Saturday, 21 November 2020

WASTE USES AND MANAGEMENT- How serious are you?

Did you know that The Sands at Nomad has a 'Green Team' dedicated to managing the impact of the Hotel and Restaurant. Their days are made up of Waste Management and record keeping, Beach and Road clean-ups, HDPE waste Plastic shredding, making items from the shredded Plastic, up-cycling 'waste' bottles into drinking glasses, re-using 'waste' Meats to make Pet food, Marine Reserve observation and reporting, keeping the Nomad forest trails open and growing Organic Vegetables and Herbs.
One of the most time consuming jobs we have been at this past week has been literally 'picking' through soil and sand to remove any non-biodegradable waste items. The Photo above is of some of the soil and wood waste mix from The Sand's workshop area, this is cleaned again before being added to the giant compost piles we are making, or if it's more soil than wood, it becomes one of the new raised beds for planting.
Also into the compost piles (as one of the many layers) goes some of the wood chips and chicken 'scat' from the chicken houses. (See photo's below). Now with the rains here it is only a matter of time before the Siafu (Army Ants) begin their Carnivorous 'spring cleaning'. Leaving old scat in the house attracts bugs, which attract Siafu... and it is far more useful in compost. 

Did you know that Poultry manure contains 13 essential plant nutrients including the main ones.. Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium? Now you do.. please note its is wise to make compost from the manure, don't just throw it on the farm.
We have come a long way since we first started making these massive compost piles. To ensure enough 'wet' layering we have only added 'dry' layers once we have had a good load of fresh fruit and vegetable waste from The Nomad Beach Bar.
In the photo above left one can see the 'aerated' base of the newest compost pile we are working on. Note the green leaves visible within signifying the layer of wet already inside. Photo above right, the piles gain height as they gain layers, the last batch of organic waste in from the Nomad Juice bar where fresh juices are made daily. 

Some Organic waste is used in compost making like above, other, like leaves or coconut husk can be used as Mulch. (Below Left). However, before all of it goes elsewhere we always like to make sure that our Worms in our Wormary and our Black Fly Larvae are all fed also.. otherwise how would we get the nutrient rich Worm castings or such nice little fat grubs to feed the chickens? (Below Right)

As we have been doing clear-outs of old items in stores, we have been separating and collecting the various types of waste as we go and looking for ways to reuse them, repurpose them or, failing this, recycle them. 

Below are two photos of two separated piles ready for further sorting and delivery to the recycling plants. Clear glass (RHS) has a market for a recycler from Mombasa, other colour bottles we repurpose ourselves. 

The 'plastics' seen below left will be 'scavenged' for HDPE plastics which will then be shredded by The Flipflopi recycling crew who pass by The Sands on Tuesdays and Thursdays. 

The plastic shredder used by both us at the Sands and our partners in caring above was made Plasticirafiki. which is a Nairobi based, student led organisation focused on cleaning the environment as well as looking to create employment through the creation of a recycling industry. 

The other types of plastic will be delivered to the Kwale Plastic's Plus Collectors site for recycling. KPPC is the social enterprise arm of the Flipiflopi. 

Below is some of the collected waste from this mornings beach clean, one can see clearly that plastic and rubber are by far the most numerous type of waste choking our Oceans. Think twice before buying plastic products or containers. Thanks for reading. 


Saturday, 14 November 2020

ORGANIC FARMING- Natural Pest controllers and methods.

In natural farms and environments one can expect to find a lot of diverse insect life both inside the soil and above it in the air and on plants. Together all of these various insects (and all other life in the 'web') each on their own little dimensions share their environment and play a vital role in keeping it balanced. When the environment falls out of balance due to the removal of one of the vital parts (which could be as small as an insect or as large as an Elephant), the environment may not have the diversity necessary to have stability enough to be able to bounce back from detrimental events. 

One of the best examples of this is how we as humans through commercial agricultural techniques have turned huge areas of the planet into dustbowls which can only produce food if TWO THIRDS MORE CHEMICAL FERTILIZER is put onto to the land than was used 20 years ago. By doing this we have removed huge areas of carbon sequestering grasslands adding to the warming of our planet and this very REAL thing called Climate Change. We have removed the way the soil and the air cleans and regenerates itself so now we can only grow these huge crops in unnatural ways.
If we had been using pesticides on the Nomad Farm we would have removed the chance for the Natural system to breed and develop these little guys above. These are one of the many forms of Lacewing Larvae. These guys are voracious eaters of Aphids and if allowed to roam and breed without poisoning them a larger one can eat up to 100 Aphids a day! Super Askari!

