure or urine on the floor, that is cows urine, stops puddling, i don't know if it seals the  floor so you can mope up puddles or hardens it so you dont have dips forming in the floor or  if it  increases the ease with which the water goes through the earth and so you don't get puddles.

     All this may sound folksy but it is seriouse, it coiuld solve the problem a seriouse lack of money for expensive building materials poses, though it is expensive building water harvesting systems in india, they have experts doing it if poor experts and the whole water collecting area including underground tanks is somthing that is often offered to the village by rich peope or a comunity effort.  It may be possible for people in some parts of the world to use old fashioned flooring methods while it could be too too expensive to concrete a floor, so maybe using group work, and old fashioned methods could put water harvesting with in everyones reach.
        
  You must look up water harvesting in the Thar desert it is the best sight on water harvesting with the most alternative techniques. maybe the people in cob village know about old fashioned flooring techniques. i have to corrext this tomorrow i am exhausted.  rose macaskie.
 
 
Kathleen Sanderson
Posts: 995
Location: Near Klamath Falls, Oregon
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Would pistachio nuts and pinon grow there?  I was looking at a list of seeds and nuts (edible) and found those.

Kathleen
 
rose macaskie
Posts: 2134
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
  i have been bettering the bit on water harvesting which was a mess. It still is though but a  bit more accurate.
 
Ronald Greek
Posts: 22
Location: Outside Yuma, Arizona
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Long term sustainability, and in particular Arizona food production on a homestead.

www.scribd.com/doc/11849883/Sustainable-Civilization-From-the-Grass-Roots-Up

A relatively up to date version of my gardening notes/comments is at:
http://sca21.wikia.com/wiki/Mess

www.scribd.com/doc/17247875/Gaias-Garden-A-Guide-to-HomeScale-Permaculture

www.treesforlife.org

www.echonet.org

The Univeristy of Arizona provides the complete, online text of the
Master Gardener Manual - "...an essential reference for gardening in the
desert southwest..."

http://cals.arizona.edu/pubs/garden/mg/index.html
 
rose macaskie
Posts: 2134
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
  I want to say that while too much fertiliser chemical or natural manure, dung, what ever, can burn the life in the soil, killing it and so spoiling many of the most important qualities of the soil so that fertiliser is bad, in other circumstances it maybe the answer, where the ground has been overgrazed as it often has in hot places, where people try to graze more animals than such a place can take or where fear of fires encourages them to destroy the vegetation and so reduce what becomes very inflamible matter in summer when undergrowth dries,  using overgrazing as a way reducing the undegrowth, the earth gets left with no nutrients.
      If the live stock does for the plants, if they  graze and regraze them till they can't reover from the grazing and die, year after year, you in the end have no more plants and as nitrogen that can be absorbed by plants, there is nitrogen in the air but in a form that the plants can't absorb, comes from rotting plant matter or from plant matter that has gone through the belly of live stock and is rotting, if you do for the vegetation you do for the nutrients in the soil, there are no more plants to rot in the soil or to hold the atention of namilas that would otherwise fertilise the soil, so it might be worth while if you are in an area that looks deserted putting on a few nutrients and seeing what happens, it may be that it is lack of nutrients not lack of water that make the land look like a desert.

     In Spain where there is often tremendous overgrazing for fear of fires, there can be such a lack of nutrients in the soil that nothing grows there, so that it is just a question of adding nutrients if you want things to start to grow when it rains.
      My husband put some fertiliser on a piece of land where we put the car where nothing had ever grown and a lot of plants started growing there vetches, grass, dock, mallows and such, with the plants we put in as a hedge and decoration, where nothing had ever grown before.

           Overgrazing does not only cause a loss of nutrients in the soil it causes a loss of the soil itself.
    As overgrazing  does for the vegetation that protects the soil from the wind and water, the soil get blown or washed away when the vegetation has been done for. So you can be down to the rock. All this means it is not lack of water that  is the cause of a total lack of vegetation but lack of soil or and nutrients for the plants in the soil.
  If you are down to the rock, in Spain it is then up to cistus plants to recover the land, they cover hillsides that have very bad soil and eventually the detritus that falls from them, flowers, seed pods, leaves, bits of bark etc., and the breaking up of the rok that their roots do creates a new soil layer.

