Sometimes wishes do come true!

Discussion in 'Chin Wag' started by ClissAT, Dec 22, 2017.

  1. ClissAT

    ClissAT Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Last night was the Noosa Permaculture Xmas breakup meeting & we had a mystery gift giving part where people brought along something secondhand that they nolonger needed or wanted to regift.

    I took some sewing material that was given to me as an xmas pressie.

    In exchange I got a steel mesh quail cage that I will upcycle into a plant stand, 2 tube stock trees for my food forest & best of all a consultation with the local permaculture expert.

    This last item I am very excited about because I am keen to see if anyone else can get food to grow at my place with less effort than I have had to input.

    The consult date is Dec28. I will take some drone photos in preparation & I have to write a list of preferences that the consultant will build a plan around regarding how much effort I am willing to put in, what sort of food I want to grow, how much land I want to devote, how much money I can spend, what water is available, etc.

    This last item will be the sticking point since the dam water will be out of the equation. So I am thinking he will be wanting to use the swale method with chop & drop. Not that there is much to chop & drop out in the paddocks right now since it has gotten so dry again. But I'm sure I can find greenery & manure, etc from some other source.

    Hopefully rain will come along right after the swales are made so it doesn't take a year to see results. This measly thin topsoil doesn't hold moisture for more than a few days after rain as the spotted gum trees will attest to. However there are many black wattles that can be cut down for chop & drop if their foliage will be good enough. Plus the tops of 2 ornamental fig trees that are too close to the house.

    All I need then is someone to come along to provide labour to help me do the chop & drop since it is not something I can do alone these days.

    I also spoke at length with a guy who has commercial bee hives plus many native hives. He might be willing to put some hives at my place if he sees there will be enough food for the bees.

    All very exciting & is the some total of the xmas pressies & parties that I will get this year since I no longer have family handy.
     
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  2. Steve

    Steve Valued Member Premium Member

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    Interested to see what the consult comes up with.......:eat:
     
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  3. Lois

    Lois Active Member Premium Member GOLD

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    ClissAT that is lovely. What an exciting thing to look forward to. I imagine you will be thinking of possibilities. Only 3 more sleeps. Best wishes
     
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  4. ClissAT

    ClissAT Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    So Rob the permaculture guy came yesterday arvo for 3hrs as it turned out.
    He hasn't had such a challenging client before I think! :)
    But I enjoyed discussing things in a scientific way with a person who understood.
    We noted many anomalies regarding the dam water issue.

    One was the place where I wash out the kitchen scrap bin each day after burying the scraps in the compost.
    I rinse the bin with dam water from a hose over the end of an old garden bed that still has herbs growing wild & thickly in it & they are thriving despite the daily drenching with dam water.
    Why would they grow madly when any other plant that same water touches dies within days?
    We wondered whether a settling tank might be helpful for the dam water since the water I was rinsing the scrap bin with had effectively settled inside the hose since the previous day.

    We noted that even though I rinse the bin out daily, the soil is dry only 2cm down.
    We noted the soil has no clay & easily compacts. We could see the composting layer on the surface was working very well indicating lots of biological life yet only 2cm below that layer, the soil was so hard we couldn't put our fingers into it.
    That soil had been well forked & ameliorated with compost & animal manure the last time I grew a crop in it (2yrs ago) & it hasn't had any traffic on it since so it should not be so hard.

    We checked my test patches under the various mango trees where I had dumped thick layers of prunings from people's house yards. Under others I have planted sweet potatoes & cherry tomatoes & added thick layers of goat manure along with thick layers of either cane mulch or lucerne. This is similar to chop & drop to produce a micro environment for good micro-flora to thrive. Yes we could see the micro-flora are there but their actions do not extend more than 1-2cm into the ground.

    There are no worms either.

    I have a bucket of NutriTech BAM on the go brewing all the time which I water onto various container beds & other plantings from time to time yet the soil areas that have received it have not responded.

    My aim is to create some patches of soil that will hold moisture more than 2-3days so I can plant trees, etc & leave them, such as in the food forest. I cant be carting buckets of water all around the place every few days. Apart from the physical effort, it ties me to the property preventing me from going away ever.

    We looked at where I planted the avocados which died within a few weeks of planting. I had dug huge meter wide holes60cm deep, added far better soil & compost, planted them high, mulched well, protected them from the winds & sun & added ground covers such as sweet potato to help keep the soil cool & moist.
    But the better growing medium I added soon disappeared & the trees sank way down into the holes so that during a week of heavy rain when I was also quite ill & didn't go to the garden, the trees drowned.

