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Tamera and their Water Retention Landscape

Burra Maluca
Mother Tree

Joined: Apr 03, 2010
Posts: 4511
Location: Portugal Zone 9 Mediterranean Climate
    
172
I spent last week in Tamera in Portugal, attending the Second International Water Symposium, where the theme was “Water Retention Landscapes as an Answer to Desertification and Globalization”

It was my first visit to the 331 acre site which is home to around 200 people who share a vision of becoming a model community living in peace and harmony with nature. During the last hundred years, the area has suffered greatly from soil erosion as landowners were encouraged to plough up any vaguely suitable land to grow wheat, and to grow monocultures of cork oaks on any land considered unsuitable for cultivation. As a result, the topsoil has been steadily removed from the slopes and washed down into the valleys, reducing the land's ability to retain water. The stream that used to flow year round along the bottom of the valley in Tamera started to dry up, eventually only flowing during rainy periods. The cork oaks began to suffer from fungal infections as they became stressed from lack of water during the hot, dry summer months, and the whole of Portugal began turning into desert.

During the winter months, heavy rains, which can no longer be absorbed by the hard, sterile soil on the slopes, wash down the valleys and cause flash flooding. Around twenty years ago a village downstream of Tamera suffered heavy flooding and thirty people drowned.

The community in Tamera called in Sepp Holzer to help them design and build a water landscape to help heal their land. This video explains some of the philosophy and practical aspects of the project.



I wanted to see for myself how successful the project had been, and also see how their permaculture experiments were going.

I've taken loads of photos, which I'll start to share with you all in the morning, but what really impressed me was that within a year of building the dam, enough water had permeated the landscape that a spring welled up just beyond the dam and the stream started to flow year round again.

To be continued!


What is a Mother Tree ?
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
Burra Maluca wrote: The stream that used to flow year round along the bottom of the valley in Tamera started to dry up, eventually only flowing during rainy periods. The cork oaks began to suffer from fungal infections as they became stressed from lack of water during the hot, dry summer months, and the whole of Portugal began turning into desert.



Sounds like Central Texas!


Idle dreamer

Devon Olsen


Joined: Nov 28, 2011
Posts: 996
Location: SE Wyoming -zone 4
    
    6
^looks like you got a nice guide for waht to do with your area

and wheres the pictars?!

Current Cheyenne, WY project
"Do you Hugel?" T-shirts and other products
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
Devon Olsen wrote:^looks like you got a nice guide for waht to do with your area


All it takes is a few tens of thousands of dollars!

Mark Harris


Joined: Jul 03, 2011
Posts: 73
Location: Portugal
Monocultures of cork oaks ? I have never seen corks growing without many plants inbetween. Commercially corks only have one main purpose and that is the cork bark which can only be harvested every 9 years or so. It would make very little sense not to grow something else underneath the trees.
Burra Maluca
Mother Tree

Joined: Apr 03, 2010
Posts: 4511
Location: Portugal Zone 9 Mediterranean Climate
    
172
I agree it makes very little sense, but apparently that is what happened down there. Every other kind of tree was cut down and, I believe, goats and sheep would then overgraze anything that was left.

I didn't take any photos specifically to illustrate it, but I think this one shows roughly what I mean - the hill above the lake is the remains of a cork-oak monoculture, and a lot of what is left is looking pretty unhealthy.



When they get stressed through lack of water, they become susceptible to fungal infections, which as far as I could make out is what the black stuff is on this tree.



And a not-very-well-focused close-up



The fungus further weakens the tree and it becomes, in my husband's words, 'too tired' to grow leaves all the way along the branches. I don't know exactly what happens - maybe the tree dies from the tips, or maybe it just doesn't have the energy to get nutrients and water all the way along the branches, but the result is that no leaves grow at the extremities and the tree begins to die.



Sepp told us that when he visited the Extremadura in Western Spain, all the cork oaks were vaccinated against the fungus. Which I think is a fairly typical response - the trees are water stressed so let's treat them with something that boosts the economy rather than sort out the root cause of the problem, ie the lack of water in the soil.

