Win a copy of Landrace Gardening this week in the Seeds and Breeding forum!
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education skip experiences global resources cider press projects digital market permies.com pie forums private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Anne Miller
  • Nicole Alderman
  • Pearl Sutton
  • r ranson
stewards:
  • paul wheaton
  • Mike Haasl
  • Burra Maluca
master gardeners:
  • Greg Martin
  • jordan barton
  • Carla Burke
  • Leigh Tate
gardeners:
  • Jay Angler
  • John F Dean
  • Steve Thorn

permaculture advocate in Zimbabwe - too little/too much rain

 
pollinator
Posts: 288
Location: Zimbabwe
107
greening the desert
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
We have collected over 3/4 of a bucket of dried cow-peas, from the maize field. We have also harvested the few plants we had planted as live mulch, there are parts where the live mulch seemed to be overpowering the vegetables,  so we agreed to remove the live mulch and try it out later. I think we need to be careful as to the timing of when to plant the mulch, the beds that had a good chomolia height were not negatively affected by the mulch. I have a really strong bias towards a live mulch, but caution is needed l guess.

Below, are two beds that we removed the live mulch from. One bed is as if nothing was done to it and the other bed has a gap on one area, where l think we planted the mulch when the chomolia was not yet tall enough.
IMG-20210426-WA0005.jpg
[Thumbnail for IMG-20210426-WA0005.jpg]
IMG-20210426-WA0004.jpg
[Thumbnail for IMG-20210426-WA0004.jpg]
IMG-20210426-WA0008.jpg
[Thumbnail for IMG-20210426-WA0008.jpg]
 
Rufaro Makamure
pollinator
Posts: 288
Location: Zimbabwe
107
greening the desert
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
One very welcome potential that this year is likely to offer is time, time to just enjoy an activity. And I owe this to a different value system that I keep discovering as well as continueously improving systems .
Because we can cover a bit more work than we could, we have some extra time. Though this is temporary, as we are still growing, 10% of this time is going to be for dancing. I really enjoy dancing and l believe that the effort we put in things like stabilizing food...and other basics, should somehow be balanced with the effort we put in just ejoying life. Maybe I will share some of my dance moves as I learn, for now I still have two left feet. I look and count on the things that we have/will harvest this year, amongst maize, chomolia...e.t.c, dancing might be part of these achievements and its exciting.
 
pollinator
Posts: 1828
Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
768
forest garden rabbit tiny house books solar woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
That’s a lot of cowpeas! I grow them too, so I’m aware that you are growing and hand harvesting quite a lot. That’s wonderful! I still haven’t gotten around to trying the leaves in my cooking. I already have a variety of greens to choose from, so I simply haven’t gotten around to trying the cowpea greens. Because of you, I eventually will try them.

You have been doing quite a lot of farming work. It is looking better and better. I’m hoping that your fields continue to improve.

Thinking about dancing? Yes! Dancing is good for you spirit, your soul, your artistic heart, or whatever else you want to call it. I’ve never had lessons myself, but I will sing and dance while I work in my fields. People might think that I’m simply crazy, but I’m much happier working while I’m singing....and dancing a bit. So go ahead and dance. Feel how wonderful your body feels when you’re dancing in your fields. Good for you!
 
Rufaro Makamure
pollinator
Posts: 288
Location: Zimbabwe
107
greening the desert
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Su, when that time comes, for you to try out cowpea leaves, it's the extremely tender ones that are eaten. Those that easily break off by simply pinching. Otherwise the other ones are too tough.

We have been collectively working on basics in growing things and though we have moved so much positively, what we produce cannot last a single family throughout a year, in terms of taking care of their basics, bills included. So now we are compressing all this work so that one person can maintain the stage we have gotten to so far. This frees up some labour for us to focus on growth even further, which is now more of a reality rather than a dream.
 
pollinator
Posts: 662
Location: Utah
166
forest garden fungi bee medical herbs writing greening the desert
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Rufaro Makamure wrote:What we produce cannot last a single family throughout a year, in terms of taking care of their basics, bills included. So now we are compressing all this work so that one person can maintain the stage we have gotten to so far. This frees up some labour for us to focus on growth even further, which is now more of a reality rather than a dream.

