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permaculture advocate in Zimbabwe - too little/too much rain

 
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We continued the talk on success and our conclusion to help us understand where we currently are, which will  help us determine what we need to do to achieve our goals follows:

The quality of life in general is deteriorating and not much effort has made significant progressive change at a family level. E.g. the investment  made in education has limited benefit to the direct growth or improvement of the local society. Income generating projects in homesteads are an expence rather than a profit. It all comes down to failure in assessing whether an action is beneficial or not. There is also lack of enough knowledge on alternative lifestyles or income generating activities.

The measurable goals and objectives we came up with are
1) creating a system where there are high chances of getting beneficial results from any effort exerted I.e. concentrating on effectiveness.

2)building an environment as fair as possible, with each person getting a reward/ benefit for his/ her effort.
 
Rufaro Makamure
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We have had our first monthly review of the year. Things are promising. We isolated the chicken project, because it is one project my mum is deciding whether to continue or not and  since we bought most of the feed already we were able to appreciate better the inflow from selling chomolia. This alone takes care of all the expenses (excluding the chicken feed). We need to keep this up in the next months, with some improvement on other areas, it will be safe to say we would have succeeded in creating a retirement for mother independent from the need to financially rely on extra support for basic survival (with all things being equal). This will mark the beginning of fulfilling her wish. The first legacy that she can leave is a place that can take care of itself.

We defined specific goals and we both have separate responsibilities for the coming month, to help with accountability. Mother has to decide how the chicken project will be continued, whether she thinks now is a good time to keep this number of chickens or not. I have to come up with a way of planting chomolia suckers in the heat without the need to replant, as we spent too much time planting chomolia in the past year and we still are. Both the chickens and chomolia planting has made so much effort from last year be in vain and we want to change this.
 
Rufaro Makamure
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We have won with the nursing of chomolia suckers. There is nothing new and special we did, except to focus more on our probable solution and put all our attention while trying it out. We would grow suckers directly into beds and it was normal and accepted for the leaves on the suckers to brown, leaving only the tiny central leaf in it's forming stage. This would keep the plant alive until it formed its roots.

Sometime last year or even before I tried a nursery but either the things would dry up or be destroyed by our dogs. This time l reserved enough time to monitor and attend to the suckers and we succeeded. With the new method, most leaves remain green and a few turn yellow. The space that needs watering is so small making it very manageable.

So far the ones we put as an experiment are showing signs of life and the method has already been adopted at the plot. We will wait for a month before transplanting and in the meantime we will work on the soil within the beds.
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Successful experiment
Successful experiment
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Using tree shade as a micro climate
Using tree shade as a micro climate
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We made a shade using grass
We made a shade using grass
 
Rufaro Makamure
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It has been raining consistently since the end of January. We decided to start with the front yard, which now had so much weeds coming through the stones that I put earlier. We did the same thing, talking about exactly what we want to achieve and we want
  • a portion just after the lawn that does not grow anything, with minimum maintenance
  • Lawn and flower area that stays green with minimum watering requirements
  • .  

    So again I am adding more stone which I am getting from yet another pile of rubble that was dumped by the road side. I want to first try to achieve weed suppression using most available and least costly material and also a pile of rubble along the side of the road is a sure attraction for dumping of garbage in the future. I decided to first put cardboard boxes, also using waste material, to stop the weeds for a while. If this time it doesn't work, the next step is to buy quarry stone, which seems to be working just fine on other people's yards.  And this time is the best time to see this, the weeds we pulled out end of last week are already coming out. As or the lawn area, we have decided to put succulents in place of the lawn and the flowers as they are more drought resistant. We have not picked on the actual plants we will use.  

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    Newly dumped rubble
    Newly dumped rubble
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    Weeding in progress
    Weeding in progress
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    Weeds are already growing back just days after weeding
    Weeds are already growing back just days after weeding
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    Laid some cardboard under the rubble
    Laid some cardboard under the rubble
     
    Rufaro Makamure
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    We now have more than 9 new trees successfully growing at the plot and it's exciting. Some are of the same type.
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    Munyii, bird plum
    Munyii, bird plum
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    faidherbia albida
    faidherbia albida
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    prickly pear
    prickly pear
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    chinese date; musau
    chinese date; musau
     
    Rufaro Makamure
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    We are now looking for plants that we can use for decorative purposes that are drought resistant to replace the lawn and randomly picked flowers that we have. A nursery in town has a limited number and they do not have the names of the plants, which shows how unpopular they are.  

