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permaculture advocate in Zimbabwe - too little/too much rain

 
pollinator
Posts: 371
Location: Zimbabwe
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It never crossed my mind at all that l could feed this to our poultry.

We are done with mulching the big beds, though we put a thin mulch to the beds with suckers that are still small.

One of my concerns of taking up what is more than we can chew is now affecting us. The beautifully germinated onions are fast turning into a failed project. As we have been busy racing with mulching the other beds, we seem to not have been paying that much attention to the onion seedlings. We have a can that we use when watering seedlings that has holes, which helps us regulate the water quantities and force that hits the seedlings as we water. There are some moments when due to pressure we would water straight from the hose and try to regulate from there and l do not think this has helped us. Also the area that we nursed the seedlings on seems to lack enough feed for the seedling because they are growing and are so "thin" and some are dying, the heat also is just too much. We have started feeding the soil but at the back of my mind l know l have to make a decision as there are two options either to buy already grown seedlings or to try again growing my own. I have to weigh the pros and cons. The other activity l am making of top priority is to look at what's around us that l can use to improve our watering system, the heat is merciless, it is making things difficult to manage and if l do not address this fast it will seem like we cannot manage the area we are working on.

I had intended to talk about how trust is important between Ngoni and myself as a general talk, but l chickened out. I could feel muscles in my head tense up and l could not find the right timing to fit in this talk, l will keep trying.
 
Rufaro Makamure
pollinator
Posts: 371
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I did some thinking on what could be more beneficial profit wise, either buying seedlings ready for transplanting or nursing my own and l ended up chosing to nurse my own. The advantages of buying seedlings would have been l would be guaranteed of an available plant to put in the ground and in the present moment i.e (giving me some lead time advantage). But nursing my own seeds, though it will cost me a little bit of time which in my position does not have that much significance, and is risky in terms of having something to plant, if done right it might get me around double the amount of seedlings that I would get if l were to buy seedlings instead. So l divided l will change most things that l feel affected our first nusery. I am nursing the seedlings myself at home and l am using dug out kitchen compost we dug last year ( it transformed into beautiful soil). I think if I give the nursery enough attention we might win.

I am now aware of things that l never even used to consider or think about. When l opened the onion seeds packet l couldn't help but laugh to myself. The amount of seed was almost about 2 tablespoons at most or even something just over 1 spoon. Now that l know there is not much that goes in making onion seeds, l honestly think humans are their own monsters. The process of making the packet and probably packing could be what's making things so expensive and those are the two things we can find our way around. It now seems so many things considered normal and important are a joke and life could be so much simpler if we ourselves uncomplicated our ways.
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Seeds were so few, it seems like remains from an almost empty pack
Seeds were so few, it seems like remains from an almost empty pack
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Kitchen waste turned into rich compost (soil)
Kitchen waste turned into rich compost (soil)
 
pollinator
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Rufaro Makamure wrote:I did some thinking on what could be more beneficial profit wise, either buying seedlings ready for transplanting or nursing my own and l ended up chosing to nurse my own. The advantages of buying seedlings would have been l would be guaranteed of an available plant to put in the ground and in the present moment i.e (giving me some lead time advantage). But nursing my own seeds, though it will cost me a little bit of time which in my position does not have that much significance, and is risky in terms of having something to plant, if done right it might get me around double the amount of seedlings that I would get if l were to buy seedlings instead. So l divided l will change most things that l feel affected our first nusery. I am nursing the seedlings myself at home and l am using dug out kitchen compost we dug last year ( it transformed into beautiful soil). I think if I give the nursery enough attention we might win.

I am now aware of things that l never even used to consider or think about. When l opened the onion seeds packet l couldn't help but laugh to myself. The amount of seed was almost about 2 tablespoons at most or even something just over 1 spoon. Now that l know there is not much that goes in making onion seeds, l honestly think humans are their own monsters. The process of making the packet and probably packing could be what's making things so expensive and those are the two things we can find our way around. It now seems so many things considered normal and important are a joke and life could be so much simpler if we ourselves uncomplicated our ways.


When you know how to harvest your own seeds, indeed you can be glad and laugh!
 