How many COULD be taken care of by what you already produce? If it lasts three people 6 months, or one person 6 months, that makes a difference in how you handle expansion and maintenance.
 
Rufaro Makamure
pollinator
Posts: 288
Location: Zimbabwe
107
greening the desert
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Summing up our average monthly  produce for a period of one year (assuming we will be consistent or improve), what we produce now, can last a single person( no children, no spouse)  3 months. This is just focusing on basics to make a person survive, looking at food, shelter, electricity/ alternative fuel, toiletries, water.

I read about two opposite watering methods, one advocates for watering without soaking the vegetable beds too much and doing it frequently, so that water is not wasted by sipping through the soil too much to the non-root level. The other one l read quite recently opposes this. It supports soaking the beds then prolonging the periods in-between watering days. The surface dries up, but deep in the soil it will be wet and this encourages the roots to grow deeper in search of moisture and the deeper the roots go, the more resilient the plant will be. We started with the first method and it works now we are trying the second one then we will compare the benefits. We are on day 4 after the first soak, and the beds we thoroughly watered are still very wet, under the thick mulch. This has a potential of freeing up time even more.

We finally did a planned dancing session. We had so much fun, my sister is teaching me. I take my hat off to all dancers, it is not an easy task. Remembering moves while trying to keep up with the beat is one thing, and loosening up and being flexible is another. I dance a lot spontaneously, now l am looking at a more coordinated dancing style. So l will include a video of my present dance moves and once in a while include my moves as I develop.  
IMG_20210511_133744.jpg
my sister harvesting choumollier for selling
my sister harvesting choumollier for selling
IMG_20210511_132304.jpg
Mitchell and myself being taught how to dance
Mitchell and myself being taught how to dance
collage-(4).jpg
[Thumbnail for collage-(4).jpg]
 
Rufaro Makamure
pollinator
Posts: 288
Location: Zimbabwe
107
greening the desert
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I have included a video of my niece and myself, dancing and just having a good time and we both enjoy having a good time. She had gone back to her home, for a couple of weeks and I could feel the void, I was glad to hear she was coming to stay with us again for a little while longer and it's good moments like this one (dancing) with her, that I missed the most


 
Rufaro Makamure
pollinator
Posts: 288
Location: Zimbabwe
107
greening the desert
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Burning of forests has started earlier this year, we usually get to July and August before the burning starts. We had already started storing grass for mulching needs for the rest of the year and we hoped to have collected a lot more, we are glad we had started though.
IMG_20210511_133721.jpg
collected grass
collected grass
IMG_20210519_095703.jpg
[Thumbnail for IMG_20210519_095703.jpg]
 
Rufaro Makamure
pollinator
Posts: 288
Location: Zimbabwe
107
greening the desert
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The kitchen garden space has been idle for sometime now. We tried growing sunflowers during the rainy period but it was a complete failure, out of the whole space we got literally one super sized one and the rest did not even germinate. When my niece came back for the second time she asked if she could start her own garden where we used to have the kitchen garden and it was an issue we debated on greatly. I know the responsibility that comes with growing even the smallest of spaces and I wasn't sure if my niece had reached the time when she can be in charge of an entire garden space.  She's only 14 years old and we are currently home schooling her for the time she is with us, I am now against the  theoretical approach of our education system, but no matter how convinced l am that this small garden can give her an experience that she might never get whilst sitting on a desk, it was a difficult decision to allow her to use her free time doing her own garden. We eventually allowed her and l do not regret us having allowed her. I personally do not interfere at all with what she does. She always checks progress in her garden, l do not know how many times a day she goes to look at her plants (l get her because l used to do this when l started). There was one morning she came into the house with a crushed spirit. Donkeys had eaten her plants. She wanted to quit and she had made  up her mind, her other aunt sat down with her and asked her if it was this easy for her to give up on something she fought so hard for, it took her over a day and l saw her fixing her garden. I am so proud to show off her effort and l know there is so much character building as she grows her plants.
20210523_082649.jpg
[Thumbnail for 20210523_082649.jpg]
20210523_082627.jpg
[Thumbnail for 20210523_082627.jpg]
 
