Greening the Desert: We’re Mulching Pits, Propagating, Planting, and Making Compost

Geoff and Adam here. We’re at the Greening the Desert Project. It’s the Permaculture in Action internship for a month, and there’s all
kinds of things going on. Let me show you what’s happening with a team of ladies and some
really radical spiky mulch. Now up here at the top of the site, we’ve had a great success
with spiky mulch pits. And we’ve got one last
chance to do another one. And I’ve got one working team here. There’s four teams around the site, they’re doing one week each. And we’ve got a ladies team, and this lady from Singapore needs a hand with the wheelbarrow. [Woman] Yes. [Geoff] How we going, Priscilla? [Priscilla] Good. [Geoff] There. [Priscilla] Think we’ve got it. [Geoff] We’ve got a good
strong team of ladies here, and they’re all chopping spiky mulch, the last of our spiky trees. Unfortunately, I’ve missed
the bottom of the hole but I do have some photographs. And, we’ve dug a hole. How deep is it ladies, you reckon? One and half to two meters? Something like that. It’s a big one. And, we’re choppin’ in
Jerusalem Thorn there. We put in the last of
the regrowth Prosopis, which have been cut off all
the way around the site. We’ve got some dry Jerusalem Thorn here, a few branches and logs, which actually fetch
good money as firewood. And we’re bringing in a bit of old manure, and we’re layerin’ it with manure and our horrible hard to
deal with spiky mulch. ‘Cause the site’s got fertile enough now to switch on to things like leucaena. Here’s a leucaena pollard here. That’s better mulch to
go down to the trees, much easier to handle. But, because of our
success slightly lower, this is the very top terrace,
the very top of the site where our big water tank is,
above our shower toilet block. We’re going for a super spiky pit here. We’re layering it with old manure as well. We have some freshly made biochar to add to the spiky pit now. [Geoff] Ah, look at this,
we’ve got a little bit of biochar as well. That’ll lock up the organisms. Look at that lovely habitat
covering a large surface area. And a lot of dust, we’re
in a very dusty region. Now if I slip downhill
here to this region. Okay, now, just to position
there just above the highest rock-wall earth back swale,
and it’s the most infertile, driest area of the site. But, down here it used to be like that, and now we have citrus
fruit in, we have a lot more fertility, we even have
green herbaceous weeds at the end of summer. And this big pile here is the
summit of one of those pits, absolutely full of spiky mulch. Spiky legume tree branches
and twigs and some small logs. And there’s another one just over there. And, it’s got manure caked on the top. And there’s another one over there. So I’m in between three here. They’ve been filled for about two years. I aimed some little diversion
drains into each one, so when it does rain, extra water goes in. We put a little bit of water
on top every now and again, but this whole region, this
whole area around here, has completely transformed. It’s a lot more fertile. It’s lost that sort of harshness. So, now we’ve decided with
the last of our spiky mulch we’re going to go right up
the top and do the highest one on the site. Here in a very shaded part of the site, I’m under one of the last spiky legumes. It’s probably going to stay
up a while longer as shade. And here’s our nursery. Now, it’s just above the
vegetable garden there, which is also shaded. We’re pottin’ up all
kinds of things in here. Seed collecting. [Woman] Papaya. [Geoff] Ah. [Woman] Papaya. [Geoff] Okay, this is
Nayima, with the rock terrace garden helping us out in the nursery here. And Louis from France. And we have Chris from
America here on the team, too. Been plantin’ some
spinach and some lettuce in the wicking beds on the roof. [Geoff] On the roof? [Chris] Yeah, so I just emptied this out. [Geoff] You got a bit of succulent there, ice plant,
they call it in America. He’s got a few little
seedlings comin’ up here. We’re gettin’ ready to get things out. There’s a tray of seeds
here, what were these? [Chris] Cabbage,
marigold, and bell pepper. [Geoff] Ah, right. They’ve just gone in, and
we’ve got some red-stemmed ceylon spinach, which has been a real success here, surprisingly. We’re going to collect some
sharp sand and plant it just in sharp sand, as it’s cutting. So, it grows hair roots first. Now, it’s a typical nursery,
little bits of seed collection goin’ on everywhere. Seed storage, different things goin’ in. We’ve got a little bit
of garlic comin’ up here. It’s just a real permaculture
nursery that’s quite diverse. Lots and lots of stuff, so. And, we have a team in here. So, this is our nursery, going
over to our kitchen garden. Omar’s from England. Estefan’s from Hungary. Hello. [Geoff] Livin’ an island. Estefan’s one of our
assistant teachers here. Been really active in Africa,
and many other projects. He’s volunteered to
come and help Adam and I try and direct these interns. And, veggie garden’s takin’ off as the temperature starts to drop. So, we’re puttin’ worm juice on, we’re putting compost on, we’re putting mulch on. We’re climbin’ extra seedlings
and we’re gettin’ ready for it to power into
a good growing season, through the colder months of winter. And you’ll really see it
move in the next weeks, as I report in. Up this track, which is one
of the nicer little contour tracks on the farm, we’re doin’ some extra work with compost. Now, we’ve got some hard
pipe here, because we need to put in the overhead irrigation for the chicken composting system. Now, the chickens are
getting a real treat now. ‘Cause they’re getting
good quality compost. [Adam] We have a new evolution, Geoff. [Geoff] A new evolution. We get the maggot bucket, but we’ve actually
lowered the maggot bucket, so now the chickens are actually eatin’ the flies, while they’re interacting with the maggot bucket.. So, we’ve just doubled the production. [Geoff] You don’t think
they going to reduce the fly population? [Adam] It may do. [Geoff] It’s a big job
if they try achieve that. I don’t think we’ll be short of maggots. Now, whatcha got? We’re building a Berkeley Method compost and we’re lettin’ the
chickens interact with it. And, we’ll just keep it
like this for a week, and then on the week
it’s going to flip down. [Geoff] Alright. And, by the 35 days, this
will be a finished pile, and it will exit the tractor,
and it’ll be brought around to the rest of the garden. [Geoff] Let me get through
this dusty compost action. Dust is a big thing here. You want to just look at the thermostat. We’re headin’ a lovely 65. [Geoff] 65 on a step -that’s run down.
-65 degrees. [Geoff] 65, so we’re on almost
perfect, on temperature. Although, it’s quite a small pile, but, we’re still addin’ in. [Adam] And the chickens have
actually knocked it off, so a lot of the material is actually here which we’ll pile back up today. [Geoff] Alright. [Adam] So, it’s all here,
we’ll just pile that back up. [Geoff] And here we have a
very simple maggot bucket hanging from the roof. And, we have some meat scraps
in there, a bit of dead animal material. We have big holes for the
flies to get in, and below the meat is maggots. We have maggots drippin’
out of the bottom, from the flies. And the chickens are eatin’
the maggots, but as Adam says, they’re also comin’
along and peckin’ at the flies. They’re gettin’ a few extra flies. No shortage of flies
in these dry climates. So, then we’re convertin’
some rotten animal material into eggs, which is a great conversion. And, it’s why. So, a third pile down looks like this. And, our fourth pile down looks like this. And our team there is quite international. Willead, where you from? -Catta?
-French to New Zeal. [Geoff] You live in Catta. I’m living in Catta. [Geoff] But, you’re from? -Tunisia.
-Tunisia. Yeah. [Geoff] Got Tunisian livin’ in Catta, Englishman from Cornwall, and
Eric, you’re from California? Yeah, that’s about as
international as you want to get. And we got an Irish
Moroccan directin’ ’em. There we go, how exciting could it be here on a Greening the Desert project! Diversity is king!

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