Posts: 56
Location: Noosa Hinterland QLD, Australia
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Rufaro Makamure wrote:I did some thinking on what could be more beneficial profit wise, either buying seedlings ready for transplanting or nursing my own and l ended up chosing to nurse my own. The advantages of buying seedlings would have been l would be guaranteed of an available plant to put in the ground and in the present moment i.e (giving me some lead time advantage). But nursing my own seeds, though it will cost me a little bit of time which in my position does not have that much significance, and is risky in terms of having something to plant, if done right it might get me around double the amount of seedlings that I would get if l were to buy seedlings instead. So l divided l will change most things that l feel affected our first nusery. I am nursing the seedlings myself at home and l am using dug out kitchen compost we dug last year ( it transformed into beautiful soil). I think if I give the nursery enough attention we might win.

I am now aware of things that l never even used to consider or think about. When l opened the onion seeds packet l couldn't help but laugh to myself. The amount of seed was almost about 2 tablespoons at most or even something just over 1 spoon. Now that l know there is not much that goes in making onion seeds, l honestly think humans are their own monsters. The process of making the packet and probably packing could be what's making things so expensive and those are the two things we can find our way around. It now seems so many things considered normal and important are a joke and life could be so much simpler if we ourselves uncomplicated our ways.



Why Seed Saving is so Important.

A grower's first, priority is to be able to have seed for the next two seasons.

Let me explain how the Seed Industry works –

The seed company gets either other growers or themselves to grow a crop for the sole purpose of obtaining seed to sell.

Once the seed is harvested it is sorted-sieved by the largest down to the smallest seed.

The large seeds go back to the seed growers and the next size down goes the larger buyers.

What remains is all the small seeds that ends up in seed packets and are sold to gardeners.

So from the start as a gardener/ small grower, you are at a disadvantage as you have inferior seed.

How to fix this problem, Is to save your own seed.

When you are growing a crop try and identify the best-strongest plants and leave them to go to seed, this will become the seed for next year's crop.

The advantages are that you have seeds that have adapted to your growing conditions and next year's seed will be free if stored correctly.
Let seed dry completely and keep seeds in a glass jar with a secure lid. Mark the date and year on the jar and keep them in a cool spot or refrigerator.

In practice, if done year after year and choosing the best seed from your current crop,  your seed will improve year on year.

Cheers
Anthony

 
Rufaro Makamure
pollinator
Posts: 371
Location: Zimbabwe
202
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We opened our vegetables for selling, a day and a half ago and they are finished. Most were bought yesterday by customers we had secured beforehand. Pests are the problem and are a risk to the vegetables. After finishing with the sales, I decided not to waste anytime so l went to buy some pesticide (not my ideal option but it is the most practical one at the moment), so that we spray as fast as possible and get to harvest soon. Well when l got into town, l did buy the spray and I decided to do some window shopping, in a supermarket, just checking on some chocolate that l have been craving for (not one of my wisest ideas). I spent some time walking up and down aisles and happened to see a bar going  for just over a $1 and l convinced myself l deserved this, after today's success. The time l got out of the supermarket, l had forgotten all about the real reason that made me go into town, l completely forgort the pesticide in the parcel counter and l have to go back for it. The cost of the chocolate in this case, more than doubled and l think l did not think things through properly. But l guess I am not in a perfect world, the best l can do in my situation is to enjoy the chocolate like it's a $3 dollar bar.
 
Rufaro Makamure
pollinator
Posts: 371
Location: Zimbabwe
202
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I am keeping a close eye on the onion trays, it's almost a week and l can see little white things develop. I really need this to work. Seedlings have not been our greatest strength and this time l won't relax at any phase of the seedlings' stages. So far the soil looks good and healthy, and there's not a single day the surface dried up. I used banana leaves to mulch. I am not sure though if l should start with the chicken soup.

It is so easy to assume that everyone is guided by the same principles and values and there is automatically a rigid right and wrong. But looking at backgrounds and life experience, it is almost certain that the spectrum of values and principles that govern people differs greatly, this is has led me to want to invest more in developing common values and principles with Ngoni. I am planning a day for sharing ideas and a vision with him and a lot of other values as well.

I feel there are things we might need to adhere to, that are part of our existing community's standards/ norms, for us to blend in as we build our own parallel living standard. It will be draining because we will be needing twice as much effort to strike a balance. We need to have the skill though to determine what are truly needs and wants.

