Although permaculture principles are universal principles that should work everywhere, but anyone who has done a permaculture course will agree that every part of the world and every farm or backyard has it’s own challenges.
We moved from Hartswater in the Northern Cape Province to Albertinia in the Western Cape. The only thing that is almost the same between the two places is the average rainfall per year. (That is according to different datasets I’ve seen.) That is where the similarity ends.
Hartswater has a summer rainfal, Albertinia, winter rainfall. We had good quality soil with just about everything needed to grow things. Over here, our farm is located on old sea sand – meters deep of it. Where we struggled to keep water runoff on the property in Hartswater, the sandy soil infiltrates water at such a pace, that it doesn’t even puddle on top.
We are not familiar with the natural vegetation, bird life, wild life or even the insects and spiders. Yet applying permaculture principles, we’ve managed to grow our first and second crop in our food garden in just 10 months. The strawberries, onions, beetroot, garlic, potatoes that are currently in the soil are doing well.
Because we don’t know the circumstances around here, we decided to plant as much as possible in as little as possible time. Fresh turmeric, bought at the local supermarket, is growing. Pineapple heads, from those bought to eat, were rooted and is looking great. Bananas in the banana circle around our grey water outlet is flourishing.
Our meat rabbit colony took a few months of blood, sweat and tears to finally start multiplying. (We never thought that growing rabbits could be difficult.) We have a few pigs running in the bush. Chicken are producing eggs. The challenge now is to convert the meat animals into something we can eat and also something to sell to other people.
Our orchard did well at first. But because the water holding capacity of the soil isn’t high enough yet, the trees took a hammering when a heat wave struck. Shortly after, we had our water tanks run dry at crucial times and because the borehole pump runs on a solar pump, we struggled to fill everything again and the trees were without water for longer than we anticipated. A few bushbuck ate our almond trees. Did I mention we are in a winter rainfall region now? Fruit and nut trees grow in summer. How do you harvest water to get those through the dry summer months?
The next few months will be a time for revisiting every aspect of our farm again and rethinking and redesigning and correcting a lot of mistakes we made in the first ten months.