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!


Wednesday, 19 September 2018

ORGANIC FARMING- The Chickens are laying!

A few months ago The Sands got it's first batch of Chicks all the way from Thika by overnight Bus. Since then the chicks have grown, some of the roosters have been removed, and the hens have finally started to lay.

Not a bad harvests for mid-September
Now, we are so happy to be getting just over a tray a day from the hens who are fed cuttings and prunings from the vegetable garden, fruit and vegetable waste from The Sands kitchen as well as a little layers mash to ensure they have the right vitamins and minerals to be healthy and create good, strong shelled eggs.

To control parasites in their stomaches the hens are fed prunings off the Neem trees which contains (among many other positive things) a natural parasite control.

BEACH CLEAN-UPS- International Coastal Clean up 2018

This September, The Sands at Nomad took part in the annual ‘International Coastal Clean-Up Day’. Organised by Ocean Conservancy, the event takes place around the globe with the aim of cleaning up our coastlines and oceans whilst bringing worldwide attention to the huge volume of trash entering the world’s waters and the environmental damage being done. 

Before

We joined Team Kenya-South Coast along with other hotels, organisations, residents, visiting volunteers and a multitude of schools to clean the coastline all the way from Likoni (just south of Mombasa Island) to Vanga (near the Tanzanian border).

In 2018, the total weight of trash cleaned off the southern Kenyan coastline was 17 Tons! (17,000kg or 37,500lbs). Areas cleared included Likoni to Diani, Galu, Vanga, Wasini, Mkwiro, Gazi, Msambweni and Shimoni. Recyclable raw materials were sent to the newly opened Kwale Plastics Plus Collectors recycling centre.

Diving the Crab, based The Sands, once again sent a dive boat to take a team of staff members from the maintenance team, water sports centre, Green Team, Marine Team and hotel down to the inaccessible coves between Kinondo and Chale Island. At first glance they all looked quite clean, until we looked and climbed into the bushes above the high tide line. It has been a year since we had cleaned these coves and it was an eye opener to see the amount of trash that had been washed up.

This year’s haul of waste that our team removed from these three coves was:

17 sacks of plastic              (106 Kgs)
 9 sacks of rubber shoes    (84 Kgs)
 1 sack of glass and metal (10 Kgs)
 3 sacks of waste               (12 Kgs)

Of this total of 212 kilograms, only the 12 Kilos of waste will not be going to the recycling centre.

The Sands, Thinking Green… and Blue!

After

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

RECYCLING AND UPCYCLING

For the first time in the history of Diani, a company called Kwale Plastics Plus has set-up recycling collection points up and down the Diani Beach Road. This is a huge step for Diani and for Kenya as the lack of recycling facilities has been one of the biggest weaknesses and causes of environmental damage for far too long.
Image result for kwale plastics plus
A huge thanks to this company for setting up the much needed collection points.
Just imagine that other than a hugely over-used land fill site at Mwabungo, Diani has never had a good waste management system in place. Waste from the many hotels and private houses has for years been mixed up and dumped. Once the waste bin is empty, few people want to consider where this waste has gone or what further impact it may have on the social and natural environments.

Separation bins- add a peddle bin for fruit and veg and another for carbs, proteins.
It is the law in Kenya to separate waste and we at The Sands believe that adhering to this law and taking responsibility for waste management is a vital step forward in reducing our impact on the environment. You can too, ask yourself, ‘where is this ending up?’- Separate it, Weigh it, Record it, Recycle it and improve it. If you produce it, take responsibility for it. 

After a successful five months of separating, weighing and recording waste, it is now time for us to begin looking for ways to further reduce the weight and bulk of our waste and the impact this has.

FRUIT AND VEGETABLE WASTE already goes to The Sands organic farm to make compost and feed the chickens and the worms in the wormary.



GLASS BOTTLES from the restaurant have been stockpiled and used over the years making art pieces, raised growing beds or in building projects in place of bricks.



PAPER, CARDBOARD AND FOOD WRAP PLASTICS are burnt in The Sands' own medical grade incinerator.

Yesterday, we dropped off our first PLASTICS and METALS at the Kwale Plastics Plus recycling collection point. (This is also weighed and recorded.)

Next up - PROTEINS, CARBOHYDRATES AND STARCHES. Watch this space!

One of the Kwale Plastics Plus collection points.


Monday, 16 July 2018

SEA TURTLE CONSERVATION

On Friday morning Diani Turtle Watch received a call from a local beach operator reporting that a turtle had laid her eggs below the beach wall, to the south of The Sands At Nomad. From the tracks we know that this was a good sized mama green sea turtle.

Due to the location of the nest below the high-tide line, the 89 eggs were translocated by one of the Turtle Watch volunteers fifty meters along the beach to the hatchery near the Sands at Nomad.
Ocean-bound tracks of the turtle after laying her eggs.
This is the tenth nest in the hatchery this year, five nests are still unhatched with one due any-day now. 391 tiny turtles have hatched this year so far, with many more on the way.

One of the five remaining nests in the hatchery was laid naturally by the mother turtle. Quite possibly she is the same turtle who found the hatchery last year just after it was opened. The chances are that she will be back to lay her eggs here every year!

                                                             NEST: 10 / 2018

LAID: 13-7-2018

DUE: 13-9-2018

EGGS: 98

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 ...