For example, Ngoni is a father and one of his children has reached a going to school age. The easier solution when we discussed this was for her to go back to their rural home and learn there, it will almost be free. But Ngoni, his wife and myself would ideally wish for her to learn while she stays here with us, there are better living conditions and she will be with her parents. Instead of settling we are all willing to try our best to keep her here. Since her mum got a job it's certain she will be going to school here in the coming term. But in the meantime, I need to Google nursery school stuff to not have her lag behind, while we build our productivity level to accommodate education requirements for children that are part of our little system. I believe Ngoni's job is the one that was supposed to take care of this which is why I am going a little out of my way to be involved in this until Ngoni and myself are in a good position.

We will have a tour around town just seeing how businesses big and small operate and it will open ground for our discussion. We will talk about work ethics and deliberately pick on those we want to adopt. I can talk about trust in a less confrontational manner in this discussion.
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Banana leaves for mulching
Banana leaves for mulching
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Onion seed starting to germinate
Onion seed starting to germinate
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
pollinator
Posts: 2393
Location: Meppel (Drenthe, the Netherlands)
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Rufaro Makamure wrote:...
For example, Ngoni is a father and one of his children has reached a going to school age. The easier solution when we discussed this was for her to go back to their rural home and learn there, it will almost be free. But Ngoni, his wife and myself would ideally wish for her to learn while she stays here with us, there are better living conditions and she will be with her parents. Instead of settling we are all willing to try our best to keep her here. Since her mum got a job it's certain she will be going to school here in the coming term. But in the meantime, I need to Google nursery school stuff to not have her lag behind, while we build our productivity level to accommodate education requirements for children that are part of our little system. I believe Ngoni's job is the one that was supposed to take care of this which is why I am going a little out of my way to be involved in this until Ngoni and myself are in a good position.
....


Hi Rufaro. In my opinion the best for young children is to be with their parents. At school children can learn important stuff, but a school can not replace the parents.
 
Rufaro Makamure
pollinator
Posts: 371
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Today was a successful day. I managed to meet with Ngoni in town checking what was going on in different shops. We did notice that the places that you just look at and see organisation, the employees inside were as busy as bees. When we went back to the plot we had a meeting with his wife included, brainstorming on  things we need to improve or add to keep us going. We talked about importance of hard work, and that we need to be productive and to have multiple things we produce. We all want the same thing and it is our responsibility together to get things going and there is no external push but drive has to come from within each individual. We set goals and we will check on the updates  in three months' time. Hurray....!!!

I still need major communication skills practice though.
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Looking at what we could possibly be as producers
 
Rufaro Makamure
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I was walking around the plot cracking my head on what l can do to have a second product growing in the field, as we wait to master the skill of making our own onion seedlings. Then l noticed that there is spring onion scattered in different places and it's scattered in a way that makes it almost invisible or irrelevant. "This is something I can grow, if l get enough sets, l just might have my second product in the ground", I thought to myself. So I pulled out some and as we speak l have planted in three of the choumollier beds and l can still add more.

I am weeding the beds as l plant the onion and the weeds are going right back into the beds. I lay them ontop of the dry mulch and they too will eventually dry up.

The Sandy portion we started putting vegetable beds in, this year, now has some life. l have begun adding chicken soup, to feed the beds, the plants looked like they need the boost.
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Shallots looking unimportant
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Sandy patch
 
Rufaro Makamure
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It's raining after over a month. It sounds like light showers. Any amount of rain is good at the moment, for the rivers mostly. I pass a stream on my way to the plot and it was drying up, the section we use for crossing was literally dry like we would just walk on the base of the stream. It is in March, and it is the direct opposite of what should be. Parents usually help their children cross the stream because there will be too much water.
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gardener
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Rufaro, we're also experiencing weather that doesn't make any sense. Too much rain, too little rain, too hot, too cold. This last year or so I've been thinking a lot about how to make my plants and my crops more resiliant, probably a habit that will always come in handy. I think every season I learn a bit more.
May good weather (for you and your plants) come your way!
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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It seems to be everywhere, all over the planet, weather that's different from what we were used to. Normally here (in the Netherlands, western Europe) in month it's very rainy and it's fairly cold. But now March 2022 is very sunny and dry! And last month we had a storm like we never had here before!