    We have also been going through the decision making process, to add onto steps in being more effective. It directed me to history, it is a dream to the majority of us to relocate to a first world country and I wanted to know how stability in the developed world came to be. From the few articles so far, there are periods centuries ago (l started with European history) that are a mirror reflection of what l see today. I believe one little privilege of lagging behind is, if we are willing to learn, we can avoid some of the mistakes that were done as people worked on improving their living conditions.
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    master pollinator
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    Rufaro Makamure wrote:... From the few articles so far, there are periods centuries ago (l started with European history) that are a mirror reflection of what l see today. I believe one little privilege of lagging behind is, if we are willing to learn, we can avoid some of the mistakes that were done as people worked on improving their living conditions.


    Great observation, Rufaro! I totally agree with you on this. Here in so-called 'developed countries' many mistakes are made, we as permaculturists try to heal the damage done. In some regions in 'the third world' these mistakes are not (yet) made. It's possible to find a new kind of development without having to heal any damage.
     
    Rufaro Makamure
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    It is a really good morning today. I woke up to these beautiful images of my sister and my sister inlaw showing off their harvest. There is always some fresh energy that comes when there is a tiny bit of light that, changes, no matter how small are happening.

    Getting hands dirty growing food, had become unpopular unless if it involved a commercial area. Seeing these two proud like this is a huge stride.

    Part of our deliberate inclusion of family in what we are developing at home has been to share most things on WhatsApp and this is where the images were posted, which will certainly be contageous depending on how we handle it, thereby cementing a certain way of thinking which is pro an abundant lifestyle..... exciting times ahead....!!!
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    Rufaro Makamure
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    We have harvested just less than a quarter of our maize. All along, we would convert our yield into monetary term, this year we will do it differently. We took no money, from ourselves or from friends in the growing of maize throughout the whole season, which is so great. Our approach now is that, we will not buy any mealie meal, until our maize is finished. That way we can determine whether the whole maize growing is worth our time and energy, if we last three months and beyond. Anything less than three months will be a loss to us, because maize growing demands roughly three months of our time and energy.

    We also finally planted the chomolia suckers, the wait seemed endless. It was easier keeping busy at growing suckers every weekend, with no certainty of whether they would grow or not. Having suckers in a small space felt like we were not doing anything. Now we can practically compare the benefits of nursing vs directly planting in beds.

    I found a paper beautifully written, that l have started discussing with mother to help understand a little about economics (starting with our own country), the long term aim is to reduce subjective perspectives on poverty and its causes and have a more objective understanding of our situation. I have attached the link and l will share our discussions as we discuss. After appreciating where we stand in terms of how our resources are benefiting us (or not) as a country, l can then use other nations which were once in economic crisis but managed to improve, and from these we can try to come up with principles that we can scale down to family level.

    https://googleweblight.com/i?u=https://www.researchgate.net/publication/249820554_Historical_Perspective_on_Zimbabwe%27s_Economic_PerformanceA_Tale_of_Five_Lost_Decades&hl=en-ZW


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    Rufaro Makamure
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    We are almost done with reading the paper on 'Historical Perspective on Zimbabwe's Economic Performance' and we analyze as we go. It seems like there are a bunch of things that have affected growth of the country, that connect with basic decision making, that can also apply to individual choices we make. Some of these decision making habits have affected us in our attempt to come up with a sustainable plot.

    Last Sunday was the first time we actually watched on the news the impacts the virus has had and it is alarming. It reinforced how we are now global citizens, literally. A small action by anyone anywhere can have an influence that we cannot correctly imagine, positively or negatively. As I listened to efforts being put by all the people across the globe, I only wish there is more we could offer as input too, to help others, other than try to keep the disease from spreading. Looking at our national GDP Graphs that fall in the negative zone, in the paper we are reading, it is clear some people from the global community supported us as a nation, and maybe still are, and we are so sorry a lot of families have been affected badly.
     
    Rufaro Makamure
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    The core principles we managed to extract are, Self-sufficiency, People care, Accountability, Reinvestment and Health consciousness.

