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permaculture advocate in Zimbabwe - too little/too much rain

 
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No, they don't need anything special, but they are a biannual. If you're concerned about pollination you can shake the heads onto each other if they're close enough. If you're growing a hybrid the results may be varied, but they'll still be onions. Keep seed from the best each season.
 
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Today I went looking for customers for our vegetables. I managed to get some ladies who prepare lunch at a local light industry that l will start supplying with veggies tomorrow. We have mostly focused on people who come to buy at the plot, but the sales are very erratic. The new market is so we have a consistent flow of sales. I have had to get out of some shell, talking to people has not been a strength for me.

I feel like currently, there is some time that's available to allow growing of things to carry on in the field, while we can also go around finding customers, so l guess that's some growth. Usually women who sell prepared lunch go to buy their own vegetables so l am hoping if l deliver the vegetables to them, it will offer them a little convinience and l will have a little edge over others. I will see how the first sale goes tomorrow.
 
Rufaro Makamure
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Selling went great, if this goes well it means l will be assured of a sale by 10am for 6 days in a week. So instead of making a bulk sale to multiple people, l will first work on my consistency to this customer. I should be able to supply them with vegetables for 6 days in a row, if it's not possible, then l will work on what it is that is stopping us at the plot and then add other customers afterwards. Sales we were already making at the plot will still continue.
 
Rufaro Makamure
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We are in that period where the rain gets to be too much. The maize field is less of a head ache this time. It's encouraging, seeing as, it has been the area we have been giving much attention in the past years and now it's giving us a break.

The vegetable beds turned from a beautiful sight into a completely different place in a very short time, all the leaves started wilting and we have had to prune most of the leaves for drying before they turned yellow. We have started raising beds higher and adding more organic matter. The bean plants are badly affected as well, especially the ones outside the maize field.
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Rufaro Makamure
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I now feel a little defeated, we have no veggies going out and l have no strength to keep working, l am taking the day off today to regain my energy. The bean pods are maturing and rotting so l also have been lifting what l could, to help the bean plants to climb into the maize stalks and to keep the pods off the ground. I picked a few pods.
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Lauren Ritz
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A day off is important. Take care of yourself.
 
Rufaro Makamure
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Thank you.

I decided to work on the bean plants, clear that and then continue with other things. I am also consciously looking at blessings. It is easy to be blinded by a cloud and miss them, talking a walk in the maize field has been helpful.

My neighbor grew a nice hedge around her kitchen garden and it looks wonderful. The hedge is so easy to maintain, it can be done by hand. I planted some around our kitchen garden where l recently put comfrey.
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Rufaro Makamure
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We have onions from last year that we set aside to sell when onions are on demand. This reserve is now so handy, it is our buffer now as we wait for the maize to mature. This year we are selling maize as green mealies the value we will fetch should be higher than waiting for our maize to dry.

I realised that when l go searching for customers, l rarely go to people l know, for some reason, I find it extremely hard to converse with 'especially' someone l have any relationship with, when it comes to selling things. I went to the ladies at the light industries and just as l had suspected, someone is already supplying them with vegetables including onions. I decided to try reaching out to neighbors and l was so surprised at how positive the response was. It is still difficult to approach people l know and the technical side to surviving "too much and too little rain " has greatly improved, what l need to accelerate on is figuring people skills. The people care part of permaculture. Honestly if l had a way l would like to work on things and be as invisible as possible.
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Rufaro Makamure
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I weeded the area we planted russian comfery and I am excited to see that most of the comfery is alive. The only effort was put in planting and the weeding that I have just done. I piled all of the weeds in between comfrey rows, to return the nutrients where they belong. Some of the hedge l planted, is also full of life and again things are growing with minimum effort. I planted the hedge in two ways, one using slightly long cuttings and the other ones were suckers. l like how the suckers look so l will be using them when next I grow the hedge.

I saw a clip of some news commenting on this year's predicted harvest 'attached below is a quote' , and seeing how more and more reports show how difficult things are getting for one to just survive it's easy to be hopeless. For a farmer, it seems there is need for increased inputs, to get a harvest with decreased certainty of a profitable yield, for schools a normal day at school is no longer enough, all children (no matter how sharp) have to go to extra lessons for them to get good grades,...e.t.c. I believe this system that is supporting us now, is a choice that we can choose to let go of and choose a hope filled one. This  current one is taking and taking.