      The country side I know, as well as suffering from over pasturising also suffers from a heavy use of herbicides, I dont know why, i dont know if they are meant to be selective, kill some plant the shepherd does not want or whether  fear of fires and the fact that there is too hillside for the few shepherds to deal with successfully, to keep the vegetation down in without such drastic measures, means they use herbicides to supress al vegetation and reduce the fire risk that way. This means that you have to maybe seed the land with fungi and provide some sort of mulch as food for the fungi, so the fungi can remediate the land breaking down the herbicide molecules.      rose macaskie.
 
rose macaskie
Posts: 2134
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
  Did you look up "desert jihad2 video in you tube about fighting or struggling against the the desert using a petrol mulch,they just hose it on, i dont know if crude or what, it stops the evaporation of the water in the soil and three mounths after you have applied it you have damp sand instead of dry sand under your petrol filled layer to plant trees in. Some one on these forums commented on the enormouse quantity of desert they have transformed using this method in Iran.
  Geof Lawson applied thick layers of vegetable mulch that was availiable because the palestinians dont use the matter that is left over from their crops, to the ground to keep in moisture where he greened the desert. I suppose you cant skimp on anythign if its real desert you are planting up. Give your protagonist money and equipment to haul in mulch or friends who give him mulch and have lorries. He could go through the town rubbish for cardboard everyweek, but he would nedd a big van.
  Geof lawson greened the deserrt by the jordan river, his desert was not miles from all water sources, there was a little water and he used micro drips, humidity well protected from the sun by the muclh he had applied. His, triumph was to use so much less water than the project organisers  had imagined possible and that on salty soil to turn the desert into  productive desert.
  Maybe water harvesting systems could give you the water for areas that enjoyed drip irrigation. agri rose macaskie. 
 
                    
Posts: 0
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Lots of good advice above. I would also add chaya (Cnidoscolus chayamansa)  as a high protein leaf crop that can tolerate a fair amount of drought, and has been identified as a good permaculture plant for the arid southwest. Also as plants grown by the Hopi peoples - strains of corn and beans and squash that are adapted to dry conditions.

A discussion of some water issues:

5) If you were to go out to the park today and dig a well, would there before enough groundwater to live off of? Is there enough water to support a small town on the park's 91,000 acres? (I think the character who owns the property wants to start building there, but he couldn't before because there wasn't enough water. This make sense?)


As far as digging a well on any smaller property - maybe you would hit water, maybe not. Depends on what rock formations are present under the ground, and how deep one drills. There is generally some groundwater in an area, but as to how much and how easy it is to get, that is a big 'It Depends.' If it is fiction, there could easily be a small well or spring there that provided enough water to survive. The search for a well and issues with the well occasionally running dry would make for good drama if treated right.

On 90,000 acres, there is most likely going to be some available water - it might supply drinking water for a small village. How big a village? Dunno. But it would not provide lots of water for a standard 'modern' lifestyle, or would not do so for very long before being depleted.


6) Would the swales lead to there being dramatically more ground water available for such use?


Yes, a good system of swales can put water into the soil. If there is a desert hillside that gets occasional heavy storms, a lot of water will ordinarily run off into the arroyos (maybe causing flash-flooding downstream). Catching even a fraction of that can be very significant.

If an inch or two per year of the rain that falls on 10 or 100 acres can be caught, we are talking about a substantial amount of water - even if half of it cannot be recovered from the ground, we are talking about the possibility of making hundreds of thousands or millions of gallons of water available.

This water can be used by deep rooted plants and also to recharge the aquifer and supply wells. It will not let people get lazy and wasteful, it will necessarily turn the entire desert green, but it can create a series of oases or improve the overall health of a large area.


6) Could you explain how an aquifer differs from ground water? Also, what is the state of aquifers/ground water in that part of Arizona?


An aquifer is described as an underground body of water and/or the geological formation that holds the water. Ground water is any water in the ground - so the concepts overlap, but are somewhat different.

In most of the dry areas of the US, the large aquifers are being sucked dry at a rapid pace. Even before they run completely dry, levels drop and it costs more to pump the water to the surface. The Ogallalla aquifer stretching from Texas to the north is a good example of depletion that is starting to affect human activities like agriculture.

In mountainous areas, the aquifers closer to the surface will usually be smaller, more isolated, and more complicated due to folding  and cracking of the rock layers. 