More later - my critters are wet and hungry!
Burra Maluca
Mother Tree

Joined: Apr 03, 2010
Posts: 4511
Location: Portugal Zone 9 Mediterranean Climate
    
172
OK, this post is going to be mostly about cork oaks and the Portuguese obsession with 'cleaning' the land.

This photo shows what properly cleaned land looks like.



It's basically ploughed up and surface vegetation either buried or removed completely. The surface is reduced to a fine tilth which dries out and turns to powder, ready to be either blown away in the wind or washed away by rain. It's done as a fire prevention measure.

And this is a photo of my other half posing in front of some recently harvested cork oaks (taken last autumn).



The bark is stripped off the trunks every 10 years or so, leaving the trunks unprotected and glowing red in the sunlight. Notice that the land has been 'cleaned', though not too thoroughly, around the trees. In Tamera they told me that one of the stresses to the cork oaks there was that they were attempting to harvest cork too frequently, though I'm not sure how many years apart that meant.

The next photo is of the canopy of one of our own cork oaks, on a north-facing slope on land which hasn't been 'cleaned' for many years. Taken this morning, in the rain, just for you guys



Notice that, unlike the previous photo of the cork oak in Tamera, the leaves are growing right to the tips of the branches.

These next ones, which are only a few hundred metres away, are on a neighbour's land which is 'cleaned' every year.



The next photo was taken a few days ago in Tamera and shows dead cork oaks around one of the water retention areas, built far too late to save them.



Now that water is being retained in the landscape and allowed to penetrate the soil, a willow is able to grow up to replace the dead cork oak.



Here's a few links for anyone interested in learning more.

Combat of cork oak die-back

Cork Oak Woodlands On the Edge - an extensive preview shows this to be an excellent book which is now on my wish list.

From the Cork Oak to Cork - same author as the previous book, but shorter, lighter and with more illustration.



R Scott


Joined: Apr 13, 2012
Posts: 2301
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
    
  28
Mark Harris wrote:Monocultures of cork oaks ? I have never seen corks growing without many plants inbetween. Commercially corks only have one main purpose and that is the cork bark which can only be harvested every 9 years or so. It would make very little sense not to grow something else underneath the trees.


This is what the "experts" tell you to do. The thinking is to remove ALL competing plants so the cash crop can get all the water and nutrients.

"You must be the change you want to see in the world." "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win." --Mahatma Gandhi
"Preach the Gospel always, and if necessary, use words." --Francis of Assisi. "Family farms work when the whole family works the farm." -- Adam Klaus
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
Those oaks look almost exactly like the oaks dying of Oak Wilt here in Central Texas. Here it is very overgrazed also with a lowered water table due to erosion and lack of groundcover. People will buy a piece of property, take out everything but the oaks, and run goats. When the oaks die there's nothing. Fortunately if they remove the goats or don't have too many, lots of interesting shrubs grow up, some kinds of native fruits. So I think there's hope, especially if somehow examples like Tamera could be shared with folks here.
Mark Harris


Joined: Jul 03, 2011
Posts: 73
Location: Portugal
R wannabe wrote:
Mark Harris wrote:Monocultures of cork oaks ? I have never seen corks growing without many plants inbetween. Commercially corks only have one main purpose and that is the cork bark which can only be harvested every 9 years or so. It would make very little sense not to grow something else underneath the trees.


This is what the "experts" tell you to do. The thinking is to remove ALL competing plants so the cash crop can get all the water and nutrients.


Yes but no one is stupid enough to plant monocultures of cork oaks like you might imagine. Yes there is overgrazing and stupid summer ploughing of land. But for the rest of the year the land will be used for sheep/cattle/goat grazing.
Mark Harris


Joined: Jul 03, 2011
Posts: 73
Location: Portugal
The idea that the fungus problem and die back is caused by lack of water is pure speculation. If you do some research you will find many scientists with differing views on what is causing this. Taking the bark off a tree is not a natural process and will leave the tree more vulnerable to fungal attacks. As you have suggested Burra it is quite likely that cropping too frequently will make matters worse, and may in fact be the cause of the problem not drought.

