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Posted by JEAN ( from Namibia - Afric on 2002-01-13 11:21:03

Hi from the desert town of Walvis Bay on the West Coast of Namibia, Africa - where we do not have soil other than desert sand dunes and salty soil - our gardens are quite difficult to build up but with judicious mixing of inert dune sand, manure, compost and imported river sand we can grow most temperate plants including veggies and herbs but
besides the soil we are bedevilled with
salt laden wind - we have the highest salt erosion factor in the world - so enjoy your lush gardens and lawns and
think of us when a heavy mist from the sea will turn your back yard into something akin to a salt pan as the damp drawns out the salt in the soil.
Best wishes and thanks for an enjoyable site
  • African Gardens
    Posted by Daryl from Ga/Zone 7 on 2002-01-16 09:37:28

    our gardens are quite difficult to build up but with judicious mixing of inert dune sand, manure, compost and imported river sand__

    Welcome Jean!

    I'm curious about the difference between river sand and dune sand. Could you tell me more, please?

    I have a friend in Gulf Breeze, Florida, US that has the same trouble with sand and salt wind. She also builds up her sand with compost so that she can grow her garden.
    Unfortunately, she's also been hit with several hurricanes in the last 5 or 6 years, which has washed away quite a bit of her hard work, since her garden is only a couple of feet above sea level.
    She does have rain, though, which usually washes the salt back out and keeps the brackish water below the level of her garden.
    • African Gardens
      Posted by Jean from Namibia Afric on 2002-01-16 12:17:32

      -I'm curious about the difference between river sand and dune sand. Could you tell me more, please?

      Hi Daryl

      Dune sand is the golden brown sand that our desert dunes are comprised of - it is quite granular - like sugar - and is totally inert - as I said with compost etc it does support plans but has no water retention ability - hence we add river sand -
      We have a few rivers which - when the rainy season in the catchment area is good (and which it has not been for the past year) flow down into the sea, bringing down some good decayed vegetable matter and which retains moisture - by the way the rivers flow for about half a day and then disappear. Our own average rainfall is +/- 20 mm per annum So we do appreciate the cool mist they blows in virtually each evening ocasioned by the warm desert air meeting the cold Benguella current that flows up the coast. The dunes run all along the entire coastline of Namibia from the Orange River (the border between the Republic of South Africa) and the Kunene (the border between Angola) and the Dunes start in some places a few metres from the shore line and in others it could be 500 m up[ to 5 miles

      It is a fascinating area and one either loves it or not - I hve only been here 4 years and find the bustle of the big towns a bit too much for me -

      We too have East winds which cools down the interior but brings, seemingly half othe desert with it, brings temperatures up to high 30oC for days on end - one does not venture out, everything is closed tight - it then dumps the sand into the sea and pressures level out and wehave glorious days for cleaning up until the next time - this comes around April - our average temperatures range from 10 to 25 degrees C

      Enough lecture - nice to hear from you and thanks for your interest -oh by the way - Walvis is right on sea level and we have a tidal salt lagoon which is one of the main feeding grounds for migrant water birds and is a Ramsar site = flamingoes, pelicans, terns, godwits, chestnut bandended plovers - grebe, etc etc and also a fair assortment of "garden" birds and also a few desert larks - hard to believe that these tiny birds find sustenance in the gravel plains - we also have sidewinders and assorted chekos, moles and lizards living in the dunes - they burrow under the sand in the heat of the day and survive on the bits and pieces of detrius that blow across the dunes. Best wishes
      • African Gardens
        Posted by Daryl from Ga.Zone 7 ?US on 2002-01-16 16:42:18


        Thanks for the detailed explanation. I was wondering whether the river sand had any special nutrients, like the way we were taught that the Nile used to replenish the delta, or whether it was just a change in texture. Here, we consider river sand to be poor in both texture and nutrients compared to our heavy clay soil.