 
Rufaro Makamure
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Ngoni's daughter had a sleepover, which is an action that is following up our meeting and the discussion we had on education. We had a good time and we were using anything we could get our hands and eyes on, to see how learning at home is a possibility. There are three main areas we are concentrating on, numbers, colours and familiarization with the English language. These are things that other children of her age have started learning and these are the areas that are likely going to take her confidence away if she is to be thrust in a group with children that are a term ahead of her. A friend of mine with two kids that have already passed nursery school says he has some songs that he can share with me to help with her English.

I enjoyed doing a color game and we were using colored popped maize and she seemed to enjoy it. So I will try and have different things with different colors placed in different places and now instead of just naming things we will start calling a thing + it's color, e.g ' may you get me a green plate'.

The day I picked Mitchell up, the father was excited and he in turn gave me a couple of some ideas to make work a little easier at the plot and he has begun watering the sweet potatoes. We usually just let these be taken care of by the rain and because of what he is already doing for our place somethings are just difficult to request from him, yet they're a requirement for us to sustain the place, having him realise this by himself is great. He even has a tomatoe patch in the field he waters using the hand pumped well.
IMG_20220316_150301.jpg
Eating and learning
Eating and learning
 
Rufaro Makamure
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The onion seedlings are wilting. I have been keeping them moist and trying to avoid too much water, l put the banana leaves in between the rows and nothing is working. I wish this gets easier because l am not giving up anytime soon. It's can be frustrating l won't lie.
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Tereza Okava
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Can you set up some shade cloth or some sort of shade above the seedlings? I know mine are constantly wilting if i have them out and the sun is stronger than i expected (weather here can be unpredictable, I've lost many seedlings this way...)
 
Rufaro Makamure
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I will try a different cloth, l had put sacks to help with this.

I do not think things should be this hard it's really difficult to make sense out of things now. Today l am failing to contain how low l am,  
 
Tereza Okava
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Hang in there, Rufaro. Growing things depends on so much that is out of our control. Sometimes we figure out why and sometimes not. I have a lot of respect for what you're doing through hard work and tenacity. I hope it gets easier soon!
 
Rufaro Makamure
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We transplanted the onion seedlings that survived from the first seedling growing attempt, and we got an equivalent of about $3 worth of seedlings compared to if we had bought ready to plant seedli gs and these are coming from a $2 packet of onion seeds which were supposed to give more than double the seedlings.

I got a visit from my uncle. He is formally employed, and he came to look at our project. He is considering to start working on his homestead, which is in Masvingo, where  my rural home is. He wants his homestead to serve him more than just providing shelter. As he looks into retirement which is not anytime soon, he realised that with the trend, there is no way that his job alone can take care of him and his family, as savings are not even a part of his vocabulary. He has witnessed my journey from the start and he really wants to understand more about a possible alternative way of life/ earning a living other than formal employment or buying and selling already processed foods. He came at a time that is not too ideal as I am trying to understand where l am currently in order to be clear of what to prioritize and what to revisit. I did ask Ngoni to help in sharing the vision that we have for our place and he did this beautifully. My uncle wants to go with me to our rural home, once his things are in place, so that he can share with me his dream for his portion of land and this is an honor truly. It means in business terms I now have two 'clients' to share with what l learnt through permaculture and this is a great thing as l hope to this information to as many people as l possibly can directly or indirectly. I was open to him about how at the moment things are a little slow and if ever he decides to try out implementing an alternative more regenerative lifestyle it's not going to be a walk in the park and he should brace up for this. Also his biggest success will be the day he starts as most of these ideas wither away in the dreaming phase.
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Uncle and Ngoni sharing ideas
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Few of the seedlings we transplanted
 
Rufaro Makamure
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This past month we have not had problems with selling vegetable leaves like we sometimes encounter. We have in all occasions managed to sell everything within 2 days and we no longer wait for people to come to the plot, we go to them.

I was given a fruit called "roro", referred to as wild custard apple. Nothing prepared me for how tasty the fruit is. Everything about how it looks sells nothing away, it is an indigenous fruit, and it might so far be the best indigenous fruit l have had.