    Rob was fascinated with the way the natural soil here 'eats' any form of quality soil, compost or fertilizer that is added, well before the plants gets a chance to utilize it.
    He suggested lining the planting holes with several layers of hessian bags so the plants might get the goodies before the natural soil gets it.

    We nutted out a strategy for planting the food forest trees & I am to experiment with one tree first until a few weeks into the wet season to see how this new planting method might work.
    Since the trees I have planted & failed with, died within several weeks & usually soon after rain, I will only have to wait a short while at this time of year with the wet season imminent.
    If the freshly planted trees appear to be sinking into the holes (because the natural dirt is consuming the good additives meant for the new trees) it will be easier to pull the new trees up using the hessian without disturbing their root balls.
    If the method works & the trees grow well, the hessian will rot away without damage to the roots.

    I am to plant on high mounds with wide saucers to catch rain & fill those saucers with ground covers such as herbs & edible flowers to create microclimates immediately above ground level.
    Today I remembered it is possible to buy powered red clay by the ton bags & it is something I should look into. It would certainly help trap moisture in the planting mix.

    We briefly discussed swales but since I want to do that project on a larger scale in the horse paddocks, it will have to wait until I have mechanised help in the form of a tractor with a blade & bucket.

    He took some rocks from the schist layer only 10cm below ground level & some dam water for testing.

    I then showed him the post holes dug several months ago for the carport beside the house. The ground water rises up into the holes within hours of any moist weather. Considering the house is on the top of an artificially flattened ridge, it is interesting that the ground water comes up to ground level yet the plants are perpetually dry.
    But at the same time we noted the thriving natural trees & the introduced plantings that have acclimated themselves to these harsh conditions.

    All very confusing actually. He does not have a large amount of experience with challenging situations like mine but he was intrigued enough to give it a go.

    So our conversation will go on via email & he will come back in a few weeks.
    He also made a weekly order from me of a large tray of fresh ripe mangoes along with a 4lt container of sliced frozen mango. That order is to go on until the end of my mango season. That was nice of him to think that despite my failed efforts to grow quality crops here, he still thinks what is here is worth eating. Of course his thinking may have been swayed by the several mangoes we consumed as we walked & talked! :)
    My Brooks mangoes are quite excellent this year finally.
     
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2017
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  5. Lois

    Lois Active Member Premium Member GOLD

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    ClissAT that sound so good. Looks like your on the way to the garden of your dreams. What a wonderful chance. I look forward to reading updates.
     
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  6. ClissAT

    ClissAT Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    I'll start a thread in the gardening section as there will be quite a bit going on over the next several months....different large scale composting techniques, swales appearing in the horse paddocks, mounds of powdered clay appearing, etc.
     
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  7. letsgo

    letsgo Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Wow so much info hopefully everything you discussed with him will work out better for you. I admire your tenacity and enthusiasm to keep working your property and keep finding better ways to farm and solve the issues you have.

    It will be interesting to follow your process.
     
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  8. DarrenP

    DarrenP Well-Known Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Your soil situation is curious, ClissAT. We have one area of our yard that is like that, so I will be following your progress with interest.
    I am covering that area with manure and compost, then covering that with cardboard (sticky tape and/or staples removed), and then mulching over the top. Hopefully that improves the soil underneath.
     
  9. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    LOL... made him work for it :)

    I've considered that here on a smaller scale to slow the water flow across the back of our house in heavy downpours.
     
  10. ClissAT

    ClissAT Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Just a quick update re the water situation.

    I recently engaged a new agronomist who has asked me to get new water samples which I will send away next Monday. He thinks the water just needs settling(flocculating).

    I already did tests with that aim in mind. They were fairly successful so I have now got 2 x 6000lt tanks that will serve as settling(flocculating) & clarified water tanks. There will be a bilge pump to pump out the sludge from the bottom of the receiving tank after each flocculation.

    The tests will indicate what best to use to do the flocculation. I did basic tests using white vinegar (if the water is alkaline) or gypsum (if the water is acid). I don't want to use alum due to the aluminium falling out of suspension to the bottom where it builds up. Also I don't want to use any of the polymer type blocks available as they leave chemical residue. But other substances I can use are potassium permanganate(Condy's crystals) or sulphate, magnesium sulphate (epsom salts), plain lime or builders lime. It all depends on what minerals are way out of whack in the water when tested.
     
