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permaculture advocate in Zimbabwe - too little/too much rain

 
Posts: 130
Location: Wyoming Zone 4
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Rufaro, you are so inspiring!  I wish you the very best in your projects.

Perhaps people are unconcerned by climate change because day-to-day living is enough to handle mentally.  Once you show how well sustainability works (for more than just one season), people will be more interested.  Just my opinion.

Happy new year!
 
pollinator
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Location: Zimbabwe
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greening the desert
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So true. I have come to realise it's not about convincing anyone but presenting an alternative that yields results and that is right in front of us. And yes one thing is, this will take sometime to show and also  a lot of effort and patience from my side.
 
gardener
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I don't think many people in any country are making personal changes based on big picture items like global climate change. It is the individual impacts that are easy to understand and take motivation from. Avoiding a second planting of a whole field is the kind of thing that's easy to talk about.

It sounds like you are already doing a good job showing direct ways that permaculture will benefit a person in their day to day life. Getting other people interested in doing their own research will take a lot more successes to show that your sources aren't just a stopped clock*. It will take time to solidify a reputation as someone with real expertise.

*Just in case English isn't your first language, the old saying is "Even a stopped clock is right, twice a day" Please don't be offending if it is your first language, I honestly can't tell the difference between good education and native knowledge. It's just been on my mind because I recently read an article about native speakers needed to take language courses to better communicate with people who learned English as a second language.
 
Rufaro Makamure
pollinator
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Location: Zimbabwe
465
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I am not offended at all and english is not my native language. Today is day 3 with me officially at home. I have realised that the need to save is as equally important  as the need to have a stable "income" (whether it is hard cash or any other source). I have started just taking note of my family's daily activities and so far the area that caught my attention is on the amount of food that gets rotten and is thrown away. I will send images when I have good connection. I also realised that studying 4 families all at once is being over ambitious so I am starting with mine.
More when images are available. Please you are free to advise on anything that you think I can do better and faster. So my next posts will concentrate on developing value of food (in order to avoid rotting) and also an update on the maize field.
 
Rufaro Makamure
pollinator
Posts: 590
Location: Zimbabwe
465
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Hie everyone.
So I have connection till end of month and loads to update on.

On day 1 at home, I had planned to do household chores and spend pretty much the rest of the day on planning how the next week would be like, in terms of housework, the field and compilation of literature on time management at a homestead. I ended up struggling to just make the house neat in time for the working class' knocking off time. The day was filled with cleaning of floors and washing (plenty of clothes). My sister helped out in all the chores but it still took up most of our time. So we barely sat for lunch and before we new it, it was time to prepare for supper. This is when I decided to start looking at an organized  or systematic way of doing chores if ever we are going to create time for development, reading and sharing of ideas, in order to come up with alternative ideas in improving lifestyle for the better, in a sustainable way. Also we need to get a new washing line which I will post after having placed a new one ( am embarrassed that I never used to notice how off it looks to put clothes on a durawall).

Then the other thing was to cut all harvested tomatoes that were ripe for the day into cubes and refrigerate, this was no joke considering we had to cut tomatoes that filled up a 5l container. Cutting of tomatoes became a daily routine for roughly a week and I am glad we are done with the harvesting and storage, with minimum rotting of the tomatoes. A rough estimate of the cost of tomatoes per week is about $3 (American dollars), so we will calculate the value after we see how many days, weeks and hopefully months the tomatoes will last, so that we establish that it is not just in getting cash from the field produces that determines a profit. The rotting potions of the tomatoes from the tomatoes would be given to the chickens, so there was eventually minimum wastage.

initial goals
-new washing lines
-systematic home chore routines
-value of saving food (properly storing food)
20170108_071929-1-.jpg
most of the tomatoes from the garden
most of the tomatoes from the garden
20170105_113157-1-.jpg
over ripe parts of the tomatoes were mostly given to chickens
over ripe parts of the tomatoes were mostly given to chickens
 
Rufaro Makamure
pollinator
Posts: 590
Location: Zimbabwe
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Field work.....

It involved weeding of maize and due to the excessive rains we pulled the weeds using our hands. We added the weeds onto the already existing mulch. One of the periods that made me appreciate the necessity of mulch, since all the areas covered with mulch had no weeds.
Planning is definitely an area that needs to be focused on. We did not have gloves or any tools because we had assumed we would meet up with the family staying at the plot, we just did not think to call them and ask if they would be home ( I do not believe a farmer shouldn't look pretty, but it only takes a farmer more energy and time to produce a good yield as well as keep up appearances). Sometimes with things like gloves and gumboots it is not even about lack of funding, it simply is not valued at all, it is as if a little bit of convenience is not a priority. Which I think is the reason why the whole idea of producing our own food is so unattractive to most of the learned people I see around me.

Goals set
-improve planning to improve efficiency
-improve communication
-increase mulching in the next season
-set a date for when I will buy gloves and proper shoes
PhotoGrid_1484725974577-1-.png
over looked gloves and proper shoes
over looked gloves and proper shoes
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weeding and adding to mulch
weeding and adding to mulch
PhotoGrid_1484726351033-1-.png
so much other activities going on
so much other activities going on
 
pollinator
Posts: 2903
Location: Meppel (Drenthe, the Netherlands)
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Rufaro Makamure wrote:Hope you are all doing well. The next phase of my project is going to involve some research in daily lifestyles  of targeted families. It might seem strange, since I am doing a project in my home area, but I have come to realize that we might have some habits, beliefs or cultural related daily choices that might be holding us back from relieving ourselves from poverty. So I am going to consciously record daily routines, choices and other things that might have an impact on a successful implementation of my sustainability project. If there is anyone who is interested in collaborating with me for the year 2017, please let me know. This is a stage I cannot do alone seeing as I am a product of my community there are so many things that I might consider normal, impossible or not even think about because of my exposure, so your assistance will be greatly appreciated, to help in the analysis and study planning, coordination and all other things that are a part of a detailed research.