Before begining of this week l had no idea of the existence of this fruit and having tasted it l want whoever stays at our plot in years to come to know of this fruit so I am going to grow the tree from the seeds we l will get.
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wild custard apple
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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Rufaro Makamure wrote:...
I was given a fruit called "roro", referred to as wild custard apple. Nothing prepared me for how tasty the fruit is. Everything about how it looks sells nothing away, it is an indigenous fruit, and it might so far be the best indigenous fruit l have had.
...


I know that fruit! It grows too on the island of Curaçao (Netherlands Antilles, Caribbean). It was my (late) husband's favourite fruit (he was born and raised there). Yes, it tastes delicious!
 
Tereza Okava
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I have one in my yard! We call it fruta do conde or araticum/ariticum (Latin: Annona squamosum). It is one of my favorites as well.
The one in my yard grew from seeds I spat out, so hopefully yours will sprout easily as well.
The internet tells me it can take the seeds 30 days to germinate, so be patient! From there, it can be about two years or more til they are ready to flower. My plant has been there about that long and no flowers yet, but it sprouted in a place with terrible soil and got trampled a few times when it was young.
They are supposed to like well-drained, dryish soil, but I`ve seen them growing in so many different environments that I don`t think they are too picky.
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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Tereza Okava wrote:I have one in my yard! We call it fruta do conde or araticum/ariticum (Latin: Annona squamosum). It is one of my favorites as well.
The one in my yard grew from seeds I spat out, so hopefully yours will sprout easily as well.
The internet tells me it can take the seeds 30 days to germinate, so be patient! From there, it can be about two years or more til they are ready to flower. My plant has been there about that long and no flowers yet, but it sprouted in a place with terrible soil and got trampled a few times when it was young.
They are supposed to like well-drained, dryish soil, but I`ve seen them growing in so many different environments that I don`t think they are too picky.


I am very sorry I can not grow it here where I live. This man emigrated from that tropical island to cold and rainy Netherlands, where we met and married. We did visit his home-country a few times, but I don't live there. There's no way such a tropical tree will grow here.
At Curaçao a language is spoken (called Papiamento, a so-called creole-language) that's a mix of Portuguese, Dutch and some more languages. The tree/fruit has a sort-of Dutch name there: Schubappel (also written 'Skopapel' sometimes). Meaning: scaled apple. Annona squamosa is the Latin name.
 
Rufaro Makamure
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I am sorry to hear about your husband. It's really nice to hear from other people who know the fruit thank you for sharing.

You know when I got the fruit it was not too ripe, it was hard and all, so l had to keep it away for a few days for it to ripen. When l opened the cupboard l had put it in, the largest one seemed like it was exploding. When l was given it, it had looked like some creature in the reptile family, l only accepted out of being polite, and when l saw it swollen, for a moment, l thought it had come to life, I backed away for a bit to get myself together, l laugh to myself now.
 
Rufaro Makamure
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It's been almost a week since l had gone to the plot. I found Ngoni scrapping duck droppings (whatever they call them), excited about how he  had found feed for us to add into the beds. Unlike chickens manure from ducks hasn't been as visible and as much as what we used to get, maybe because they're a few of them.

I had even bigger news for him, we can now get enough manure and proper seedlings to put in our beds. A friend that l have never met in my life, whose wish is to see thriving lands in a regenerative way, sent us money. The timing could have never been better, we just need to do our best with resources we now have and honestly we are very fortunate. I went around to check prices for maize/ maize meal and already a bucket which was going for $5 is now going for $5.50 and I bought 10kgs of processed maize  meal for $5 and this was around $3 something, less than two months (roughly) ago. Last year maize maintained it's price for the whole year, l am talking about it's price after last year's harvest period. The plan is to secure food as we are not sure what the year will be like towards the end and we were granted this capacity by this generous friend, I appreciate. It is easier to plan and work when there is some certainty of one's next meal.