Some of you may be a little freaked out by Spiders, sadly the fear of Spiders is generally quite unfounded, most spiders have 'pinchers' too small to bite a human, many don't have venom that would affect a human and if they do it is often very small quantities. 

Spiders are actually one of the most important Natural Askari to have on ones farm, or even 'around' ones house if the initial fear can be gotten over. Spiders are predators for many pests around the farm. ORB WEB spiders use beautifully intricate webs to catch their prey, flying insects. HUNTING SPIDERS are the little guys one see's on the ground, day or night, they are literally hunting for the more crawly or jumpy bugs, like Grasshoppers. 

There are other types of Spiders each occupying different 'niches' in the food web, providing a balance against an overpopulation of the bugs they eat. Combine these two examples above, with the Frogs, Toads and Dragonflies (see previous posts) from the ponds and one has added to ones 'Anti-pest Army'... If one then uses Pesticides... they will move away or die.. creating opportunity for pests to arrive in huge numbers unless the buying and spraying of 'toxins' continues... The NATURAL BALANCING MECHANISMS MUST NOT BE REMOVED.

Another way one can try to minimise losses to pests is by using pots or raised beds which can make it more difficult or in some cases impossible for some pests to get into ones crop. In the photo above left one can see Water Kress being grown in some old 'lamp shades' from The Sands at Nomad Boutique Hotel. The higher sides of the 'pots' can create a challenge for crawling pests. Interestingly about these 'lamp shades/plant pots' is that the metal between the panes of glass is Copper.. which as some of you may know is said to deter slugs and snails. (Check out the wood ash experiment we did a couple of years ago that does the same thing.. when the ash is still dry)
Basil is very prone to being eaten by pests, we have had very limited success with growing it in the ground in the past so we have now taken to planting some of it 'off the ground' in our repurposed items removed from the Hotel and Restaurant over the years.. like this prep chiller or the Jacuzzis in the background. 


Monday, 9 November 2020

ORGANIC FARMING- November week 1(The onset of the rains)

In the last week we have been preparing for the rain that we hope is coming, we used the few showers we have had to get some beds lightly tilled and composted before planting out another round of seeds and seedlings. in the Photo below are some young Dill growing with a mulch of grass and freshly fallen Moringa flowers (super nutrients). Did you know that Dill has many medical properties and it also attracts Ladybirds? Ladybirds are a natural predator to Aphids which are a pest on many crops. 

In the photo below one can see freshly sprouted lines of Rucola making their way towards the light and eventually the Nomad Beach Bar and Restaurant Kitchen. In the foreground is a sunflower, we have spread these around the farm to attract bugs for pollinating flowers so that we get fruit or seeds. Also the flowers will produce sunflower seeds for food or oil, and the plant itself is good for removing contaminants or even radiation from the soil. 

With the rain the wormary produced a good amount of water washing out their castings from the Jacuzzi they occupy by the hundreds of thousands. By adding this to the black fly larvae castings pictured below we have been making a very nutrient rich fertiliser to add to the nursery and beds. By adding water from the Ponds to water down the concentrate we are adding the natural ammonia and nitrates found in this water.

As you may know Organic farming or natural farming is done without the use of chemical fertilisers or pesticides, we have found that it has taken us three years to reach a stage where we have enough compost being created and worm castings to add. It has been a slow process but then again the natural systems are also slow. Now however, after many lessons learnt and blogged about over the years, we are once again adding to the produce from the Nomad farm both in bulk and variety.

If one plants a variety of crops then no matter the season or the day there will ALWAYS be something to harvest, whether for subsistence (eating) or for selling. The above photographs are four harvest photos from the past week. Even though we are producing less 'greens' than the past months due to the dryer spell we have still been producing a good amount of Organic, toxin free, fruit and vegetables every day.. in some difficult conditions.

The photo above on the Left shows some Capsicum (Pepper) seedlings now in the ground and being mulched. On the Right the freshly planted Dill about to be mulched, some Mustard Leaf in the foreground and down the centre.

Marigolds, Above Left side Photo are most known as an Ornamental or Garden flower. They are far more useful than that though. Marigolds have a very strong smell and they are known to distract or deter possible pests from the farm crops. They are also proven to be effective in combating plant parasitic Nematodes which feed on the roots of plants causing stunted growth. This morning we planted out more Marigolds from Parent plants. Photo on the Right, this morning's harvest. (9 Nov 2020)

Wednesday, 28 October 2020


We harvest daily with some emphasis over busy weekends

For the majority of people trying to farm the rainy seasons are when one plants the seeds carefully stored over the hot, dry spells. Not many have access to boreholes or wells and as one nears the beach the water tends to have higher Chlorides. Some plants are better at dealing with these chlorides than others, we have found there to be considerable stunted growth in more sensitive greens and herbs once our water harvesting tanks are empty and we are watering from the well.

