Saturday, March 24, 2012

St Vincent The Grenadines Mulch With A View To Soil Life

On arrival at Canouan the Permaculturist eye was at work observing nature, taking in my new surrounds, another very beautiful part of the world.


Totally different from the Maldives as evidence of volcanic action can be seen as far as the eye can see, razor mountain tops to the dark beach sands and red rich soils supporting all the colours of the rainbow. Pride of Barbados, Frangipani, bougainvillea, fountain grasses, flame trees and Canna to name a few.

Mountains meet the sea 

Mountains, mountains, mountains everywhere

The biggest shock is not being on flat land as the highest mountain I have climbed in the Maldives would have been 3 foot.

For the past few years all my focus has been on designing sustainable food production systems, now the challenge is to look at sustainable landscape solutions.

Healthy Soil ?

First observations revealed again bare soil exposed to all the elements everywhere, cracked, dry, eroded, and weedy if they could grow and  a Ph of 8.

Soil test Ph 8 

As all power is generated on site via diesel generators at a cost of 40cents a Kw and water supplied mainly via desalination, all utility bills are expensive.

Second observation was that close by there is a golf course. A trip around the course found there was Vetiver Grass or locally called Cush Cush, fairway and greens cuttings, which are in abundance and sent to local land fill as there is no composting or mulching.

Golf course to left.. Thank you for all you waste

On a walk along the beach I also happened to come across bags of Sea grass collected and also to my knowledge bound for landfill, add some cardboard and we have all the ingredients for sheet mulching this exposed lifeless soil.

All abundant sea grass, cush cush and leaves

Green cuttings, sea grass, nitrogen first

As we were not trying to grow fruit and vegetables focus was not on reducing the Ph but to add life to the soil, water harvest, prevent erosion and nutrient loss.

Dwayne sheet mulching

Within 2 weeks we have reduced watering to twice a week and now with observation of moisture levels below the mulch it can be done now once a week.

Two weeks of moisture

Often it is thought that Permaculture is all about food production and never considered in landscaping soft or hard. If we look down at the soil around every plant Permaculture principles can be applied everywhere. If you want a landscape that dose not provide food for you at least provide a sustainable food source for the millions of insects, bacteria and fungi that feed your beautiful plants.

Dwayne mulching with a view to soil life

Thanks Dwayne and all at Quinze Canouan for being so supportive in including Permaculture into your lives and me into yours.

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