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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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Thanks, I was keeping the soil wet, really muddy, so I will definitely reduce watering.
 
Rufaro Makamure
pollinator
Posts: 590
Location: Zimbabwe
465
greening the desert
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I have transplanted the first seedlings which will be going in the greenhouse,  a few of the marigold. I have used lemon juice in place of white vinegar, we ran out of it, but lemons are in season so I just got one from the tree to help with increasing acidity. I also cut the rind and  spread around the tomatoes.

I am continuing with making pockets out of banana leaves, it is way better looking if I can cover all the plastics. The process involves taking the banana plant apart and now I am drying them, so that they can be flexible enough to shape as I make the pockets The dry ones were good in that they do not shrink with time, but I will work with what I have for now.
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pollinator
Posts: 2903
Location: Meppel (Drenthe, the Netherlands)
926
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Interesting experiment with the lemon peels and the tomato plants. I'm curious to see more of it (after some time).
 
Rufaro Makamure
pollinator
Posts: 590
Location: Zimbabwe
465
greening the desert
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I have transplanted the tomatoes today. It's such a huge thing for me right now, it was on my mind from last night upto the time I transplanted. The bottom of the leaves turned to green which was an awe to just see. I would check these leaves multiple times a day, and at some point I thought I was seeing what I wanted to see, when I saw that the leaves were changing color on day 2 after rectifying some things. Seeing the marigold after transplanting it kind of showed happy plants if ever there is a thing like that. The tomatoes all of a sudden seemed crammed and I spent last night thinking about this, I knew what I needed to do today.

I tried making pockets with fresh banana leaves but they don't hold, because the leaves shrink when the leaves are drying up. I am still determined to make the space pretty, and I found an old fence and attempted wrapping it around the marigold pots so I can hang them and it worked. I plan to suspend the marigold along the durahall and the picture of the flowers floating at a height seems better than just sitting the pots on the ground. I will work out the tomato pots arrangement later on, for now I am concerned about the cold, the nights are getting colder so I bunched the pots at the center, away from the open ends.
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Rufaro Makamure
pollinator
Posts: 590
Location: Zimbabwe
465
greening the desert
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I have hosted my first guest at the tomato area. My friend came to see if there is any progress with the tomatoes and she was surprised that there are tomatoes in pots that are healthy looking "well, at least I now know she doubted that my words would actually come to life, her tomato planting experience was a bad one some time in the past, she did not think the tomatoes would survive past the nursery because of the purple coloring of leaves". It was nice having her, imagining ourselves sorrounded by blooming marigolds and talking about nice things was a complete escape from what's around us.

Another social investment that was not possible before this year, is that we are hosting caterers for a cousin's bride price function. Before now, I would have never been in the right place, mentally and there seemed to be no time for all these things. I would have been insecure about how I look in the midst of other women, but it's becoming less of a worry to me these days.

One duck has ducklings, others have eggs and the ducks have stopped eating their eggs. It's a good feeling to witness fruits of our effort. One negative thing is that some of the vegetable beds got burnt, from a fire that was made by one of our neighbors.
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Rufaro Makamure
pollinator
Posts: 590
Location: Zimbabwe
465
greening the desert
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I am back from the long waited for trip with my sisters, and we had such a good time and I got to wear my shorts. It was a bit hot in Victoria Falls, this winter is  strange, in the afternoon it's really hot and we are almost in mid June which should be very cold.  The sight of the falls never disappoints, it is a true wonder.

The girls saw the work that Soft Foot Alliance does for the first time and they were pleasantly surprised. Seeing a different concept of a garden, different water harvesting techniques with one of the swales still muddy from April's rains, a gorge that has filled with sand after gabions were built across it in different places and rammed earth buildings. The environment that Oliver, Brent and Laurie, created, showed wealth in a different way than is common. We talked and danced under the stars, it was wonderful.

I know that, inasmuch as my sisters appreciate some of the work I do, it still puzzles them why, since the achievements are still minute and are of the things that have not much value in the current system. I am hoping though, that the experience the girls had will excite their imagination enough, to want to question how things are with regard to value and at what cost we are getting convenience currenly. I also had a chance to meet other people in the regeneration circle that I am longing to be a part of and we had good conversations.
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Rufaro Makamure
pollinator
Posts: 590
Location: Zimbabwe
465
greening the desert
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The tomato plants look good, though they look like they are sunlight starved, they look abnormally thin. I am shifting them from the greenhouse area to a place where there is plenty of sunlight. I had not anticipated this at all. I will think of how to protect the plants from the cold, I have to travel away from home again, this time my aunt isn't well. I am disappointed that I am moving the plants away from the greenhouse which I worked so hard to build, but I am learning to not hold on to disappointment too much, but to move on and adjust to situations, concentrating on the main goal.