How does one test for the water level of an area and the likelihood of it supporting a well?


Drilling for water is part art, part science, part luck. There are signs and clues, but one never knows for sure until they drill. Especially in isolated areas where there is complex, little studied geology. 

Watch out for Shai-Hulud!!
 
Joel Hollingsworth
pollinator
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'd like to retract the idea of making a Waterboxx out of plastic film. Rose's discussion of the power of mulch suggests to me that more good would be done, with the same level of effort and quantity of material, by only fusing together film a few layers thick, and using the resulting membrane to line wicking beds which trap moisture.

Much more durable and greater capacity than a Waterboxx, plus the ability to support a polyculture all in one go.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9742
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
184
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
http://www.harvestingrainwater.com/
 
rose macaskie
Posts: 2134
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
  Talking of swales and Sepp Holzers many ponds that work the same as swales do, that hold the water so it can sink in instead of letting it run of and drain down into the sea. maybe one should think of rivers as drains rather than as suppliers of water. An indian says mother earth is generouse she drinks an ddrinks but then she gives up the water we should think of a full earth instead of full rivers as our best source of supply of water. 
    sepp holzer points out in the video of him made in South America and therefore in Spanish, that the ponds stop flash flooding further down the river, if we can make a lot of ponds and sepp makes a lot for his sice property  presumably if thier was a heaqvy rain event the rain would fill the many ponds instead of causeign flooding lower down the river and as floods are part of global warming making provisions that stop rivers floodign is important. 
  When i was young people talked of Israel greening the desert and they said you do it from the edges, as  a burn cures from the edges into the center. If we can increase the vegetation in scrub lands round extreme deserts maybe we can bring more rain to deserts. Remembering that that would be to make sure the whole of Spain were as green as it could be to bring more rain to Marrocco and the Sahara. Spain is at least a thousand kilometers across from north to south I think, that is a big band of predesert and could be a lot greener than it is if green manures and cover crops were used and overgrazing stoppped. rose macaskie.
 
rose macaskie
Posts: 2134
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I have been loooking up rain water harvesting in India again and they say that it is important to have tanks for families. it releases them from dependce on the comunal waer sources and the tanks in their own houses are nearer to them and you dont have to queque for water. It is also good if everyone practices water harvesting then less water gets wasted.
    In india people have underground chambers as tanks to store rain water harvested from their rooves in traditioanl houses.
      The video also said that it was very goood if schools build themselves an undeground tank to collect the water from their roofs, more girls go to scholol if WCs are provided it seems.  T he individual water harvesting systems systems are cheaper and that makes them more easily availiable and  you dont have to walk far for water if you have collect water  from your own roof in a tank.You can collect a lot of water from your own roof.
  The indian seem to htink underground tanks are much more efficient than the waqter towers europeans provide in africa that they last better and if fitted with a pump assure that people dont take more water than they need preventign waste of water.

        They also have recharge wells in India. The overflow from private water harvesting systems, in the one i saw a video of the water harvesting of the water from their roof, their system  included a sand filter to filter the water  before it went into the underground tank built  to store the water, and they also had a a twenty foot recharge well that took any run off from the tank should ithe tank fill up too full and the water that ran off the garden. The recharge well is made to recharge the water system, it is built deep enough to take the water down into some part of the soil that is permeable and will carry the water off into the earth. So that it recharges the ground water, and stops flash flooding.
      Water harvesting the water from your roof is traditional in India.
      Water harvesting is old in india and the great thing about it compared with taking up underground water through wells is that it often refills the water table instead of emptying it, making dry wells full of water, again ditto rivers and  creating springs further downhill. 

          They also have recharge wells in the ditches that run along the road, so that storm water run off from the road goes down into the ground to recharge ground water. These  were circular wells dug into the ground and lined with rings of concrete.
          In one video the system of wells in the ditches beside the roads included a way of shutting off the recharge well if anything should contaminate the water running off the road so that the contaminated water just runs down the ditch drains of to where all other dirty town water goes without entering the recharge wells. the town water drain gets cleaned up. 
      The man with a recharge well in his house  sounded proud to recharge ground water rather than using and exhasting ground water. I would sound proud too to if it were me.
      Apparently a recharge well is called a leaky well in Australia.