Rufaro, you are on the right way! You are already aware there might be some 'habits, beliefs or cultural related choices' ... you'll have to change. It's true, we all have such 'habits, beliefs, etc.'... but not everyone is aware, and many do not want to change. Permies-forum is a good place to turn to for help!
 
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In highland desert of Mexico (1700m) which is dry about 8 months with heavy rains in the summer, on 1/2 acre site with lots of barren poorly fertilized sandy silt, we used various techniques:

1) Swales!! Lots of them weaving arond the entire site, hand dug... They filled up and held water so nicely! We planted over 20 new fruit trees along both sides of the main swale.

2) Hugelkultur mound. we buried a bunch of old untreated wood from torn down structures and filled up with branches, soil, straw, and seeded it with a variety of things to see what would grow without any irrigation.

3) We built rock mounds around older fruit trees (see pics). I observed over the course of a few weeks that this kept water from evaporated so quickly. Instead of watering every 2-3 days we were able to keep the soil moist for more than a week. After a few weeks we saw mycelium network growing and - mushrooms popping out!! None of the locala had ever seen that happening.

4) Roofwater catchment. We connected 5 plastic storage tanks to a big roof, each one 1100 liters. They filled up in the first 10 minutes of rain. We built another cement tank which held another 10,000 liters. We also had an existing underground cistern which held another 12-15,000 liters which we fed from our well as needed.
hc-ca-swales-01-800x600.jpg
main swale
main swale
hc-ca-swales-02-600x800.jpg
[Thumbnail for hc-ca-swales-02-600x800.jpg]
main swale continues weaving around the site
hc-ca-swales-04-800x600.jpg
more swales
more swales
 
gustavo alcantar
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I wish we could post more attachemnts per rply,,, but this is a continuation of my previous reply above...

technique #2 - cardboard n stone mulch around existing fruit trees
hc-ca-tree-stone-mounds-01-600x800.jpg
[Thumbnail for hc-ca-tree-stone-mounds-01-600x800.jpg]
dig a trench around base of tree, water it fully before moving to next step
hc-ca-tree-stone-mounds-02-800x600.jpg
add wet soaked cardboard
add wet soaked cardboard
hc-ca-tree-stone-mounds-03-800x600.jpg
add straw mulch
add straw mulch
 
gustavo alcantar
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continued from 2 posts above. stone mulch around trees
hc-ca-tree-stone-mounds-04-800x600.jpg
We left an opening for water to flow into water pit
We left an opening for water to flow into water pit
hc-ca-tree-stone-mounds-05-800x600.jpg
stone circle will hold built up soil in place, and it looks pretty :-)
stone circle will hold built up soil in place, and it looks pretty :-)
hc-ca-tree-stone-mounds-06-800x600.jpg
added stone mulch around base of tree, be careful to not damage tree
added stone mulch around base of tree, be careful to not damage tree
 
gustavo alcantar
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OK, last series of fotos, stone mulch under trees
hc-ca-tree-stone-mounds-07-800x600.jpg
used rock barrier to trap some water and soil, just above the main swale. New fruit trees are planted here.
used rock barrier to trap some water and soil, just above the main swale. New fruit trees are planted here.
hc-ca-tree-stone-mounds-08-800x600.jpg
Linked all trees on same contour so we could water at one point instead of individually. saves time/effort
Linked all trees on same contour so we could water at one point instead of individually. saves time/effort
hc-ca-tree-stone-mounds-09-800x600.jpg
A few weeks later - mycelium network, and Mushrooms! This was before rainy season even started...
A few weeks later - mycelium network, and Mushrooms! This was before rainy season even started...
 
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Hi Rufaro
   I would like to suggest that you put the compost pile in with your chickens and not just a few scraps of tomato's the compost will attract bugs and the chickens will eat them. You may never have to buy grain to feed them again. Assuming that's what you are currently doing.
 
Posts: 672
Location: cache county idaho
99
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Not an entire solution, but maybe a little piece.  

Have you looked into spineless prickly pear (Opuntia ficus-indica)?  It is perennial, handles drought, heat and reasonable amounts of cold really well, doesn't require much maintenance and can produce both fruit and a tasty vegetable in pretty large yields (I was reading one study that claimed up to 50 tons/ acre pads and 6 tons/ acre fruit, I'm sure that was extremely closely packed plants.  They also are good animal feed (pigs, goats, cattle) and are used especially as drought food for animals.  It does need good drainage when you have a heavy rain.  Manure on top of the ground helps it produce more pads.  Less nitrogen tends to up the fruit production.

I don't know if eating cactus is a part of your culture, and that may make it a nonstarter.  Sometimes just figuring out how to prepare an alien food makes it not worth the trouble.  I know it's a part of the mexican, central american and south american cuisine (but I've never had it prepared those ways.  My grandma (I'm anglo) always steamed it to get out the slime (like okra) and then fried it up in bacon fat (like she cooked okra).  The way she cooked it, it tasted like okra, only way better.  
 
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