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permaculture advocate in Zimbabwe - too little/too much rain

 
pollinator
Posts: 590
Location: Zimbabwe
465
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I finally went to the hospital and had blood samples taken and I am yet to hear results. I did spent the last 3 days getting an injection twice a day to treat any internal infections and I can concretely say I do not like needles for sure. I would think about the two times of the day I needed to go to the hospital for this and the thought dominated my days. Today is my last day and it's so much weight I feel being lifted. It get's me to prioritize diet and hygiene a lot more, I would rather keep myself healthy through food than injections, it's just wrong.
 
Rufaro Makamure
pollinator
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Location: Zimbabwe
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Kumbi made me aware of his concerns on mixing different vegetables in one bed. He is worried that different types of vegetables need different care and mixing them up will result in poor yields.
To have him air his views is such a huge step. One, it shows he does care about what we are doing because he spent time thinking about this and secondly he is honest and he cared enough to let me know what he thinks. It's not common because normally one would just do what you say even if they didn't see logic in it and the one thing is they will not put much effort in taking care of the plants.
I told him that we can try out both methods and compare which one works better for us to adopt. There is a bit of pressure on my side because although I strongly believe mixing vegetables is beneficial, I have no proof that it is really profitable. Apart from reading and seeing one or two places in real life I haven't seen where mixed planting of vegetables is really practiced. My fear is that I might not be able to prove the benefits of mixed planting. I have learnt from the maize field that changing a way of doing things is a process because it means changing more than just the technical way of doing things. I am hoping that I get the veggie beds right this time around.
This coming growing season is a promising one, in terms of resources and our energy towards growth of the place. I am just waiting for elections which will be there tomorrow,  I hope they will be peaceful and will allow life to continue as normal or better.
 
Rufaro Makamure
pollinator
Posts: 590
Location: Zimbabwe
465
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The tomato project has had me scratching my head, I have been trying to find a balance between keeping the plants hydrated and still not exposing the plants to too much moisture which might damage the plants. The plants improved from wilting when I removed the plastic cover, but still the wilting was there and the stems had an off color which leaned more to yellow than green. The plants next to the durahall were worse, so I put banana leaves to block sun's rays which I believe bounce off from the wall directly on to my plants. It got better but still not quite there. I then thought of how different tomato plants at the plot would look when it rained, they looked beautiful, so against the common advise of making sure to not water tomato leaves, I have been sprinkling the whole plant with water for the past 2 days, and things look so much better. I will keep a close eye to make sure that the water does not affect my plants, but for now I feel I have found a solution to the really dry and hot condition.
I kind of took steps back when I was pruning the plants, I might have pinched off suckers as well as the main stem on some plants, this has slowed down flower production on a number of plants. As disappointing as it is, I am taking it as a learning point and growth for the next pruning round. "When pruning make sure you are definite it's suckers you remove and not the main stem."
I have sown some more tomato seeds, that way I won't wait for the plants I have to die before I have new ones.

There is an avocado tree that's growing on the banana plant area. Instead of putting these in a container, I will leave these to grow there, and transplant it when the rains come. My intention is to have a strip with trees and grass in the field and though this rainy season designing this patch is not a top priority, I have to plant a few of the trees which are in the containers otherwise I will lose them all, so this is when I will plant the avocado tree.
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I pinched main stems without knowing
I pinched main stems without knowing
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gardener
Posts: 3691
Location: South of Capricorn
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Rufaro, I'm hoping you're feeling better!

Reading about your tomatoes, it seems very familiar, I also grow them in winter due to insects and they take a very long time to fruit, it is hard sometimes to compare growing where I live (Brazil) with the suggestions to grow in the northern hemisphere because winter tomatoes just don't grow the same way as they do in the summer (which I can't do, the insects are too ferocious). I also have the same issues you mention- cold is very cold, hot is very hot, the variations are very big. And yet I just harvested a bunch of tomatoes yesterday, it takes a while but it works. Watering just the bottom of the plant and not splashing water all over it seems to help with mildew and mold.
Hope you keep on catching rats.
 
Rufaro Makamure
pollinator
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Location: Zimbabwe
465
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Oh I think the rats are slowly getting an idea of who the boss is. I was pretty surprised at how intelligent they are. When the first one got caught, they figured out how to eat the bait without being caught, since putting the traps, I have caught 3 only, but had a lot of bait eaten. They no longer run around in my presence as they used to, so that's something.

As for my health, physically everything is now good, I am waiting for blood test results, they are still not out. I have my fingers tightly crossed.
 