    AIMING FOR SELF SUFFICIENCY: - There is no doubt that this works in stabilising the economy, alleviating poverty or minimising the impact of hunger. The period just before 1980 proved that an earnest effort put in using available resources and reinvesting profits, to provide for the daily necessities, works. But it has to be coupled with other principles in order to create sustainability, for instance, in the late 70s, growth of the economy was affected by war and sanctions, because the principle of people care had not been given much consideration. The other contributing factor to the reduced rate of economic growth was beyond anyone’s control, a ‘global recession’.
    LACK OF FINANCIAL ACCOUNTABILITY:-
    This is made clear by a continuously growing high budget deficit since after independence. It does not matter whether the intention is a good one or a bad one, as long as more is being taken than is coming in, the end is always a deficit.  For example redistributive objectives were a great move, but they could have looked at a bite sizeable and realistic approach until they could afford to finance a bigger aim. Then a more self-centred act was the failure to adjust expenditure because of fear of political unpopularity. All the other things which occurred and further crippled the economy, are more of effects of the desperate environment caused by over spending, against minimum production, and a motive which drove away attention from productive activities. This led to actions that were not, well thought of or fully assessed and some ideas would be partially implemented and again lack of people care increased as the decades progressed and this brought back sanctions. Decline in input availability, collapse in savings and investment, high production costs…etc., are some of the products of this environment.
    HEALTH
    We need to put some conscious effort in aiming for a healthy lifestyle, in the food we eat, how we keep our environment…etc. We need to strive for more than just feeling our stomachs. The HIV/AIDS pandemic reduced the human capital and left a considerable number of dependence and this negatively impacted productivity. This is one example of how health has a great impact on sustainability.

    We constantly witness similar decisions at a micro level, as at the national level. We barely make well informed assessments of critical things, from basic things to small business start-ups and income generating projects, and they almost always flop or never grow into long term businesses (in any field). Examples:  A need to fit into a certain lifestyle at all cost, has seen a boom in the building of big houses and buying of cars, and no attention is paid to what the pocket can truly afford. We are also sometimes expected to care for extended family without consideration of whether it is sustainable or not. These are just but a few examples of how we are all at fault both at macro and micro levels in the ability to account and balance our expenditure vs. our income be it, it is for a good cause or a selfish gain.
    As for self-sufficiency and health, currently, having a lot of money and “looking successful” takes precedence.
    The greatest thing about the above is all these things are very achievable though at different degrees maybe depending on exposure, coupled with economic and social status.
     
    Rufaro Makamure
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    We now have the virus in our country and today the prices have started rising and basic commodities are starting to run out as borders around us are closing, all of the effort from the past years is paying off now. We might have other issues to deal with but we have enough food from the plot, for a couple months.
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    pollinator
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    Panic buying of food and supplies has been a real issue where I live, and we don't even have much of a problem with coronavirus here yet. So being able to grow some of your own food will put you into a better position than your neighbors, as long as you can control theft.

    But if there is a staple you are short on, you may wish to buy some now before it becomes impossible to find or the price becomes unaffordable. Where I live, rice is a staple which I don't happen to grow. I don't use much rice myself, but most people here do and they rely upon it. Right now the stores have no rice and have not for a couple of weeks now. A couple of weeks ago I was lucky to be at a store that was unpacking a shipmemt of brown rice in 5 pound bags. I bought a bag for my farm wwoofer......there was a limit of one bag per customer. The few minutes I was in that store, I saw all the rice get purchased. There was none left. I'm sure not everyone buying that rice really needed it, but they are panicked and afraid that they will run out. As a result, there is none left for people who really need it. This same sort of thing is happening with toilet paper, paper towels, disinfectants.

    I am lucky because I grow or trade for much of our own food. Most of my trading system has collapsed because, again, people are hoarding food. But I grow enough to last us many weeks, if not months. My wwoofer has foraging and hunting skills, so he will do ok too even if food is scarce in the stores.

    I am seeing firsthand the benefits of producing food for oneself!
     
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    Rufaro Makamure wrote:We now have the virus in our country and today the prices have started rising and basic commodities are starting to run out as borders around us are closing, all of the effort from the past years is paying off now. We might have other issues to deal with but we have enough food from the plot, for a couple months.