      They also had  a fish pond in anoother video and the comment that it was a retaining pond not a percolating pond as it was for fish. So the ponds that as well as holding usefull water for the locals have a mud bottom or other impermable bottom  fill up underground waters are called percolation ponds . You can look up recharge well in you tube. agri rose macaskie.
 
rose macaskie
Posts: 2134
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
  You could write your story about the man who omplemented water harvesting techniques in all the desert, so making it possible to grow things. There is such a man in India, a arevedic doctor Rajendra Singh who decided water was what the people needed more than they needed medical attention, well an old man told him that what was necessary was water rather than health so it was the old mans idea. agri rose macaskie.
 
Ronald Greek
Posts: 22
Location: Outside Yuma, Arizona
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
For your fictional isolated post-crash homestead, how about some version of a “dew pond” for extra water? The thread in this board should have enough details and links to work it into the story.

http://www.permies.com/bb/index.php?topic=3589.0

In the physical world, dew collection can work, but not to provide a lot of water...

Presenting numbers for perspective.  Assume a daily water need of 174 gallons (658.6 liters) - 658,660 grams of water.  In a Tucson fall day, each of us would need to "wring" all of the water out of more than a million cubic meters of air  (1,069,252) - a cube 100 meters on a side.  If the cross section of the cooling tube is a meter, and the device operates 24/7, and is 100% efficient, the required flow rate is 12 meter per second.  DON’T panic, that’s only about 28 mph.  At that speed though, the air must stay in the chilled zone long enough for the vapor to condense. 

The heat to be moved is about 14 billion calories.  (55.6 million BTU) The water portion of this number is about 450 million calories (1.8 million BTU).  Depending on device efficiency, SOME part of the other 1 billion calories should be able to be conserved in a heat exchanger.

Increasing the pressure also changes the dew point.  Double the pressure and relative humidity doubles.  Assume normal atmospheric pressure of 14 PSI.  Pump the fall Tucson air into a tank at 28 PSI and the relative humidity inside is now 14%.  Make it 56 PSI - 28%.  102 PSI - 56%.  204 PSI - 102%, and you've got water accumulating in the bottom of the tank. 

BUT, the "boss" is telling me to sign off fo the night...
 
rose macaskie
Posts: 2134
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
  Someone in another thread asked why it i important to know how much water you can harvest off an acre of land, how many gallons an inch of water on an acre is.
      I have been thinking about it and i thought, it helps you see how some places in deserts should have water. If rain falls on hills a lot of it or some of it, overground or underground will run down into valleys making places that can support vegetation and for the sake of the fiction how small populations if the people of hte populations dont expect too use too much water can live in the desert. agri rose macaskie.



       
 
rose macaskie
Posts: 2134
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
    I read, in a study on how the water on leaf surface of american junipers increases the water within the trees, that often the showers in deserts are light that woould mean not much run off.
        If trees absorb water that falls on them which the experiment indicated they did, this means that the light shower on trees does not get lost, the water does not simply evaporate again it gets taken up by the tree. THat wooul dbe true of dew too. Power to the vegetable kingdom.
    In the pros and cons of vegetabes as entities that take water from the earth or that preserve the earths water, this is  plus for plants, another reason to prove they preserve more than they loose through transpiration.
    The fact that it rains more were there is a lot of tree proves they increase the humidity of a place  though they take up water and lose it in respiration and like activities, so it is already proved but that we should understand why helps us to believe and be less afraid that the competition of other vegetation is going to spoil our main dry country crops such as olives. 
  If we have lots of plants though they compete with the main crop it means that the ground is shaded that there are plants to produce vegetable matter to better the earth and to fill the earth with roots, that stop the earth compacting and to help the water move into the earth and produce substances that help the earth. agri rose macaskie.
 
rose macaskie
Posts: 2134
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
  Rustic bohemian asks about what Bill Mollison says about the saguaro cacti. 
    I wanted to say Bill Mollison says they need a forest that covers them up to the level of the first branches of grown saguero cactus level.
    Maybe it is a normal term for experts but i dont think that laymen call anything so relatively low growing a forest.  Somehting that grew that low would be a forest of hardy desert bushes i suppose, trees get taller than that so all the things that grow in deserts like grease bushes. forest kochea, old man salt bush, rocky mountain curley leaved mahogoney tree would maybe be the forest he is talking about.
    Maybe he means the arizonica, a tree that i read  hardley groows in Arizona anymore and they are pretty. It would be nice to see a wood of them.
    Many of the desert bushes are forage plants. 
    I suppose you should grow what is normal to Arizona though, not what belongs to other places. agri rose macaskie.

