Saturday, 30 May 2020

ORGANIC FARMING- USE OF SPACE, COMPOST PILES AS NURSERIES

Over the last two months the good rain has meant that we have been able to get a good success out of growing greens on the Sand's Organic farm. The fresh water makes a huge difference for us and the community around us as, as it was noted in our irrigation water tests, it is 'not fit for agricultural purposes'.. but we try anyway with some successes, miracles and failures. 

It is now, at the end of the rains as the sun-hours increase and the ground is wet that farms starts pushing almost visible growth.

With fresh rain water growing greens is far easier. Spot the 'Caterpillar' damage..  proof of no pesticides.
The subsistence farms around us all planted out their fields three to four weeks ago, now the maize is three feet high and healthy, interestingly protected from many pests by the technique of slashing back of the brush to make space from the farm from 'bush' (The same areas are cut back before the rains each season). The cut bushes and branches (mostly Lantana species... a natural pest deterrent!) is then used to build rough 'boma-like' fences to keep the goats and sheep out but also naturally acting as a pest barrier for grasshoppers and the likes. We will be taking and using this technique in the seasons to come. Here's to local, tried and tested methods of farming in this environment.

Abundance
For those of you that are farming or living towards sustainability in life we have a couple more tips here for anyone who would like to try.

COMPOST NURSARIES

Since the onset of the rain we took the covers off our many compost piles to allow the rain water to get in and help feed the micro-organisms in the decomposition process. (Compost should be watered to keep it damp). It goes without saying that watering compost with our well water affects some of the more sensitive species of good bacteria, grubs and insects.
Passion and Papaya seedling by the hundred.
With the covers off we added a loads of 'waste' Papaya skins and seeds, passions skins and seeds from the daily fruit harvests off the farm. 

This is all given away, used by the hotel, or tuned into fruit puree's...and then retuned to the farm (cycle economy).. where the compost piles have become the most healthy fruit tree nurseries one can imagine.. all by natural systems with little energy expended. We also planted pumpkin and water melons around the compost piles. These have also gone wild.
Spot the compost nursaries
From natural nurseries like this, one can select seedlings of Papaya, Passion Fruit, and any other 'waste' seed that germinate (Mango, Avocado, Custard Apple) to plant out during the rains.. Think, avenues of Papaya's, fences covered in Passions. Which takes us to the next little tip.

PERMACULTURE PRINCIPLE OF 'STACKING AND PACKING'- The optimum use of space.

Using the compost piles as nurseries also falls under this point.... the same 'space' used for 

1. Building compost.
2. Dealing with / UTILISING organic waste.
3. Producing seedlings for future seasons harvests.

An important aspect about 'space' is that many of us can miss 'farming in 3D' or as the Guru's of permaculture call it 'vertical stacking and packing'.... using the space to its best 'most sustainably abundant' use. (It's not just about planting in the ground or in pots on the ground) 


Examples of this is USING boundary walls, fences, trees, gates, house eves, rooftops, balconies and the likes to grow produce using these vertical spaces either supported from the ground up, or suspended grow spaces hanging. Using space that was previously unproductive and under-utilised.

Above is an example of this from a photo taken this morning at the Sand's farm:

1. The Compost piles were located in the space along the chicken run fence to attract lots of bugs and grubs to the proximity of the chickens to increase their natural free range diet. (2 uses)

2. Water Melons were planted on the edge of the compost piles so as to get some productivity out of the space while we wait for the compost process. (3 uses)

3. Passion fruits were planted between the compost piles to grow up the vertical space on the chicken fence. Turning an unproductive space into a productive one. (4 uses)

4. The Passion Fruit and Water Mellon creeper 'growth ends' that get too low down on the fence (reachable by the chickens) or grow through the fence add to the chicken's natural vegetable intake. 

5 USES.. and we can just ignore the Papaya tree which is going to produce for years from that same space!)

Less Eggs being collected recently as we are letting hens lay.
A useful tip. --- don't cut down all the trees on your farm. Plan which ones are useful and/or productive, where do you need light, which ones hold water in their root systems, which ones release nitrogen into the soil, which ones deter pests. We have kept many unproductive (no edible yield) trees on the Sand's farm... we use them (functionaly) as 'trellises' for growing Passion Fruits. 

(We used a natural vertical space that was unproductive, planted a seedling at the base of the tree and.. boom. We have lots of Passion Fruit vines currently producing close to two kilo's a day off trellises that cost nothing to make and they are alive so will not rot or need replacing.



The Jaccuzis are proving to be the best success. 


In this one above there is Tomato, spinaches, soft lettuces, Rucolas and Dhania. The worms added to the soil are doing their bit to add nutrients and it's away from some pests due to its height and overhanging edges.


The Neem tree in the background was removed to allow light to the third phase of the farm. The timber and firewood will be used.