That hillside photo is very unclear. I showed my wife the picture without explaining the context and she said those trees mostly didn't look like corks to her either. The rest of you across the world reading this thread have to remember that cork is a native tree, and is exceptionally drought tolerant. Cork oaks on our land grow very well at the top of dry hillsides.

That photo showing 'water retention areas built too late to save the oaks' is interesting because it is possible in fact the water has finished them off. In my experience corks hate growing near water like that. If it is suitable for willows, it is NOT suitable for corks. You never see cork oaks naturally growing near water like that.

What I would definately agree with is that land here is often overgrazed with sheep/goats, so that all summer growth apart from a few nasty tasting drought tolerant native shrubs disapears. Generally the farmers then cultivate the land as Burra describes. The dry roots that hold the soil are then lost. Often in the summer you can see the top soil blowing away. For a long while I wondered why so often farmers would plough the land in the spring once the sheep have killed everything else off, to sow maize that then often hardly grew. I couldn't believe it could be worth the tractor time/fuel cost for what is usually a very poor growth of maize. Then I found out that farmers get a subsidy for growing maize ! I believe this maize is for the subsidy, not for the sheep ! The maize is of course GM.

What I think is quite likely is that the ploughing also damages the roots growing near the surface of the cork oaks.

I watched that Sepp video a couple of times. I can see why building a damm would green that site. To me it seems like a form of large scale terracing, a good thing. But there is also the possibility that there is now a lake downhill that is now dry.

What I would love to know Burra is if you found out how much of the food the 'Tamarans' grew themselves ? Where does the money come from to buy food they don't grow themselves ? There must be other costs like fuel to go into town to buy extra food and other goods ?

I have alot of respect for these people from what I know of them. I would be interested to know how they survive, and how much permaculture is part of that.
Burra Maluca
Mother Tree

Joined: Apr 03, 2010
Posts: 4511
Location: Portugal Zone 9 Mediterranean Climate
    
172
Mark Harris wrote:The idea that the fungus problem and die back is caused by lack of water is pure speculation. If you do some research you will find many scientists with differing views on what is causing this. Taking the bark off a tree is not a natural process and will leave the tree more vulnerable to fungal attacks. As you have suggested Burra it is quite likely that cropping too frequently will make matters worse, and may in fact be the cause of the problem not drought.


I think it's very likely that any stress, from any cause, is going to make any species more susceptible to infection of any kind. If you damage the roots and spread pathogens by ploughing, and crop too frequently, and damage the soil so that there is water stress and reduced activity of mycorrhizal fungi and other supporting species, then I should think that the tree is much more susceptible to all kinds of pathogens. Much like with the colony collapse disorder in bees, the answer probably lies in reducing stresses of all kinds.

Mark Harris wrote:I watched that Sepp video a couple of times. I can see why building a damm would green that site. To me it seems like a form of large scale terracing, a good thing. But there is also the possibility that there is now a lake downhill that is now dry.


I don't know for sure whether or not there were any lakes below Tamera's lowest dam, but I suspect not. I do know that the stream below the dam that for many years only flowed during rainy weather now flows year round. That suggests to me very strongly that Tamera has not robbed any water from downhill of them. Also, there is more than one lake at Tamera. Mostly the overflow from one will feed the next. None of the water retention spaces are sealed - the water is free to seep into the surrounding soil and recharge springs.

Mark Harris wrote:What I would love to know Burra is if you found out how much of the food the 'Tamerans' grew themselves ? Where does the money come from to buy food they don't grow themselves ? There must be other costs like fuel to go into town to buy extra food and other goods ?

I have a lot of respect for these people from what I know of them. I would be interested to know how they survive, and how much permaculture is part of that.