Now, with the Short rains approaching we have been preparing ourselves on the Nomad Farm with compost being removed from the piles, we have made new mixes of topsoil, compost and sand to get the correct soil characteristics ready in our beds before the onset of the rains.

Cape Gooseberries ready to be planted out.

Basil seedlings in a polystyrene apple box

Now is the time for planting some of the more sensitive plants seeds into nursery areas where they are protected from pests and any harsh environments, interestingly many people may not realise how easy it is to plant nurseries around one's house. If you have a balcony or a small garden space with sunshine for some of the day you can grow. If you only have concrete floors it is still possible, see below for ideas or look up Urban Farming on Pinterest or the Web.

Capsicum seedlings in a cardboard box.
Just put it on the ground and the cardboard will rot.
Rucola in a rough cardboard tray,
long leaves are used to mulch and provide support.

Photos (Above and Below) are some examples of the free and repurposed planting items we have used in one of our nurseries, once the rains have started we will be moving these seedlings into the waiting planting beds, or jacuzzis in two cases.

The obvious one- water bottles as planting pots- Basil
Removed and discarded 20L plastic lids,
growing Dhania.

Tuesday, 20 October 2020


These past two weeks at The Sands at Nomad have been full of action on the sustainability front. Building projects repurposing glass bottles into building blocks have been started at the Marine Education Centre where a sustainability exhibition space is being created as part of the Sand's support for Conservation and Sustainability through awareness and education.

As these building projects require glass bottles which The Sands and the Nomad Beach Bar have been stockpiling for years, eight members of the local community where hired each day to help clear out and repack the storage and maintenance areas. Items were carefully checked for reuse or repurposability before being repacked and stacked creating a more satisfying and spacious workspace. Glass bottles have been moved to the site for the Sustainability Centre, waste items have been separated and stockpiled so that each can be delivered to the correct location for recycling.
Stacking 'waste' bottles into types and colours
Above- The soon-to-be Sustainability Centre

Check the colour coordination in the wall. These bottles are more for use as bricks than as a light up art piece like the main gate at The Sands at Nomad's boutique hotel. They still look nice though and it saves having to buy brick. One negative is that quite a bit of cement is necessary, and the production of cement is a huge contributor to global warming, for this reason it is advisable to add some good old 'lime' into the cement mix so that less is used. 

As we are clearing out workshops we are taking advantage of the opportunity to collect (other than more old fridges, jacuzzis, 200L metal drums and all sorts of other treasure) all of the wood chips, pieces of old wood, planks, rotting chairs and sun beds, old poles, thatching, cotton cloth and ANYTHING that is organic and biodegradable. All of this organic matter has been loaded into trucks for transfer to the Sands at Nomad's organic farm where we are making industrial sized compost piles
ABOVE LEFT SIDE- Scrap wood and planks make a good aerated base.
ABOVE RIGHT SIDE- Sawdust and/or Woodchips is a good material for the 'layering'.

BELOW LEFT SIDE- Old thatch makes good compost material.
BELOW RIGHT SIDE- Garden and Vegetation cuttings and sweepings are also very good. (Some people burn this.. WHY!!?)


As we have said before, Compost making is like making Lasangna, wet-dry-wet-dry. And we are throwing in  fruit and vegetable waste from the Hotel and Restaurant as many of the wet layers.. In about a years time we will have lots of compost to use to grow even more organic vegetables and fruit.. so we can make even more compost.
As many of you know, at the Nomad Beach Bar the drip-mats used underneath one's glass, glass water bottle or carafe of water are actually made from old diving wet suits which used to belong to Diving the Crab dive centre also located at the Nomad Beach Bar.


Some of the side projects ongoing thanks to support from The Sands at Nomad. Above right the beginnings of another construction nearby which is set to use THOUSANDS of glass bottles of all types, shapes and colours all cleared from three years worth of The Sands stockpiling these knowing they have value.. they are not waste. 

In the left hand side photograph one can see an example of building using 500ml plastic bottles which have been stuffed tightly with single use plastic packaging and nylon wrappers. 7000 of these bottles were delivered to the Sands Organic Farm over the Corona times and some members of the community got to take some money home to a much cleaner and healthier environment.

The Sands, Thinking Green

WASTE USES AND MANAGEMENT- How serious are you?

Did you know that The Sands at Nomad has a 'Green Team' dedicated to managing the impact of the Hotel and Restaurant. Their days ar...