I look at the maize field This season and to me that's hope being show cased. I have experienced first hand how it is possible in the midst of unpredictable changes in climate, instability both economically and politically as well as other extreme challenges, it is possible to create a place of abundance. We can build this alternative system and no matter how difficult some instances are, a hope filled difficult time is never the same as a hopeless state

*Farmers Give Up Hope On Bumper Harvest*
Zimbabwe has given up on hopes of bumper harvest during the 2021/2022 summer cropping season due to the erratic rainfall patterns which made planting difficult.

Most farmers could not plant up to the end of December due to unpredictable rainfall which forced many farmers to sell their inputs.

Zimbabwe Farmers Union secretary general Paul Zakariya told Business Times that various farmers planted in January 2022 due to the improved weather patterns.

“We have to be realistic about ourselves as the hopes of a bumper harvest of above 3m have slowly faded away due to extreme weather patterns during the first half of the season where there was minimum rainfall and the beginning of the second half where extreme rainfall patterns were evident since the start of 2022.

“The country has to accept what is on the ground and work with that so that we can have realistic expectations,” Zakariya said.

He said most farmers who planted from January 1 up to January 8 favoured short seasoned varieties seeds which could salvage the badly affected season.

For those who planted in 2022, extreme feeding is needed to compensate for the lost time but excess rainfall patterns are threatening the late planted crop due to leaching.

According to agriculture experts, crops do well in hot humid conditions but this cold humid weather require excess fertiliser.

With contracted farmers having already sold the inputs, various crops are turning yellow due to the lack of nitrogen which needs top dressing fertiliser.

Such conditions attract excess fertiliser application.

Top dressing fertiliser pricing per 50 kilogrammes bag ranges from US$40 to US$90.
Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union president Shadreck Makombe said too much rainfall in January could also affect crop growth.

“Various farmers would have planted short seasoned varieties from New Year up to last week but the excessive rains could inflict serious damage on the crop growth and push up cost of production.

“Farmers now need excess fertiliser and chemicals to control weeds, a situation which is likely to affect production as farmers had already used the fertilisers.

“Having said this, the chances of bettering last year’s output are rapidly fading away as the rains were consistent from the start,” Makombe said.

Makombe said there is a need for the setting up of irrigation infrastructure to mitigate such weather challenges.

Unpredictable rainfall patterns may have dealt a heavy blow to Finance and Economic Development minister Mthuli Ncube’s 5.5% gross domestic product underpinned by agriculture.

With limited irrigation infrastructure the country may have to look to other sectors.
Zimbabwe requires 2.2m tonnes of cereal yearly and the country is on good standing given strong strategic reserves from last year’s harvest.

Meanwhile, experts this week warned farmers to apply insecticides on crops to combat pests associated with heavy rainfall being experienced in the country.

“Most crops are prone to be affected by locusts that can destroy crops due to heavy rains.
“There is a need for farmers to be on the look out for those that can destroy crops in this season,” Agritex chief agronomist, Rutendo Nhongonhema, said.

Nhongonhema said during the rainy season, various diseases can affect crops resulting in drought in other parts of the country.

Zakariya urged farmers to practice moisture conservation techniques.

“Water harvest techniques must be applied in order to conserve the water due to climate change.

“I urge farmers in areas receiving low rainfall to use irrigation schemes rather than expecting the rain season,” Zakariya said.

Another agriculture expert, lrvine Craig said: “The season was late but it might not result in poor harvest so we encourage farmers to continue ploughing.

“There is a need to apply adequate fertilisers on the crops in order to spread nutrients on the crops.”

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weeded comfrey patch
weeded comfrey patch
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I put back the weeds as feed
I put back the weeds as feed
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hedge growing nicely
hedge growing nicely
 
Lauren Ritz
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Those tall plants in among the comfrey, are they an amaranth relative? Or possibly sunflowers? Some sunflower roots are edible.
 
Rufaro Makamure
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Those are sunflower plants. My aunts planted them when they visited and when they did not germinate properly we planted the comfrey.
 
Rufaro Makamure
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We have started harvesting the green mealies and they are so big.

One of my uncles visited and in the past years during his visits, he would look a little disappointed at the lifestyle l had chosen, but this time around, l sensed a bit of respect and he seems more willing to understand how l live and it means so much.
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Rufaro Makamure
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Selling of the green mealies is going great. We decided not to go to the market with the mealies and we have been reaching out to people in the neighborhood and it's working perfectly. We have been going with the maize to the customers, and now some know that we are selling and they are now coming to the plot.