 
 
rose macaskie
Posts: 2134
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
      Talking of desert bushes, the bushes that produce forage are a way of living in the desert, it seems more normal, tradtitionaly for desert people to live off the meat of animals that can eat hardy bushes than for them to live off the tender vegetables we huñmans eat.
      A good sight for forage plants in dry conditions is “Range Plants of Utah”

       Talking of hardy bushes a fodder crop here in spain is the kitchen herb time that grows everywhere on some hillls pretty densly and rosemary and lavender. I have heard that a mutton stew calderetta made of mountain fed mutton somehtign difficult to buy now was deliciouse, if you can establish a lot of time bushes it may be that you can produce gourmet meat, gourmet and ecological and as things like that can be very expensive they are maybe a way farmers can survive the competition from factory farming.
    Gorse is another forage bush and it grows in Spain, so a pretty dry country one. agri rose macaskie.
 
Ronald Greek
Posts: 22
Location: Outside Yuma, Arizona
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Checking back, any progress on the book?

 
Terri Matthews
Posts: 469
Location: Eastern Kansas
4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
In California, which also gets maybbe 12 inches a year, there were a few hazelnuts and rather more of the wild onions. As a kid I ate both.
 
rose macaskie
Posts: 2134
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
water harvesting recharges the underground water when it is the sort o f water harvesting that is the collection of rainwater in the rainy season in ponds. If water is lying around in ponds a certain amount sinks into the ground if these ponds have a natural bed rather than a concrete one, that will hold the water but lose a bit.
 
      We think of rivers as channels that carry water to the next village, it is also possible to think of them as channels that carry the water off the land and dump it in the sea. a motorway for losing the water as fast as possible.
      If the land has bad absorption and retention of water then the rain will flow off it into the rivers as it flows off roofs, very fast and river will fill on the day of the rain event carry off the water and be low again the next day.
      A big rain event will fill a river with water that rushes to the sea like a bowling ball that goes down the bowling alley into the secret place bowling balls go into at the end of the alley.
        If you catch the water in ponds and swales and puddles forcing it to stand a while on the land till it sinks in  it will precolate through the soil into  and then it flow to the river . It should reach the river slowly and little by little and the earth will filter it . You want to stop the water being carried off to the sea, you need it on the land.
        You also want it to get to the sea in the end, if you irrigate the land with it in a hot climate a lot of it will evaporate off instead of going into the earth. You need it to goin into the earth and then wick up if it goes in to the earth the earth will regurgitate in lower down so in hte end it will get to the sea  sea and lakes can dry up if there is a lot of irrigation in dry coutries and bodies of water like forest create rain, if we dry them up then we reduce our rainfall.
    If the water percolates through the ground to the river as it seeps out drop by drop it should provide a steadier flow to the river than it would if it had run off the land as it does off a roof top.

    One village pond i saw  in videos on india, it was one of zen rain mans videos, had a well by it, I suppose the earth fills with water under a pond and so it is a good place for a well, and i suppose taht the well water might be more filtered than the po9nd water and tha<t the well will continue running when tha tond has run dry in the dry season.
  THey had a pottery factory in the middle of the pond that had something to do with using the silt they dredge from the botom of the pond to stop it silting up. they used the silt in the pottery making it seems. Maybe i ought to listen to this till i understand it before writing about it. Maybe it is a fire precautionary measure having you kilns in the middle of ponds. Maybbe they are alwys diggin gtheir onds a bit deeper in the dry season and so they are always taking a bit of clay out of them.Sislt might make a glaze?
    Plenty of people live in the Thar desert in north india, they loook very clean but i suppose they dont use half the water we consider absolutely necessary in their daily life.
      A lot of the water we use is used in agriculture, if we reduced agriculture to what could be grown in each climatic region without irrigation we would reduce our  use of water. rose macaskie.
 
