Saturday, 20 October 2018

WHY ARE PONDS IMPORTANT IN ORGANIC FARMING?

One of the most commonly asked questions is: why do we have a water pond on The Sands' organic farm? It's a good question and the answer can be very useful for anyone looking to go green or grow green.

Well, for one, the pond looks beautiful and it adds a little variety to how your farm looks. This, however, is not the reason they are so useful.

Dragonflies helps to remove pests from farms and gardens but it needs fresh water to breed.
Ponds attract dragonflies, which are a superb air predator that catches and eats flying insects. Many of these insects may be pests that end up eating your veggies or laying their eggs on leaves so that their larvae can borrow into your veggies. Dragonflies rely on fresh water bodies like ponds so that they can lay their eggs. Dragonfly larvae live in the water until they are ready to climb a  reed or a wall and metamorphosise (change their physical body make up) into a Dragonfly. Once it can fly, the Dragonfly uses its huge compound eyes and 'helicopter' wings to identify and grab flying insects out of the air.

Ponds also attract frogs and toads which eat caterpillars, slugs, snails and milipieds, all of which can damage crops. The frogs and toads mate creating tadpoles which then turn into more frogs and toads making a small army of terrestrial pest controllers.

Ponds act as a water-trap attracting and catching flying pests entering your garden.
Ponds also reflect light from the sky. In some cases, the water surface is white because the day is so bright. This is a very useful side plot for pest control. It is well known that at night many bugs fly towards electric lights; the same is true during the day when ponds reflect sunlight or at night when they reflect moonlight. It is a natural trap for flying bugs which may be on their way to eat your veggies or lay their eggs.

Below are some things that are important to note for the management of your water body.

Remember, if you do not have fish in your pond you will have mosquitos and your neighbours may not like you breeding mosquitos. So what is the natural mosquito larvae control method? Fish (some species of Tilapia can live in quite brackish water).

Fish control Mosquito and Frog populations, fish pond water is very good for veggies
If you have water it won't we long before you have frogs and toads.. which can be very noisy and can cause your neighbours to complain. So how to control your frogs and toads? Well, fish will eat some of the eggs and tadpoles, after which you will need to make sure you have other natural amphibian controllers like Monitor Lizards, Hedgehogs (which also eat slugs, snails and millipedes) or Terrapins (a small fresh water Turtle)

Another natural and non-chemical pest controller- no salary needed
With all the fish, dragonfly larvae, frogs, toads and a whole host of other organisms in your pond it will not be long before the water gets dirty and maybe even smelly. A quick fix for this is a natural filtration system.. something to remove the sediment and nutrients from the water such as water plants, reeds and lilies. (WARNING: Do not put Nile Cabbage in your pond as it will take over and kill all life). 

Once you have the above you will have a pond that is naturally controlling and balancing itself as well as ensuring you have some important natural pest control methods - no pesticides needed.
African Hedgehogs make great natural pest controllers


Tuesday, 9 October 2018

ORGANIC FARMING- 1 YEAR ON

A year ago in September, we started making the first beds on The Sands' organic farm. It has been a good year with some good rain and harvests have become daily. Farm to table is working and now we have learnt a number of lessons, it is time to expand. With the November rains on the way we have been planting our seeds and nurturing our nursery of fruit trees ready to plant them when the time is right.

Below is a small collage showing some of the harvests from the past year. All organically grown and pesticide free.

And below three harvests from the first nine days October 2018





RECYCLING OR UPCYCLING USEFUL 'WASTE'

Since it first began, one of the ideas behind The Sands’ organic farm was to find ways in which large broken items that might be considered as 'waste' and thrown away can instead be re-used.

Broken Jacuzzi Wormary and glass bottle growing beds- the beggining.

Mini-bar fridges as growing boxes. Remember to compost and mulch regularly.
To-date the farm has re-used over 30 minibars, 4 chest freezers, 3 drinks fridges, 2 Jaccuzis, multiple car tires, a tractor tire, hundreds of 5 to 10 litre plastic bottles and thousands of 1 litre plastic bottles (none of this plastic waste was produced by The Sands) as well as thousands of glass bottles from the restaurant, oh, and a Ghost-net which was removed from the corral reef by The Marine team from the Crab Diving Centre.

The glass bottles from the restaurant are easy to re-use; some are taken by The Sands building crew to use as sustainable bricks for building, others have become outdoor decoration whilst yet more are collected and delivered to the farm where they are used to make raised beds for planting (very useful when trying to farm on shallow soil with lots of corral).

Expanding the farm using glass bottles from this past high season.
One of the best things about re-using glass or plastic 'waste' items is that by using them in their raw form, one does not expend much energy or money on dealing with one's 'waste'. Secondly, these items will always have a value in recycling, so by putting them somewhere we are using and also stock piling a material of value which may be used in the future. Useful storage!


PLASTICS SEPARATION AND RECYCLING

As some of you may know, a little while ago The Sands went into partnerships with Kwale Plastics Plus Collectors (KPPC) www.kwaleplasticspl...