    It's good to see that you're covered on at least the basics. I'm hoping that after the dust has settled again your community will see the literal fruits of your labour and also adapt their way of life.

    Su Ba wrote:Panic buying of food and supplies has been a real issue where I live, and we don't even have much of a problem with coronavirus here yet. So being able to grow some of your own food will put you into a better position than your neighbors, as long as you can control theft.

    But if there is a staple you are short on, you may wish to buy some now before it becomes impossible to find or the price becomes unaffordable. Where I live, rice is a staple which I don't happen to grow. I don't use much rice myself, but most people here do and they rely upon it. Right now the stores have no rice and have not for a couple of weeks now. A couple of weeks ago I was lucky to be at a store that was unpacking a shipmemt of brown rice in 5 pound bags. I bought a bag for my farm wwoofer......there was a limit of one bag per customer. The few minutes I was in that store, I saw all the rice get purchased. There was none left. I'm sure not everyone buying that rice really needed it, but they are panicked and afraid that they will run out. As a result, there is none left for people who really need it. This same sort of thing is happening with toilet paper, paper towels, disinfectants.

    I am lucky because I grow or trade for much of our own food. Most of my trading system has collapsed because, again, people are hoarding food. But I grow enough to last us many weeks, if not months. My wwoofer has foraging and hunting skills, so he will do ok too even if food is scarce in the stores.

    I am seeing firsthand the benefits of producing food for oneself!


    Without the general channels that you're selling to, are you now more into processing the production on location so you can sell it afterwards?
    I'm in a comparable situation right now, also on an island that depends on tourism and on those same flights a lot of fresh shipments are also coming in. I'm happy that after the border with Venezuela closed a few years ago there was at least some realisation that there needed to be more local production so some old market gardens got a boost. At least the shelf stable and frozen staples can still come in via container ships, so even though the menu will be limited nobody should get hungry.
     
    Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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    [quote=Johan ... I'm in a comparable situation right now, also on an island that depends on tourism and on those same flights a lot of fresh shipments are also coming in. I'm happy that after the border with Venezuela closed a few years ago there was at least some realisation that there needed to be more local production so some old market gardens got a boost. At least the shelf stable and frozen staples can still come in via container ships, so even though the menu will be limited nobody should get hungry.

    Hi Johan, this is off-topic ... but I am curious. I can only find you are from the Netherlands, but here you tell about being on an Island and the border with Venezuela. Is it Aruba or Curaçao? I know some of the permaculture people at Curaçao (for some time I had the idea of moving there too), that's why I ask you.
     
    Johan Thorbecke
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    Inge Leonora-den Ouden wrote:[quote=Johan ... I'm in a comparable situation right now, also on an island that depends on tourism and on those same flights a lot of fresh shipments are also coming in. I'm happy that after the border with Venezuela closed a few years ago there was at least some realisation that there needed to be more local production so some old market gardens got a boost. At least the shelf stable and frozen staples can still come in via container ships, so even though the menu will be limited nobody should get hungry.


    Hi Johan, this is off-topic ... but I am curious. I can only find you are from the Netherlands, but here you tell about being on an Island and the border with Venezuela. Is it Aruba or Curaçao? I know some of the permaculture people at Curaçao (for some time I had the idea of moving there too), that's why I ask you. I'm currently on Curaçao indeed! Although temporary so I'm not starting too much other than several fruits and veggies in pots in the garden. I visited a few plots out of interest and give keep my coffeegrinds separate for one of them because the ground could use a bit of PH tuning, but for the rest I'm not too involved. Although what I did saw brings me hope, with the right design people are producing ridiculous amounts of produce.
     
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        Sorry if this is misplaced advice, I don't have the endurance to read through the whole thread. Here's my two cents: using the three sisters (maize, beans, and squash) is more sustainable and diverse than maize by itself, and added to these can be: amaranth between rows of corn, it helps to shade the ground, its good for eating or chicken feed, it makes great chop 'n drop mulch, peas as a secondary nitrogen fixer, sunflowers to attract squash pollinators and improve maize yields, and daikon radishes, to repel squash pests (they do this when they flower) and improve the soil by "injecting" organic matter.
        I'm super impressed with your achievements. keep up the good work, and God bless you!
     