Rufaro Makamure
pollinator
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Location: Zimbabwe
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I have decided to make a shade from the bananas, nothing complex. I noticed the tomato leaves keep curling and I am hunting for pests and apart from aphids on some plants there aren't any, so I still think the leaves are curling up maybe because of the unforgiving heat, so I will see how a shade will change things. There is one plant that's thriving, it's almost my height now about 1.5m and it has some shade during the day.
My friend brought more dried sadza and I wish I could say there is no pressure, but I cannot. I got the batch she brought weighed and she had 2,16kg already, and now there is more. It is a good thing to see how committed she is to drying her waste and trade it with tomatoes, god I just need this to work. I feel like from my side as a potential producer of something of value locally and from my friend's side as a consumer willing to repurpose her waste, we have done all we could please, the universe has to be merciful.
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Curly leaves
Curly leaves
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Beautiful big leaves on one healthy looking plant
Beautiful big leaves on one healthy looking plant
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Shade for the tomatoes
Shade for the tomatoes
 
Rufaro Makamure
pollinator
Posts: 590
Location: Zimbabwe
465
greening the desert
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I received extremely good news from the hospital. They said they did not find anything wrong with my blood which is the reason why they did not give me any feedback. I did think I was supposed to see the results of the tests themselves, but I think I should be grateful for the fact that all is well, I don't know, I feel I should request to see what they got.

There is an uncle of mine, who lives in my mum's rural home , Hurungwe, whom I had decided to include in my journey of growing a sustainable homestead, showing a parallel progress. I sent a little bit about him, in this thread but as time passed and I realized that things that I had to fix just for me were way bigger for me to deal with and attempting to walk with someone else in their journey started looking like an increased responsibility which I could not bear. I have been thinking about him more and more as I am working on the small tomato patch. What it is demanding makes me appreciate his effort more and I want to understand why such great effort is not translating into a good quality of life, at least an easier lifestyle.

He now has phone that takes pictures and he sent me what he has in his garden. And I will include it here. I still don't have the guts to ask him questions myself so I use this thread to do that, to him I personified the thread. From the pictures he sent, my question was " We have seen and appreciated that there is so much work going into your garden, what are you getting out of all this for you to sustain your family, can we follow your progress from this stage going forward?" I thought of this because I realized that with him, it might be that he is working hard, but whatever he is getting out of his field might not be going where it should be going, that is building his own life and his family's. So if I ask him to trace what happens to his product and I actually follow it, I might understand better what is happening.
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tomatoes growing on a trellis
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tomato patch
 
master gardener
Posts: 2796
Location: Upstate NY, Zone 5, 43 inch Avg. Rainfall
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I like the trellising that has been done for those tomato's! It looks like he has them dug into the ground with a fair bit of mulch. I'd be curious at the end of the growing season to see how deep the roots ran. That might be some secret to success in maintaining adequate moisture!
 
Rufaro Makamure
pollinator
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I got paid this month and I am excited today, because I am meeting up with the man who will fix the pipes leading to the drip system tank. He will remove the drip system which has not been functioning for quite some time and he will put a tap. I am getting a quote for this today and let's hope it's a milestone that will be possible within this month.

I left my first installment with the peanut butter business owner for moving shells to the plot over a month back and still there are no shells that have been moved. So I will see after the tank installation if I can focus on this and move them myself.
We talked about carbon sequestration/ climate impact as well as health in relation to how he handles his waste and for a moment he did seem to understand that a business has more than just profit as a responsibility.
I still need to find something he gets and relates to, for him to feel the need to properly care for his waste. I tried talking about climate change and health and maybe it's not things that matter that much to him for now, so I am going to try something different. With the financial help he has been getting, I have been using a point system to evaluate whether he should get help in the future or not, and the areas I evaluated are as follows:
Reliability, honesty, social responsibility, integrity, competency and openness.
The reason was so that his business is conscious about how it's not just profits that make him a favorable business partner, it's all the above mentioned attributes. I put weights for each attribute and I had hoped to use these to introduce the seeds currency, in a way of honoring Soft Foot Alliance, i.e., just supporting one of their intiatives as a way of saying thank you for a life changing encounter (they have never asked anything from me and I do not know how to get the need of repaying them out of my system, it's been years since they introduced me to permaculture and since then in my own social circles that are not tied to them, I haven't met someone who knows about permaculture, meaning if it wasn't for them there was no way I would have known about this). But it seems the SEEDS currency is still going through some development and I cannot use it yet. So I am using the points directly from paper and finding a way of rewarding those attributes that are usually ignored by the current value system.

