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permaculture advocate in Zimbabwe - too little/too much rain  RSS feed

 
Posts: 53
Location: Zimbabwe
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Hi everyone.
I am working on a 1/2 an acre piece of land, growing mostly maize with plans of inter-cropping it with beans. I started using permaculture principles in 2015 and my wish is to spread sustainability practices, through applying the principles and introducing an alternative farming method.

Generally the area is usually drought stricken, so we have been putting systems in place to have increased control over water availability. We have stopped using fertilizers and we are using compost to feed our plant. We also dug conservation holes and mulched the area.  From the weather forecast it seems like we are going to have a period where the rain might be too much. How do I deal with excessive rain in the most natural way.
 
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In a situation such as your describe many would advocate using swales dug on contour to capture rainwater and store it in the soil for plants to use later. Swales are usually described as "tree planting systems" though, rather than for intensive cropping.

You might then consider alternating rows of fruit trees with normal crops.
 
pollinator
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in flat land, basins may work better than swales.  Basins can also be easier to fit between existing features than swales.

More info about rainwater harvesting in dry places:  http://www.harvestingrainwater.com/

Here's our largest basin after flooding rains.
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gardener
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We have a rain fall pattern in my part of the world that often swings between drought and flood. If you have enough man or machine power to do large scale earthworks, I'd be looking into the feasibility of catchment ponds starting at the top of your property and connected by swales, where ever possible.

During the rainy period a lot of soil fertility can be washed away, so slowing and capturing that water can be vital. One thing to also watch out for (if you're more accustomed to drought conditions) is plant disease. Prolonged wet conditions and soil splashing up on the plants creates the perfect environment for a lot of plant diseases. Mulching around the base of plants to protect from splashing soil is at least a start here.
 
Rufaro Makamure
Posts: 53
Location: Zimbabwe
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Thanks for the responses. I have attached a picture of what we have done so far. Mulching and conservation holes for each plant have been done already. Unfortunately we are running on a very tight budget. I am looking for solutions that can be afforded by a person who can afford basics.

For example I am thinking of using animal manure, if ever we receive too much rain so that it absorbs heat as it decomposes. I am not sure of the effect on the plant itself or whether it actually works. I am also hoping that the mulch that we put,in as much as it conserves water, it might also aid in absorbing too much water. These kind of simple solutions for now are the ones I am looking for until we can afford the bigger and better solutions. Any other ideas are most welcome.

As I mentioned the objective of my farming is to introduce sustainable agriculture in my area. The people around me will adopt anything that proves to give a good yield. In order to sell my idea, I have broken my aims in sub tasks. The first goal is to grow the common crop, which is maize, but employing permaculture principles to produce a good yield. The intention is to prove that this method works and get people interested, using a crop that everyone is familiar with.

Second would be the introduction of indigenous crops that are more drought resistant (still focusing on food crops) and also to introduce variety for nutritional value. Maize is the staple crop and it is grown simply because that is the plant that is common and it has been grown for years. Little attention is paid to nutritional value or plants that adapt to the different farming areas and as a result we are caught in a cycle of food inadequacy year in and year out. So the second goal is aimed at food variety.

Third goal would now be to concentrate on conscious action to improve our environment, where it will be possible to convince people to invest in slightly expensive methods of improving soils, water conservation techniques....e.t.c, which is where most of the above suggestions would come into play so thank you in advance.

You can check out my blog to have an idea of the place I am dealing with. "www.abundnant .wordpress.com" its titled greentobrown
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Tyler Ludens
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Casie Becker
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I wonder if you could manage stone bunds like in this video 
  would work in your location. I think it's the least technical and relatively low work compared to digging that many swales. Putting stones on top of all that mulch would probably help keep it from washing away in heavier rains, also.
 
Rufaro Makamure
Posts: 53
Location: Zimbabwe
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  "Yacouba" is very inspiring. I am using the zai pits as well and I am in Zimbabwe WOW!!!.....Can't wait to see our place transformed like in the links you have shown. Thank you everyone.
 