    Rufaro Makamure
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    We have increased the amount of feed we put in chomolia beds. We have been using Russian comfrey, cow dung, goat manure together with compost we got from the kitchen compost.

    The suckers we are planting are giving us less problems. We have also managed to grow beans on a small portion of the field and they are also growing well.
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    Su Ba
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    Rufaro, it is so good hearing from you again! I have thought about you frequently and have been hoping that you and your family were well.

    Producing food appears to be quite challenging where you are. It sounds like you are having some success. Keep up the good work!!!
     
    Rufaro Makamure
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    Thank you, we are all okay.

    Yes, currently we seem to be getting a number of things right. It seems all the elements to grow food are available and the gap is in understanding how each component can benefit us.
     
    Rufaro Makamure
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    We have been getting shallots, tomatoes, chomolia, spinach and beetroot from the kitchen garden. In some parts of the garden beetroots had stunted growth but for most plants, this was solved when we put in the compost. We have a number of beds we have successfully grown different plants together, and as a result, when we harvest one vegetable a bed does not go completely bare, but each bed always has something growing. It also reduces our waiting time before we can get a mature plant from our garden, for example, we had tomatoes in two beds and we are now harvesting the last fruits from the tomato plant, already the beds have carrots, onions and some pepper growing in them. One other benefit we might be getting from mixed planting is on pest control, there is a bed which had shallots, beetroots and cabbage, which seems to have been badly attacked by a pest I do not know yet, after we removed most of the shallots from it (the pest ate cabbage and beetroot leaves). A bed just adjacent to it has spinach, beetroots and some carrots, but it was not attacked as much and we are suspecting that spinanch leaves could have played a role, they seem to have been chewed on a little bit and were left without much damage, which could have saved the beetroot leaves close by .  
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    current view of the garden from across the road
    current view of the garden from across the road
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    close view of one side
    close view of one side
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    second side
    second side
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    tiny plants within the tomato beds
    tiny plants within the tomato beds
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    cabbage and beetroot leaves eaten by pests
    cabbage and beetroot leaves eaten by pests
     
    Su Ba
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    Your garden looks really good. It's very challenging to grow in your environment, and it looks like you are doing a great job!
     
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    Rufaro Makamure wrote:One other benefit we might be getting from mixed planting is on pest control, there is a bed which had shallots, beetroots and cabbage, which seems to have been badly attacked by a pest I do not know yet, after we removed most of the shallots from it (the pest ate cabbage and beetroot leaves).  


    Question. Have you considered using crushed eggshells as a deterrent? Since you don't know what is doing the damage, you may want to try it with a few plants. For some pests it works. Note that it also attracts birds in some cases, so take that into consideration.
     
    Rufaro Makamure
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    We found a mount of black very rich looking soil/ manure, heaped by the road side, and it could have never come at the right time. We have been intensely feeding all our vegetable beds and I can proudly say things seem to have gotten back to when we started growing things on this land.    
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    one of the sides
    one of the sides
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    second side
    second side
     
    Lauren Ritz
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    cat forest garden fungi foraging food preservation bee medical herbs writing greening the desert
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    Wow. Somebody discarded that?!

    Great find!
     
    Rufaro Makamure
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    ha ha ha... exactly my reaction, it is like gold sitting so openly and free of charge.
     
    Rufaro Makamure
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    I am always excited to write about benefits, and every Saturday we will be recording the number of plants/ or other, we can harvest, paying special attention to diversity. Today we have carrots, tomatoes, shallots,spinach and eggs. With today's meal components we are literally among the elites in my country (to be able to have these things for a meal), and I am glad it did not demand so much, monetary wise. We have two beds we have improved in successive planting in the kitchen garden. With one we are replacing a plant by another when we harvest one and then the other one had tomatoes and we planted carrots, beets and pepper before we removed the tomato plants. We are moving away from having a bare bed, after harvesting a mono crop, like the one that we harvested peas from.
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    Saturday's Harvest
    Saturday's Harvest
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    we replant as soon as we harvest a plant (available seedlings)
    we replant as soon as we harvest a plant (available seedlings)
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    less than a month after removing tomatoes
    less than a month after removing tomatoes
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    harvested peas from this bed
    harvested peas from this bed and it is bare
     
    Rufaro Makamure
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    We managed to spread a thin layer of the black soil we found in almost all the beds at the plot. I have started a trial of making liquid fertiliser from this soil and putting it in the kitchen garden to see how the plants will respond and we can adopt this at the plot. We have been using compost as well as using manure from chickens and cows for our liquid fertiliser.  