When I talked to the pig business owner (a second business owner I am connecting with and have mentioned my previous threads), he had a very interesting understanding of business finance, which could be beneficial to the peanut butter guy. If the pigs guy gets assisted financially, I can find out if he is willing to discuss business finance with the peanut butter guy and I will have the peanut butter guy trade his social responsibility points for such a discussion. If the discussion is fruitful, it might make him want to earn more social responsibility points and somehow elevate this attribute in his list of priorities and this will show through his actions. The last time, I had put under his social responsibility attribute, his contribution towards the moving of his shells to the plot maybe he might be triggered to want to do this more. We will see.
 
pollinator
Posts: 485
Location: Boudamasa, Chad
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Wow Rufaro, starting a local currency from scratch-- fantastic!! I look forward to seeing how it goes.

And I encourage you to keep trying to get those peanut shells. This year I mulched my entire hectare around my house with peanut shells and love it!! It holds moisture so well, lays flat so as to not attract critters, and has a higher level of nitrogen than most other "woody" mulches.
 
Rufaro Makamure
pollinator
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Oh god... no..., starting a new currency is no where near what I am intending to do, if that's what I implied above. I have my hands so full with just trying to get 1 homestead to run sustainably for so many years, and I am not there yet, so I wouldn't take up such a responsibility, I don't think I am even capable of this.

What I am merely doing is, as I am living my simple life, if I can influence what is valued or prioritized in the current monetary system, I will take the chance. If seeds currency was an available currency, I would have used this, in place of the points written on a paper and if we grow and have more things to swap for the seeds or the points, yes it just might become some kind of local currency. But this will happen on it's own without me necessarily taking it up upon myself.

For now as things are kind of shaping up, I am actually enjoying how there is more time to spend with family, look clean and other things that are not too serious or purpose driven. I have a feeling if by chance I succeed in creating a home that functions well, I am going to just enjoy the lighter side of life.
 
Rufaro Makamure
pollinator
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465
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I have had a tap connected to the drip system tank, I haven't seen it, the man who worked on the tank rescheduled our meeting time, and I had to be somewhere, so I am going to trust things were done properly, he knows better anyways. I will go to see the work but not today.
Today I am so nervous, it's the day I am supposed to receive money for helping the pigs business guy. I will give a little background of why it's nerve wrecking. The work I am being paid for is I am helping some guy to financially assist small businesses, that are already at breakeven point, but that are struggling to get past the stage because of how tough the economy is. I have spent the past month understanding the pig business and the owner fueled his car to drive me to his farm which is out of town,  many km out of town. This I have no problem with because I was open about how he might or might not get assistance. When I gave the guy I am working for feedback, he said he was going to lend the project some money and I communicated this. It's been weeks and for some time all I knew was the money will come but there was no date to it and now I felt bad because unlike before, now I had given the pig business owner hope that for certain they were getting help. I kept them on hold and end of last week I was told that I should tell the business owner they will get money no later than Monday, which is today. If it doesn't come I have to go back to the business owner and crush the hope which I had given him. This will be the second time I am building hope and I get to crush it. The other time is the gigatonne team where people worked so hard on a carbon emissions project and they never got to hear back from the facilitators and I had to probe to only be told the program is on hold and we will be told when they start again and up to now I haven't heard from them.  

For the guy I work for it could partly be my fault because when I get excited about ideas, I go overboard with my communication and in almost all cases I chase people away. I was telling him about how through this financial support we could actually help the small businesses develop in so many areas, because we are in a position where they will actually listen to what we have to say....e.t.c. And I think I scared him away. Imagine if the business doesn't get help because I have no skills in communicating...

I am supposed to meet with Mai Kumbi, to talk about how her experience with me at the plot has been and I am panicking. I am writing things down and I plan to read my thoughts to her as opposed to just saying, so that I do not go off track. It's just that there is so much potential with everything. With Mai Kumbi for instance, if it's true that she has a small place at her rural home, that she is going to grow her maize like I do, in a non-conventional way, if she sends me pictures for me to record, and I find more and more local people showing evidence of how it is actually possible, and feasible for anyone willing to put the effort, we can catch the attention of so many people who want to try it out, without too much effort being put in convincing them. Thus starting our fight for reversing climate change, but without putting titles and big words to what we will be doing. It's just that getting her to send me images for her to tell the story of her journey is proving to be very very difficult.
 
Rufaro Makamure
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I was given money for the pig guys and I passed it on. It was such a relief, I am glad because unlike beating myself up about failing, I had come to terms with the fact that things sometimes work out and sometimes they do not and I had communicated with the pig business owner that the stage we are at is out of my hands. There was so much gratitude in the atmosphere, when I met with the guys and gave them the money. They kept on saying how much they are in disbelief that they are getting this kind of help and we're asking what the catch is and all I could tell them is there is still good out there.

