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permaculture advocate in Zimbabwe - too little/too much rain

 
pollinator
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We ate all the cow peas leaves that we collected, this year they weren't much. I do have some soya beans so I will give them these. I feel fit as a fiddle these days, thanks for asking.

The pressure was on today, with the roof of the frame. I found material to fill up the space that had remained, but the center is sagging and I have tried all sorts of tricks to counter this without any luck. I will look for material to make a T-shaped support that I will sink in the soil at the center, this is my last resort and I hope it works.
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master pollinator
Posts: 4638
Location: Due to winter mortality, I stubbornly state, zone 7a Tennessee
1974
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So I will send an image of the different trees I have. If anyone can help with identifying them I will greatly appreciate.



Image 2 and 3 appear to be the same. The seedling looks very similar to the baby pecan trees popping up in my yard.
 
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Hi again, good to hear that you are better

Do you know the agrodoks? They are great resources on different topics, here on ducks. You can download it for example here:
http://www.journeytoforever.org/farm_library/AD33.pdf

There is a chapter on nutrition, explaining the requirements.
Are people brewing locally? If so, the leftover, including the yiest, is a good duckfeed.



 
hans muster
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I have been reading more in detail what you wrote.

I read that you bury the weeds after weeding. Is there a possibility to bring in the weeds to your chickens or to your ducks? They would eat some of the young grass in the weeds. Chickens would also eat weed seeds.

If you put it to the chickens, they would turn it over and over as long as you don't put too much at a time, and in the end you have a nutrient rich compost. If you put it to the ducks, they would eat some weeds, but then it would cap. It is still nutrient rich, the structure isn't as good and it contains more weed seeds.

I met farmers who grow baobab in their garden, for the leaves. If you harvest regularly, you only get a shrub the size you want. One farmer I asked said the return was as good as for salad, but there was less work as he didn't have to replant each year. Would that be an option for you, to have a bed of baobab shrubs? I love the taste of the leaves.
 
Rufaro Makamure
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It's interesting what the tree nursery has. I have only seen crushed pecan nuts in candy, these are not common around here.

I have finally managed to make a steady roof, and I have started playing around with the plastic for covering. The tomato seeds have just germinated, so it's exciting.

This is the first time in years I have had multiple things happening all in one go, pits being dug in the field, vegetable beds being mantained, a growing nursery and now a possible green house. It's so much growth from trying to figure out how to grow maize sustainably.

I will look more into the baobab tree idea to determine its feasibility, for now, I managed to roast and crush the soya beans to add these to the feed for ducks.
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Zimbabwe field
 
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Rufaro, could it be a baby mango or avocado tree? It's hard to tell just how big it is but they both have similar longish leaves.
 
Rufaro Makamure
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We do have these fruits, and considering I got some of the trees from the compost pile, after they just grew on their own. Anything that looked like it was not a weed, I would put in a pot.

I have finished supporting both sides of the "greenhouse". For now I can only cover half of the space, it is longer than the plastic can cover. I will continue with shaping the cover when I start putting tomato supports, I have exhausted all material I could get my hands on.

Now I am filling containers with soil and again these are containers that are around the house. I am going to open my mind up with this part of my project. Anything that can hold soil will qualify for a container. So far I have put soil in what was part of a water holder for chickens, it's got both ends open, so I packed the bottom part with banana leaves and this has held the soil well.
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Rufaro Makamure
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Things are really shaping up. First of all I am just so proud of the seedling area, the action that's there melts my heart and it's one thing I see first when I open the kitchen door. Who would have ever thought I could get the art of seedlings this soon.

I am done with picking out dirt from the first batch of soil and I got 20 bags and I will start with these. I have used sacks and whatever plastic bag I could get my hands on. The plan is to be adding soil hoping to take advantage of the vertical space for the root area as the plant grows.

