Adrian Cauchi

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since Jan 12, 2017
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Recent posts by Adrian Cauchi

An Update on my project:

Although we had a good winter by our standards 450mm rain, we had an early start to summer from April this year.  

My veg garden was great this year, decent amount of potatoes, massive amounts of garlic and onions, great for peas and broadbeans, carrots and marrows great too, tried broccoli and was pleased.  

Seeds polanted in January and later failed completely,  I bet that its November or December from now onwards for seeds.  Its a different story for my transplants that I made in January they are doing fine with the help of 1/2 bucket of water every 2 or 3 weeks.  Almonts, apples, olives, and fig trees.

I have left 2 almonds 4 years old with around 45 cm of mulch and amother 30 cm of rocks on top - this is a method they used here in the past and the growth is better than without and at least they seem stronger than they were last year, but the once's I watered are definately better but it works to some extent.  

Next year I plan to add an other row of almonds from transplants and seeds to create a bigger area with shade.  I also plan to plant Alpha Alpha to have plenty of cover crop.  

Again this year it just proves that without watering my climate is really really hard.  

I am afraid that as the years pass the world I live in is becoming a concrete and soil desert, even the carob trees are finding it hard.

Note to Kostas :  As always the carob seedlings in the middle of the fields have germinated and grown 1.5 cm in the middle of the scourching heat.  without cover etc.  go figure out nature.  
1 year ago
Hi Guys,

I went to university over the last month, (that is I spoke to your old farmers).

I was told that for Grapes they do the following.

- make sure to have all rubble walls built
- plant grapes following the contours of the land
- plant broad beans between every grape
- plough the land in march when there is alot of green vegitation around and just prune the trees at the same time

Update on fields..........

Almonds are doing well. most 2nd year almonds are ok.  they need to get strong to survive the summer now especially those i transplanted
1st year almonds sprouted and are about 2 cm in length.  seems to be all ok but started to protect these from the rabbits.
2 years ago
Hi Kostas,

Yè they are Locusts. One needs to do a piece of this fabric around the tree trunk and have it at least 8cm wife so the light gets entangled. Also any talk undergrowth that bypasses this fabric needs trimming.

We have a local chicken here that is really resiliant. It's called Maltese Black. We feed it all the kitchen scraps and any greens leaves undergrowth et c. We also add bread and as a last resort store bought good when there is nothing around.  This is maybe 60 days a year. We use the manure as fertiliser and we get fresh eggs in the process.

We use this manure where ever we need it. This makes it the cleanest we can get.

As for the broad beans we had terrible soil when I first took the land. Nothing grew well. It was a sort of white sand resting above the clay layer. I planted heavily in broad beans for 3 years and only the 3rd year had a decent yield. That year I also planted almonds and olives and they started to grow and flourish. Now broad bean every year.

I see that the broad beans really help the trees. We're we have no broad beans the soil is whitish and poor. After the broad beans are introduced the situation improves a lot.

2 years ago
Some tips for Olives I discovered the usually bad way.

1. Olives leaves are eaten by an insect with pliers and leave just branches unless one used either pwesticides or else a cotton type fabric. I use the latter.
2. I have 3 sets of olives 12 yr old, 6 yr old and 2 yr old. The 12 yr old are mature now and I tried to replicate with the 6 yr old but I use to leave the ground barren and in summer the years sucks up everything. For conveniance below the 2 yr old I just threw all the seeds underneath them. This made that the 2 yr old are nearly as big as the 6 yr old. That's the only explanation as the water qty given is the same.

The insect I mentioned before will come in anything that touches the olives.

I have my olives with almonds bamboo and mastic tree we also plant braid been quite close by more as a way to maximise briadbeen production but I noticed it helps a lot a lot.
2 years ago
Hi Marcos,

Adrian from Malta here same situation as you. Just 200km away.

I plant native trees that are drought tolerant. Mainly olives, almonds and apples. From this year I try to keep as much mulch over them as possible. Any weeds I have for the time being. I am planning to plant everything covered in mulch. Even the tomatoes and potato and in the shade of the trees. We have so much sun we have no problems.

Save every last drop of water. Build all the rubble walls.
Make swalles following the land countours. I make sure to plant just before the rain so that way I give a heads up to my small ones.

Collect all the rain you can and water intelligently and most off all reduce water loss due to the Sun. Cover cover and cover.

Some have desalination plants here amd all our drinking water comes from reverse osmosis plants by the government.
2 years ago
Dear Kostas,

Thanks for your help.

Until a few weeks ago the Lentisk tree was a pest even for me. Just now I realise its importance. I will use it as a wind breaker. It grows from the self propagating seeds.

I believe it tribes in the abandoned fields as it's I my found there. My fields were abandoned for 30 yrs or more.