The community of Tamera is meant to be an experimental model of a society that lives in peace, and the emphasis is on healing and education, not self-sustainability. As far as I could make out they produce around 25% of their own food, including food for all the people on all the projects such as the solar village, visitors, the students of the global campus - many of these would not be involved in food production. They do charge for visitors and students, but I have no real idea of where all the money originally came from. I did see a van delivering groceries to the kitchen, much like the mobile shops that frequent my own village, and they also regularly collect and deliver visitors to the station in Funcheira, which they charge for, so I guess they could probably do most of their shopping there after dropping visitors off.

They seem pretty fond of the bicycle as a means of transport...



Before I start showing photos of the permaculture type stuff in Tamera, I want to put up a couple of photos of my own bit of Portugal, taken a couple of days before I left for Tamera, so people can compare. This time of year Portugal is generally pretty green, not the barren desert you tend to see in August, so I wanted people to be able to make appropriate comparisons.

This piece of land is part of a strip that I purchased a few years ago and haven't done anything with yet. It was abandoned for many years, not 'cleaned' or planted with pine or eucalyptus. So it's a pretty good illustration of the natural level of green-ness for this time of year in Portugal.



And below is a photo of part of my future forest garden.



The photos below show what is going on around some of the water retention spaces in Tamera.
















































The do use drip irrigation, though only when necessary, and where possible this is gravity fed from a higher water retention area. They are not 'purists' though and will do what they have to to get things growing. The soil is fairly rich and clayey, and much thicker than our own, as it has been gradually accumulating off the higher slopes. Those long raised bed things with potatoes growing in are, I believe, made from top-soil removed during construction of the latest dam-building project. I heard, unofficially, that they had problems with flash floods washing them away during heavy rains.

More later - family and critters need attention!
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
Dramatically green at Tamera! Thank you so much for all these details.

Isaac Hill
volunteer

Joined: Feb 28, 2011
Posts: 343
Location: Beaver County, Pennsylvania (~ zone 6)
    
    8
Wow, this is some fantastic info! I'm glad you were able to go and bring us back some photos!


"To oppose something is to maintain it" -- Ursula LeGuin
Mark Harris


Joined: Jul 03, 2011
Posts: 73
Location: Portugal
Tyler Ludens wrote:Dramatically green at Tamera! Thank you so much for all these details.



You mean eco friendly green or colour green ? I would expect it to look that green at this time of year. We have just had a couple of weeks of cool rainy weather. It it look like that in August that would be impressive.
Burra Maluca
Mother Tree

Joined: Apr 03, 2010
Posts: 4511
Location: Portugal Zone 9 Mediterranean Climate
    
172
Mark Harris wrote: I would expect it to look that green at this time of year. We have just had a couple of weeks of cool rainy weather. It it look like that in August that would be impressive.


Well it looks a whole lot greener and more productive than my own land, as in the top two photos in that post!

I'm actually thinking of going back to Tamera around the end of August to do another set of comparison photos.

Speaking of photos, what shall I post up next? Hugelkulture? Shots of the dam and the monk? Stuff about the solar village? General shots from around the place, including the mega-frying-pan?
Devon Olsen


Joined: Nov 28, 2011
Posts: 996
Location: SE Wyoming -zone 4
    
    6
^all of the above
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
Burra Maluca wrote:
Well it looks a whole lot greener and more productive than my own land, as in the top two photos in that post!


Yes, that is what I meant by "dramatically green."
Burra Maluca
Mother Tree

Joined: Apr 03, 2010
Posts: 4511
Location: Portugal Zone 9 Mediterranean Climate
    
172
Devon Olsen wrote:^all of the above


Haha - well that narrows it down a bit!

In that case I'll start with hugelkulture, as it was the first one on the list...

Hugelkulture is basically a raised bed made with a core of wood, which acts as a water-storage-crystal and a long-term nutrient supply.



These are some of Tamera's 'hill-beds'.

They have a core of wood, or in some cases old clothes, and are covered with soil from the dam-building projects, manure from the horse project, and a straw mulch.





As Portugal has such a hot, dry summer climate, irrigation *is* used when necessary over the summer months. Mostly this is using drip irrigation, but they are also experimenting with burying perforated drainage pipe and filling it directly with water. The photo below shows some red perforated pipe sticking up out of the hill-bed, ready for accepting water.