Rufaro Makamure
pollinator
Posts: 288
Location: Zimbabwe
107
greening the desert
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
We are officially adding tomatoes to the list of crops we will be growing annually and our first  official trial is in winter I am crossing my fingers it works because it will add a good amount to what we are making income wise. We are trying  inter-cropping onions with tomatoes as well as choumollier, so there is that additional potential income too. Last year we weren't successful with intercropping choumollier and onions, the onions failed to grow bulbs. We sampled a few onions in rape beds and it's still too early but they look healthy.

If there is anything l am so anxiously waiting for is the profit phase it's long overdue. Every successful crop is like a HALLELUJAH. l do see some progress but my resilience is growing so thin now. It's almost five years now and in as much as I can put my money on the fact that it is not just how much money you give a person that makes them live a stable life, but it's got a lot to do with how well one uses their resources, l feel l nearly reached my breaking point. I am sharing this because today  I am getting the message that it's not yet time for me to go, indirectly of course. The past months have been crazy as I have been trying to prove that we have been  working and we have changed completely from the position we used to be. l asked if we could start recording savings we would have made, by reducing input costs and in real life divert this money to the growth of our plot. I had noticed that most of the growth is now mainly through donations and yet we could create a source of capital with what we are saving. I also feel l need to be careful and start working on being independent financially, things are uncertain and l also raised this.

I had to justify what we have done. Like how we have reduced our dependency on external financial input in growing crops and caring for the plot. By external  l mean other people assisting, and also, having us as a family working and earning income elsewhere and 'investing' it in something that will not only waste money but also time and effort. There is some stability with maize and now choumollier and we are adding more crops without additional labour. The achievements were not too clear, because we are not holding a lot of money as profit and things went sour at home. I needed a break and l mentioned l wanted to go away for a little while, but without being direct, there was mention of how we still need to work at the plot and how I am the one who likes farming. We even went through some of the achievements together this time and they were acknowledged. So there is every reason why profits should come like yesterday it makes so many things clearer .






IMG_20210525_121237.jpg
building a wall using grass
building a wall using grass
20210527_060539.jpg
[Thumbnail for 20210527_060539.jpg]
 
Rufaro Makamure
pollinator
Posts: 288
Location: Zimbabwe
107
greening the desert
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The nights are getting colder. Out of 69 young tomato plants  that we have,  7 have been damaged the. We are increasing watering as well as feeding, we have bottles we filled with water which will hopefully store the heat absorbed from the sun during the day, to keep the plants warm at night. The older plants were all not affected, but the leaves are wilting and some are developing spots.

We are still discussing our (mum and myself) achievements. Money has never been an easy topic and we are trying to put everything into monetary terms. We cannot runaway from how we need to be financially wise as we work on our place. Understanding the importance of hardwork has been easy, but its smart working that we need to develop. All our concentration had been mostly on planting and now we are putting most of our energy on the output.  Both on plant output and now what we are adding is fulfillment of a specific desire. Our goal has been working on mum's retirement. But beause of how broad this is, other than finding less cost effective ways of growing our plants, we have not really channelled money we would have saved on something that will actually make us achieve our goal faster. Now we have to be more specific, we are aiming at reducing running costs, but l feel it is equally important to know what we can purchase and improve our system with.
We managed to eliminate the cost of artificial fertilisers, first, and we just took note of the amount/cost as something we removed from the budget and we were not bothered by where this amount would then go to. We are changing this approach we are now going to replace an expense that we would have successfully eliminated with an action that will promote growth. An example is how when it is outside the rainy season composting or buying of manure seems like a luxury, yet to get the most from our garden we have to give a little, back. We could take a percentage of the money we saved and channel it to composting/ liquid fertilser material, until we can get rid of this cost as well. One thing for sure is we will get more out of the plot.