Some pics of Olive from Bird dropping, of one of my Almond Farm and on the Lentisk tree.
2 years ago
Hi Kostas,

Wild Apples I have a number of these trees which I take care of but unfortunately they do not grow wild by the roads. In the 70s the gov introduced eucalyptus and acacia and they go everywhere giving very little in return.

Also in the 80s all the less productive trees were removed and replaced with fruit trees from Italy or Spain. The problem is these needed more water than we could supply long term.

I will post some pictures of what I did till now in my land.

We try Figs with the cutting method but I do not have good success. I suspect it's the summer as always. In fairness I have 2 growing in small soil pools of maybe 5 cm, it's either birds or ants. I again tried a dozen this year.

Regarding the Pears that variety is very rare in Malta as a matter of fact I never saw any. I would be very grateful if you could send me some seeds.

Regarding the mulch I will definitely do.

Regarding tools I use my traditional tools as they do the job fine.

Mastic tree is the Lentisk tree. It's great for what you are after Kostas. Grows well and can take a beating from the relentless sun.

I will keep you posted on all progress.

2 years ago
Hi Kostas,

Capers and Cactus are all around me. I have a decent amount on my property and do not need any more as I will not have enough food mix.

Regarding to pears we do not seem to have a solid wild pear in Malta. One fruit is similar which I can think of and it fruits in April to May.

As for the Olives I am pretty sure if the technique. Last year I did not have 1 Olive from 40 trees because of too much wind and absolutely no rain. But I am pretty sure of the technique as my uncle used it.
're the carob I will test again this year and keep you posted.

Our problem is the hot and long summer. If this continues without me planting I fear we will become a desert. My aim is to make a good forest to sustain life and slow the desertification process. We have built all the rubble walls in our property or are in the process of and this acts like a awake to stop water and soil run off. Also we till the land parallel to the contours as this create a awake and increases water retention.

Figs are also good here but I have no idea how to start from seeds. Here we use cuttings.

Apples the local variety grow very well but tend to rot in winter every few years but regrow naturally. I suspect this happens as mine are planted in clay and it gets water logged in winter. This year I planted a few in better soil with no clay and will see the difference.

The key is water but that is expensive and very scarce.

Regarding the mulch. Do you try to put something for thr small trees? I never did and I suspect I need to give more water for this reason. The traditional way is rocks but they get hot as he'll and radiate heat even in the night in summer so I doubt they are good ideas but it's what they had.
2 years ago
Dear Kostas,

I try the local Walnut at 10 meters elevation and at around 100m elevation. The problem are our 7 month long summers and it does not survive the first 2/3 years unattended. Then it lives for a massive amount of years but starting it is really the problem here.

My 2 year old almonds are around 40 cm and have vigorous growth, which made me very happy. Here I have 2 problems with small tender plants. They resolve around rabbits. Rabbits eat the fresh growth and the rabbit hunters that are careless abd trample on everything. I found the best to plant loads of almonds under existing almond trees and then replanting after 1 year. This gives a massive success rate and one has to appreciate we have only 30cm or rain annually here.

Olives _ I never managed myself but I noticed a few things and asked around. 1 we have a blackboard called starting that eat the Olive, then rest on the grown almonds and every year I found at least one small Olive to replant. 2 the old saying is to cut the olives, feed it to the chickens and then pick up once it passed through the digestive tract. My old uncle says success is close to always summer is the killer here. I have a total of 5 or 6 grown from the Bird droppings which were grafted this year by my father to Olive bearing trees.

The carob tree might be after digestion from the rabbits as they are in the rabbit area I will test again this year and keep you posted. If it succeeds I will send seeds.

I am going to try pines but I am highly sceptic as planting trees that do not bear fruit. My philosophy is local if possible and trees that will give me something back.

Any ideas with the best irrigation technique to use considering a very small wry of water?

One big question... what is the best type of mulch to use in these ultra dry conditions?
2 years ago
Hi Kostas,

Great post. Well done.

I am from Malta. I have 2 locations. 1 will share my experience from.

The property is my father's but we share the passion. He is not into permaculture and is into exposing soil.

We have between 200mm and 300mm of rain annually usually in 3 to 4 months. Our property is south facing.

I can say that almonds are perfect growers in dry solid terrain. I plant a number annually. Also I do 2 types of apples from seeds and also a red berry tree/bush we call maskta.

Carob treez from seeds do grow. We have 4 large carob trees and from the females we always have around 10 news that sprout on their own. Just my father's mowes them as they grow in the middle where he does onions winter potatoes garlic broad beans and peas.

Some notes once burned almonds resprout on their own at least 70 percent. Apples too if it's in the dormant season. Figs die. And prickly pears grow like crazy and never die.

2 years ago