Thursday, 21 May 2020

LIFE DURING THE CORONA LOCKDOWN - HOW BEING SUSTAINABLE CAN HELP



Over these past two months of Covid 19 caused lockdown there has been a huge impact on everyone from individuals to large hotels, restaurants, companies and governments. There is no money coming in but people still need to eat. The lucky ones have savings or they live a more sustainable life in which the IMPACTS OF A GLOBAL PANDEMIC AND LOCKDOWN ARE SOFTENED.

Cases as of the 17th of May 2020- Source NRP.org

The reason for this post is that we feel it is important to share some of our experiences of this time so that others may take what they need from it, or nothing at all.

As you may know three years ago The Sands at Nomad started it's own organic farm only ten minutes from the hotel grounds. This farm has for years produced fruit and vegetables for the Sands Restaurant. In the past, it was very hard to be able to produce enough for the demand of Diani's busiest restaurant but now, times have changed and the real benefit of the path towards sustainability becomes clearer.



Since the forced closure of the hotel and restaurant as the county entered 'lockdown' the rains arrived and the farm has been upping its productivity. Suddenly, almost overnight we were producing ENOUGH of many items for the staff members who remained on site and with excess of some harvest to be able to give away to friends and neighbours or to sell to help cover the farms running costs.
Lockdown or not, growing never stops growing.. useful.
ASK YOURSELF
How can we try to lower the impact of this on us when we have no income coming in? 
Your answer could be, Sustainable thinking, living and doing.

An example of some sustainable practice from the Sands:

With no guests around the hotel it has been possible to do some maintenance work, but this costs money and materials... so, with a controlled alien vegetation removal program of some of the Neem trees (which can be sustainably harvested by the way ;)) income can be generated and/or materials for future use can be produced. Imagine the cost of good hardwood timber in Kenya today, now imagine the value of ten tons of it. This could go quite far in covering costs... Oh yes AND we now have enough sustainably sourced firewood to run the pizza oven for months!.. saving hundreds of thousands of shillings. ;-)



The Neems are harvested generating much needed income to cover expenses and losses, the space where the Neem was is planted with a number of indigenous seedlings which will claim back from the invasive Neem so increasing the natural environment.

NATURAL  ENVIRONMENTS are very much 'SUSTAINABLE SYSTEMS'

A child who is allowed to play on the ground, to explore, get dirty and live naturally will come into contact with far more bugs, parasites and even viruses and another child living in a sanitized flat in a city. This will mean that the 'wild' child will have a more healthy immune system as it has had to develop this over the years. The 'sanitised' child however may not have come into contact with much to cause it's immune system to have a good repertoire of experience with various illnesses and infections. In this case the 'wild child' is more sustainable (longer lasting) than the 'sanitised child'.

Bats and Bugs | Zoological Society of London (ZSL)

It is now known that 'the virus' Corona 19, originated in Bats, whether it was lab created to do further damage to humanity is besides the point.

There are up to 15 know strains of Corona viruses in Africa already.. the chances are that those of us who live here, and are more in direct contact with the 'natural systems' around us will have come into contact with these already over the years.. and that, quite possibly gives us an advantage over the 'sanitised side of society'.

Those living closer to the natural systems have greater chance to develop immunity as, the natural systems are full of diversity, through this diversity we are encountering diversity and it is in diversity that there is stability. A world with one super species which removes all the rest will end with the super species demise due to it not having an ‘experienced’ immune system to deal with sudden new   Viruses in a capable manner. Because it removed the ‘natural’ way to be ‘immunized’ to its environment.

In closing it may be best to summarise what might have ended in silence for some.

How are you living? How much fresh fruit and vegetables are you having to BUY. Is there a way that you can begin to grow some of your own food to take away the DEPENDENCE you have on others to supply you.

One of the daily harvest from this past week
How much waste are you producing? Are you utilising all of it that you can? Are you storing what might be useful for future use. How can this waste help you spend less time and money later? Are you dependant on a waste collection service to come pick up all the 'non biodegrade' waste (packaging) you are producing or do you burn it into fumes to the detriment of our future?

Are you reliant on buying drinking water because the ground water is too saline? What would happen IF drinking water supply was to stop? Are you harvesting and storing rainwater?

THE ENEMY OF MY ENEMY IS MY FRIEND- sustainable thinking.

Warning- graphic content.
An example from yesterday- A mongoose has killed one of our brood hens a week before the eggs were to hatch. The Mongoose is my enemy? No! The mongoose and I share common enemies like rats, mice and some snakes. If I learn to live WITH the mongoose by making my chickens safe from them my environment will be more sustainable. The Mongoose (Variety) can then help me removing the rats, mice and snakes which may become problems in the future without the Mongooses help.

 Don't blame bats for giving us Corona, blame humanity for becoming too sanitised and removed from the natural (sustainable) systems to have the ability to deal with it.




MANAGING YOUR WASTE - AN ESSENTIAL STEP TO SUSTAINABLE THINKING AND PRACTICE

Years of daily waste production records   Do you know that The Sands at Nomad has a waste separation and management system for all the di...