So l realised that the more we were saving the more mum started noticing how she needed to help relatives and even us as her children. I think its noble to help, but there should be care in what is available to give and what is not. It might seem selfish for her to put money into tools that fast track profits at the plot, but she would have saved her loved ones and herself  by setting up a system that can take care of her with little dependency.
 
Lauren Ritz
pollinator
Posts: 662
Location: Utah
166
forest garden fungi bee medical herbs writing greening the desert
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
It can be really frustrating to watch. My Dad wants to give. He's never been in a position where he can, but to watch him pouring 2/3 of his monthly income into people and projects that already have MUCH more than he does is frustrating. Even my siblings--they're all financially stable (even if far from rich) but he wants to give to them. Most of them will hand the money right back to me and I put it away for him. :)

But he wants so badly to be useful, and doesn't see value in anything except money. Giving his time, or just talking to someone on the phone, he doesn't see that as helping or giving. But he also doesn't see the value in not being a burden to others in the future. He considers it selfish to save or keep anything for himself now and would gladly give away everything he has without a thought for the future. He thinks I'm being selfish for wanting him to keep what he has. (And in a way it is selfish, since as the caregiver if he gives away everything I have to take up the slack.)

I do understand where it's coming from, but it's massively frustrating. I have tried arguing with him, discussing it, but the best I've found is a small notebook where I write down how much he's giving away and give him a total at the end of the month. It seems to make a difference. Knowing the "savings" are not visible to him, the debits can be.

The same goes for non-monetary savings and debits. You've been working on this project pretty much non-stop for five years. The debits are starting to out-weigh the benefits, not only because things aren't moving along as fast as you would have liked, but also because others have a picture of you that doesn't fit anymore. There's a lot of friction in trying to fit into the old world when you're ready for a new world. Not necessarily as a location, but as a state of mind.

There's also the fear (on your side, but probably also on hers) that if you leave she'll fall back into her old habits and everything will be lost. It leaves you caught between the needs of the "family," your mothers needs (which are not necessarily the same) and your own needs which are NOT the same.

I don't know if this is making sense. It seems to me that your Mum is scared of being left alone, scared of being left responsible for what you have built and not being able to maintain it. She hasn't learned yet that you're working on resilient systems that should be able to maintain themselves in time.

I hope this helps. I have to leave for a few hours--I'll write more later if you need it.
 
Rufaro Makamure
pollinator
Posts: 288
Location: Zimbabwe
107
greening the desert
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thank you!!!  Please write I do need this. I will also keep writing even with all my flaws l need to know if my thoughts are in the right place.
 
Rufaro Makamure
pollinator
Posts: 288
Location: Zimbabwe
107
greening the desert
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
We have pruned all our tomatoes, removing most leaves that looked unhealthy. With tomato growing, we would have been content with the first harvest, but this time around we want to push the fruit production phase as much as possible.

We learnt of how others build soil up around the bottom part of their tomato plants as they grow so we are trying this also.
IMG_20210531_111312.jpg
Some leaves are wilting
Some leaves are wilting
 
Rufaro Makamure
pollinator
Posts: 288
Location: Zimbabwe
107
greening the desert
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Its almost a week now, since we put chicken soup on our tomatoes, there are bright yellow and healthy tiny flowers popping up on the tomatoes including the older ones that we have already harvested from. Before adding feed and building soil around the tomato plants, the flowers were close to off white, it was as if they were coming out almost dry. It might be a little early to celebrate but l like the positive signs.

My niece harvested her first bundle of vegetables from her little garden.It seems she has found a way of earning herself some pocket money, her grandmother decided she will be buying her vegetables. We can take the opportunity to teach her profit and loss/ accounting with some practica l elements, from her garden. We are learning the hard way, it would be nice if she knows now, things l wish l had known early on.

Tariro, thats my niece's name, seems to be shaping her own curriculum. Today as we were walking to the plot we took a different route than usual. We went through the forest and it was so cool as we passed trees. We also experienced this when we took a walk through houses in the low density area. She took note of this and asked. The common thing was the density of trees. We got to talk about advantages of trees and other things related to trees. The word transpiration came up and her eyes lit. She remembered it from class, and she was so excited to know what it actually is beyond words. I am glad we do have this time together.

