Cath Johnstone

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since Oct 24, 2012
I am a recent PDC graduate, now a Permaculture Diploma apprentice, volunteering in Kenya and Tanzania whilst doing designs for my diploma portfolio. If anyone doing anything similar would like to form a peer group with me I'd like to hear from you!
East Africa
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Recent posts by Cath Johnstone

Hi
Thanks for your replies. Other questions...
Is the sugarcane residue already classed as brown straight after the juice has been pressed out, or would I need to leave it in the sun to dry?
I can also get hold of coconut fibre, the stuff that comes out of the middle between the inner and outer shells. I guess this is very high in C and would be another option for my browns?
Really so much of the browns? Is this because the seaweed is so high in nitrogen? It's the seaweed that I have the almost limitless supplies of just now, and the browns that are more of a limiting factor....:0 So my leaves will go first to the seaweed, then to the leaf mould
Thanks again.
2 months ago
Thanks for all your suggestions everyone.
I live in a coastal region. At my place there's no soil really, just sand! It's amazing that anything grows. There are patches of better soil around and some areas of clay even. And yes, Mother nature does make leaf mould but doesn't get much of a chance because of the fires!
I will give it a go and see what happens.
2 months ago
I live in Tanzania, where most  trees drop leaves all year, and people rake them up and make little fires at the side of the road every few days. I want to make leaf mold!
I know the basic routine...pile them into bins or bags. But I don't know the details... like, whether they need water, and how much, given that my climate is very hot for most of the year. And during the rainy season, should they be sheltered from the rain, which can be incredibly heavy? nShould they be cut small?  And how long are they likely to take in a hot humid climate? And how to know when they are ready?
Thanks!
2 months ago
At certain times of year I have plentiful supplies of seaweed. Wondering where I can find  enough browns. There are quite a few sugarcane juice places around with all their bagasse. Does anyone have experience mixing these two? Should they make good compost? What proportions would I use?
Thanks!
2 months ago
I am in Tanzania, on th ecoast - hot, 2 rainy seasons, quite a lot of rain but long dry periods in between.
I've constructed 2 quasi hugel beds - dug a hole, filled with wood, up to ground level so it will be sunken in the end.
My problem is what to put on top - we have no turf, and the soil is actually sand with a VERY high pH. My project has no funds for transport to import good soil from anywhere.
I am thinking about using a mixture of cardboard, seaweed and compost (we are making as much as we can).
Any suggestions or thoughts, please?
6 years ago
Thanks John. for the welcome and your tips.

There's little chance to see what happens to cashew wood when it falls as it's immediately taken - I think for firewood. But i'll search some out - there must be some somewhere. What little grows here does grow under the cashew so I don't think it has any inhibiting chemicals. Pests - not sure - will investigate.

No time to wait for the very infrequent rain to wash the seaweed but we have a borehole with nice tasting, unsalty water so I am washing it in that before adding it to compost.

The trees are old and not really productive so we will see if they improve with a good pruning. You're right, getting our own cashews would be a real treat.

6 years ago
I'm putting seaweed (thoroughly washed to remove the salt) into the compost. Apparently it's very good. High in nitrogen. I guess it could go directly onto the bed but I'll still need something to plant into. I hope to avoid importing soil.
6 years ago
I want to build a hugel bed on a site very close to the coast in Tanzania. I'm a complete novice.

The soil is almost pure sand, slightly saline, with an extremely high pH (8.4 - 10.5 in different places). But we have plenty of cashew trees that are need of serious pruning. Has anyone used this wood?

Being only a kilometre from the ocean we also have seaweed. I plan to incorporate this into the pile. Would this be a good idea?

Any other advice/comments for this? We have annual rainfall of around 1000mm in 2 main seasons and fairly strong winds most of the time.
6 years ago

Bird Hatfield wrote: Would coconuts be suitable to start a Hugelkuture bed? if used with other materials



New to this site, going through all the old hugelkultur stuff.
Did anyone ever try this idea of using coconut?
I am in Tanzania, on the coast, about to try my first hugel bed using mostly cashew wood. There's plenty of coconut available so I've been wondering about using it within the beds.
The land is almost pure sand, with an extremely high pH, so I'm also trying to work out what to put on top of the wood. Any ideas, anyone? We're making compost but it will be a while till it's ready.
6 years ago