We are going to buy onions to plant in all spaces with Vegetables as per plan and we already bought some today. We have also bought rape which is like kale to fill up the empty vegetable beds as they are on demand and we also had a tour at a place where seedlings are grown and people are making a living out of it. Well it kind of makes our seedlings growing trial a joke, but l guess everyone starts somewhere. Speaking of which, I realised that the onion roots from our home grown seedlings were too exposed and I think I did not plant them deep enough. We got a few for planting though. So instead of using a lot of seeds to practice growing, I will do a few and learn all the mistakes until l get it right for future's sake, but this will not interfer with productivity at all, because soon we will have put the onions we had wished to grow for this season.
 
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Inge Leonora-den Ouden wrote:
I am very sorry I can not grow it here where I live. This man emigrated from that tropical island to cold and rainy Netherlands, where we met and married. We did visit his home-country a few times, but I don't live there. There's no way such a tropical tree will grow here.



i don’t want to derail Rufaro’s thread too much, Inge, but for those of us in more temperate climates, the pawpaw (Asimina triloba) is a close cousin from this family and the fruit has many of the same characteristics. similar flavor and texture, certainly.
 
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I would suggest you plant maybe a dozen of your onion seeds separate. Mark the six that come up strongest.

If it were me I would plant them somewhere they would not get special treatment, but I torture all my plants. Of those you plant, keep the strongest. Put them somewhere they will not be disturbed for at least a year. DO NOT sell these plants. When they seed, you will have as much seed as you want to experiment with, at no cost to yourself. One onion plant produces hundreds of seeds.

You mentioned that spring onions are coming up on their own for transplant at your plot. This is what you want, eventually; onions that self-seed and survive without inputs. When your seed onions ripen let a few seeds fall right there, and again keep the strongest for seed the following year. No cost to yourself, and by the third generation there should be no labor cost either. Just let a few seeds fall where they ripen, and ignore them except to make sure the strongest survive, with the largest bulbs.

Seeds are an input, something you need to either buy or produce. Far better if you can produce them yourself.
 
Rufaro Makamure
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"Seeds are an input, something you need to either buy or produce. Far better if you can produce them yourself."

I agree with you Lauren. We used to hunt around for choumollier suckers, but we got more opportunities and time since we started keeping enough of them ourselves. We recently tried it out with sweet potatoes vines and if we didn't have our own we would have definitely missed the short window of rainfall we got this year.

We are lucky that the transition into a modern civilization didn't happen too long ago, so there are some first hand stories of the ways things used to be when a lot of things would not have a price tag on it. Kids would go out to either run errands or go to school and on their way back, pick things like edible leaves, fruits, termites...e.t.c, things that would qualify as proper relish, which naturally shared the responsibility of providing for the family. From the stories it seems the kids actually enjoyed the adventure that came with looking for food, the icing on the cake was the look of genuine gratitude when they would show their mothers their find.

I do not think creating forests that are open to everyone which can provide things freely is a goal that is too feasible at least for now, but having a homestead that generates its own inputs for sustenance is the closest l can get to mimicking how things used to be. Maybe someone else in a different generation can take it a step further.
 
Lauren Ritz
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Rufaro Makamure wrote:I do not think creating forests that are open to everyone which can provide things freely is a goal that is too feasible at least for now, but having a homestead that generates its own inputs for sustenance is the closest l can get to mimicking how things used to be. Maybe someone else in a different generation can take it a step further.

Maybe not feasible right now, but definitely something to think about and plan for.
 
Rufaro Makamure
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The onion sets we planted are starting to look gorgeous. We still have to wait though to add mulch in the beds, because the king onions are still tiny.

When we started collecting grass that we will use for mulching later, we were piling it along bed-sides. We realized that the free range area for ducks is a perfect place for storing our grass. The ducks' droppings will add more value to the grass and there will be added comfort for the ducks too.The grass outside the beds is way older than that in
the free range area but it actually looks the opposite.
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Spring onions growing nicely
Spring onions growing nicely
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Rufaro Makamure
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I have been doing a little research in the past days to find a fundraising idea to support the main project of growing a self-sustaining plot/homestead.

One thing that is in abundance is the banana fruit and I found something I can make with it, that is feasible and that is not in the market, at least common market. A turon or banana fritter. I tried it out today and I have a strong feeling it will sell and it's such a unique but simple product. I need to just add a few touches like try it out with cinnamon to make it a little complex to add value.

My sisters will be coming for the Easter holiday, so they will be my critics and from then on I will try it out in the streets.