The bed in the foreground is still under construction.





Small branches trimmed from the olive trees are used to help stabilise the beds against heavy winter rains. One benefit of hill-beds is that heavy rains don't get so waterlogged, though there is always the risk they will collapse or even wash away in flash floods.



I wasn't entirely sure if these are hill-beds or compost heaps, so I took a photo just in case. I had no idea what was in those big white plastic containers, until after I'd been to the solar village.



This is the biogas generator (is that the right word?) in the solar village in Tamera. Food scraps from the communal kitchen are fed into it and the gas produced is used for cooking. Liquid waste is collected and used as fertiliser. Presumably that's what's in the white plastic containers in the photos above and below.



I love the 'closed loop' of the food production here. Food is grown, prepared in the kitchen, the waste is fed to the biogas generator, which is used to cook the food, and produces fertiliser which is returned to the soil to help grow more food.
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
I wonder if they built the hugelkultur larger/taller if they would still need irrigation.......
Burra Maluca
Mother Tree

Joined: Apr 03, 2010
Posts: 4511
Location: Portugal Zone 9 Mediterranean Climate
    
172
I'm not sure - they were already pretty tall. I've just realised that I should have taken one with a person in it to give a better idea of the size, but we were asked not to photograph anyone without their permission so I mostly took photos when no-one was around rather than when we all out on a guided tour. The first photo of Tamera's hugel-beds, with the cabbage and the ruby chard going to seed, was taken at head height, so I guess they are around 4 ft high already.

I'm in the process of building one now, but I don't have access to so much soil for building them so high, or a higher water retention area for easy drip irrigation, and I've had such problems with previous raised beds drying out totally, that I'm going to dig down to bury the wood, then build much lower beds as I get the feeling that so much height is going to make it harder to keep them irrigated over our serious hot, dry summers. Ideally I'd like to try a few different designs to compare them. I'm still not convinced that just because Sepp and Paul manage without irrigation that I'll be able to.

What is your experience Tyler? Our climates seen to be pretty similar even though we are so far apart.
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
I haven't tried real hugelkultur yet, I'm only doing buried wood beds which seem to be holding water better than unimproved areas but I'm still irrigating.
Willy Kerlang


Joined: Apr 29, 2011
Posts: 106
I'm not able to see these pictures! Is it just me?
Burra Maluca
Mother Tree

Joined: Apr 03, 2010
Posts: 4511
Location: Portugal Zone 9 Mediterranean Climate
    
172
White clover being used as a nitrogen-fixing living mulch along the paths.



There were lots of patches of this plant - looks like mange-tout peas, but I'm not sure.





Blue lupin - another nitrogen fixing living mulch.





Yellow lupin growing along the edges of the access road.



More white clover mulch.





The seed garden.



I kept finding these fascinating little wooden 'houses'. They turned out to be to protect and mark junctions in the pipework for the drip irrigation.



The salads served in Tamera occasionally had these wonderfully crunchy, peppery seed pods in them. I think they are some kind of radish, and found something similarfor sale on ebay, so I just ordered myself some.



Some of the compost toilets - this one is called the Compost Organ.



The 'other residents' of the compost organ toilets. The ledge has been fitted with nails to discourage them from perching on it and pooping on the visitors.





These are the compost toilets near the shower block. The upper level contains the four cubicles, and the poop can be collected from the doors on the lower level.



I really should know the Portuguese word for this water dispenser, but I don't. The pottery is unglazed, allowing water to pass through and evaporate, keeping the water inside cool.


