Nathanael Szobody

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since Apr 25, 2015
Boudamasa, Chad
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Recent posts by Nathanael Szobody

I would say it starts with lots and lots of observation. My US residence is mostly forested as well. For me Permaculture has been learning to identify every native tree, plant, and its uses. The first of Holmgren's principles is "observe and interact". You say there's lots of diversity--good! There's a good amount of food in there. One of the best ways to interact with any system is to master foraging it before you try to cultivate it. The evergreens you mention, most any pine and fir tree is good for making teas, tinctures--and pickled pine blossoms!

I would start with getting a plant ID app (I use "picture this") and become a master of the resources that are already there. Take walks, not just on your own property, but other properties throughout your area to see what the possibilities are, and get a book on local flora. There are understory food species if you know what the natives are.

Where are you located? Or atleast your agricultural zone? This will make a big difference. Can you start a sugar bush by planting maples? Do you eat meat? What can you hunt and trap? I know from your description that you could produce copious mushrooms to eat and sell. Can you heat your house with the wood from your property? Plenty of permies produce lots of food but still have to pay to heat their house. Your resources are just of a different category than others. Though you could raise foraging animals. Chickens, if you don't have coyotes. Pigs could be paddocked through the woods. Your resources are going to be more in the "woodland survival" category than conventional gardening and farming. But resources are there.

Do you have Holmgren's book "Permaculture: Principles and Pathways beyond Sustainability"? I think getting his categories in the subconscious will help to see what the possibilities are.

Good luck and keep us posted!
2 weeks ago
For obtaining pistachio trees--or any other tree. Can you not order them online? It would be cheaper than driving out of State, I'm sure.

If you're really curious about what brought me to Africa, I started and run an elementary school. And I have a thread about that project here:
2 weeks ago
Hi Debbie,

I have read both of your threads--great work! Even with the big hot spot your gardens look very inviting And, more importantly, it sounds like it brings you much fulfillment.

I have lived in Arizona, and currenly live in very hot Africa, so I know what you're dealing with. I have three main ideas, listed from least to most expensive:

1. Make micro-catchments out of stone and plant mesquite trees in them. They're native, grow fast, and will help create the microclimate that will enable other things.

2. Make microcatchments out of stone, level them with a mixture of sand and compost and plant date palms in them. There is no heat on this earth that date palms can't handle as long as they have water. If you cannot procure any date palms them purchase some tasty dates and plant the seeds in pots. They usually take a month to germinate, less if you soak them for a week first. But I've never had a date pit not germinate. Plant them out when they are a year old.

These first two ideas will take a long time, but that's one of our principles: slow and steady. The third idea can be implemented more quickly...

3. Cover that area with a pergola! In Africa we call it a "hangar". It's posts with cross beams on top. I would cover that with sticks placed side-by-side to create filtered shade underneath. If you can talk to a landscaper, they could probably get you palm branches to cover the top with. And voila, shade! If you added a misting system underneath it then you would have a rain forest climate in which to grow many bananas--and many other things. That's what they do at the Phoenix zoo.

The above ideas notwithstanding, I would really leave you with a friendly suggestion. You mentiona a place near the bottom of the property that is nearly always moist? Go invest your energies there--plant the pistachio trees now! Put the most of your energy into the place that can give the greatest yield. It's called an intensive nucleus. And then build out from there. You will likely be encouraged with the result.
2 weeks ago
Since the OP is about *cob* I would recommend against it. Charcoal does not bond very well and would weaken the cob.

It also holds lots of water. I would think this would cause the wall to absorb rain rather than shed it. Not a good thing in my thinking.
2 months ago
Six months? Still quite young, I would say. Now, I can't vouch for the medicinal strength of the compounds, but something preserved in alcohol will stay....well, a long time.

As for the flavor--it only gets better! The old Europeans would put keep their tinctures for decades, but some of it was beyond medicinal, like, a snake or a toad or something in their eau-de-vie. Usually it was more like cherries or herbs. That is actually the point of aged whiskey; instead of an herbal tincture it's a charred oak tincture and it just gets better and better. And of course there is no end to the human-body-preserved-in-whiskey-barrel stories.

I usually make too much tincture, so I end up blending many of them, adding some maple syrup and letting them sit 3 months AT LEAST before enjoying with guests as liqueur.

The same goes for vinegar. The flavor gets better with time, but perhaps the medicinal compounds are not as active?
3 months ago
Grow stuff in drylands WITHOUT irrigation? Only one solution: native crops in the native season.

And there are a COUPLE exeptions, like moringa and pigeon pea. But they still have to get a start in the more humid season.
4 months ago
Good work Rufaro!

For the beans, are the rains over? In Chad we spread the beans out on rooftops with the shells still on them. The heat from the sun keeps the bugs from getting them.
4 months ago
My solution is to plant pumpkins in two locations: in the cold compost pile and in the brush piles. Free mulch! In the compost pile it's easy to pull out a few big weeds, and in the brush pile they climb up to the top and cover everything else rather than being out-shaded by tall plants.
4 months ago

You're right, it is terribly invasive. I've been watching their "invasiveness" very closely in my region (northern Michigan) ver closely for a number of years. They absolutely take over fallow fields and empty plots.

However, I don't see them competing with any native trees or shrubs. They litterally only grow in wide open degraded spaces.

But to your point, I think it would be wiser for people to seek out places they can forage this stuff locally rather than plant it on their property. It will spread to any open sunny spots.
4 months ago