Monday, December 20, 2010

Tropical Down Pour

Over the last few weeks we have had unseasonal rain with over 90mm fall  in a 24hour period.  Europe has had  heavy snowfalls and as I write the UK and Europe are again under a heavy blanket of snow.The rain is banging again on the tin roof above my head. What does this all mean ? Climate Change , Global Warming   words heard every day so why after Kyoto, Copenhagen, Cancun is there still no commitment to helping the world in which we all live when there are options and proven ways to slow down and stop the heating of the earth.   

Adaption ,We are now told we will have to adapt so here at Soneva Fushi we are using permaculture design principles plus local knowledge to work with nature. Most importantly it does work too !!!!

Water everywhere flooding the main vegetable garden. Plants waterlogged and of no value , nutrition leached from the sandy soil and worst of all the valuable rain water is disappearing or as we prefer to say not harvested for future benefit. What to do ? As discussed in a previous blog several beds had been retrofitted for such an event and what better way to demonstrate success.

The above bed was the first completed at the end of November where we dug out the soil lined the bottom with cardboard then added organic matter including food and fish scraps.Refilled the bed with the soil mixed with  compost and  final thick and I mean a thick layer of mulch at least 100mm. A rule of  thumb I use when mulching is "If you think you have put enough on add more" Only two beds survived without damage , the retrofitted tropical designed.


Ali and myself spent the afternoon in the rain watching where the water was coming from and going to. We then set about digging trenches to drain the garden and to prevent  flooding in the future.  

I was in one area then noticed Ali digging holes in the pathways we had not trenched then driving a wooden stake into the hole and stirring it around. Never having seen this I asked what he was up to? Ali explained  how he was creating a plug hole into the water lens as it is only 1.5m below the surface. Within minutes water was disappearing before my eyes.

Another observation was the colour of the water, it was a tan colour when it sat in pools showing how the imported cow dung recently added to other beds was now disappearing too.

Cow dung is seen as the silver bullet here. To be truly sustainable we can not import dung. As it is possible to make fertilizers that will do the job required with what we have here education is needed.

The following day we started an experiment by filling the channels with coconut fibre. The aim as in any good permaculture design is to have multiple uses 1. retain moisture in the soil after rain 2.decrease the pH due to a more acidic reading when tested 3. to add more organic matter to the sandy soil  4. to provide a mulch pit for latter use on the garden beds and 5. to drain excess water away from the beds. 

I am pleased to say this has worked as after the heavy rains of the last few days the beds are draining quicker and there is greater moisture retention.

Ideally the removal of soil on the pathways to a depth of 100mm  then filled would be great.

As a friend said "once you get into the rhythm of the island the people, anything is possible" thanks Bear.

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