Burra Maluca
Mother Tree

Joined: Apr 03, 2010
Posts: 4511
Location: Portugal Zone 9 Mediterranean Climate
    
172
I'm bumping this up as I've finally gone through all the photos which facebook so kindly changed the addresses for so they no longer showed up and uploaded them direct to permies, so hopefully they won't disappear again. I still have a load more to go through, about the solar village and a few other bits and bobs.
Jennifer Wadsworth
steward

Joined: Sep 24, 2013
Posts: 2169
Location: Phoenix, AZ (9b)
    
125
Hey Burra - thanks for this fascinating thread - and to everyone who contributed to it.

So now I want to know - have any of you in drylands tried hugelkultur? Like you guys, I've definitely buried wood in pits that have formed the basis of sunken beds. Stuff that's "raised" here in Phoenix just does NOT hold water very well at all. Even with capillary action of woody materials moving water within the beds and dense foliage cover, raised beds can't keep up with the massive drying effect of our summers. In winter they *might* work but I'm not so sure about that either.

Just curious about what you guys have experienced.


http://abundantdesert.com
Climate: Subtropical desert (Köppen: BWh)
Elevation: 1090 ft
Continental Effect: 350 miles from the Pacific Ocean
Land Profile: FLAT land
Annual rainfall: 7"
Soil: Clay loam - this area was the alluvial flood plain of the Salt River
Dawn Hoff


Joined: Jun 30, 2013
Posts: 226
Location: Andalucía, Spain
    
    1
It looks great Burra! I would love to go see it for myself some day.

Rosemarry Morrow talked about planting in the swales during summer and on the top of the hugels during winter. I think I saw something along those lines in the movie about Mayan horticulture?
Burra Maluca
Mother Tree

Joined: Apr 03, 2010
Posts: 4511
Location: Portugal Zone 9 Mediterranean Climate
    
172
Jennifer Wadsworth wrote:

So now I want to know - have any of you in drylands tried hugelkultur? Like you guys, I've definitely buried wood in pits that have formed the basis of sunken beds. Stuff that's "raised" here in Phoenix just does NOT hold water very well at all. Even with capillary action of woody materials moving water within the beds and dense foliage cover, raised beds can't keep up with the massive drying effect of our summers.


I'm afraid most of my experiments ground to a halt about 18 months ago when my health went AWOL. I did set up one experimental hugelbed though. We buried wood and then made a very modest 'mound' on top. We made it in the late spring though and the wood never had a chance to absorb any winter rains. I'll plant it again soon as we've had heavy rains over Christmas so it will be a better test. The hugel-beds in Tamera have drip-feed irrigation so they are a bit different. Also, I haven't been back in August to see what they look like in the heat of the summer. Maybe next year...

Swales don't really work where I am as there simply isn't the depth of soil to play with - it's often less than 12" deep, so there's simply none left to plant in if I dig out a swale.

I'm in the middle of sorting out photos of the solar village, but in the meantime, have a little video to watch.

Burra Maluca
Mother Tree

Joined: Apr 03, 2010
Posts: 4511
Location: Portugal Zone 9 Mediterranean Climate
    
172
While we were at Tamera we took the opportunity to have a bit of an explore around their solar village.

This thing intrigued me - I was convinced that Caractacus Potts was hiding around the corner and that Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was about appear and take off into the distance. All that shiny tin-foil and those bright colours made it a bit hard to take seriously, but this is in fact a real live working Stirling Engine.

And despite my suspicion of all things overly-shiny I ended up pretty impressed by the thing.



For those of you who, like me, aren't really sure what Stirling engines are all about and have a bit of a mental block about all things physics related, this video might help explain.



And for those who want a bit of a deeper understanding I did manage to get my head around this video after watching it a couple of times.



This video below shows an experiment using a fresnel lens to focus sunlight to provide the heat to power a mini Stirling Engine.

The SunPulse Electric Stirling Engine at Tamera is basically a big, working version of this experiment.



The heat to run the SunPulse Electric Stirling Engine is provided by the Sun using a specially adapted greenhouse, known as the Energy Power Greenhouse, seen here in the background.



The greenhouse has an array of adjustable fresnel lenses which focus sunlight onto oil-filled tubes.



The oil heats up to around 220°C (428°F) and flows around a closed circuit to the Stirling Engine.



The hot oil flows from the greenhouse along underground pipes to the Stirling Engine. You can see the metal sheets which cover the pipes as they cross under the path.