We got 2 banana bunches from the field and another one from the banana plant which is at home.
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Rufaro Makamure
pollinator
Posts: 590
Location: Zimbabwe
465
greening the desert
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I am back home. My aunt didn't make it and it's yet another experience I choose not to confront, because I do not understand why.

I have done some work on the tomatoes since I got home. I added soil, together with compost from the banana area. I also shifted the plants from the smaller pots to bigger ones. I saw some pinworms, so I bought garlic and I will be spraying this on the plants.

Both the marigold and tomatoes have started flowering. How I am planning to sell tomatoes follows and it was inspired by my experience during the Gigatonne challenge, when I realized how much food waste ends up at the dumpsite. I will get part of my payment as, for starters, leftover dried sadza (mealie meal thick porridge) which I will then grind for duck feed and the other part will be money. Since I have a few plants, I will concentrate on colleagues and if this works then it can be a pilot for a bigger project in the future. Money is becoming very scarce and waste is a problem, so my hope is to address these two problems while for now, making tomatoes available and a little bit easier to buy.

We lost two ducklings and Kumbi suspects they were bitten by a snake.
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Rufaro Makamure
pollinator
Posts: 590
Location: Zimbabwe
465
greening the desert
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I got a call from Kumbi's mother today requesting for more onion seedlings. It's a relief to hear the need for more seedlings to plant being initiated by her. It indirectly communicates that she is aware of how having more things to sell will benefit us and as opposed to the common employer to employee relationship, we are all responsible for our growth economically and we can both take initiatives to do things at the plot. I have over 300 seedlings and this is my last batch.

Mai Kumbi was not around for the past 10 days, she had an emergency at her rural home, I am glad was able to go. We are both a little flexible to travel for many days away from the city, which I consider an achievement because neither of us are tied down as we used to be before, for her it was because she had to raise rentals and she was the only bread winner and for me , I needed to closely monitor things at home and at the plot. So our union is for the time being a win win situation.

I made garlic spray using just water and a little soap, I soaked the garlic over night and I will be spraying the tomatoes later today. I will
spray weekly to deter pests. I have started planting onions here at home. With the time I have, I am growing things at a scale that is very small and manageable using the resources I have and if I win and get something out of the small space, I can then start properly investing into the plot in a sensible and consistent way.
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Rufaro Makamure
pollinator
Posts: 590
Location: Zimbabwe
465
greening the desert
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I met with Kumbi's mother today (addressed as 'mai Kumbi', we don't usually use first names when someone has children), when she came home to collect onion seedlings. She and her husband have asked me to help them with their own permaculture journey. Sometime last year we talked about a possibility of them farming without fertilizer, after they witnessed close range the results from the maize field. Now they said they want to know more about what my farming methods are based on and they want to implement what they can at their rural home, as they prepare for their retirement. I am happy to be directly approached and if it ever happens that they do start their journey, I will record their experiences. It will almost feel like a second baby to me and I hope the ideas will spread and eventually be like a ripple. One of my favourite movies is "Pay it forward" and I do hope that the passing on of permaculture principles follows such a pattern.
 
Rufaro Makamure
pollinator
Posts: 590
Location: Zimbabwe
465
greening the desert
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My sister started her own pot plants. She has planted 22 pepper plants (seedlings are from the seeds we got from harvested peppers) and it's a good feeling watching her grow her own plants. For now her plants are in the tomato area, where I have put a plastic shield on the end that was too exposed to the wind. The other sides have either a durahall, the house or the banana plant as a wind break. This experience is likely going to help both of us in our planning skills, because for us to get any yield at all we have to consider what works and we have to be steps ahead all the time and now that we are both growing things, we need to find how to use our space effectively as a team.

