[permaculture] arid soil building

Rain Tenaqiya raincascadia at yahoo.com
Thu Dec 3 16:21:59 EST 2009

We live in a classic Mediterranean climate, with about 35 inches of rain that comes in intense bursts that usually start from the middle of October and start petering out in April.  I feel there must be a lot of knowledge about this climate given its long history in Europe.
I have started to compost in pits because it takes so long above ground.  I have even used tarps, as was recommended.  They help, but I really need to irrigate the piles to see reasonable results.  We have all sorts of fungi from the forest nearby, so I don't think inoculants are necessary.
Part of my problem could be that aside from the first year, when we had record floods, we have been in a drought.  Maybe this is the new normal, however.
We collect and use all of our humunure and urine, and I bring in a ton of leaves and straw from around our site.  I also have several long-term wood compost piles.  I finally broke down and got some rock dust, zinc sulfate, and gypsum, for specific areas.  I've also brought in forest soil from nearby for the main food forest and kitchen garden, which also got a layer of horse manure from a neighbor.  I'm thinking about spraying seeweed on trees that are doing the worse.  In general, however, I really want to minimize off-site inputs.
As far as biochar goes, the soil actually has a fair amount of charcoal from past fires.  I couldn't justify putting all that carbon in the air by burning all the wood around our site.  If I wait long enough, a wildfire might do it for me, however.  Hmm, interesting.


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