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  11. letsgo

    letsgo Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Love following your progress on this :)
     
  12. ClissAT

    ClissAT Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    The water test results are back. Far too much iron & manganese therefore very high in coliforms which attach themselves to the iron.
    They kill the good bacteria around the roots of the plants therefore starving the plant, which is why the seedlings die so fast & why the mature plants suffer potassium deficiency so much until they succumb also.
    Not to mention the Mn & the Fe which themselves do enough damage.

    So KMnO4 looks to be the thing to use. KMnO4 is Potassium Permanganate otherwise known as Condy's crystals. I've done some 'jar tests' but not achieved the desired flocking of the iron.
    Oxygenation is another good way to go.
    Installing an oxygenator on the dam would floc the whole water body & probably save me a heap of money. Doing oxygenation in tanks followed by KMnO4 injection will be expensive as it also involves the use of green sand filters & back flushing.

    Last year I remembered an oxygenator I saw many years ago in a very old book about French, Dutch & British colonization of Southern & Central Africa. They used slaves to lift & oxygenate the river water so it could be used for household, animal & garden use.

    I designed a system energised by 2 solar panels, pumped by a high vol 12v bilge pump & running the water over sheets of corro iron that have been speared many times to create a rough surface. The system is called a 'Cascade system'. The whole thing would float on the dam on a platform of blue drums. I didn't build it last year because the aluminium for the frame was so expensive. But just last month I spent $4k on tanks, pumps & installation so in hindsight the aluminium would have been cheap.

    As for the Permaculture guy.... well he turned out to be a rip-off merchant who knew very little.
     
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  13. AndrewB

    AndrewB Well-Known Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Interesting results, great that you are getting to the bottom of it.

    A venturi on that high volume pump could work well for getting more oxygen into the water too. I used them in reef aquariums many years ago.
     
  14. ClissAT

    ClissAT Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Thanks for that info Andrew. I'll keep it in mind when the agronomist finally gets here.
     
  15. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    Incredible... Amazing how they even thought of that back then :shock:
     
  16. ClissAT

    ClissAT Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Nope! still no wishes that have come true!

    The agronomist came today.
    His solution was a very expensive experimental product which is a magnet that apparently splits the molecules of minerals & water to make them into something that plants wont take up.

    I'm not saying it is rubbish, but its not for me at this stage due to the cost & experimental nature.
    I need something proven to work using the system I already have (which I set up after seeing what others had used to clean water).

    So looks like I have more testing to do. Obviously I will have to use chlorine, oxygenation & sand filters. Just cant catch a break. Seems I have to learn all this for myself & do it all myself as I cant trust anyone.
    I was hoping the Condy's crystals would work but apparently not which is why my jar tests failed.

    I have been using a wheel barrow to move the daily grey water from a catchment tank under the house to the roundabout garden everyday. I have to push it down a slope then back up the other side to get around the house from the back. It beggers my back pushing all that weight 3 times everyday but seems I will have to keep doing it for a fair while yet.

    Also this means still no water for the thirsty orchard & no healthy water for the horses.
     
  17. AndrewB

    AndrewB Well-Known Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Sorry to hear that. Is the dam spring fed, or just runoff?

    I've just been doing some reading & its quite a complex issue to have to work out for yourself. Balancing oxygenation & PH to get the iron & manganese to drop out of solution so they can be filtered by the sand. The amounts of chemicals you have to add to achieve it on an ongoing basis would get expensive I imagine.

    A link below which explains the venturi systems I mentioned above for oxygenation- it is super simple & you could likely do it for free. I'm not sure how big your dam or pumps are, but the method works with everything from a gold fish tank to a fire pump.



    Some interesting information:
    http://www.purewaterproducts.com/articles/treating-manganese-in-well-water

    Are there any plants or algae that do well in this type of water that could help filter it naturally?
     
  18. ClissAT

    ClissAT Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Thanks for the very informative link to the 'pure water' site, Andrew.
    I'm still chasing the actual percentages, ratios & pH levels required.
    My dam is not spring fed. This is the reason for the problems.
    This was the original property in this very old rural road & the owners subdivided it & sold each block with a spring.
    But they never had the forethought to leave even one spring for this place which is a real blunder that I didn't realise until a few years after I came here.
    This area had many manganese mines, the ground is very high in that mineral as well as sulphur & iron.
    The water is saturated with TDS to the point you cant even see the end of your finger when dipped into a jar of dam water.

    I probably should start a new topic in a different section incase others can benefit from this too.
    I'll copy you last post, Andrew because of the links it contains & add my test results.
     
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