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Hard start, lessons learned, but still need help.

 
Posts: 7
Location: Carmelo, Uruguay
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Hi Permies!

I'm a Dane that moved with my family to Uruguay, to start a permaculture living. We bought a piece of land, where I've been restoring a primitive house. Two months ago, we finally moved onto our land.

It's an extreme change to move from rainy Denmark to sunny Uruguay, I love heat and sun, but I learned that you can't grow most vegetables in direct sun here. So now I adapted my strategy and cleared some ground under some trees (without turning the soil) that is providing a partial shadow. I put some seedlings and some seeds in the ground. From this a learned that the seedlings did fine, but someone ate all the seeds. I tried to put some lemon and orange seeds, that I couldn't imagine that anybody ate and put them in a bit deeper trench, which I covered, two days later the trenches was dug up and no seeds left. I saw that the birds were very active in my new kitchen garden and figured that they were probably eating both my seeds and some insects. So I searched the Internet and found an interesting tip about putting fishing line over the row of seeds, which should scare away the birds. Well, not these birds, they hop around happily between the fishing lines, but so far they didn't dig up the seeds. So that's where I'm at now.

I also made a small experiment with mulching around some of the seedlings, that had grown fine. The seedlings that was mulched was eaten the next day, the rest of the seedlings were fine. So I think I learned something very useful here, the trees not only provides partial shadow, but also a perfect resting place for birds with a gorgeous view to the insect buffet on the cleared ground. This is basically a B&B for birds or AirBnB if you will :D Of course, as soon as I mulched, the insects could hide in the mulch and their lunch wouldn't be disturbed by the birds.

I need to mulch around my plants to keep the moisture in the ground, as it's not raining very often and I'm currently watering almost daily to keep the clay soil moist. Clay is another reason why I need to mulch, I need to get organic matter into the ground. The mulch would also be helpful to keep other vegetation down. So I'm considering to keep a fringe around the kitchen garden, free from vegetation, so the birds can spot the insects before they get to the vegetables. In this way, I'll maybe have a chance to mulch around my vegetables.... Any other ideas on this?

Another issue is that we tried to start some fruit trees and they grew fine, until somebody stole them, first a couple, then a couple more and then another one. Yes, they steal anything here in Uruguay, because there are no consequence, the police is lenient to say the least. So that's another thing we need to figure out how to handle. It seems that the surveillance system we put up around the house, keeps them away from the immediate vicinity of the house. But we can't and don't want to cover 2 hectare with cameras.

I hope that somebody can learn something from this post and hopefully somebody will have some suggestions / knowledge that we can use in our particular situation.

Best regards,
Frederik
kitchengarden.jpg
kitchen garden
kitchen garden
 
Posts: 93
Location: Chipley, FL
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If Uraguayans are like the Brazilians I grew up with, get a dog or two.  That might curb the theft.  Theft is an endemic issue in Latin America.

Your gardening challenges there remind me of my youth too.  We were a long way north and west, but it was also clay soil that was pretty infertile.  The best native gardeners used raised beds for most vegetables (which were not commonly grown.) Greens were pretty rare.  Fruits were common though, but beating the neighbors to the fruit could be a challenge until... Tuffy, my airedale.  He understood fences and boundaries, and no one messed in HIS property.

The raised beds there were usually an old dugout mounted on a framework of poles and filled with pa-u, which was compost from rotten wood mostly.  The very elevated bed was mostly to avoid flood issues there.  Might have helped cool the soil a bit too.

The we had a few Japanese immigrants arrive.  THEY could farm.  Suddenly greens were available.

So, there's hope for you.  Keep up the learning.  While there are similarities between places, there are also differences.

Oh, if you do get a dog, you might have to teach it to only eat what you feed it.  Our "neighbors" tried to poison our dogs.  The dogs learned quickly though, both of them survived one attempt and never again.  They were both big dogs compared to the local dogs.  One was the airedale, the other a german shepherd.

Best of luck to you.
 
Frederik Grøn Schack
Posts: 7
Location: Carmelo, Uruguay
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Thanks for the feedback Dan.

Yes, I knew about theft from my travels in South America, but that didn't scare me :) But I had never imagined people stealing fruit trees, cutted plastic tubes, musrooms and wood :D The Uruguayans are extremely laid back, lazy, smiling, friendly and useless workers. Considering the laziness of the police, it's a miracle that this is not a wild west here, I think they are too lazy to be agressive :D Oh, yeah, there is of course always the occasional person that is hunting from a vehicle besides our small local police station (comisaria)(we've seen it three times in two months), but no police officer ever objected.

We are currently looking for a German Shepard, but the property is about 250 meters long and we live in one end and would like to grow the fruit trees at the other end. The plan is to build a cob house at the other end of the property, as it's a much better location, so we would like to start the fruit trees now, so they can grow while we build.

