Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Back in the sunshine

I can't say I'm a big fan of the no dig/no weed/foraging approach to growing but that's how I've been spending my time, back working on the permaculture finca in sunny Tenerife.

Here's a taste of how some of it works: we've been weeding the paths around the beds on a couple of the terraces but not the beds themselves, only really large woody weeds are removed:

Along the irrigation lines, next to each dripper, pumpkin plants are put in:

There are no slugs or snails here, the only pests are rabbits - who can't spot the plants in amongst the weeds. During the summer when there's no rain the weeds die off - only the pumpkin plants survive as they are being irrigated.

I've also been sowing sweetcorn using the same approach. So does it work? The remains of last years corn plants were still there so I guess it must - though what the yields were like I don't know. Good volcanic soil, a great climate and irrigation obviously also helps.

In amongst the weeds there are also self-sown crops like rocket, Canarian spinach, mallow and tomatoes like this one:

Another of our jobs has been mulching around the many avocado trees which are part of the developing forest gardens:

Another important crop is bananas; these are grown commercially on a large scale on the island, often in large plastic greenhouses (actually very fine netting) but not being indigenous they need a lot of water, again via irrigation. Here on the finca they are of course grown organically and as the top layer in some of the forest gardens:

I've been enjoying my time here, made new friends, and the methods being used are certainly thought-provoking. The owner's vision is that eventually the whole system will become self-sustaining; how long that will take only time will tell.

And the scenery isn't bad either:

My latest photos from Tenerife are here, here, here and here.