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permaculture advocate in Zimbabwe - too little/too much rain

 
pollinator
Posts: 590
Location: Zimbabwe
465
greening the desert
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We planted some tomatoes today and I realised I cannot redo the raised beds area all at once, since we still need most of the already mature kale plants in the existing beds to keep a reasonable amount of income flowing. So I will be adding similar plants I grew in the first raised bed, in spaces with gaps, to get to reasonable quantities that will allow us to sell, and when income is no longer just selling of kale, it will be easy to open up beds for the new raised beds.

Our walk to the plot was very interesting today. Some week or so ago, we bumped into a man who was scared of a snake he had seen close to the path we use. He was coming towards us when we met, and just before we talked, he had bent down and picked a really huge stone mumbling words that I could not hear then, later on my cousin told me he was saying snake, snake repeatedly. We had both thought the stone was meant for us because of stories of crime that keep rising. He strongly discouraged us from using the path but we did anyway. The thought of snakes has never left us since then, and for the first time I saw a snake on a different date and position, along our path. Tashi did not see it as it was getting into a hole, and it was better this way because I was not sure how, actually seeing a snake would make her feel as there is generally zero tolerance for wild animals. I was just being brave but I felt a little uneasy.

Today Tashi was in front and I saw her petrified, and checked to see what was in front of her and for a moment it felt like I had been shocked by lightning and at that time everything went blank. There was a frog with a size I had never even imagined existed and when I saw it at first I had not seen it was a frog. We took a picture of it after we recovered from the shock and somehow the adrenaline rush made the experience memorable and exciting afterwards. We were talking about the frog when Tashi shouted for me to look in front of us. When I looked, I just saw a big thing which seemed like a big fat snake disappearing into the vegetation right next to the river. She saw something running across the path and it had all the features of a pangolin. Instead of fear we are both glad at how our walk went today.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    
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big frog on path
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fat green frog on path
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big green frog on path
 
Rufaro Makamure
pollinator
Posts: 590
Location: Zimbabwe
465
greening the desert
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The pit has water flowing into it though runoff is not yet that much. Below is a picture of the green vetiver grass.
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water catchment in compost pit
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green shoots on new vetiver grass plants
 
master steward
Posts: 6290
Location: Isle of Skye, Scotland. Nearly 70 inches rain a year
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transportation dog forest garden foraging trees books food preservation woodworking wood heat rocket stoves ungarbage
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You've had a busy week, thanks for the updates.
I wonder what sort of frog that was - it was certainly a whopper. They are predators of course so can be useful for eating up herbivorous pests for you (as are snakes of course) I don't know about pangolin. How exciting if you actually saw one! Apparently they are one of the most trafficked of wild creatures but they look fascinating.
pangolin adult and baby

source

I wonder if the extra onion seed could be useful at all? I would put to one side as much as you think you will need for a couple of years seed (it probably won't be viable after that as it needs to be fresh to germinate) and see what you have left. Can you swap it for a different sort of seed perhaps?
Hopefully the vetiver grass will be really useful if it grows well for you. I look forwards to seeing how it does.
 
Rufaro Makamure
pollinator
Posts: 590
Location: Zimbabwe
465
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Setting aside a day to just rest and treat one's self actually requires effort. I have set Friday aside, but I had to push this to Saturday in the past week. We prepared burgers and made patties from beans.  Tashinga made juice from grapes

I had kind of suspended putting time and money in what I see as luxuries as I was convinced these would take up too many resources that I felt I did not have, I was wrong. It takes up effort and resources but it's necessary, it felt like we were celebrating the week we had had, and enjoying each other's company. I didn't even have to take my cousin anywhere.
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burgers and patties from beans
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a day to just rest and treat one's self
 
Rufaro Makamure
pollinator
Posts: 590
Location: Zimbabwe
465
greening the desert
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I continued with planning and still using others' experiences to introspect. I talked to my uncle from Hurungwe whose path in life is similar to mine and has been working on his homestead for the past 28 years. I wanted to understand his planning and also share some of the ideas I am picking up along the way. The same questions I keep asking myself are the questions I posed to him, with regards to his projects:

1) What are you doing?
2) Why are you working on your project?

I noticed that in his answers, we had the same approach and his reasoning was very much like mine especially before the experiences I am having including the self awareness program and things I read about. An example is the answer to the second question, why?, the initial reason was " to alert people on the importance and availability of natural resources in the betterment of our lives."

Taking from my new knowledge of, " you as an individual are the center of your universe and if you do right by you and everyone else does so for themselves within their capacities, respecting other people's spaces, we can create a much stable place quicker." I tried to have my uncle bring his goals to his personal benefit first and if he achieves to make the quality of his life improve, he will have a better shot at achieving the goal of influencing others. We ended up with two short and brief answers

1)What - Developing a productive garden
2)Why - To help secure food and income for my family.

From this it helped have him also state his short term tangible milestones which he can check along the way.