I should maybe take the dog for a daily walk along the fence, then it will maybe develop a territorial understanding and hopefully detect intruders :)

The soil is heavy in clay at the end we're staying at now and I even have a place where water passes in the heavy rains, which has something like pure clay. The other end of the property has better soil, is better for foundation, is located higher, close to a lovely view to an old quary (lake). The location where we plan to build the house, seemingly has a very good mix for a cob-house a meter down. I consider to make a small lake where a dig up this material and pad it with the clay from the clay deposit and make another lake at the clay deposit. I know, I need a mini-digger and a dumper and they need to be secured :)

I'm all into solutions, I know they are there, so I'm not affraid and I have more of a tendency to giving up too late. But it's always nice to get inspiration from others.

Thanks :)


 
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Posts: 1815
Location: South of Capricorn
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for the garden- it will take you a while to get the hang of it, particularly with regard to bugs and pests. And diseases, after being in a place where cold killed off things in the winter. I have been doing it now for 13 years (after moving from Japan/the US to Brazil) and all I can say is that I learn more every year. This year, my eggplant got covered in netting, entirely, to survive the beetles and so far so good. I learn to plant one kind of beans (scarlet runners) as "bug bait" so the good beans don't get destroyed by pests. Little by little.

Make your fences tight and get dogs is great advice. I think 250m is probably okay for a single dog left to range around the property [FENCE OFF ANYTHING YOU DON'T WANT DUG UP!], but you could try to do zones if you think it's too much. I have a shepherd/pit bull mutt in my frontage area and my house is the only one on the block that hasn't been burgled (the bars on my windows probably don't hurt either). He roams free on my lot at night. My property has a strong fence and I don't have anything planted outside that fence that I would mind losing,  that is public space.
 
Dan Scheltema
Posts: 93
Location: Chipley, FL
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The property we were on was maybe 100m wide by 200m deep.  The dogs (Tuffy especially) were conscious of the whole area.  There was a back gate 200m from the house and he knew when someone came in.

Also, it was loosely fenced (more marking the property than real fencing) but he knew what that represented.  He would occasionally stray out, but he acted differently when not on the property than when on it.

Can't wait to get my house up and moved in so I can get a dog or three again!
 
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I live in Florida which seems to have a similar climate to where you are at. Very hot, humid and harsh to grow in. Its hard and always a challenge. What we have to do here in Florida is grow in the winter season.

If you are in an area that doesnt get snow or very hard freeze you can practically grow anything during the winter. Our season here in from around August/September to June and we stop growing in the summer because it is too hot and there are too many bugs.

We do have to water almost every single day when it is hot. But when the weather cools down we can get away with water every few days. Our soil is extremely sandy and holds no moisture, so your clay might be better in this situation.

We use drip irrigation for our tomatoes and cucumbers but overhead for all our greens, root crops etc because it really helps to cool them down. Watering in the middle of a hot sunny day helps to get the heat off of the plants and lets them reset.




 
Frederik Grøn Schack
Posts: 7
Location: Carmelo, Uruguay
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I think it's a good idea with some sacrificial pants Tereza, do you have experience with onion as a pest repellant? I think of planting them around the patches I make.

Sounds like a dog or two should be fine :-) I'll try that before spending on fencing.
 
Tereza Okava
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Location: South of Capricorn
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Frederik Grøn Schack wrote:I think it's a good idea with some sacrificial pants Tereza, do you have experience with onion as a pest repellant? I think of planting them around the patches I make.

Sounds like a dog or two should be fine :-) I'll try that before spending on fencing.


In my experience, money spent on fencing is usually well spent! I don't mean to be that Miserable Molly but.... my first dog was stolen.

I at this moment have a fermented onion skin liquid out on my porch that I spray on. So far, all the repellant things I`ve tried planting (marigolds, onions, garlic, basil, oregano, chrysanthemums) have not been effective (or if they were, I would hate to see the damage without them!!!). I especially have lots of onions and scallions planted everywhere, since we use so much of them. There are bugs here that are in an entirely different league, particularly for tomatoes/potatoes/eggplant/similar nightshades. I`ve just started growing tomatoes in the winter to have less pest pressure- in the summer, it`s just impossible.
the other regular bugs I`m getting a handle on- aphids are only bad when it`s dry, and a soap-garlic-oil spray helps keep them down. Snails can be picked manually (nothing I have put down has helped). Bean beetles are becoming problematic so I try to encourage as much bird traffic as possible. Mostly our problem is mold, as it seems to be getting wetter and cooler every year (with hot snaps in the winter).
For your birds, you might need to cover the beds with shade netting or even chicken wire cages til the plants get established. I have birds that like to eat my young peas, of all things, and they will strip off all the leaves if i don`t put up some sort of barrier!!!

Edited to add: I also have nearly pure clay. I used to be unhappy about it but it makes amazing brassicas, especially collards/kales, so I like it now. I think your issue will be more moisture control and maybe physical barriers.
 
Frederik Grøn Schack
Posts: 7
Location: Carmelo, Uruguay
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I'm just a little conflicted, because what I've learned so far about permaculture is to find natural solutions. Observing and adapting to nature, instead of trying to control nature. I'm affraid that I'm going to end up in a fight with nature, instead of a symbiosis with nature.

I need to at least try to find a way that will work, then I'll have to adapt what I eat, so I'll eat what's possible to grow in a permaculture way.

Ultimately I'll have to eat the birds that eat my vegetables :D
 
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