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Rufaro, great job on identifiing your problems and choosing the right tools for them. All you need is added organic matter and conservation individual holes like you've done.
Excellent sense problem solving.

Keep us updated, please.
 
Rufaro Makamure
Posts: 53
Location: Zimbabwe
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Hey everyone....!!! Exciting news...! I managed to beat the target of the 31st of December in order to join some competition ( not really a competition but I will just call it that because I don't know what else to call it). A friend shared a site for "Regeneration hub international" well they have grants they are offering to five people in January and the due date was the 31st. I JUST SUBMITTED MINE!!! Anyways please like my project in order for me to stand a higher chance in winning its called "green to brown" am still trying to figure out how to "like" projects on the site. And for those who have their proposals or projects in place always you might want to send. They support any project which has anything to do with regenerative agriculture, land use ...e.t.c. that is their link (http://www.regenerationhub.co) The forum also acts as a platform to put your project out there. Oh....! I am just so excited
 
Rufaro Makamure
Posts: 53
Location: Zimbabwe
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Andre Lemos wrote:Rufaro, great job on identifiing your problems and choosing the right tools for them. All you need is added organic matter and conservation individual holes like you've done.
Excellent sense problem solving.

Keep us updated, please.


About progress, it did rain a lot in the past weeks and as predicted, the rains were intense and now they are gone. Hwange which is where I work is one of the driest places in Zimbabwe but check how much rains poured and this was after a day's rains. Imagine if we had a way of rain water collection for the town, all that water could have been stored for later use. Permaculture is just unbelievable. I never got the chance to visit home and initiate use of stones to hold the grass in place but I am happy to tell you that the place survived. Check out the attachment. I will try to push for the growing of beans now and if no-one can do it, that will be possible when I get home in the next 2 weeks . It is the right time....right? I am planning on having the runner/ climber bean plant this year so that the maize will not starve the bean plant of the sunshine.

I can't wait to visit home and really see for myself. Hopefully I will be able to take pictures of the surrounding places so that  you can all see that, we as humans have the power to make a change if we choose to. I am seriously considering being a full time permaculture practitioner in my area. Well it has been on my mind for the past year. I mean why else would we waste energy on destructive things yet we really could spend time mending our earth.
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too much water (Hwange)
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plants in Gweru
 
Rufaro Makamure
Posts: 53
Location: Zimbabwe
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Hope you are all doing well. The next phase of my project is going to involve some research in daily lifestyles  of targeted families. It might seem strange, since I am doing a project in my home area, but I have come to realize that we might have some habits, beliefs or cultural related daily choices that might be holding us back from relieving ourselves from poverty. So I am going to consciously record daily routines, choices and other things that might have an impact on a successful implementation of my sustainability project. If there is anyone who is interested in collaborating with me for the year 2017, please let me know. This is a stage I cannot do alone seeing as I am a product of my community there are so many things that I might consider normal, impossible or not even think about because of my exposure, so your assistance will be greatly appreciated, to help in the analysis and study planning, coordination and all other things that are a part of a detailed research.
 
Tyler Ludens
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I can only offer my own experience - it was tremendously helpful for me when I finally understood the Permaculture concept of Zones - that one develops the area close to the house first, because it is the easiest to work with and has the most resources such as food scraps, waste water, etc.  My original kitchen garden was far from the house - when I moved it to a position right outside the kitchen door, it immediately became more productive.  First because this is a position more sheltered from sun and drying winds, and also importantly, I can more easily care for it, and harvest from it while in the process of cooking a meal, if I need an herb or other ingredient.

This idea of starting right near the home and working outward, was the single most important thing I have grasped of permaculture principles, I think.

 
Rufaro Makamure
Posts: 53
Location: Zimbabwe
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Thank you that is very encouraging. You know I took for granted the understanding of permaculture that I had obtained and I thought it would be automatic to my family and neighbors too. They do appreciate the benefits, but I will tell you one thing, my introduction to permaculture has also revealed some truths that are both scary and maybe good to know because they could lead to some true progress. The following are highlights of pointers to things that scared me:
  • last year we grew maize in two places the one area we were doing the conventional farming and the other piece we were trying out conservation farming. The season was a really bad one but the place we had mulched at least gave us maize that we are still using. But the strange thing is that, not a single person was interested to just know a little bit more through reading, it seems as if as long as we are not studying for work or school, reading does not come natural and I think it is one of the best cultures to nurture if we are ever going to become open minded or exposed to what is out there. Also believe it or not this year again conventional farming was repeated, though we all are confident with the conservation farming, already we have replanted maize in the other field because germination was not too good and yet permaculture field (shown in pic from the previous post) had a 99% germination again.


  • I was fortunate to attend some public lecture on, "Climate is changing, food and agriculture must too” the attendance was not as I had expected especially from the responsible people (people who can actually effect changes, whether financially stable or the general working literate class that is exposed to media). I have been asking around on people's opinions on climate change, no-one cares at all, the only person I have met who is concerned is of European descent (not meaning to be racist or anything), the answer I usually get is we are too small a country to be worrying about that. I certainly do not expect everyone to b into agriculture or conservation but at least some concern or knowledge in changes that are happening could show some sense of concern and responsibility I think.


  • What if our decisions are based on tradition (what we have been doing for generations) or mainly assumptions, guess work or faith and rarely factual
    What if we do not know the value of things (e.g. it is okay to replant seeds and not to worry about yield vs input)
    What if our priorities are upside down? How then are we going to develop, have enough of the basics for everyone
    There is a saying that " when you are in a hole stop digging" What if we are not even aware that we are digging, how will we stop

    Even though this scared me this is what made me think that it is important to do an analysis of the lifestyle of families directly affected by the success of the project, being a part of their daily lives, circumstances choices and all. Maybe some of the seemingly "irresponsible" actions could be a lack of understanding or shortage of alternative ideas. I am imaging the implementation stage after the analysis, we might just stumble onto the grassroots of our problem and it will help in finding the right approach in the introduction of sustainable agriculture, not as an event but as a lifestyle.
     
    Rufaro Makamure
    Posts: 53
    Location: Zimbabwe
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    Happy New year everyone. 
    If there is any opportunity for permaculture internship may you assist with details.
     
    Posts: 130
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    Rufaro, you are so inspiring!  I wish you the very best in your projects.

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

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

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

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

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

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

    initial goals
    -new washing lines
    -systematic home chore routines
    -value of saving food (properly storing food)
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    most of the tomatoes from the garden
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    over ripe parts of the tomatoes were mostly given to chickens
     
    Rufaro Makamure
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    Field work.....

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    I don't know if eating cactus is a part of your culture, and that may make it a nonstarter.  Sometimes just figuring out how to prepare an alien food makes it not worth the trouble.  I know it's a part of the mexican, central american and south american cuisine (but I've never had it prepared those ways.  My grandma (I'm anglo) always steamed it to get out the slime (like okra) and then fried it up in bacon fat (like she cooked okra).  The way she cooked it, it tasted like okra, only way better. 
     
