[permaculture] mediterranean orchards, terracing and fire protection

Vital Scherrer vital233 at hotmail.com
Tue Dec 11 18:02:06 EST 2007

Dear nora,
Some more plants, which are useful, fire retardant and/or fire resistant, 
reasonably shade tolerant, compatible and will benefit the olive:
Edibles, among other common vegetables and fruits:
- Helianthus annuus, Sunflowers
- Helianthus tuberosus,  Jerusalem artichoke
- Pumpkins and other Cucurbitaceae's
- Sweet potato
- Passionfruit
- Figs
- Mulberries
- Quercus ilex, Holly oak,
- Quercus rotundifolia (or ilex var. ballota), Holm oak
Nitrogen fixers:
- Evergreen Elaeagnus x ebbingei, -macrophylla, -pungens and more (fruits 
ripen before June)
- Glycyrrhiza glabra, Liquorice
- Acacia dealbata, -decurrens, -saligna, -sophorae, -baileyana and more.
Basically any plants which are fleshy or sappy, evergreen or remain green 
during the dry season. Some more detailed info you can find in Bill 
Mollison's "Introduction to Permaculture" pages 64-66.
My experience with mulch was that flying sparks did not inflame it, if it is 
quiet compact rather than loose, but an impermeable barrier along the plots 
boundaries is probably necessary to stop the glow on the ground to spread to 
the mulch.
What kind of soil do you have (pH etc.)?
Do you have any uncultivated protected forest reserves, like a national 
park, with native species, which were affected by the fires? It would be 
valuable to see which species proved to most resistant or recovered from it.
Kind regards

----Original Message Follows----
From: be peace <seed4peace at yahoo.com>
Reply-To: permaculture <permaculture at lists.ibiblio.org>
To: permaculture at lists.ibiblio.org
CC: filiz <filiztelek at yahoo.com>,Sarah Whiteley 
<sarahwhiteley.hara at virgin.net>
Subject: [permaculture] mediterranean orchards, terracing and fire 
Date: Tue, 11 Dec 2007 06:36:26 -0800 (PST)

Dear friends,
my name is nora and i live on a farm and a learning centre called axladitsa 
avatakia in northern greeece on the peninsula of Pelion (www.axladitsa.org). 
This is typical mediterranean climate with olive orchards all over the place 
and some degraded left over mediterranean type of forest and lot of maquis 
around. We have a land of 24 acres and a big part of it is a bit neglected 
olive orchard and some overgrown areas that according to local knowledge 
have been orchard and gardens before. we have just moved into the place last 
year and are slowly starting renewing the place. there is few dilemmas that 
we face:

1. how to keep clear the ground in between the olives - so far we were 
turning around the soil with a tractor - shallow ploughing, but i want to 
find a different method which would be gentler to the soil. the local 
knowledge holds the olive for a very "jealous tree" that wont like other 
things growing around it, hence the ploughing practice. i know about 
mulching but the area is too large and mulch presents a fire hazard  which 
is very critical in this area. i have considered green mulches but then we 
would need something strong enough to supress the omnipresent brambles and 
somthing which gets harvested before the main fire season starts (june). Any 
ideas? It would be also great if we could get  a plant which is somehow 
compatible and will benefit the olive and mitigates protection of topsoil 
for which olive is a total disaster having no surface root system.

2. great part of the land is on a steep slope, the local practice is to 
terrace it, i understand that the terraces have similar function as swales 
in water retention - is that right? what would be benefit of swales over the 
terraces? (or vice versa?) what is the maximum slope u can do swales on 
without causing more erosion?

3. mulching - im very fond of mulching but here the locals are very 
distrustful of the practice as they consider it a great fire hazard. in long 
term - with retaining more water in the soil and cultivating the humus layer 
- does the fire risk become less? can the fire risk be minimalised somehow 
in the mean time? lets say with the drip irrigation under the mulch? any 
experiences to share?

4. any fire protection/management advice or resources are welcome!!! so far 
the two main approaches that i encountered are - clearing the land 
periodically nevermind the soil. or burn the land - as previously "natural 
fires" did. im conflicted about both approaches and i feel i need more 
perspectives, more points of view to gain my own understanding

5. any greek pc contacts, please? or mediterranean? any resources relevant 
to olive farming and mediterranean?

i hope to get some advice and im willing to continue sharing experience as 
we learn adn experiment here. I would love to get in touch with other people 
who have experience with olive farming and mediterranean ecosystems in 
general. Thanx for considering my message!

       'Modesty is dangerous: If we believe we are here to do something, if 
in fact we have the daunting task of turning around a system which appears 
destined not only to degrade, demoralize and dehumanize us, but to destroy 
the ecosystem in the process - we don't have time for outdated social 
customs. You need to tell me what you can do, what you are good at, how you 
can contribute to helping to make these changes. And i in turn need to tell 
you the same. Anything less endangers us. Anything less leaves one of us 
wondering why the other is not being clear, 'Are you unaware of your gifts? 
Are you unsure of them ? Am i wrong in estimating your ability?'     Paxus 

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