Tashinga my cousin was listening to my phone conversation and she asked if she could write down her ideas for her home garden for when she goes back home. Her interest has been developing from not really wanting gardening to eargerly waiting for when she goes home to redo some bits of their garden. She will be going to boarding school so I always welcome an interest in gardening but I don't think I have been giving her that much attention on this issue because at the back of my mind I was thinking that she will just have all this eroded away when she gets back and goes to school. When she asked if she could write down things for me to see I could see she was serious. I showed her how writing a vision keeps one on track. I took out what I drew during my PDC 5 or 6 years back and though ideas were changing a little bit there was a core/ backbone to my vision of our plot that I was not changing. I also showed her images online of beautiful garden designs and had her pick out what she looks at as beautiful visually to keep her excited and open up her mind to garden ideas. She wrote down her goals and drew a visual image of what she wants to do, I was so impressed.

On a different note I am getting more and more worried about the Gigatonne challenge. I haven't heard any response from the facilitators since October and I would be gutted if we don't make it to level 3. People worked so hard at this and I gave close to a year's time and resources in bringing everything together. The sacrifices that people made to take part in this was so much, but I think sometimes it's easier to believe in a person who executes a task easily and fast (meaning they already have a system set up), but this kind of means those who are developing a system will never have a chance, and why I invested in the Gigatonne challenge so much is that their white paper showed how their carbon emissions reduction strategy was going to include everyone who was willing to put in the effort and to a certain extent it was making everyone account for their daily actions with respect to the climate change crisis. It was bringing this crisis to the grassroot level.
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uncle's garden
uncle's garden
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ideas for her home garden
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ideas for her home garden
 
Rufaro Makamure
pollinator
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Location: Zimbabwe
465
greening the desert
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All the tomatoes that I planted were killed by too much manure. It took me a couple of minutes to figure this out when I saw all the spaces I put tomatoes had absolutely nothing in them. I had assumed that the manure I was using was mature so I was generous with it. I still had cucumber seed so I planted these instead. Today, I found Mai Kumbi, the lady who now staying at the field with tomato plants for me, for free, I was so thankful. The beets are also being eaten by something. The raised bed with the mixed plants is taking longer than I wanted to start showing it's beauty, but I will keep trying. I am now nursing carrots, using tissue rolls, another trick I got from someone here, those I planted did not germinate nicely.
I planted the banana tree in the water harvesting pit and I am now removing weeds as much as I can around the cow peas plants to give the good air and sunlight access. I will see to the second weeding of the field after I am done with this.
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raised bed bottle edgeing
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unknown eater of beet
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Rufaro Makamure
pollinator
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Location: Zimbabwe
465
greening the desert
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I have weeded about a third of the field, and I took advantage of the moist soil, it made the hoeing a lot easier, I will be continuing with weeding the maize field in the coming week. Tashinga's results for her primary level completion came and she passed, I also got a certificate of participation  for the gigatonne challenge, we ended the week on a high note.  I made chips with mixed vegetables on the side for our resting day. As a substitute for a cake to celebrate I made homemade custard, crushed some biscuits and made alternating layers of these.    
IMG_20221203_151947.jpg
hips with mixed vegetables on the side
 
Rufaro Makamure
pollinator
Posts: 590
Location: Zimbabwe
465
greening the desert
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Weeding the dry surface turned out to be easier than I had thought. Ngoni and his wife were the ones who would keep the field clear of weeds.
Even though the top layer of the soil is dry, the field space is loose and so easy to scrape, I am done with weeding the field and I didn't have to get any extra help.

We have been adding some of the yard weeds for the ducks to walk on, for future manure harvest.

We picked up a fallen bird's nest from the mulberry tree and made a flower pot for our mint plant.
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weeding the maize
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manure from duck pen
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birds nest plant pot
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maize needing weeding
 
Rufaro Makamure
pollinator
Posts: 590
Location: Zimbabwe
465
greening the desert
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It's raining today and it is just perfect as today's program was to water the maize, it was wilting and even early mornings the leaves would be a bit wilted. The pump has had a leak for sometime now and the sound it's making is getting worse and worse so having the place rained on is buying me some time. I wanted (in my head I am convinced it's a need) to buy myself a pair of jeans a shirt and shoes with the next sales which is what was motivating me to do as much as I could without getting any help. The pump is the backbone to all I am doing and one side of my logic is saying all I earn should go to fixing the pump, but the other side says I need to pay myself, because there are always going to be important issues that need to be fixed. If I had hired help I would have paid them and this job would have costed $30.
I took notes from Heather's planning process
https://permies.com/t/180515/Allotment-plot-ideas#1427443
1)her goal/s were clear and time bound
2)She was aware of her constraints
3)She had a plan drawn and written down
4) she dedicated time and effort to follow through her design
5) she recorded how things went for later review.
6) She kept a positive attitude throughout.

I will pick a couple of these, as I saw them quite helpful
 
Rufaro Makamure
pollinator
Posts: 590
Location: Zimbabwe
465
greening the desert
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It's 2023 and I am glad I made it through 2022. The year ended on a very high note. I will start with the embarrassing bit though.