From this test we are glad because we can still maintain a very low carbon footprint from growing the maize up to when it gets to the customers' plate. We have not used any form of transport other than a wheelbarrow and our muscles so there was no fuel to burn, the maize grew from grass and a little bit of compost as any form of feed to the soil eliminating our contribution to greenhouse gases that could have been as a result of the application of artificial/human made fertilizers (minute contribution but worth it). We had no pests to worry about at all this time. Then there was no packaging, we get back our bags as we deliver. So it's an achievement worth celebrating.
IMG_20220203_110754.jpg
Preparing to go for deliveries
Preparing to go for deliveries
 
Rufaro Makamure
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We have sold most of the big cobs and we need to assess whether the remaining cobs are worthy going to customers with, or we leave them for those that come to the plot and we divert our time and effort towards growing vegetables. Selling was now taking all of our time which, in the past week,  was very necessary but we now need to strike a balance with other things.

Tomorrow I plan to meet with Ngoni the man helping me so that we plan out our year and also I need to find out their position in terms of working with me, as a lot has changed. They have been awesome and I hope they will want to be with me for a long time. It's cold and there is no sign of it raining, I can hear our dogs barking outside as I write  and I am so happy. They had stopped barking and were inactive in the past days.
 
Rufaro Makamure
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I have been so restless because of the meeting l intend to have with Ngoni, I think this has changed. I stumbled into a book 'One minute nonsense' and it's indeed a lot of nonsense that makes so much sense.

So, I have been looking for a non religious or non scholarly book to read in our house, "a close to mission impossible task". After failing to find a simple enough book, I picked this particular book which I thought was religious but had simple english.

Well it turns out the book is not as religious as I thought. As I am reading, I thought about my meeting for tomorrow and I realised I need to figure out why I need the meeting because we talk almost daily. I am generally a nervous person, usually when l meet people no matter what age it's like l loose any opinion and I am filled with self pity. Why this is, I don't know  yet, but l know it has to do with  some kind of reality l created in my head and I will  work to change this. Below is a quote from 'One minute nonsense ' which relates to real and  non-real:

The Master claimed that the world most people see is not the world of Reality, but a world their head creates.
When a scholar came to dispute this, the master set two sticks on the floor in the form of the letter T and asked, "What do you see here?"
"The letter T," said the scholar.
"Just as I thought, said the Master. "There's no such things as a letter T; that's a symbol in your head. What you have here is two broken branches in the form of sticks."

 
Lauren Ritz
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You said that you need to meet with Ngoni to plan out the year, which is something that might not be done well in a casual discussion. If you come into the meeting with concrete plans and ideas that you don't normally discuss, then a separate meeting makes perfect sense. If you are just going to talk about the day to day stuff that you always talk about, a meeting is going to make both of you nervous.

Have an agenda, not necessarily written but simply a list of things you want to discuss with him. If you have that list firmly in your head, the meeting will go there.

I know that as a child I had no opinions, and admitted to no emotions--it was simply safer that way. It took years before I could have a simple discussion with another person and state an opinion contrary to their own. It's one way my brain tries to keep me safe.

As an adult I still find myself echoing others opinions rather than stating my own, which is a form of self-betrayal.
 
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Rufaro Makamure wrote:...

So, I have been looking for a non religious or non scholarly book to read in our house, "a close to mission impossible task". ...


I think so too. Almost every book has something like a religion or belief behind it, because it is the point of view of the author.
 
Rufaro Makamure
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I met with Ngoni and the best thing I took from the meeting is that we are still together for some time. We talked about a number of things mainly focusing on expectations and clarified that we are both responsible for meeting our expectations.