The stones I have been picking out from the soil, I have been putting them at the seedling area, this will help in suppressing weeds in the future. I am continuing to work on the greenhouse frame and finding smaller pots for the marigold.
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Tomato plants
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Rufaro Makamure
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I finally got an old gate to keep the plastic pressed close to the wall, and really open the space up.
A friend visited ( I am fully committed to move away from self isolation), as I was working and she was down and didn't see the point of trying so hard to make things work any more.
First off power lines were stolen the previous night, it's like people are losing care for each other more and more, crime rate has increased and is making the environment really uneasy. Her aunt had invited her to Germany for a visit, to help her experience a different life and norms, for her to get inspired in projects she is working on and her visa was denied. She was mainly angry for the fact that she was told she could reapply, but she would have to change what she submitted about herself, because her information did not guarantee her return, in other words she has to lie and she did not believe this trip was worth that. She might be disappointed with the system but also there are those who succeeded to go for their visits and never came back. It worked for them, but they have no idea how many people are now being affected by their choice of being untrustworthy. For her it felt like being Zimbabwean is a curse of some sort, if you stick to a certain set of moral values.

I agree with her that we are in a very bad state, but I still think we can initiate a positive change if we concentrate on what we have control over in the now. She had no idea I had this projects going, she asked me to prove my crazy green house idea works, otherwise why are we even trying. I will say the pressure has just escalated to a whole new level. I cannot guarantee anything can happen unfortunately, but I really want this to work because if we have enough good things happening, it will keep the hope and faith in the good alive.  My friend is particularly strong willed and believes we always have a choice, it helps to have her around when her levels are high.
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Rufaro Makamure
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I have finally found someone who was willing to grind the maize cobs. We have enough duck feed for the whole month. I still had dried guavas that I pound into a powder as well as eggshells, so we mixed all these with maize grains. The ducks have stopped eating their eggs so I am really happy. I have planted some Russian comfrey in the free range area with the hope of getting vitamins for them. Comfrey has grown well in most places we have grown it. We moved most o the weeds from the field into the free range area.

Kumbi is still as eager with the garden as when he started. To help keep up with changing economic demands in his life, I have to start generating more income, so as to create more opportunities for him and his mum within the yard. I already have a few ideas for income generation in mind.
1) growing the duck project
2) developing the rainy season cow peas project

Currently there are just a few ducks which are being cared for as part of the rent arrangement. Growing this project can bring income and having more ducks will demand more time and effort, and this will have to grow out of just a rental agreement into a potential source of income for me and for Kumbi. The current action is I am working on the feed.

Secondly instead of finding external people to work with me on my water harvesting systems, I can work with him and also have him get paid for this. The ground is easier to work with in the rainy season, so this is for when the rains come. As small as my tomato project is, I am hoping I can get a few bucks from this, such that by the time the rains come I would have earned a decent amount.

Lastly as important as it is to keep the young boy happy, it is equally important to improve the mother's income opportunity. She is self employed, but only works for 2 or 3 days a week and she hunts for part time jobs for the other days. If I can get the cow peas to spread as much as it did 2 farming seasons ago, I know she will be interested in drying and selling the leaves. She witnessed the demand for vegetables fresh or dried (we call leafy greens like spinach and choumollier vegetables, if you send a kid to the market to fetch veggies, they will bring these) soon after the rains, and it's because most gardens would have drowned and her imagination went wild on what we could get if we could meet this demand.

These are the small projects I can start with that have close to zero extra demand on me financially. I have reached a positive milestone this month, the money I am getting from the vegetables now allows me to start saving a percentage towards the plot's lease, ( I had deliberately erased this responsibility from my brain because it was out of my control ). It's still very little amounts but a cent a day is a step closer to my target. I also can't believe I have no worries whatsoever about having to pay anyone salaries for projects at the plot, it's not tangible money but I believe it's a financial gain in someway.
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Ground cobs
Ground cobs
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Dried guavas before pounding
Dried guavas before pounding
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One of the comfrey plants
One of the comfrey plants
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Created space for dumping weeds in the free range area
Created space for dumping weeds in the free range area
 
Rufaro Makamure
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This year is filled with the gift of time. There is not much for me to do for now, as I wait for the tomato seedlings. I am taking the time to prepare for a trip that my sister is organizing for us and it's to one of my favourite places, Victoria Falls. I am really excited there is this opportunity. We were meant to have gone in April, but my sister is having problems getting leave days from her work, something my line of work seems to be generous with. I had bought these really nice shorts, now we might be travelling in winter. I have always loved shorts, but I couldn't wear them in my neighborhood so I guess I have to cross my fingers for another trip next year.