        Our own average rainfall is +/- 20 mm per annum __

        Wow! And we're whining because we haven't gotten our normal 50 inches of rain per year for several years. Our monthly deficit is more than your total, if my conversion is correct,
        1" = 25 mm?
        It sounds like an incredible environment. I've never spent more than a day or 2 in a desert (American Southwest) but have always been impressed by what can survive.

        Our temperatures range from about minus 18 C to 40 F in a bad year. More often from about minus 6 to 35 C. We had about 5 inches of snow right after the New Year. In a few days it was gone and we were back to short-sleeve weather.

        I hve only been here 4 years __
        Where did you live before?
        days for cleaning up until the next time - this comes around April - our average temperatures range from 10 to 25 degrees C

        main feeding grounds for migrant water birds __

        Wow! Got any photos? I love bird watching, and participate every year in Cornell University's Project FeederWatch, counting birds that visit a defined area of my garden for a defined length of time each week.

        • Soil
          Posted by Jean from Namibia on 2002-01-20 11:08:43

          Hi Daryl : Where did we lie before : My husband and I came to Namibia in '78 from Paarl in the Republic of South Africa - hear tof the winelands - to live in Windhoek capital of Namibia (then South West Africa) Windhoek is 1000 m (3 000 ft) above sea level with temps of max 38 oC and dropping in winter to - 4oC with one dreadful day of -8 but then the day temp warmed up to around 25 so you can see it is a land of extremes

          I am not a photographer but if you send an address I will send pcards of our environment

          Unfortunately Alex, my husband passed away in 1999 just a few years after retiring here in 1997 and he was the real "birder" and we were just getting into the shore birds having been inland bird watchers - Alex's favourites being the raptors which he was able to observe on his travels around the country in the line of his employment as a technician travelling the length and breadth of the country. We had numerous birds in our back yard from the obiquitous turtle dove to weavers, even being lucky enough to have them building their nests in the trees in the "river" at the bottom of ur garden
          to Chestnut weavers endemic to Namibia and also finches of assorted kinds, lilac cheeked waxbills, rosy faced waxbills and the tiny blue waxbills as well as wydahs - both shaftntailed and paradise - with their retinue of at least six females each - down here at the coast we do have garden birds such as sparrows, wax bills, weavers, tirtle doves the seasonal cuckoo the odd crow and of course the bane of the gardener's life what we call "muse Birds" - these are little perishers that eat the young shoots from the gardens - they look like little mice sitting there chewing away and of course now with the lackl of rain and no green for them they are alive in the gardens - we also have a number of date palms that flourish at the coast so they are happy to feed on the dates as are a number of chats they come in droves and settle on the huge palm in the garden.

          Is GA Georgia? I have a penfriend in South Caroline

          Best wishes
          • African Gardens
            Posted by Daryl from Ga/Zone 7 on 2002-01-25 09:12:49

            Hi Jean,

            I've been trying to find a map of your country so that I can follow along, but most of the maps I have are very old.

            I'm sorry to hear about your husband. It's too bad you both didn't have a chance to enjoy his retirement.

            As for learning about birds - every time I think I know a few, I visit someplace else and realize how little I know! When I go to the shore, especially, I feel like I'm way out of my biome. Of course I recognize the Pelicans and several types of gulls, Herons, and the Sanderlings, but there are so many to learn!

            I'm going to print out your message and find my old birds of the workd book to see what your birds look like.

            You mentioned raptors-we have a pair of Coopers Hawks that have begun visiting. Normally in spring and fall we have a sharp-shinned hawk stay a few days. This year he stayed, and he'd been terrorizing the birds that visit our feeder until the Coopers stopped by.

            I'll try to find some decent bird pictures ( I'm not very good at birds, and can email them to you, or upload them to my (sort-of) website, if you'd like.

            Daryl ( Oh, yes, and Ga. is Georgia-I'm north of Atlanta about 25 miles.)


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