    This Saturday's harvest from the kitchen garden is a good one, topped by some beans from the plot.
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    Saturday #2
    Saturday #2
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    making liquid fertiliser from soil/manure
    making liquid fertiliser from soil/manure
     
    Lauren Ritz
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    How did your three month test with the corn go?
     
    Rufaro Makamure
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    We had enough corn to last us for three months and, 1 and a 1/4 month's worth of maize extra.
     
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    Rufaro nice thread and very interesting . Here in South Africa , Zimbabwe is again in the news for the wrong reason with much doom and gloom so it is inspiring to hear and read about your successes in a tough and challenging situation . The pandemic has hit us hard in South Africa and I suspect the real damage will show itself in the months to come plus I also fear our neighbours will also feel it
    The need for us to become self sufficient is now more than ever not a matter of choice but of necessity . I cannot see Southern Africa progressing if we do not learn to grow our own food and share the knowledge.  

    Your succulents posted 5 months back - the first one looks like a member of the Sedum genus and r popularly know as jelly bean plants.Most of the members of the Sedum genus are from the Northern Hemisphere The 2nd picture looks more interesting and could be a member of the Cotyledon or Kalanchoe genus. Zimbabwe has a rich and diverse flora and is well represented with  succulents. I visited Zimbabwe in 1990 but was not interested in botany in those days but I would  plan to re visit Zimbabwe and explore the wonderful flora it has to offer    
     
    Rufaro Makamure
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    Thank you Andrew.

    Today's harvest, carrots, rape,onions and eggs. I was worried that l might not have more than Two different types of vegetables to show.
    IMG-20200822-WA0000.jpg
    Saturday #3
    Saturday #3
     
    Rufaro Makamure
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    Today we have vegetables being sold away from home. All along, all vegetables would run out, being bought by customers who would come to us, harvesting so many leaves and still leaving so much in the garden to be sold at home is definitely a first.
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    Rufaro Makamure
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    Today's harvest marks a month since l started posting Saturday harvests. We have managed to harvest more than just chomolia and onions for most of the month even on other week days.
    IMG-20200829-WA0001.jpg
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    Rufaro Makamure
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    There is an area that has not been too easy to grow on as it is too sandy. The onions we planted did not do too well, we did feed but it was limited by what was available and the water the area demands is so much more. There are adjacent beds we are working on that also have onions still in the early stages, we put the black soil, mixed it a little with the sandy soil and then covered it with the partially rotten leaves we have been collecting. We will see how the beds will improve with time.
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    3 months old king onion with stunted growth
    3 months old king onion with stunted growth
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    new king onion bed before feeding
    new king onion bed before feeding
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    first layer with black soil
    first layer with black soil
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    second layer with leaves
    second layer with leaves
     
    Rufaro Makamure
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    The maize growing period has arrived and this year we received a good amount of rain for some days at the beginning of October. We were now used to getting very light showers for a day or two and a substantial amount of rain would come towards the end of October and consistent pour would then come in November leaning mostly towards the end of the month. The weather pattern seems to be changing, the pattern is getting difficult to follow. The weather pattern used to be so predictable, such that most of the names for the months, in Shona, are named after how the weather pattern used to be like throughout the year. The names are as follows:
  • Ndira (January)- was named after a black beetle that would be seen mostly in that month
  • Kukadzi (February)- Women would be excited and busying themselves with the few first fruits from the field after a long period of limited food during the dry season.The word is derived from mukadzi, meaning woman.
  • Kurume- men's activity would be hyper as they would be catching animals, closer to their fields ...etc. These are things that would have been drawn by the first fruits
  • Kubvumbi (April)- Is a month that had a continuous drizzle. The word is from the word "mubvumbi", literally meaning persistent drizzle. I was surprised to find this out, because April is now usually a dry month.
  • Chivabvu (May)
  • Chikumi (June)-
  • Chikunguru (July)- light wind starts and it rolls light weight material lying on the ground. Rolling is called "kukunguruka" which could be where the month's name comes from. Another name which could have been the reason for the month's name is the nhunguru wild fruit which is red in colour which rippens in this month and this color is intensified by the color of the budding musasa and mutondo trees.
  • Nyamavhuvhu (August)- means the windy one, because there are strong winds experienced in this month
  • Gunyana (September)
  • Gumiguru (October)-  gumi means ten
  • Mbudzi (November)-  my favourite month. Its a month of regeneration, mbudzi means goat and goats would give birth during this time, most herbivores would too and so many other things. It is a sacred month with a lot of myth surrounding it.
  • Zvita (December)- is a month of thanks giving, and it is derived from the word mazviita, meaning "thank you"