With the maize sales we made, we can borrow from the maize account and get feed (cow dung and chicken manure), to boost the feeding of the soil we have been mainly putting grass in our vegetable beds because there is a big area to cover. We will also buy onion seeds, my sister (who wanted to get the seeds for us), has too many things going on for the month and l couldn't bring the onion seeds issue. But for the sake of having something we work on together, (which l believe will bring us closer if we have the right intentions), l will see if she is still interested in the onion project in the coming months and reimburse the "maize account". At least with my brother, his ducks are at the plot and somehow they make us talk when we plan on how to get his project running, from a distance, even when sometimes we could have had nothing much to say to each other. So the place has a potential of keeping us together.
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Rufaro Makamure
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We  need to have a product we can sell like we did with maize. We added the sweet potatoes, beans did not give us a good yield. The cow peas plant had so many leaves but has no pods which is puzzling.
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Hi Rufaro,

1998 I visited the Mana Pools National Park for 30 days and it was breathtaking.
Swales and Ponds are sure great water catchment systems, but I found something else in Zimbabwe what was breathtaking.
A Thunderstorm and the enormous masses of Water coming down.
It lets me guessing swales are a permanent maintenance factor and lots of fertile just built up soil will be washed into the ponds and so create another maintenance factor.
Beside this I guess also your ponds will not be capable to catch up all the water and erosion.

may be I was lucky to witness an exceptional huge rainfall but if not there is another solution that loves wet, drought, sun and heat and humidity.

Did you know when you plant Vetiver Grass (Chrysopogon zizanioides) in dense rows,  it will benefit the soil, it will protect from erosion by acting as a filter, it will even build a natural barrier that keeps a certain amount of water on the fields, it shade out weeds and especially corn bugs will prefer Vetiver Grass before corn, only to lay their eggs on the leaves and stalks where the developing caterpillars will fall off and die from starvation.
Flood cannot harm established Vetiver Grass rows because their dense root system will go within one year up to 4 meters straight downward into the soil.


If you have grazing animals they will love this grass in the early stage (Cut and feed all 2-3 month) which has lots of protein and a huge amount of other benefits...

It was in Thailand introduced by our Royal Highness King Bhumibol and it was difficult to open the minds of traditional farmers.
Places where Vetiver rows was planted as a substitute to swales, neighbors quickly copied this cheap and lifelong solution from the first farmer.

I haven't been long enough in your country to come up with a great idea, but this might be a helpful tip I wanted to add here.
 
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Rufaro Makamure wrote:Selling of the green mealies is going great. We decided not to go to the market with the mealies and we have been reaching out to people in the neighborhood and it's working perfectly. We have been going with the maize to the customers, and now some know that we are selling and they are now coming to the plot.

From this test we are glad because we can still maintain a very low carbon footprint from growing the maize up to when it gets to the customers' plate. We have not used any form of transport other than a wheelbarrow and our muscles so there was no fuel to burn, the maize grew from grass and a little bit of compost as any form of feed to the soil eliminating our contribution to greenhouse gases that could have been as a result of the application of artificial/human made fertilizers (minute contribution but worth it). We had no pests to worry about at all this time. Then there was no packaging, we get back our bags as we deliver. So it's an achievement worth celebrating.



Hi Rufaro,

The Mealie / Corn looks great keep up the good work. Remember to keep the biggest cobs for next years seed.

By the way a lot of people have never seen or eaten white corn, all they know is sweet corn.  When ever I have a BBQ - Braai I make
up some pap and sauce to go with the meat.  Standard fare in the bottom part of Africa.

Cheers
Anthony
 
Rufaro Makamure
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some pap and sauce to go with the meat


That right there is so typical of a braai in my local area.
There is a section in the  field that we didn't grow maize this time, that is, the sandy section. We had put some beans but these all drowned when it rained. We decided to put vegetable beds on this part. This is the best way we can improve the soil, this area was giving low maize yields with so much effort, so we will see if we get something  meaningful  profit-wise from this space after we try this. We put onion seedling beds and we will  put other vegetables. For protecting the seedling beds from too much sun we first put maize stalks, supported by the ridges, as a frame for suspending the grass so that it does not rest on the soil within the beds to avoid damaging the seedlings once they emerge.

When I read about the planting of grass , I am thinking of permanently partitioning the field  step by step and maybe l could use this grass in between the partitions. I  can  dig the area on which I intend to grow the grass to form a trench which will allow most of the troublesome water to flow away  from the  beds faster while at the same time allowing what we can, to sip into the ground and we will also have our own mulch right in the yard. Would a two meter space be wide enough for a grass patch?
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Sandy side that we did not grow maize on
Sandy side that we did not grow maize on
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Maize stalks on ridges
Maize stalks on ridges
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Grass cover as shade for seedling beds
Grass cover as shade for seedling beds
 
See Hes
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Rufaro Makamure wrote:
When I read about the planting of grass , I am thinking of permanently partitioning the field  step by step and maybe l could use this grass in between the partitions. I  can  dig the area on which I intend to grow the grass to form a trench which will allow most of the troublesome water to flow away  from the  beds faster while at the same time allowing what we can, to sip into the ground and we will also have our own mulch right in the yard. Would a two meter space be wide enough for a grass patch?