We are still taking about wealth and savings with mother.
 
Rufaro Makamure
pollinator
Posts: 288
Location: Zimbabwe
107
greening the desert
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
We got our second harvest from the mature plants. They seem to still be going. The fruits are being eaten and we are suspecting rodents, so we are harvesting all the tomatoes before they turn red. The temperatures are getting lower and lower. Some beans were also affected by  the cold.
20210606_154804.jpg
second harvest
second harvest
20210606_154136.jpg
rodent problem
rodent problem
20210605_142629.jpg
tomato plant affected by the cold
tomato plant affected by the cold
20210605_142031.jpg
bean plant affected by the cold
bean plant affected by the cold
20210605_142741.jpg
piled some soil around the tomatoes
piled some soil around the tomatoes
20210605_142145.jpg
healthy flowers still coming out
healthy flowers still coming out
 
Rufaro Makamure
pollinator
Posts: 288
Location: Zimbabwe
107
greening the desert
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
It is mid year now and we are still haresting crops that we got from the rain. Below is a heap of sweet potatoes, we are harvesting all of them as they are also being eaten by rodents. We will store them in a hole, which is what mum's family used to do when she was younger and the other family staying at the plot still do at their home in the rural area. It will be the first time l am witnessing this kind of storage so l do not know yet how this is going to be done.

Its been two months now since we started eating sweet potatoes. We got quite a bit this year. Our maize will last us till end of this month for the two families and this too is a good achievement.
IMG_20210611_131126.jpg
sweet potatoes
sweet potatoes
 
Lauren Ritz
pollinator
Posts: 662
Location: Utah
166
forest garden fungi bee medical herbs writing greening the desert
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Beautiful!

I have a question for you. You started this project about 5 years ago, if I remember, and at the time you were focused entirely on maize. Now you have four (?) different major crops and it's holding you through into June.

How long would the maize alone have lasted when you started? When you look at your progress, what are you seeing?
 
Rufaro Makamure
pollinator
Posts: 288
Location: Zimbabwe
107
greening the desert
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Lauren Ritz wrote:When you look at your progress, what are you seeing?



I see true and on going development, in a regenerative way.
The meaning of development as stated by Mohamed Rabie
     "It involves the application of certain economic and technical measures to utilise available resources to instigate economic growth and improve people's quality of life"

It is true that when I started, the main focus was on maize. We had our hands unbelievably full, with only this crop and everything else was secondary. Mentally, growing maize would take the whole year, now l hardly think of maize outside the actual farming season. It's becoming the secondary crop in terms of attention. Below is our progress in the last five years

Before 2016
We would grow maize as a tradition believing that the harvest would take off some financial strain.

2016-2017
There was beautiful rain. We got 26 bags of maize from 2&1/2 acres for a total cost of not less than US$432, without a guarantee for any yield.We were not adding any value financially.

2017-2018
We received erratic rain. We got 10bags from only 1/2 of an acre at around $298. Still financially it did not make much sense, but there was an increase in yield guarantee.

2018-2019 we got 7 bags; and in 2019 to 2020 we got 6 bags. The amount of rain we were receiving was decreasing as the years progressed, to the point of a drought, but the yield guarantee, did not decrease much. In both seasons we were conscious of the financial side to the growing of maize and we were using inputs from within the plot as much as we could, "though l didn't keep track of the actual costs".

2020-2021
We had floods. We got 5 bags plus 3months' supply of green mealies. We had a profit of $141 when we valued the maize we got with inputs directly related with maize growing.

We also have sweet potatoes, cow peas, beans, and time for other things in life. We were food secure during the pandemic.

For the above mentioned things, l am sure of our positive growth.

 
Story like this gets better after being told a few times. Or maybe it's just a tiny ad:
Solar Station Construction Plans - now FREE for a while
https://permies.com/t/138039/Solar-Station-Construction-Plans
reply
    Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic