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permaculture advocate in Zimbabwe - too little/too much rain

 
pollinator
Posts: 590
Location: Zimbabwe
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greening the desert
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Today has been a much better day for me, the swelling is almost gone and my foot can now step a little. Today I have put aloe vera gel and it's quite soothing. This week's plan had been to collect as much organic material as possible which will be added to the grass for mulch that Kumbi is already collecting, I guess it was not meant to be.
IMG_20230216_090058.jpg
aloe vera for infection
 
Rufaro Makamure
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Posts: 590
Location: Zimbabwe
465
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Our third banana bunch this year has ripened. It's the second one from the kitchen compost area. I shifted the kitchen compost to compartment #2 and closed off the first one with broken blocks to keep dogs away. The place does not smell and it looks like a normal banana growing area.
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ripe banana bunch
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banana grown on kitchen compost
 
Rufaro Makamure
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Posts: 590
Location: Zimbabwe
465
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If there is ever a time that I am glad I am with someone it's now. The way it has been raining in the past week has been unusual and now we hear that there is a chance that it could be worse because we might be affected a little by cyclone Freddy, and Mozambique will be affected the most.

After this circulated on social media, it started raining non stop last night, I had to go to my sister's room, well she is the younger one, but definitely the calmer one. The rain is not violent or anything, but my imagination goes so wild. It's now in the morning and it is still raining. I am drifting and my sister keeps asking me what I am busy calculating in my head.
Well I am thinking of all the effort in trying to contribute to the climate change crisis and, I am proud I am one of those who have started doing something about it. I am proud of the water we have been putting back in the soil, the trees we have grown, the carbon sequestration actions and the soil we have been growing. I am also happy that we didn't sell our maize, we have food for ourselves as well as for the ducks.

I am also thinking of how not enough action is being done to stop these extreme condition. I think it's not an easy path to take because the current systems do not support this path that well. But I will say it is so purposeful knowing whatever you are doing is contributing to a larger good  purpose.

As for my leg, it swells up as we progress into the day, but will be okay in the mornings. My sister gave me today as my last day before we have to go to the hospital. I am freaked out about the idea of going to the hospital and I will try what I can to not go.
 
Rufaro Makamure
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Posts: 590
Location: Zimbabwe
465
greening the desert
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I am so relieved and happy today, the sun is bright and shining it's actually hot, 25 degrees celcius and the sky is clear.

I won't lie, yesterday and the night before I had gone into panic mode.  2 days back, it had been windy, like strong winds where you hear the noise and you see the trees sway so much, then I heard about the cyclone. Already ideas were running in my head such that when it started raining at around 11pm the day before yesterday in a way that was a little different than it was doing  I couldn't help it.

I created a worst case scenario and when I walked into my sister's room she woke up stared at me and shook her head with a smile and we said absolutely nothing. The next day she just said "it's the cyclone thing isn't it". I was confused how she was not even shaken, it was still raining, it had rained the whole night. I kept thinking that we are too late in trying to reverse the climate change crisis.

So waking up to the hot sun is so great, it means hope! I am still home, but I hear all is well at the plot, just that the choumollier is drowning because of excess water.
 
Rufaro Makamure
pollinator
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Location: Zimbabwe
465
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I went to the plot today to plant the seedlings, which I am so happy with. I planted most of them on the old raised bed. The predicted cyclone, weakened greatly and it's effects in some parts of Zimbabwe had gone down to a storm level. The past few days were unsettling because of the predicted bad weather, and satellite videos that would show what was coming. I am thankful of the way things turned out. We had some rain but nothing outside the normal.
Below are pictures of what I harvested from the raised bed as I was creating space for the new seedlings before planting. Onions are from the storage. I could not get a picture of the planted seedlings because of the rain.
When I got to the plot, Kumbi had helped me raised the two new beds even more and it was nice of him. When I was planting seedlings this time, I was not concerned about my speed (I think I am slow when I do things and it bothers me a lot, or it used to), I enjoyed the planting session even more.
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vegetable harvest from raised bed
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seedlings for transplanting
 
Rufaro Makamure
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Location: Zimbabwe
465
greening the desert
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We have started harvesting and shelling maize, the grains are big. This process has helped my sister and I. My sister finished school last November and getting a job is not too easy these days. She has been trying a number of projects to earn some income without much luck. I could see her slipping into depression slowly, I was failing to get through to her. Maize is bringing her back. Even though farming is not her passion, shelling maize is one job that is right under her nose, and we have already shelled 9 buckets, so we will not be buying mealie-meal starting from this month. We're putting aside money from our grocery allowance, that we could have used for buying mealie-meal, monthly. We are splitting this and already this month we got something. Just this small gesture has made such a huge change in my sister, she was becoming hopeless, it's better now. I think it's just the idea of being useful somehow is helping and having it show through earning something no matter how small is helping.

I will update on the veggie beds when things are in order otherwise I fear embarrassing myself constantly if I keep writing every step.
IMG_20230308_205241.jpg
maize harvest Zimbabwe
 
Rufaro Makamure
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Posts: 590
Location: Zimbabwe
465
greening the desert
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We are done with maize shelling and we got 8 bags. When Ngoni decided to leave last year it was difficult to imagine this day, but here I am. We are now leaving the maize to dry, for later packing. I now have increased help at the plot, Kumbi, his mum and my sister and the lovely thing is, they all do not expect me to pay them, but it's what comes out of the land that we share, which I think is more realistic and it's a huge load off my shoulders.

I left some maize cobs, so that I can use the grain as seed. Kumbi's mum last year did not see the possibility of growing without fertilizer at her rural home, after our harvest she has changed and she want to try this method out. I guess we will see with time if she actually will try growing her maize without commercial fertilizers.

I got groundnut shells for mulching the beds, we have started collecting this and we will use the maize stalks as well.
IMG_20230315_104538.jpg
maize harvest Zimbabwe
IMG_20230317_171457.jpg
groundnut shells for mulch
IMG_20230315_172118.jpg
maize harvest Zimbabwe
 
Rufaro Makamure
pollinator
Posts: 590
Location: Zimbabwe
465
greening the desert
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One of the things I am working on is building a network of people and I have been lucky with the man who has a small peanut butter making business, where I am  getting peanut shells.

It's a little tricky though now because the environment is changing people for the worst by the day, it seems we are creating monsters out of each other. One young guy came to our gate (it's very common now for men, women and children to move from door to door looking for work), and he wanted some work and my sister and I told him we had nothing to offer him in exchange. He wouldn't go away, then I went to sit with him and really listen to him. It turned out his mom was ill and he had in the past tried to look for a job with no luck and he had even gone to South Africa where a majority of people are going to but was not lucky. So all he wanted was to find food for the day. As we talked I remembered him as a little boy and it was so sad to think this is what life has to offer him.

We decided to share with him some of the food we had in exchange for his help with our yard. He did an amazing job, but he really looked like he needed someone to talk to. A night later he was caught in a house about to steal we also heard he had been taken in sometime back for attempted rape.

It's gut wrenching to kind of know that this kid's character might not be entirely his fault, we all have a part to play as a community, whether intentionally or unintentionally. Small things are taking away our humane nature.
 
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as always its inspiring to read about your plot and how you manage to keep on growing , i see the pen of muscovy ducks ---those could be the solution to your rats eating your seedlings , if you can place a table or rack system near the center inside the pen --make the enclosure slightly bigger maybe ---then frame a screen of  mesh around the seedling trays to keep off  the ducks  --maybe some shadecloth or sacks over the top for protection from sun. Muscovy ducks are big enough and enjoy hunting down little mice and rats as a snack , bigger ones they might not eat but they will chase and kill them---so any rodent brave enough to cross into a pen of them and eat some seedlings has to do two risky runs .
 
Rufaro Makamure
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Location: Zimbabwe
465
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Thank you for the tip Tony. I will work on developing a seedling space at the plot.

Can I use an ordinary mealie-meal grinder for grinding cobs? I want to try out the idea of grinding these for the chickens. Nearly all the millers have refused to grind cobs. There is one who is close to the plot who said if I show him how it's done he might consider grinding them.

I have dried guavas and already pound egg shells which I plan to add to the mix as feed.
IMG_20230315_171917.jpg
drying fruit dried guavas
IMG_20230315_173159.jpg
pounding egg shells to make powder
 
Rufaro Makamure
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Location: Zimbabwe
465
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We picked our final harvest from the maize field, cow peas. It's really not much this year as shown in the picture, but we will replace soya mince that we were buying for relish and again put aside money from our allowance that was dedicated to soya mince.

We shared 3 buckets of maize with our relatives, one of them being my grandfather and it's one of the most special things for the land to allow me this opportunity to have my grandfather eat 'sadza' from my maize.

Our overall gain from this year is nothing short of a miracle as I have already mentioned and I will compile everything in my next post.

On a different note, I think things in my country are worsening. It's now almost a week without water in my town and nation wide we now get electricity from 10pm to 4am. At the plot the electricity problem used to be better but now it's the same, at home and at the plot.
IMG_20230329_055023.jpg
cow peas dried harvest
 
Rufaro Makamure
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Location: Zimbabwe
465
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To sum up the year's harvest, the following possibilities are what I base my growth on:

  • What if every single person had enough awareness to know that regenerative actions are no longer an option, but in some way, a must for us to save our planet?


  • What if every square inch of our land produced abundantly and in return everyone took care of the land?


  • What if we had an equal chance to information and resources to a convenient and life full of love?


  • Year's overall harvest follows:

  • My greatest triumph is that I am not alone now, working at the plot, there are 3 more people, i.e., my sister, Kumbi and his mum. I also no longer crack my head entirely to come up with an incentive for them, the land now helps me with this.


  • We got enough maize to last us the whole year. My grandfather will eat a meal from my maize and I hope it's a message to my dad of what I am doing with his land. He never lived to see what this land was developed into.


  • We increased our water harvesting capacity, by digging a pit and designing a portion of our garden in a way that allows us to harvest more water.
  • We increased the organic matter quantity we get from within the yard.


  • The land is giving us time and a platform to be there for each other as a family.


  • I have plenty of seeds to experiment with, and develop the skill of growing seedlings, so as to improve on sustainability.


  • I got time and resources to create a team that reduced more than 10 tonnes of carbon emissions.
  • I have one potential recruit in regenerating a piece of land. Kumbi's mother wants to be guided through growing of maize in a permaculture way, this coming season.


  • There are plenty of other things, but these have been worthy sharing.

    Well as for my love life, it's an extreme mystery, especially to me. People now ask me about this more frequently and unlike developing a regenerative community, I have absolutely no plan as where to even begin with this.
    IMG-20230329-WA0009.jpg
    My sisters and with sacks of maize to share with relatives
    My sisters and I with sacks of maize to share with relatives
     
    Rufaro Makamure
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    Posts: 590
    Location: Zimbabwe
    465
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    We are in the process of mulching vegetable beds. The nut shells and maize stalks are making life really easy and we have covered the majority of the beds. When we put nut shells, there was an issue of bids coming to scratch and scrap in the beds and also the shells are displaced by water during watering, so we are putting cut stalks ontop of the shells.

    I am also continuing with learning how to grow seedlings, though I am still doing this at home.  I have had two trays of onions, and in both cases, the problem of wilting occurred. I tried different things and one tray that seems to be working well, is the one I worked with my assumed problem being that the roots of the onions get exposed more and more during watering. I added mulch gradually until it was thick and I added little soil rich in nutrients. I was also watering once a week with dilute chicken soup. I'm going to grow a huge number of seedlings now, hoping this will work for all the seedlings.

    My brother sent money for us to buy feed for the ducks, I am going to use this opportunity to raise money for digging pits in the maize field, through making the feed myself with ingredients I have  been gathering. I have started pounding the cobs, and it seems to be working, it's very slow, but it gets the job done.
    IMG-20230326-WA0033.jpg
    mulching vegetable beds with peanut shells and maize stalks
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    mulching vegetable beds with peanut shells
    IMG_20230330_090503.jpg
    onion seedling trials
    IMG_20230330_090844.jpg
     making duck feed myself
     
    The only thing that kept the leeches off of me was this tiny ad:
    Hugelkultur: The Ultimate Raised-Bed Gardening ebook DRAFT
    https://permies.com/w/hugelkulture-draft
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