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Neal Spackman

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since Mar 13, 2011
Makkah, Saudi Arabia
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Recent posts by Neal Spackman

Mostafa Ismail wrote:

Dylan Mulder wrote : I love Elaine Ingham's work,

  So do I , I love Elaine Ingham work , and her approach is more convincing  to me more than any body else .

now what is missing ? or what is wrong ?

Is dr Ingham  wrong ? is she missing something ? is she keeping something to her self, and not telling in her lectures ?

I don't really believe in Mr Solomon approach ,

So can any body tell us who else have a better approach ?

السلام عليكم يا مصطفى.  

 You do need soil life and composting and manure.  As you know Egypt's ag land is desalinating ever since the high aswan dam was built and the floods/mud/silt cycle was disrupted.  As for water harvesting in Giza, unless you have mountains to centralize and direct catchment, your best bet is the nile.  
1 year ago

The flood video is from a late summer rain in September. First time in 5 years we have gotten any precipitation in a month other than December or January.
3 years ago
Raised beds drain water away from the beds, increase evaporation through greater solar exposure, and are typically the opposite of what you want to do in the desert. Sunken beds, on the other hand, increase shade, increase water retention, and decrease evaporation. If you're doing beds in the desert, you'll have more success with sunken beds rather than raised ones.
3 years ago
Referencing "Challenge of the Desert: The Negev", I was impressed at the scale they operated on. When you have catchment-production area ratios of 20-1 to 80-1 you can grow some very water intensive plants. What we're doing in the KSA, we're operating on a 2-1 ratio, and have been able to get the foundations of a silvopasture operation going on less than 3 inches of rain a year. I don't think we need to necessarily grow stone fruits and grapes the way they did in the Negev--but the baseline foundation of using a ratio of catchment to production is the only way to get things going in extremely arid areas.
3 years ago
Hey all,

As one of the few here trying to get an operating silvopasture farm in a hot/arid landscape, I was wondering what is out there regarding rotating poultry. We are past the point that I should have added animals, and since our climate seems to require doing everything backwards (sunken beds instead of raised beds, aquifer recharge instead of ponds, etc), I think we need our own subject for doing this.

I already have pigeons on my site, with an earth bag pigeon house we built. We haven't started intense management of it--in fact we didn't buy any pigeons. But we have 4 that have moved in and are living off the site. I think we could multiply that 100 fold with a bit of management and some more attention. I am under the impression that pigeons require the least labor out of all of these.

With chickens, i'm trying to figure out what kind of rotation I can do and also what kind of coop. With a standard coop, our hens would die from the heat, so it has to be something both well ventilated and well shaded, while being harvestable and mobile I am planning on starting a small flock once temps fall in October, and just trying some things out, but I am wondering what other peoples' experiences have been. Ours are going to eat fallen prosopis pods, pithecellobium pods, mooring pods, and fallen leaves as forage off our tree systems, and i expect to have to supplement it to start out with.

When I was in the Guatemalan desert i noticed a lot of people kept ducks, but they were mostly fed household scrap rather than foraging. Having a pool of water where I am seems almost nonsensical on a broad scale, but perhaps in a zone 2/zone1 border?

BONUS CRITTERS: The Arabian Hyrax.

I am also going to buy a few clutches of hyraxes, which in our context sell for about 125 dollars per head (for meat). They are native to our context and are tremendously hardy.
3 years ago
Hi Steve,

Our most frequent updates at the moment are on the instagram page: We've had 3 rainfalls in the last month, which is our first series of summer rains since I got here 5 years ago. It's been enough to irrigate our trees for another 4.5 years, so I may actually consider planting more in the winter and adding to our water budget.

Come to think of it, i have seen research that some types of ziziphus are N-fixing. Might be another one to add. Ziziphus Honey here sells for over 100 dollars a pound.

3 years ago

Steve Farmer wrote:

For trees from seeds try moringa oliefera, leucania leucocephala, gliricidia sepium, mesquites and acacias. These are all drought tolerant nitrogen fixers available cheap on ebay, and with good germination rates in our climate. Soak the seeds for 36 hrs in warm water (very hot to boiling for acacia) Get a clear plastic sandwich box from the Chinese shop. Place the lid upside down and put damp kitchen towel on it, seeds on that, then click the box onto the lid so u've got a "greenhouse" and stick it in the sun. Change the paper towel every day or two to avoid mouldy seeds. Any that sprout, stick em in soil in a pot in full sun. Any not sprouted after ten days, soak them another 24 hrs and repeat.

Also put some aloe veras and prickly pears in the patch of desert you are working with, these help add organic material to the ground, and protect against wind erosion.
I've put a couple of palms and yuccas in too, they look nice but they're not as efficient users of water, or fast growers, or as good for the "soil" as the other plants I've mentioned.

Hey all,

Just trying to find if you have a source for Moringa being a nitrogen fixer. I haven't seen that. Also, In my comparisons of Moringa Oleifera vs Moringa Peregrina, I highly recommend the peregrina over the oleifera--i've had higher germination rates, better survival, and quicker growth from the peregrina. The leaves aren't as big, so in terms of forage won't provide as much as the Oleifera, but the seeds are 50% oil, and the flowers are really great for honey (that's based more on my reading than on experience--mine aren't even a year old yet). Also, I did direct seeding with the Peregrina--over 90% germination rate despite temps in the low 40s (C)

Another species that does well in rocky soil and a similar climate is Pithecellobium Dulce--the pods are edible and the leaves are decent forage. In Mexico they use the pods for drinks--here in the Middle East they just eat them.


3 years ago
There's work underway to get a massive afforestation project on the navajo reservations in the 4 corners region. They're averaging 8 inches of rain a year.
4 years ago
I have done imprinting by hand with a team of folks. It is very labor intensive, but it is doable. Are you planning on digging your swales by hand? Might I also suggest fish-scale berms & basins? It's impossible to make a recommendation without understanding where you are in your watershed, how much runoff you typically have in a year, and how much you might expect in a 100 year event.

I will however strongly recommend AGAINST putting in a pond. Mangos and bananas do not need humidity in the air to grow--they create humidity in the air through evapotranspiration. A pond will cause you to lose a tremendous amount of water in an arid setting, when you would be much better off storing that water in a tank, or in the ground. Then again, my assumptions about your climate might be off--are you in coastal Morocco? Are you up in the mountains? On the rain shadow side or the the side that will get a better orographic effect?

4 years ago