DESC Desert Food Forest
DESC Desert Food Forest
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Commenced:
01/10/2012
Submitted:
06/07/2012
Last updated:
07/10/2015
Location:
Dubai English Speaking College, Academic City, Dubai, AE
Climate zone:
Arid





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DESC Desert Food Forest

DESC Desert Food Forest

Academic City, AE


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Creating Ethical and Organic Soil in the Desert - Part 2

Project: DESC Desert Food Forest

Posted by Gaina Dunsire over 6 years ago

Soil. There isn’t much of it in Dubai, so forget soil regeneration, here it’s soil creation.

In my last update I explained how I am using ‘sweet sand’ as the first component for soil creation. For many desert plants this is as good as it gets, but I planned to give a diverse range of plants in the Desert Forest Garden the best chance to thrive. Sand has an important drainage function in soil, but you can have too much of a good thing. I needed to balance the structure of my soil by adding an ingredient which does the opposite; retains water.

Coincidentally, research into mulch options for my balcony plants last year had led me to discover coconut coir, or as it is sometimes referred to, coco-peat. The majority of it is produced in a relatively nearby source to this region; India. It is essentially a waste product from the coconut palm industry so  is a great example of waste becoming a valuable resource. It is economical to transport as before it is shipped it is compressed into blocks which expand and break down when water is added, and they really do expand!  A 1kg block can expand up to a volume of 15litres. It acts like a sponge and prevents a significant amount of water from draining away, plus when mixed with the sweet sand the fibrous material gives structure to the soil, providing vital air-pockets of oxygen for microorganisms.

I was able to buy the coco-peat wholesale through a landscaping company, who also agreed to add the water and expand the hundreds of blocks I needed.  A number of parents and staff at the school  enquired about it as a result,  but sadly I couldn’t advise them where to buy it in small quantities for their own gardens, as I couldn’t find it anywhere in Dubai for sale in retail outlets. This was disappointing as the alternative choice most people then make is the NPK-filled compost bags (although I did convince some of them to use a Bokashi instead!) But for the project, Coco-peat definitely offered a more sustainable solution for creating water absorbent soil. 

 

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María Luz Cardozo
María Luz Cardozo : Nice job ;) All the best for you in such challenging task!!!
Posted over 6 years ago

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