Hot oil is stored in the insulated tank on the left of the photo. The heat from the oil can power the Stirling Engine, which can then supply either mechanical energy to directly power tools such as a grain mill or a saw, or can be used to generate up to 1.5 kW of electrical power. Portugal is know for it's sunny weather, but we do also have weeks on end of rain occasionally. The biogas digester acts as a very useful backup energy supply during rainy spells.



The hot oil is also used in the solar kitchen providing heat either directly, through double-walled cooking pots, or via steam. The stacking wooden boxes on the left are for steaming food, and the big brown box has 'hot pockets' which pans fit into, surrounded by hot oil.



Normally in Portugal the sun is too strong and plants do better in shade, but now that most of the heat has been removed, the greenhouse is an ideal place to grow high-value plants.



For more details on the system, here's a link - EPG (Energy Power Greenhouse) and SunPulse Electric
benjamim fontes


Joined: Apr 07, 2012
Posts: 23
Burra Maluca wrote: There were lots of patches of this plant - looks like mange-tout peas, but I'm not sure.

I think it is lathyrus odoratus, sweet pea in english and ervilhas de cheiro in portuguese. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sweet_pea. I say it because wen I was in Tamera two Years ago, there were a lot of sweet peas in the same places.
Me too, I spend some weeks in Tamera last summer in a course about water retention landscape. I find your photos very interesting and your description very accurate. Thanks.
North Portugal
Benjamim Fontes
Lucia Moreno


Joined: Jan 27, 2014
Posts: 16
Impressive pictures of greenery, Burra. I am in central Spain, with an extreme continental climate and very little rain during the year, next to nothing in our long summers. My springs stop flowing in June and start flowing in November (aprox). In the summer nature goes dormant. We have two growing seasons: fall and spring. So if we want to grow things in the summer, we need to put water into the system, be it by irrigation or any other means.

People around here recommend beds be sunk into the ground and I don't know anyone who does not irrigate in the summer. My heavily mulched lasagna-type garden beds in the wettest part of the land will hold plants during the day, but they will be wilted at dusk. Then the night allows them to recover somewhat. I need to irrigate two-three times a week to harvest something. Conventional gardes are irrigated everyday. Some people irrigate several times a day. These are the people who think bear soil is "neat" and better for plants. It's maddening.

Did you get any pictures of Tamera in August or September?

Cheers,
Lucía
benjamim fontes


Joined: Apr 07, 2012
Posts: 23
Lucia Moreno wrote: Did you get any pictures of Tamera in August or September? Cheers,
Lucía

I have some pictures from Tamera on august 2013, wen did the course Water retention landscape there.
Where is water is greenery, where there is yet no water all is dry as in central spain I know from my travels to France (Salamanca ...).
i send you a picture as atachement. It is the first time I do. I hope you will get it. I am not sure.
Kind regards.
Benjamim Fontes



[Thumbnail for TAMERA  august 2013 Lake one and surrondings.png]

benjamim fontes


Joined: Apr 07, 2012
Posts: 23
Lucia and the others,
One picture more to see that where in Tamera was no water retention damm, all was dry. Here in the campus where we sleep in the tent.
Kind regards.
benjamim fontes


[Thumbnail for The Campus in Tamera  There is no watre retention damm all was dry in August 2013.png]

benjamim fontes


Joined: Apr 07, 2012
Posts: 23
One more thing.
we have to remember that in August 2013, there was no rain, no drop of water falling from sky in Tamera and in the whole Portugal. Sure in Tamera there is, there was in August in the morning the humidity rising from the lakes. But only now after the water retention spaces were made.
kind regards
benjamim fontes
Lucia Moreno


Joined: Jan 27, 2014
Posts: 16
Thank you, Benjamin

That picture with the tents is exactly what my land looks like in August.

I'd like to know the nature of the soil down the hill from the dam. I expect that if it's sandy soil the water table would be very difficult to raise. Also, I understand the dam is not permeable. Am I mistaken?