    Rufaro Makamure
    Posts: 53
    Location: Zimbabwe
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    Thank you for the responses. This year is a very exciting year. I think we are going to have the biggest harvest ever and we owe it completely to conservation farming approach.  I cannot deviate too much from the common crops, that is maize until the concept of care of the soil has sunk, and my method of spreading permaculture is through practicing and not necessarily classroom set up hence it is a bit slower but a bit more permanent. As a way to lure people, a good yield of the common crops will do for a little while, then we can start diversifying. Only when I win some hearts can we start introducing the luxuries that come with food diversity (currently food is just a means to fill up the stomach for most).
    I did not even know that cactus can be eaten. I am definitely open to different cuisines from different cultures and I am going to try out cactus. Okra is common so I would like to think it will be easy to embrace. For the record I tasted fried okra for the first time last year and it is amazing. I had always disliked the slimy nature of okra so I never used to eat it, it is surprising how a different way of preparing something can change its taste wholly.
    It had never occurred to me that we needed to mulch our trees as well. It is a part of the to do list now. The to do list since beginning of the year is one thing I have been successfully clearing. Questions of how we have been growing our maize in the last two years have started coming, so I have compiled some information from the internet (the most simplest format) to share with my neighbors (deliberately in written form) though we share through word of mouth. Hopefully we will develop two more additional skills other than permaculture, reading culture as well as the need to develop and adapt techniques that make life more convenient and fulfilling. The idea is to produce a pamphlet which is similar to what is given general beginners in reading, full of images and information broken down to the most basic ( will have this translated to shona which is one of the local languages). I will attach the compilation on soil care for any improvement or additions. Well I failed to attach the file but I am sure the information is good info.
     
    Rufaro Makamure
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    So I borrowed the stone mulch idea and the idea of bringing the garden closer to the kitchen.  We have managed to nurse a number of vegetables that we use daily. Around the garden we are planting the giant  marigold and the dwarf marigold will be amongst the plants in the beds. The space after the giant marigold will have the stone mulch to prevent weeds from growing. We are going to also add different herbs like Rosemary for pest control. The way the garden will look also matters so an effort will be put for a nice looking garden.
    As for the maize field everything is in place and we have started working on a storage plan.  To support the additional structures needed, we are going to channel any profits we make from our chicken project into maize storage plans. So a couple of days ago have been spent properly cleaning our chicken run inorder to minimise rats. We put black pepper, cut rings of onions and spread them on the roof and we will grow mint where ever possible close to the chicken run. By end of April we would have had more than two batches of chicken sold and our storage place will be ready in time for maize harvesting.
    If anything goes wrong, the plan will be to approach food organizations close to us and see if we cannot bank our grain with them ( give them our crop and retrieve with time) in order to avoid losing our grain to rotting or theft. This is just an idea which I will have to sell if things do not work well with the project.
    We still have tomatoes from January and so far the monetary value we are putting on the tomatoes eaten for the past 2 months is $24
     
    Rufaro Makamure
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    Results...Results...it is satisfying to reap what one sows especially when it is a bumper harvest. The attached images show this year's harvest, its so different from the previous years.
    20170409_214247.jpg
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    carrots from the garden
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    harvesting in progress
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    some of the harvested maize
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    all vegetales are from the kitchen garden
     
    Rufaro Makamure
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    Shelling of maize has taken the bulk of our time at home. Well apart from shelling I have been working on the kitchen garden which has progress that is a little slow (I underestimated the heat from one of the compost piles and burnt plants in 3 of the kitchen garden beds ),but the concept is definitely starting to become contagious. The garden is turning into  a beautiful patch and two neighbors have started clearing their pieces of land too (one right next to our garden and the next is a couple of houses to the west). We have had mosquito problems, cholera, etc.. in the past because of uncut grass and rubbish thrown close to houses, who knows maybe permaculture practices might even bring an affordable solution to all of these problems. To make everything even better, there is no external push for people to become responsible, it is self driven (through seeing) which is amazing. I have included pictures of the garden with the eastern and western side of the garden, showing the two neighbors' places. I am sure a picture of this place a couple of months from now will be different and improved (well..I hope).
     
    Rufaro Makamure
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    Apologies for not including the images in the last post. It has been really hard to upload images So I will save all images and keep on trying. We are done with shelling of maize and what is left is to dry the maize and count how many bags we will get. As for the kitchen garden the location (which will be shown when I manage to upload images) is really ideal because it is in an open space where it can easily be seen. I have respect for one young guy who has just finished his high school who is willing to start working on his own space during his free time. It is not too common now to find a young person who is willing to do labor intensive things out of their own will. I am watching the space to see whether the boy is all talk or he is actually going to implement his ideas.
     