The Grass is best suitable for making Barriers around the grow beds to keep the fertile soil in place and build up (the Grass will go higher accordingly with the soil build up.)
You can make great  impenetrable barriers for even finest silt like soil if you allow Vetiver Grass to build up about 40 - 60cm Clumps with the right spacing, then you can harvest the outer slips and continue to "fence" more parts of your Land, mulch around trees or make more grow beds.

This way you also recover "lost"  Nitrates that are washed up to 4 meters into the soil out of reach for your veggies.
Before flowering you use then the cut from time to time to cover the beds with an excellent mulch layer using chop and drop method.
And yes, also the walking paths between the beds can be covered which gives a very comfortable surface to walk on.
 

Vetiver Grass neither will spread from underground roots nor it produces seeds. The easiest way of propagation take slips off and replant them somewhere you want them.
AND Vetiver will stay in the same place for Generations or until you cut them at the roots, easily removing the heart of the plant completely.

Vetiver Grass Roots are also high valued for perfume industry buy I guess the most hardest part is to find a buyer for it, but the Value as erosion control is the main interest due to its long fast growing straight downward root system and thick clumps above the surface.

I am an absolute fan of Vetiver Grass and now where we just bought 24000 sqm land I will use it for many things even Livestock food and checking how Geese like it as they a sole grazing animals.

The fantasies of use are unlimited and sure to much to list.


 
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Rufaro Makamure
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This sounds really interesting. Thank you.
 
Lauren Ritz
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Rufaro Makamure wrote:The cow peas plant had so many leaves but has no pods which is puzzling.

If it's like other legumes, too much nitrogen will do that.
 
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Was sorghum or millet ever grown traditionally  in your area ?, i have only ever had a go at ordinary bird seed type millet so no experience  , african millet has been a major food crop in south africa and i have had the occasion to drink the millet beer ---its an aquired taste --sour --and quite filling ---very low alcohol --more refreshing drink than something to be going overboard on ---(but i have seen people do exactly that)---makes good chicken feed as seed ---what does seem to be an advantage is its lower requirement  on water than maize. Sorghum i tried to grow a small patch but never got  to harvest ---we are to wet cold and not enough sun--and then wasps tore into stems so much they caused it to topple over---they were after the sweet sap --my plan was to see if i could grow my own sweetner---we do have sugar beet here but its a bit more to it to get the end product out .Used to seeing sugar cane more than any other crop being grown and harvested, another time long ago , was where i saw cane/grass cutter being caught and braai ed ---never got a chance to try it ---local people had high regard for it--nigerian  agricultural department has a big drive on it to farm and improve breeding --they raise them on agricultural left overs---pure vegetarian animals.  Do admire your tenacity to keep going ,making best of what ever comes your way , with what you have  to hand  , you are a true farmer.
 
Rufaro Makamure
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Towards the end of last year we got someone who offered to give us free cow manure. We did not have a means of getting it to the plot till the day before yesterday. Unfortunately when we went to the lady who had offered, she said the offer was not on the table anymore, and that was a blow.

We are proceeding with our usual approach, so as we make new vegetable beds, we are levelling out the other beds with choumoulleir already in them. We would raise beds and put most of the soil at the edges of the beds, so now we are pushing most of the soil to the center making the beds level, to help with water distribution when we water the beds. We are also clearing the yard of weeds, and all the yard waste is going straight into the beds as mulch.
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yard waste
yard waste
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mulched-choumoulleir-bed
 
Rufaro Makamure
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The day l got to hear about the cow dung not being available anymore, l found that beans was being sold to people at the plot. I was super confused because Ngoni kept on emphasizing how our yield was not at a scale big enough to sell, which l totally agreed with. I was surprised he was selling the beans. I do not know how to digest this at all, Ngoni was trying to say something to me but l did not hear much and l have no comment yet.  Trust has gotten us to the point we are at, l am not sure how to even feel because of this incident.

I really need this family, they are amazing people and l hope they open up more so that l know what's going on.
 