Also, if the water table has not risen near the dam, it does not mean that the water table has not risen further down, as water travels through sand and accumulates where it finds an impermeable layer. However, this might not be in Tamera's land anymore.

The trick in that case is how to use the water they have effectively accumulated during the winter.

I believe even the small humidity arising from the lakes will give the area a competitive edge and it will green up in comparison with the rest of the region.

I love this thread. Water management is very important around here and I'm glad to learn as much as I can.

Cheers,
Lucía
www.unasuertedetierra.blogspot.com.es
benjamim fontes


Joined: Apr 07, 2012
Posts: 23
Lucia,
I do not have time now to give my opinion about what you said.
Yes, humidity is good to change the surroundings.
I will be in south portugal in the next days without internet, in a big bio farm near Evora.
later i can tell you what I think about the impermeability of damm and about the tamera soil.
Kind regards
North Portugal
Benjamim Fontes
Michael Cox


Joined: Jun 09, 2013
Posts: 873
Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
    
  21
Thanks for sharing this. When I visited this area of Portugal last year I though at the time that it was crying out for help. Parched bare earth, monocrops of cork oaks or olives and overgrazed land between.

Little evidence, at least where we were, of any kind of permaculture thinking.
benjamim fontes


Joined: Apr 07, 2012
Posts: 23
Lucia Moreno wrote:
I'd like to know the nature of the soil down the hill from the dam. /quote]

First, I thought I understood Your question.
Now, I do not know if I understood.
We need to know the nature of soil down the hill. Why?
The lake one in Tamera is on the end of the farm in the north side. Down hill the dam is the field not from Tamera but from a neighbour of tamera.
What we have seen in August 2013 was that many meters down hill the lake one there was some humidity in the soil (the change was on the humidity of the soil not in the nature of the soil). Yes there was some greenery in the soil down hill the lake one in Tamera. That means that the dam is only 80 per cent impermeable. We do not want a dam totaly impermeable.
You can see the nature of the soil of lake one in Tamera in the first video in this topic in the first reply from Burra between minute 5,20 and minute 6. The name of the video is water is life sepp holzer is speaking and other people from Tamera. I assume the nature of the soil down the hill is the same as in the dam. In the video they show the building of lake one and then we can see the nature of the soil. They shou us extra the soil of the dam.
Saludos
North Portugal
Benjamim Fontes
Lucia Moreno


Joined: Jan 27, 2014
Posts: 16
Hi Benjamin,

what I meant is that is soil downhill from a permeable dam is very sandy, the water will travel *through* it until it finds an impermeable layer. So, this downhill soil will not be significantly wetter than it was before building the dam. Please tell me if I'm wrong.

I was mistaken about the permeability of the dam. When I watched the video I understood the dam was impermeable. I agree that dams are better when not 100% impermeable, but in very dry conditions, water reserves in imperbeable storage is desirable, IMO.

So, why do you think the tent area downhill from the dam in Tamera is so dry?

Cheers,
Lucía
benjamim fontes


Joined: Apr 07, 2012
Posts: 23
Lucia Moreno wrote: Hi Benjamin,
what I meant is that is soil downhill from a permeable dam is very sandy, the water will travel *through* it until it finds an impermeable layer. So, this downhill soil will not be significantly wetter than it was before building the dam. Please tell me if I'm wrong.
Cheers, Lucía

Lucía,
I have no special knowledge about this matter. I am only thinking loud about. Like You. I had to say that.
I would like to have one idea about the way water is traveling in the superficial and deep layers. The people in Tamera hope in the future the soil will be full of water and springs will come overall in the property.

[color=orange] Quote So, why do you think the tent area downhill from the dam in Tamera is so dry? Quote [color]
The very dry tent area called CAMPUS is 100 or 200 meters east or west (I do not know) from Lake 1 (Lake north). See attachement lagos de tamera. Down the hill the Lake 1 (North Lake) is wetter than it was before. But it is in the neighbour property. We see it in the landscape.
Cheers.
North Portugal
Benjamim Fontes







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