We are very excited about our latest project here at Sacha Boodja.
During the Summer of 2016-17 we began to research mediterranean/ semi arid and desert species suitable to use in a Food Forest. We have also included some species that fall outside these climate zones that will require extra care until they (and the micro-climates within the food forest) are established, for example Avocados and Moringa, (neither of which are wild about frost, especially when they are young).
There is a wealth of plant species from drylands all over the world (including some that are endemic to the area) that are edible, medicinal or useful in other ways, with many possessing excellent nutritional values.
To begin we selected an area where there is an old diversion drain and although it is not on the contour with some minimal earthworks, we were able to make it work as a swale.
This involved building new berms across the drain itself to catch and hold the water, with overflows into the next section. We chose this site to start because of low input costs, its manageable size and also as the “drain comes into our property from the neighbors sheep paddock in heavy rain large amounts of sheep manure are washed in and caught in the swales bringing a increase in fertility. For years now this section has produced the best crop of weeds, with many deep rooted, soil opening plants such as wild radish. So we thought to make use of all that extra fertility.
Once the earthworks and site preparation where completed we staked out the positions for the climax trees.
After the first rains of autumn we planted a mixed cover crop of white lupins, lucerne and broad beans, planted so thickly that there was no space for the weeds to grow.
This seems to have worked really well, with the lupins and broad beans forming a thick cover. The Lucerne is a bit mixed but should put on much more growth in Spring forming a perennial ground cover as the annuals die down. These are all nitrogen fixing plants and will further add to the fertility.
We also planted the “nurse tree species”, Albizia, Acacia and Moringa, though some of the Acacia and Moringa will remain as part of the climax forest.
As much as possible we are growing from seed and now that Winter is coming to an end it is time to begin propagating the trees, shrubs, herbs, and ground covers.