The other thing that has been on my to do list was approaching the city council to try and get them to help my friends and I, to do level 2 of the Gigatonne challenge ( the one where we are composting waste from illegal dumpsite to help reduce carbon emission which I mentioned earlier). This too has a potential of having us earn a living and for me it will help me connect with other people around me which is huge for social networking.

I just submitted a written pitch today to city council and I am crossing my fingers, that they will like it and will be onboard.

PS: I took an image of a vendor's spot in my neighborhood, it's not as close and clear, I didn't want to cause any trouble but it gives an idea of how much bananas are cheap, if one vendor can afford a whole cart. In town it's even worse, it's not a cart full of bananas after every corner but possibly after every stone throw away and we only eat bananas as fresh fruit, with banana cakes being found in the big supermarkets. In homes it's rare to find a banana as an ingredient for anything other than being eaten fresh.
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Rufaro Makamure
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It's been weeks since I have visited the plot, I am proud to show how there is so much progress regardless. There are some values we have been building on that are now showing and I am glad.
Based on what I have come to understand wealth is built from, (i.e. Land, labour and capital),

-we now grow soil to create value on the land we have and we get as much of the resources we can from what's surrounding us. Ngoni has been making chicken soup, even for sweet potatoes and he is now big on mulching, without any external push

-labour has to be productive labour. This is an area which as obvious as it sounds was/is the hardest practically. Productivity is something we are learning and trying to increase the value of our labour in relation to time and effort. We have been gradually growing and we both are trying to understand each other in this context. We seem to be at opposite extremes where I would rather we grow gradually while watching our capacity and avoiding getting to shorten the lifespan of the things we already have, to be specific the pump. There aren't any running hours that came with the manual so it's pretty much guess work and my judgement could lead us to under utilise the pump. Ngoni on the other hand is for taking risks and sometimes it has proven to help in getting us to the next step but in some instances we loose in times we could have avoided it. We have increased the vegetables, added beans and onion to plants we are learning to grow and with maize we have increased the probability of a harvest though all the external factors are going against this. Ngoni in the past weeks replanted the one side which had vegetable beds with old plants and when he bought chicken manure, he offered to go and clear the manure so as to get more. All this he initiated. He is also experimenting with tomatoes and okra,  both which he is using water from the well. The tomatoes are looking so healthy and so far they have overcome the nights that are getting colder and colder and he is excited to prove to me that this risk was worth it. His effort is more and coming from an inner drive.

-capital: All the time we have spent together learning and growing is allowing me to include capital building, without needing to be at the plot 24/7. I have been selling initially turon/ banana fritters. These have in some cases really sold and in some cases failed dismally because it's a completely new product which either is liked or not accepted. The inconsistency has not been profitable and now I am selling samoosas. I can't tell yet on profits as I have just started, but l am determined to grow the capital we have, instead of us just being a pipeline, where capital slips through/ past us.

 
Rufaro Makamure
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I went to the plot and I liked what I saw. The Sandy part of our field caught my eye especially. It's been stuffed with so much grass, I am sure at the end of the year there will be a visible change on before continuous feeding and after images of the soil. Mitchell is also going to school now and she will be with her parents which is another thing to celebrate.

They have started working on the zai pits in the field which is also good.

I am continuing with exploring selling samoosa, now pies..., e.t.c, until I find the right thing that sells consistently.
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Sandy part
Sandy part
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Good soil cover for most areas
Good soil cover for most areas
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Maize planting preparation
Maize planting preparation
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Tomato experiment
Tomato experiment
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Baking pies for selling
Baking pies for selling
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Happy new school girl
Happy new school girl
 