  • We are using a different approach this year as we monitor our maize plant. Instead of celebrating or mainly focusing on the final produce, i.e the maize cob, we are staggering expected results across all the growing stages, focusing on for example emergence, the different vegetative stages, through to the reproductive stage, that way we can manage our crop better.webpage

    For example, we have already planted and as we planted, our aim was emergence of the grain and so we focused on whatever we had to do for the grains to emerge within the expected period (time taken being of paramount importance), given the conditions are optimum. When we planted,  we knew we were taking a risk because usually the rain then disappears for a time that is likely going to destroy any emerged plant. We covered our holes with leaves, grass and whatever organic matter we could get our hands on, the burning of surrounding grass this year was worse than all the other years, we used mostly leaves from our fruit trees that we had been collecting and for the first time this year we harvested leaves that would fall on a small portion that we grew a hedge on. Hopefully this will be a good way to market a live fence, over a brick-wall when the time for this comes. We also prepared our water accessibility. We have a drip but it is supported by a 1000ltr tank and has pipes that run across almost 1/2 an acre. This time, we isolated just over a third of the field and this is what is under the drip, that way the water being supplied by the 1000ltr tank will have a significant impact. As for the two pumps, to compensate for their sizes, we have added two more drums, coming to a total of 4 drums. We fill the drums up the day before we plan to water and when we start watering, we would have bought sometime because we will fill up an emptied drum while we still have other ones to fetch water from and still allow the pumps their desired resting time. We also adapted the well to a less strenuous watering system, we have a bucket with a hose connected to it and water is filled straight into the bucket going to the area which needs watering. We no longer need to carry buckets for long distances when we use the well.
    Now the maize is at V2 stage and it looks beautiful. We are targeting V5 in the next 7 days. We fed with cow dung straight from a Kraal, this time we did not get the chance to make a compost in advance.
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    V2 STAGE
    V2 STAGE
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    drums and cow manure
    drums and cow manure
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    fallen leaves from under a hedge
    fallen leaves from under a hedge
     
    Rufaro Makamure
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    Some of the maize plants have developed the fifth leaf fully, especially those we had managed to feed with cow manure and mulched. It has been two days since we received the first rains after emergence phase and we are happy with how the field looks. The whole field has now been fed with cow manure and we expect the development of the rest of the plants to somewhat normalise, it is not bad, as the other plants have between 3 to 5 leaves that have fully developed. We expect the plants to have 8 leaves fully developed by next week. We planted cow peas and pumpkin in some of the maize holes this week. The plan had been to plant 7 days after emergence, but it was too hot and we decided not to take the risk.

    The part with the drip has maize that has reached tasseling as well as cabbages, planted together with onions. For this year, we succeeded in growing different crop on this area throughout the year. We had maize from last rainy season, soon after we had beans and now there is maize, onion and cabbage.

    The place where we have our kitchen garden has had water problems for most of October and progress stalled. We dedicated one bed from the plot to experiment with our kitchen vegetables since we have more control over the water source. The bed is beautiful, it has carrots, pepper and either broccoli or cauliflower (the seeds got accidentally mixed).
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    V5 stage
    V5 stage
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    most of the planted seeds germinated
    most of the planted seeds germinated
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    Drip irrigated area
    Drip irrigated area
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    carrots, pepper, cauliflower/ broccoli
    carrots, pepper, cauliflower/ broccoli
     
    pollinator
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    Cauliflower usually has pointy leaves, broccoli round ones.
     
    You don't know me, but I've been looking all over the world for. Thanks to the help from this tiny ad:
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