There was threat of ground frost so I put all the tomato plants ontop of some tiles and I am filling any bottle I can get a hold of with water and letting this sit amongst tomatoes to absorb as much heat in the afternoons and help warm the plants during the evenings.
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Rufaro Makamure
pollinator
Posts: 590
Location: Zimbabwe
465
greening the desert
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The tomato plants are looking healthy. A few leaves have white patches on them that are persistent and are increasing slowly. I sprayed with garlic water once and am out of ideas on how to manage this without using commercial pesticides, I need to control this fast.
A friend, the one who was my first guest in the green house, has already started drying her kitchen waste to help me with assessing the feasibility of considering kitchen waste as part payment for tomatoes. I didn't even know she had started, I was surprised when I went to her place and found two weeks' worth of dried sadza ( thick mealie meal porridge). Her faith in all this actually moved me. The tomatoes are taking their time to get to the fruiting stage. It's like they are stuck trying to produce the flower. I know it's only because I really need to see the tomatoes, it probably is the normal way things happen, it's just so slow now that I am aware of it.

My right side is now really uncomfortable when I go to bed. I will be with both my sisters this weekend and I have decided to tell them the truth, and go to the hospital.
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Rufaro Makamure
pollinator
Posts: 590
Location: Zimbabwe
465
greening the desert
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Eventually the buds on the tomato plants have started turning into flowers and it took about 20 days for this to happen. I am increasing the frequency of spraying with garlic water and I will observe if there will be any changes on the leaves.

We had a good time with family members as we were celebrating my sister's new homestead. I met with my grandfather and I cherish these moments so much. He said he had never taken anyone a picture so I taught him how to and he now has a picture he has taken, and he enjoyed it very much. It did not feel right to talk about potentially not being well, because I didn't want to dampen the good atmosphere. I also remembered a strong belief I have, of not leaning too much on siblings for sustenance. My parents and many from their generation did this, where they took it upon themselves to help educate so many family members and expose them to the new civilised ways living. I feel if they were to come back and relive their lives, they would do it again. I think to a certain extent they lived more for others than for themselves and they did not get to enjoy the beautiful things of life to the fullest potential. I do not regret though that they chose this, I just wish they did not have to carry a huge load on their shoulders. Because of this, I am so conscious of what I take away from my siblings. Watching my sisters it did not feel right to tell them about my situation and I am known to be afraid of pain or anticipated pain, which makes me exagerate the actual pain, so I am going to consider how I am feeling as me being my usual self for a little while longer.

I could have gotten myself some opportunity to earn income as I work on my project. I facilitated the development of a business relationship between a peanut butter business and one Zimbabwean who stays in the diaspora and is looking into developing small businesses in a regenerative way. This peanut butter business was almost closing and the owner could not get funding anywhere because he did not meet mot requirements demanded for by local microfinance service providers. He was able to get funding based only on trust and he proved he was trustworthy and he meant it when he said his business had developed to beyond the break even point, which is a business my colleague was looking for. When I connected the two, I wished to develop a relationship with someone in my local community and also someone in the regeneration circle, but I could get an income source out of this. If I am able to get more struggling businesses that the system might fail to embrace and help them, I will earn myself an income while connecting with more people.
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Me and my darling sekuru
Me and my darling sekuru
 
Rufaro Makamure
pollinator
Posts: 590
Location: Zimbabwe
465
greening the desert
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We are seeing pics of snow in South Africa and the images and videos are not things I would have imagined to see. We do hear of snow in Cape town and some mountains, but having enough snow for people to make a snowman and angels, like we see in movies, I think is highly unusual. They are talking about a cold front which will also affect us in the next couple of days. The last 2 months were not cold as we are accustomed to, it was more of hot than cold and tonight its a sharp change, it's windy and colder than most nights for this season and tomorrow weather prediction shows temperatures as low as 5°C. I did manage to cover the tomatoes with plastic, I am slowly accepting my workmanship, I long for neat pretty looking things, but what I see in the brain vs what I see in my pics are two completely different things. For now I am going to tell myself it's okay, there will come a time when the two images will be identical. Functionality is what I hope won't be compromised.
(I can't seem to get an option to delete images on my phone)
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Excuse the looks
Excuse the looks
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Rufaro Makamure
pollinator
Posts: 590
Location: Zimbabwe
465
greening the desert
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I opened the tomatoes today I was celebrating the tomatoes they survived, and I saw the marigold, some were eaten by rats. It's my flowers and those silly rats ate them. I might sound ungrateful and flowers might be petty, they are mine and I worked for them can I not have that one small pretty thing...!  I feel guilty to be emotional over flowers but I want to be honest... I am not happy at all.
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Is that a banana in your pocket? I'm just asking for this tiny ad:
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https://permies.com/t/238620/perennial-vegetables/FREE-Perma-Veggies-Book
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