Rufaro Makamure
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The bean and nyemba experiment had results that are not too convincing, if one is to try to sell the idea of inter-cropping with them in maize as well as in choumolleir beds. I strongly believe it works so I will try again this year. I learnt that I need to take care when to plant, the bean plants that grew on their own in the veggie beds, after the rains had already come look so healthy (will insert the picture when I get the chance). Also I need to separate my bean seed that I am already harvesting. Some are for pole beans and some are bush beans, the pole beans will be for the maize field and the bush will be for the veggie beds.
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Bean plant that grew on its own
Bean plant that grew on its own
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Will get some seeds for the pole beans
Will get some seeds for the pole beans
 
Anthony Saber
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Location: Noosa Hinterland QLD, Australia
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Hi Rufaro,

Have you heard about the 3 sisters plantings that was used by the North American  Indians. It consisted of growing corn, beans and a pumpkin/squash. You start with the corn and when its up about 2 feet you can plant three beans at the base of the corn and a small type pumpkin/squash in between the  corn. The corn acts as a stake for the beans and the pumpkin/squash provides a ground cover to keep in the soil moisture in the ground. Three crops in the same space as one, and each one giving and getting something it needs from each other. A true monoculture in one bed.  You could try sweet potato for the ground cover as the young leaves are edible.

Cheers
Anthony

 
Rufaro Makamure
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Yes l have heard about the three sisters, it's what inspired me. Thanks for elaborating on when exactly to put each seed down l wasn't so sure about this.

Poverty eradication, especially starting with healthy food availability/ accessibility has been of great interest to me. I got to read about a number of organizations that would encourage subsistence farmers to move from conventional farming, to try out alternative ways, that include mixed cropping and to lean towards growing of small grains and indigenous crops so as to improve on yield and resilience.
But it seems like, no matter how convincing the facts are and how much word is passed around, changing farming methods is not gaining much traction as it should. Who doesn't want more yield, resilience and diversity, because clearly conventional means have failed in my own opinion (at least at subsistence level).

The experiment l am doing has so far revealed that there's more to it than meets the eye when introducing change. Apart from just the technique, all supporting skills should be acquired, e.g planning, patience, willingness to learn and keep improving...e.t.c. Especially when the change has few existing successes that are common.

The other thing also is that the system we are measured against is well established, with so many mistakes  and experiments being done in labs behind closed doors. And when they implement the improved ways it's usually done in ideal conditions, all elements like water, labour, pesticides..., will be available. Automatically there will be a close to perfect yield and because enough examples ( in commercial farms) exist, it is easy to convince anyone that it's the way to go. For a smallholder farmer, they hold on to such examples, whether they succeed personally or not, or whether it's expensive or not, they become blinded.


 
Rufaro Makamure
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It's blazing hot, it's unbelievable. If it were October it would have been understandable. We are continuing with planting vegetables and covering with maize stalks and it seems to be working well. We work early in the morning now and we have stopped working in the afternoons. Then Ngoni has started watering late in the day and into the evening we did not even have to talk about this, so l appreciate this so much. February is almost over and we did not get any rains, we would hear about it raining around our area but we did not receive any rain. The onions germinated nicely. I opened them for two days and had to cover them again because the sun was just too much and we would water them twice but it was not enough.

We are done with selling green mealies and we got an equivalent of 10 bags.!!!, there is a whole section we did not grow anything, the sandy area. This time, instead of having bags of maize we have liquid cash so it works for us in the present moment as we expand the vegetable beds and there is no shelling which gives us time to focus on other things. We also had a taste of what it means to grow something of more value, the maize was the first product we sold that gave us what  I call sensible revenue.
 
master gardener
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It's great that you have done so well with selling the green mealies. I guess we would call them sweet corn. The disadvantage is they have a short shelf life, so you do need to sell them fresh, so it's great you've been able to do that, especially if you're getting a better price! I suppose another advantage is that you harvest slightly earlier. Are you able to plant something elsewhere the maize was to make the most of the space? It must save a few weeks growing time. I can't remember, do you save your seed for replanting, or buy it in?
 
Rufaro Makamure
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For most part of the maize field we are not planting anything yet, though our long term plan is to grow things all year round on this space. We need to manage both the space we have already been growing through out the year + the additional space (sandy part) we have turned into vegetable beds, using the same labor and pumps. We will assess our capability and hopefully grow fast. What we are going to try, on a small space in the field is planting tomatoes. We will use some maize stalks for creating a wall around the tomatoes as it will be winter soon, we will also plant them close to the well that way we will use water from the well. This is solely for what we could get out of tomatoes if we succeed to grow them in this period.

