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Swales and dams in a flat, subtropical/tropical, rainy area?  RSS feed

 
Andrew Michaels
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Hey guys.

I'm seriously considering a 6-acre parcel in South America. 

Permaculture really emphasizes the need for water harvesting earthworks like swales and damns. I'm just curious about the need for these tropical areas with lots of rainfall.

The land is almost flat, so it's not like the water is running down hill right? I could see the need for a damn for watering, but how do you fill it on flat land with no way to build swales that drain to it?

Anyone with experience in this type of terrain/climate appreciated.

If you don't use these as major elements of your forest, do you just start planting trees?



 
                        
Posts: 34
Location: Big Island, Hawaii
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How much rainfall? How is the soil (get a soil test if possible, most tropical high rainfall soil is seriously deficent in macro nutrients, particularly available phosphorus) What is growing there already?

If the soil is decent, or at least not sandy, there will be huge water reserves in the ground. Trees can be planted, mulched and watered, and left to their own devices. They will be hardier trees if left to deal without irrigation.

For establishing trees or gardens far from my house catchment, I put out 55gallon drums and a tarp to collect rain. A 20x20 tarp will catch something like 300 gallons for every inch of rain.

Build a pond or big tank near your house. A smaller elevated tank can collect water from a high roof for household use and irrigating zone 1 gardens without the use of pumps, and the extr runoff lead into the larger tank. Route graywater to a banana patch or sugar cane.

If there is standing vegetation, leave it be, and start small. Don't cut down jungle until you've maximized zone 1. If there is little erosion happening, don't mess with land you don't need - maybe an acre for a family. An acre is enough for gardens and poultry to feed four folks. If you've got the capital to establish broadscale orchards, be sure to use proven vareities from the local area, and know the harvesting requirement and market potential. 5 acres of a few vareities of productive, proven trees will be enough for a living. Trials of new species take years.

Oh, and keep the lawn very small, just big enough for a BBQ and hangout space. Lawns add little to the soil and leach nutrients in heavy rain. In flat areas nutrients are flushed into the subsoil where they are locked up. Still there but only big trees can pull them back up. That's one advantage of this type of site - it's like a vault full of goodies, and taprooted trees are the key. 

Subtropic living is da best! My girlfriend grew up in chile. What country is the land in?   
 
                                  
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"Flat" is never "flat." The water will go somewhere.

Also, how deep is the water table? You might be more concerned about drainage and raised beds to keep waterlogging-sensitive plants above flood waters.

I'm on flat subtropical land with a high water table. I wish I had used heavy equipment to make "pit and mound" or some form of raised areas for tree planting when I first started out.
 
Daniel Ashley
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So where do you currently live now if you don't mind me asking, and why South America? I am asking because I'm looking to move possibly to Uruguay, or somewhere in that area. Pretty much the same idea, buy some land and try to live off of it.
 
Andrew Michaels
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I grew up in CT and lived/worked there for years, but I've been wandering around southeast Asia for the last 8 months. I'm currently in Thailand.

South America because it's cheaper and less regulated than land in Florida. I'm considering north Chile, panama, Costa Rica, and maybe Ecuador.

I'm a raw foodist, I like hot weather, and want to be able to grow fruit all year long. The tropics offer that. Southeast Asia is great, but it's hard to legally acquire land here as a foreigner.

Daniel Ashley wrote:
So where do you currently live now if you don't mind me asking, and why South America? I am asking because I'm looking to move possibly to Uruguay, or somewhere in that area. Pretty much the same idea, buy some land and try to live off of it.
 
                      
Posts: 76
Location: Austin,TX
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Look at the rain patterns as the area probably has a wet and dry season. So you'll need water during the dry.

ape99
 
Ben Bishop
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RusticBohemian wrote:
I grew up in CT and lived/worked there for years, but I've been wandering around southeast Asia for the last 8 months. I'm currently in Thailand.

South America because it's cheaper and less regulated than land in Florida. I'm considering north Chile, panama, Costa Rica, and maybe Ecuador.

I'm a raw foodist, I like hot weather, and want to be able to grow fruit all year long. The tropics offer that. Southeast Asia is great, but it's hard to legally acquire land here as a foreigner.



HAHA Andrew what's up brother? This is Ben from 30Bad. What a coincidence! Let me know if you ever buy that plot of land. I just so happen to have been studying tropical permaculture for the past year
 
Andrew Michaels
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Hey Ben.

Where have you been studying tropical permaculture?

I'm taking my PDC starting on the 15th here in Thailand.

BenB wrote:
HAHA Andrew what's up brother? This is Ben from 30Bad. What a coincidence! Let me know if you ever buy that plot of land. I just so happen to have been studying tropical permaculture for the past year
 
Ben Bishop
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Well, I should stay I have been self-studying. I've read several books on permaculture and tropical small scale farming. Got a lot more to learn and hope you will share what you get out of your course in Thailand! I hope to relocate to the tropics around 5 years from now give or take a few years. This February I am spending sometime in the Virgin Islands. I don't know if there will be any farmable land for sale there but I would sure love to live there!
 
I am going down to the lab. Do NOT let anyone in. Not even this tiny ad:
permaculture bootcamp - boots-to-roots
https://permies.com/t/59706/permaculture-bootcamp-boots-roots
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