My immediate reward was nice food. They bought lunch when they came for the meeting and although I kept my cool and did not want to show how excited I was about food, I have a feeling it showed. I asked if they could give their time and financial knowledge to the peanut butter guy and they agreed. I will keep finding incentives and excuses for helping each other until it becomes a habit and we will be creating our small community of good hearted people willing to share and help each other. With the peanut butter guy, the reason why I am giving my time and also connecting him to these guys is because he helped me once with transporting my shells. I will tell him that and hopefully he will want to help me more and I will keep finding ways I can help him improve his business, that way I will be growing my project as well, through working together with these businesses.

I also met with Mai Kumbi and it was extremely awkward even for me, to read out my thoughts from a paper when we were talking, I had to ditch the idea. I decided to attempt just being in the moment and not to overthink things. We had a good time and I wanted to know if she was interested in moving our partnership beyond what we already have (accomodation mainly) and try to put more effort on having a productive place and she is in. I asked about progress at her own rural home and this time she was open to me. She told me that she stopped her plans on an unconventional way of growing maize, because she realized that water is a big challenge making things more difficult for her. I know that starting to prepare the land from scratch (digging pits) is a little difficult in comparison with using cattle or other common ways for tilling the land. You need to really want this to see the process through. So now that I know there is this water issue, I will deliberately talk about water harvesting when we meet and work together, proving the advantages that come with harvesting rain water. This coupled with the yield might help in drawing her more and more to wanting to practise this kind of farming even if it does not seem to be easy. It's a good thing she stays at the plot, repetition will help in cementing some of the practices. I know that once she experiences the benefits and tries it out once, she won't turn back.

Oh one other thing, the pig guys suggested to come to my house for the meeting. Normally I would have been uncomfortable, but this time I wasn't, I have had time to keep the place clean and such a small thing can make life complicated, I would have dodged  hosting them at home and it would have meant transport money for me to meet with them in town, money which I do not have...So I really like what I am becoming.
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Meeting with the pig business owners
Meeting with the pig business owners
 
Rufaro Makamure
pollinator
Posts: 590
Location: Zimbabwe
465
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I have moved the peanut shells to the plot. I was lucky I got the load that was in the yard, the other pile was outside the business premises and these were shells that were dumped for a period of two years, which was about twice as much shells as I got today, it was accidentally burnt two weeks back, I was 14 days late. It was a huge pile and they say the fire went on for 4 days. I will always try to make sure I collect the shells before they are dumped outside the yard if I can. For now I have collected mulch for the maize, the next thing is to remove the small shrubs that have been growing in the field and plant in the first week of October.

When I got to the plot, Mai Kumbi was working on the ducks and she has ideas that I wouldn't have thought of which is a really good thing.
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A huge pile of nutshells was burnt to absolutely nothing only a mark was left on the durahall
A huge pile of nutshells was burnt to absolutely nothing only a mark was left on the durahall
 
Rufaro Makamure
pollinator
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Location: Zimbabwe
465
greening the desert
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Our meeting today with the two business men to talk about business finance in general was cancelled, well for me it will be listening mostly. It seems both men have tight time schedules and what I will do is to connect the two of them and leave them to arrange to meet. The side that is beneficial but does not directly translate to money is difficult to convince people to invest their time and effort in. I am hoping if we have more of these meetings and they prove to be beneficial, these can become a habit and when bigger opportunities for our community come that might need time investment without direct monetary benefit come, we won't miss them.

When I was collecting nutshells yesterday, I thought I was doing the peanut butter guy a favor to clear his waste, especially after the big fire incident, as we spoke I realized that to an extent he sees it this way, but in his head the biggest picture is the potential income from the shells which makes it difficult for him to let them go and though they pile up and end up being disposed of improperly causing hazards in different aspects of life, he sees a loss more than a gain when I come and clear the shells. So I am going to see things his way as I try to make proper waste disposal a priority in his business. I cannot afford to buy and transport shells for now, so I will concentrate on transport. With the shells I transported to the plot, I am hoping I will get a good yield and I will start paying back the peanut butter business with part of my yield. I can pay in parts, where I only use a reasonable part of my harvest and repeat the payments in the next coming seasons until I give him a yield that corresponds to the value of nutshells he has given me. He cooks lunch for his employees so I am hoping he will appreciate maize for sadza. If this does not work, I will think of something else until I get it right. Using nutshells in the field can attract other growers to want these shells and this will create the demand for the shells meaning in the long run, the peanut butter business owner won't have to discard of his shells improperly because there won't be any pile up.
 
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