As for seed, we have been buying. This year though I have been thinking a lot about using our own grain from the field and I did leave some. I had a conversation with a friend and she mentioned that there are some varieties, which when planted, using harvested grain they produce smaller grain. She suggested heirloom seeds. So I don't know yet what I will use for the coming growing season.

As for beans, I have already started storing seeds aside which I will definitely use. Already there were things starting to bore holes on the bean seed, so I thought of putting them in ash, I hope it works. But I think if anyone happens to open cupboards and see my seed containers, one thing that will come to their minds first is vudu stuff, which at this point I am not too bothered by, as long as it works.
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Bean seed in ash
Bean seed in ash
 
pollinator
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Good work Rufaro!

For the beans, are the rains over? In Chad we spread the beans out on rooftops with the shells still on them. The heat from the sun keeps the bugs from getting them.
 
Nancy Reading
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If you're just thinking about seed saving then I'd really like to encourage you. I'm really keen on starting with landraces - these are crops with mixed characteristics that can interbreed and adapt to changing conditions. Heirlooms are breed to suit a particular location and have stable genes. Commercial sources are bred for large scale agriculture with high inputs of fertiliser, water, low weed competition etc. (this is just my simplified summary!) The main thing is that you can do it yourself! that is how all our food crops were developed - by illiterate farmers just doing what came naturally, it is not something to be afraid of, and can also be done as a trial to start with.
Here's a few Permies threads for you and one of Joseph's articles in an online magazine. There are many more on similar subjects there, and I also highly recommend his book, which is not particularly expensive, he also has an online course available.

Saving seed experiences: https://permies.com/t/57646/Saving-seed
A discussion with Joseph Lofthouse: https://permies.com/t/137741/Thoughts-Seed-Saving-Joseph-Lofthouse
One of Joseph Lofthouse's articles on Landraces: https://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/saving-landrace-seeds-zbcz1307/
What is a landrace: https://permies.com/t/168715/landrace
A link to Joseph Lofthouse's introductory video: https://permies.com/t/173814/Landrace-Gardening
Some questions: https://permies.com/t/162854/Starting-landrace
heirloom and landraces: https://permies.com/t/162811/Landrace-Heirlooms
best book on seed saving? https://permies.com/wiki/162247/Landrace-Gardening-Joseph-Lofthouse
other seed saving discussions: https://permies.com/t/175353/Seed-Saving

Have a browse through the seeds and breeding forum: https://permies.com/f/234/seed

Looking at that reading list I'm sorry it got so big! I'm just really excited about seed saving myself at the moment!
 
Rufaro Makamure
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Thanks Nancy I will take a look at the links.

The vegetables are looking nice already, we have put mulch in some selected beds, the other beday still have tiny suckers that we wouldn't want to cover with mulch. We will collect the mulch still and we are now cutting grass just outside our yard.

We added rape in some beds, it takes less time for us to start harvesting the leaves. The onions are growing well but are still under the shade of the stalks.
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Covered rape beds
Covered rape beds
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Good onion germination
Good onion germination
 
Rufaro Makamure
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We harvested the first choumollier leaves planted when most plant had drowned in water. The plants are still few but vegetables were all bought during the weekend and are now finished. They are on demand and are selling very fast.

I was looking at the photo that has onion seedlings and l noticed how much we need to work  on the soil. I took a pic of what the soil in the choumollier beds looks like, it's so different, l look forward to seeing some transformation as time passes by and as we build the soil. It's still very hot and the maize in other fields, that was planted when the rain started is no longer recoverable.

Today l have seen a number of insects that look like locusts munching on our vegetables. I would like some biodiversity, but at the moment, anything that attacks our plants is an  enemy (or to put it lightly, it's not a welcome friend).
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Rufaro Makamure
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One of our neighbors gave me some chicken manure and there is a possibility of me cleaning her chicken run in exchange for her chicken manure, so l am excited about this.

We bought about 3 bags of chicken manure for $3 last month and this month we already have a bag.
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Do you have any children around who would catch those pests and give them to the chickens, in exchange for sweets or small change?
 
joke time: What is brown and sticky? ... ... ... A stick! Use it to beat this tiny ad!
full time farm crew job w/ housing
https://permies.com/t/178213/jobs-offered/experiences/full-time-farm-crew-member
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