The other area that time has blessed me with is getting to spend time with my young sister. I am so convinced she was suffering from depression but she seems to be getting better and better. What I am learning in the process is to listen inorder to understand. I will be open, truly connecting with a person is no walk in the park, I am glad though life is giving us this chance.
 
Rufaro Makamure
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We have now harvested our fourth banana bunch. It's cold these days, so the bananas are taking their time to ripen, we are not waiting for the whole bunch to ripen all at once, we are picking ripe ones to make our breakfast.
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Rufaro Makamure
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I have been thinking real hard about the tomato project. I decided to limit the number of plants to 20 because it's an experiment and so I thought keeping it small for a start will be manageable. I keep looking at the number of tomato seedlings and they are almost double the targeted number. What if the tomatoes do well, I will regret not growing more. I am contemplating on growing as many as the seedlings permit, this will push me to find resources that will allow me to manage the new number, i.e., pushing me out of my comfort zone and thereby growing.

The onion seedlings are ready to be transplanted, I will only know of the number of onions in total when we finish transplanting them. I am left with one last batch of onions for the season that are still tiny, these will be ready around mid June.

This time I want to explore beyond just functionality, and look into how nice things will look. Instead of plants sitting in plastics and sacks, I have found a way of supporting the plants in "woven" banana leaf stems which have a woven basket like appearance. I will be using leaves that I remove from the bananas as I keep the banana plants from obstructing the power lines.
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Tomato seedling
Tomato seedling
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Bottom part of tomato "pots"
Bottom part of tomato "pots"
 
Rufaro Makamure
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I have planted 120 onions to get our total number to 460. We are planting the onions in batches so as to not strain the watering schedule, which is already stretched. I will add more once these need less attention, we still have seedlings in the nursery.

The tomatoes are stressing me a lot, they are turning purple beneath the leaves and the first leaves are discoloring and eventually dries up. I have added ash and have shifted the tomatoes to a warmer place.

I have just read that banana peels have magnesium and potassium, which is what could help my tomatoes, so I took peels from the bananas we used in the morning and crushed these. I will soak them in water, for now I will use the water for my plants within 24hrs and with the peels from the days that follow, I can do the recommended 7 days.  
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Rufaro Makamure wrote:The tomatoes are stressing me a lot, they are turning purple beneath the leaves and the first leaves are discoloring and eventually dries up. I have added ash and have shifted the tomatoes to a warmer place.



There are a couple reasons tomato leaves turn purple: pH imbalance, phosphorous deficiency, waterlogging, and cold damage.

- Soil Ph Tomatoes love acid soil. If you've added ash, that will make the soil more basic. Add a little vinegar mixed with water to help re-acidify the soil.

- Phosphorous is hard. Animal manure is high in phosphorous. If you can get cow, goat, pig, or rabbit manure, these would be the best to apply directly to the tomatoes. Chicken and duck manure are not as suitable as they contain too much nitrogen. Bones are also high in phosphorous. I dry bones and then turn them into biochar for my garden -- this works really well.

- Waterlogging. Tomatoes really hate having wet feet. Is the soil in your tomato containers very wet? if things are being kept in plastic bags, there might not be enough drainage. If the soil is damp/muddy to the touch, you could reduce your watering and see if they come right

- Cold damage. This only really occurs below 15C. Did you get that cold? If not, we can rule this out.

 
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