The last time I wrote I had a decision to make from two choices, either to get the pump fixed or to buy clothes and I chose buying clothes. I got two blouses and a pair of jeans at a second hand shop all for $20 and I was so happy as I had enough to get my hair done. As shallow as it might seem a new  look helped me feel less self conscious when I met with extended family, I felt less judged.  Then for the first time, the pump broke down and the sales were so low I have barely made half of the money I spent on clothes in the past two weeks. There was no rain for sometime and again the maize was stressed and it's now at the silking and tasselling stage. Luckily the rain has come back again because even though I had a pit filled with harvested water and a well, it was impossible to manage the whole field's water requirements, watering with a bucket. I don't know if buying clothes was a bad idea, because as much as economically the answer is in black and white, socially I felt the need to belong and the way I looked helped me feel I belonged. If I were to go back I would without doubt still chose clothes. This project made me realise that growing a sustainable homestead is not just about the economic and technical aspect of growing things, but also the social side of the people involved. This takes me to the high note of year end. The one very important product I have harvested from this lifestyle is time. My sisters and young cousins came home for christmas and just to know that this is still home for so many people is a great thing. The kids enjoyed walking to the field and busying themselves at the field, the older girls liked the walk but were not keen on helping around at the field though. We had time to make paper christmas decorations, power cuts were a non issue because we were occupied and  we had enough to eat. The space once again was a buffer to so many bad things going on around us.
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grandfather and myself (looking good)
grandfather and myself (looking good)
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home for christmas
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home for christmas
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busying themselves at the field
 
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Happy 2023 to you Rufaro!! I'm always so glad to see your posts.

There is a saying here that nobody is made of iron; we usually use it to remind ourselves that we have to eat, take rests, etc, but i think it suits here too- you are not just working on farming and sustainable development, circular economy, etc, you are also inspiring young people and creating connections, and you are a person with your own needs for rest, satisfaction, and self-care. I think it's really easy to feel like we "don't deserve" things but in fact they're essential to keep our motivation up. Sometimes timing can be rough, and make us feel bad, but that unfortunately comes with having limited funds (I'm in a very similar situation right now, had big plans to purchase some things for my business this month but I have to spend money on some emergencies that happened, and it's easy to think maybe I am stupid to think about buying things. But there will eventually be more money, one thing at a time.).
I hope this year brings you fair weather, friendship, health and joy.
 
Rufaro Makamure
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Thank you Tereza, best wishes to you too. I hope you managed to sort out your emergency situation and all is well.

It's still raining with flood predictions upto the 8th. The decision of putting the kitchen compost at the banana tree area paid off. We got our first bunch and there are already three more with bunches. This is from a place where we could get 1 bunch if we were lucky and we had settled with just harvesting greens from the space. I have been trying to make it cleaner and more hygienic and finally I managed to contain the compost without the dogs messing it up.
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kitchen compost at the banana tree area paid off
 
Rufaro Makamure
pollinator
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One of my sisters has decided to make health a top priority for the family and, it's health that starts from within. So we all had to go for a general check to find if there are any hidden problems and it is shocking how many hidden problems we found. She is prepared to invest in well being and she found a program for health as a lifestyle. She brought some powders with which you can add milk or water to, and just a cup can substitute a meal or supplement certain nutrients and I found this odd (different lifestyles I guess). The powders are mighty expensive, and I feel that this might put value to the home grown foods because the program highlighted how everything is in the diet. We agreed to research more on what each one needs to rectify and to find out if we cannot come up with daily menus that can fix this, and eventually get rid of these powders. I know buying a variety of veggies will also be expensive and I am sure my sister is going to invest in this, if I win with my raised beds that have mixed vegetables it will mean so much more to my sisters. My sister took her share of the bananas from the harvested bunch, to carry to her home.

For 2023 she will be giving me an allowance to help me stabilise and prove there is something called a sustainable and profitable homestead. How is that for a great start to the year.
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her share of the bananas
 
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Hi Rufaro. Your banana plants remind me of the bananas my mother- and sister-in-law (living at Curaçao, a Caribbean island) grew behind their house. They used to let the water coming from the washing machine drain to those banana plants. So that combined watering and feeding the plants.
Your banana plants look well too!
 
Rufaro Makamure
pollinator
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465
greening the desert
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It's my second day at the plot and it's also the second day after it stopped raining. I slept over in the room I reserved for myself and the thought of spending the night had been so uncomfortable. I kept thinking I was invading the privacy of the family that's staying at the plot as well as mine. It was not too bad, I am staying away from the kids as much as possible during the day, and when the mum (who is a friend) came back from work, she actually came into my room for a chat, it was nice.
My first task is weeding the field (again), to open up the cow peas, the weeds have just gone wild this season it's as if I hardly weeded.  Some of the maize shows signs of lack and I am combining the brief water stress as well as  the weeds. I will go back home after I finish with the weeding.

I am now conscious about my water intake, so I am drinking lot a lot of water now, as for the meals, the mornings are what I can write about, bananas as I begin my work, then rusks with cucumber salad from the garden for my break before lunch. The other meals are still work in progress.
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weeds have just gone wild
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rusks with cucumber salad from the garden
 
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