    Rufaro Makamure
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    The following are images of the maize harvestwe split the produce from the half acre where we used mostly permaculture principles and the other maize from a rented 2 acre place where we did conventional farming. Figures on the quantities are yet to be determined
    20170511_135923.jpg
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    shelling of maize
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    maize from the 2 acre space (conventional farming)
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    maize from the half acre space (conservation farming)
    20170520_120404.jpg
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    maize drying
     
    Rufaro Makamure
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    The kitchen garden images. Tried to put some marigold right around the kitchen garden and a few survived.
    20170527_074727.jpg
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    garden beds and a composting area
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    beautiful marigold outside the garden
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    eastern side neighbor from arrow going away from the screen
    20170516_110138.jpg
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    arrow pointing at western side's cleared area, the one with the heap of weeds
     
    Rufaro Makamure
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    I am in a catch 22 situation. I had a small chat with the young boy who has so much interest in starting his own garden and he was saying he needs a wire for putting around his portion to keep donkeys away. The problem is he told me this just because I had asked if he ever thought of fencing his portion of land, as he waits for his parents to remove their sweet potatoes,  so that he won't waste time. I brought up the issue of using branches from trees as a fence (which is common practice and very feasible, cost wise). Giving him a  wire for a fence could help keep him excited about the garden until he discovers the advantages of having a home garden which can sustain his family. Also since spreading the sustainability idea is a huge dream of mine having this boy start his own garden will accelerate this idea, as it spreads faster when more than just a few gardens are started. At the same time we had had a discussion a while ago with the same boy on being resourceful and not concentrating on what we do not have, but using what we have to get to where we want. To me a fence is an excuse for not having done anything yet. The branches take a bit of some effort to gather and put up, but it is a fence that he could put up without incurring any costs, as he develops to a point where he can put a fence of his own choice. The boy has brilliant ideologies but it seems the doing part is taking long. I think of myself a couple of months ago, I would look for help at some cost, until I realized that I could not do some tasks only because of pride. There are certain things that are deemed low class in my community and mostly it is the manual intensive tasks. Unfortunately this attitude has reduced overall productivity per person (from my own assessment) which makes consumption surpass the produced things and hence we won't get out of chronic poverty as a community. Reading about other people's progress (e.g. Evan's ant village log), has opened my eyes to the pace that other people move with, when they have a vision or a goal and this has been pushing me to where I am. What if this young boy needs that initial support to start a garden and maybe when he realizes the benefits he will be unstoppable, or what if I buy the fence and the kid is all talk, that will be a waste of money. I do not want to promote a dependency syndrome all in the name of seeing a dream grow, but at the same time I feel I should give this boy the fence and through working together we can see if we cannot develop values that are constructive and that are directed towards poverty alleviation through self sustainability, resourcefulness and productiveness.
     
    pollinator
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    Hi Rufaro.  I  am in Kenya, and I have faced and observed so many of the same challenges that you have outlined in your thread.  Almost point for point - the extremes of weather, over dependence on maize as a monocrop, resistance and apathy to new ideas.  I am not a Kenyan, I am an American married to a Kenyan.  Being a foreigner makes people even more suspicious of my methods.  I would love to talk more with you, and exchange ideas.

    And by the way, I would NOT buy the boy a fence.  If it is his dream, he needs to own it.  You can't do it for him.  He needs to pull up his socks and get to work.  If you provide the fence, you will likely start a cycle of dependency.  There will always be something else, another excuse.  That's been my experience when I have tried to assist people.

    I am going on six years in, and I still don't have a fence!

    Happy growing!
    Maureen
     
    Rufaro Makamure
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    Thank you Maureen for making me realize that accelerating my vision (in this instance by giving the boy a fence) is more on the selfish side, so I definitely will not give him. Selfish because unconsciously it was becoming about me rather than the actual embracing of sustainability.  "I" now wanted major results badly and this boy's enthusiasm (in his talk) really made me excited and I did not want any obstacle. Enough respect to you, 6 years is a long time, it would be great to share ideas.
     
    Bring out your dead! Or a tiny ad:
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