rose macaskie
Posts: 2134
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
  As dry bvegetation is a fire risk and there is a lot of that in summer in desert regions and fear of fires tends to be a reason for the inhabitants not to want to greatly increase the vegetation which would help heal the deserts, i found Chelles idea of cutting the grasses so as to use the seed for your hens inspiring. How to tempt people to cut the grass would be one way of reducing the fire riskthat grass supposes in regions with a dry season. It must be easier to control fires in short grass.
    While people depend on animals to reduce the vegetation and so fire risk in these areas and to keep the land sleared so tha thu¡nter can pass through it.  As animals always have the same feed needs all year round while our need to cut all the grass is in summer the two ends, feeding live stock and reducing all vegetation for the dry season don't meet.
      Norrmally, if you want a plentiful supply of pasture for your live stock, you take them off afeild when the y have eaten it down to stop them pullin git up and eating the lowest m'¡bits of grass and the roots. If  they have  have just left one feild to recover because it has just been eaten to an inch or so off the ground you put them onto a fully recovered feild and you hav ea feild that has ¡half recovered.. Maybe you need four feilds for one to have time to fully recover from the last bout of pasturising. This is a a schematic account of a normal situation. THtis beign the situation, you cant expect the live stock to suddenlly eat down the two feilds with grass on the one that is half recovered and the totally recoverd feild  in time for the dry season.
      In terms of mountain side that would be two thirds of you mountain side with more grass on it than you felt to be safe during the dry season . Animal always have the same appetite more or less, their appetite does not increase because you are afraid of fires. So the only answer for shepherds who wish to protect their villages from fire is just to make sure there is never much vegetation by going over the same spot till they do for the pasture beyond recovery before moving on. That way there are always a few blades of grass for a few goats while you dont have much live stock,  but never enough to make a dagerous fire.
    If people could be allowed to take any vegetation that they mowed then maybe they would be willing to mow the mountainsides just before the dry season. the grass they took away would be organic matter lost to that mountainside that did not got to improve it soils but the soil of the mountain sides would still benefit from the roots of the grass that was with this system allowed to grow and anyleaves that died down in winter say and whatever depth of grass the mowing left behind. All this is much better than nothing.
      CHelle says the seeds of the grass will feed hens. The stalks could be kept as hay or the hay kept to rot down and make earth. Maybe they couldd sell the earth they made or sell shedde straw to permacultulrists as lighten and mulch, maybe they could use it to make a good vegetable garden that hardly needed water it had such good soils. absolutely jam packed with vegetable matter.
  You could steam or boil it to sterilise it and then jam the hay in to plastic bags stabbed in variouse places to give the mushrooms a place to grow out of, wtih a bit of paul stamets mushroom spawn and grow a crop of mushrooms to improve your diet and only afterwards  turn it to soil. agri rose macaskie. rose macaskie
 
rose macaskie
Posts: 2134
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I saw an documentary of the journey of some pretty old, native Austarlians. to where they lived as children and the desert seemed to be full of grass and I wondered if the crazy anglosaxons, who dont fear fire risk and create lots of vegetation in dry places, though in other ones they cause desertification, had not let the grass grow changing this landscape so the places these native ASustralians had looked after were vastly different from what they had known as children. I belive the aborigines used to use fire to clear the land. agri rose macaskie.
 
Mike Dayton
Posts: 149
Location: sw pa zone 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Maybe your Hero could use a stick to devine the under ground water which is held back by the swales and ponds.  Not everyone has this Gift,  but I am sure you can give your Hero this power.  He can then map out the undergroung streams and plant his trees on top of the underground water ways.  Long term their roots would reach the water and they would explode with new growth.  I have this power and have maped many underground streams for peoples wells.  Having him dig hand dug wells maybe far getched because of the depths of the water.  Maybe digging a hand dug well by a pond could work for him,  I thought that was a Great idea.  Just a thought,  The water leaching from the swales will feed the ground and could make new underground streams.  Good luck with the book. 

PS  Many people feel that you need to use a peach limb or some other kind of fruit to devine water.  I have found that any kind of branch will work as long as it is Green.  A dry stick will not work.  It is more a matter of how you hold the stick that matters.  And of course you have to have the Gift. 
 
CLUCK LIKE A CHICKEN! Now look at this tiny ad:
Thread Boost feature
https://permies.com/wiki/61482/Thread-Boost-feature
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!