Rufaro Makamure
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We have reached a state where  growth has just plateuaed and no matter what kind of information or idea that comes, our growth is just so small and insignificant. To change this I planned to become actively involved in a regeneration SEEDS group, hoping that through interacting with the different people, with unique backgrounds, maybe different skills and perceptions can develop. To do this, I have been trying to push level 2 of the gigatonne challenge which  was introduced through SEEDS. This time it's even harder than what I experienced in level 1. Reducing carbon emissions could be important, but the priority around me is survival, and mobilising a team to tackle this challenge has been/ is still an impossible mission. I targeted people with some kind of exposure and open mindedness and after two weeks we have dug our fist pit for composting. The people who helped me in digging the pit are Ngoni and his wife and it is really because of our relationship and they say they are still yet to understand what carbon abatement is about. What I like about the challenge is we might be creating jobs for ourselves and this is what we need to keep our project running and the icing on the cake is that it is still in line with regeneration.
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Rufaro Makamure
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We are now entering the final week of the Gigatonne challenge. In this week we should be preparing to present the work we have done, that is how much waste we have managed to collect and compost and whether we have managed to reduce the month’s target of carbon abatement equal to 10 tonnes.
Currently our team has an empty pit to show for the month. The month has been filled with an attempt to build capacity to be able to tackle this challenge. For level 2, we are supposed to collect about 9000kgs of waste that could have gone to a landfill and compost it. When I picked my team members, I focused on people who could spare sometime for collecting waste, open minded enough to even consider collecting waste without a direct payment/ incentive and I was not big on the financial position. Level 1 was easy enough, we just needed to fill up a couple of wheelbarrows to get 400kgs of waste from nearby illegal dumpsites. I overlooked the psychological effect this process had on team members. We would have never guessed the work we needed to do, though it was doable. I suspect team members did some reflecting after level one and the disadvantages were outweighing the advantages. These are people who live in a place where an incentive for doing something is limited to a direct monetary payment, who are just getting by and the room for risk taking is small, so doing something basing on faith that we might be creating jobs for ourselves is a little bit too much to ask from them, but I do not see too many options within reach. They do have some knowledge about the climate change crisis but sustenance for the day, is the highest priority when it comes to daily activities. They did not have to spell it out for me when I approached them the second time for us to take up level 2, which now required 10 times more effort and still without a direct incentive.  I was not too worried about capacity because it was obvious to me that the city council, which is responsible for waste management would be willing to support us with transport and access to even more waste and a space for composting. Then after level 2 it becomes a job we are actually paid to do, which is what we all need. The city council has goals in line with carbon abatement and it already has a trailer/ tractor that sometimes collects waste from illegal dump sites and we were going to be free labour for the month. I did not think I had too much convincing to do. I sent in a pitch, and then a proposal and it looked like all was well, but up to this day the document is yet to be read.
This derailed everything and further demotivated my team. But I had to figure out something and new doors were opened. We now have a company that’s willing to help. I know together we have the capacity to reach the target in time. I have my last shot at selling the idea of our capability on Monday and less than a week to collect and compost 9000kgs of waste.
Already they have been able to help us with human capital, our team members had dropped to 3 but they have boosted our number.
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meeting new members
meeting new members
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Ngoni is a part of the team
Ngoni is a part of the team
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market which is our waste source
market which is our waste source
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A lot of waste disposed of daily
A lot of waste disposed of daily
 
Rufaro Makamure
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We have had such an intense month for our Gigatonne challenge. We finished L2 and we managed to transport, weigh and compost 910.6kgs of waste in the last three days of the challenge.

One thing we are excited about is that the Gigatonne challenge has given birth to the start of our own community based organisation called Shuwonetwork. Which comes from Shona words meaning hope, wish and desire.

We are now going to be a part of a group and I am excited to see what changes it will bring for Ngoni and me at the plot.
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Seperating biodegradable material from non-biodegradable waste
Seperating biodegradable material from non-biodegradable waste
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Some vendors joined us in picking up waste
Some vendors joined us in picking up waste
 
Rufaro Makamure
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We did not make it through to Level 3 of the Gigatonne challenge and we have to redo L1, to help us with team building.

This is also proving to be a little difficult because commitment levels are currently low as everyone is busy trying to earn a living, so I am  not sure how all this will end. What this experience though is giving me is the ability to work with a team which is an extremely foreign idea to me.

As for the plot we have been harvesting sweet potatoes for home consumption since May. So it has served both as breakfast and lunch in some days. It has made it easier to bring back the topic of intercropping. We are enjoying the benefits of diversifying and even though the bean plant and nyemba (cowpeas) did not do too well, I took the opportunity to sell this idea once more, imagining how things could have been if we had harvested cowpeas. I did not have to say too many words.
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Tomatoes and sweet potatoes from the plot
Tomatoes and sweet potatoes from the plot
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