Sunday, March 6, 2011

A Parthway to Sustainability

Natural resource the Coconut :

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The coconut is in abundance here on the island, it is used at three stages of growth.
Stage 1:  when the coconut is green, for drinking the milk


Stage 2: when the nut has flesh or meat developed to eat

Stage 3. When the coconut is sprouting there is no milk just meat and a soft round ball of meat that is supplying the new growth.

We also use it for closing gates too !

Coconut gate closing system

Up to 100 of these are dehusked and sent to the kitchen for the making of coconut milk, powder and desiccation to be used in various traditional dishes of India, Sri Lanka and Maldives.

Husk to fiber

Therefore every month we have around 3000 coconut husks we have to do something with. As discussed in previous blog on mosquito prevention these husks are ideal sites for breeding. So therefore need to be recycled or reused in some way.

More waste to wealth

On arriving here coconut fiber was used as a mulching material on the garden beds and around banana trees and Bamboo. Thinking this was a good idea but seeing that the bamboo and bananas were no showing signs of health I inspected the soil and to my amazement there were no signs of soil life, humus and little moisture retention. The coconut fiber was as good as new when digging deeper and interwoven into a mat like structure.

Lifeless matting

Exposing the soil

I then asked the Mani, Ravi and Raja how long had this fiber been there for I was told over 0ne year and up to 2 years in some places.  On further inspection of the site where we have now designed and planted the Outdoor Classroom I found the same results where the coconut fiber had been used in the past. This goes to prove not all organic materials provide what you think they should to your system.

We then went about raking all the fiber up to expose the soil beneath to allow for the sowing of nitrogen fixing legumes and green manures.



During this discovery of the disadvantages of coconut fiber I remembered advice given to me by Lachlan McKenzie from Permatil Timor Leste who I meet during the 2010 Australasian Permaculture Convergence Cairns Australia. Lachlan had worked in Timor and Indonesia for over 5 years setting up Permaculture demonstration sites plus much more. His suggestion was to not use as mulch to garden beds straight-away but on pathways until broken down enough to be placed in the gardens. That is what we are doing in and around Eco Centro. The pathways still retain some moisture and keep the sand soil cool as well . On the edge there is noticable soil build up and healthier plant growth too.

I must say the pathways are the softest you will ever walk on !!!! That comes form guest comments too.

Pathway to sustainability

Left side 12 months
Right side 2 days 

 Another pathway to sustainability

Due to the shredding process we use a by product that is a fine powder which when tested for pH was slightly acid and held moisture.

Coconut powder

Coconut fiber

As we are trying to reduce the soil pH of our food producing gardens from 8-10 to 6.5 we now add around 20% to our compost mix. We are achieving great results in that the decomposition occurs within our 21 day composting process and in the end the compost tests at 6-7 pH. We need to trial a compost heap with the same amount of fiber… Will it compost quicker than 12 months    

Thanks for the coconut as they play an important role in our sustainable Permaculture system.

Careing  for the Earth
Careing  for the People
FAIR Share and  Abundant ….A true Permaculture System !!!


I will drink to that 

1 comment:

  1. thanks for sharing! was looking to see how people are using coco fiber in this type of application. nice pictures