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permaculture advocate in Zimbabwe - too little/too much rain

 
pollinator
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I have been thinking long and hard about reducing the number of vegetable beds that we have. It's not raining and we have strained the two pumps we have. Instead of waiting for our equipment to break down I think it's wiser for us to be proactive and reduce the plot's water needs. It might break Kumbi's heart because he has been putting so much effort, but I hope he understands that we were already spreading our resources thinly anyway. We actually might get more if we concentrate on a smaller area.
 
pollinator
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Rufaro Makamure wrote:I have been thinking long and hard about reducing the number of vegetable beds that we have. It's not raining and we have strained the two pumps we have. Instead of waiting for our equipment to break down I think it's wiser for us to be proactive and reduce the plot's water needs. It might break Kumbi's heart because he has been putting so much effort, but I hope he understands that we were already spreading our resources thinly anyway. We actually might get more if we concentrate on a smaller area.



How much space are you working?
 
Rufaro Makamure
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It's a 1 acre plot, almost half of it has maize and the other part has vegatable beds but they cover less than half since there are also buildings. I will check the specs of the booster pump as well as the submersible one.
 
Rufaro Makamure
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I went to talk about reducing the number of beds with Kumbi and when I go to the plot I found him planting suckers in some vegetable beds. It was really difficult to talk about this but I had too, we kind of do not have a choice. He did not fight the idea much but he asked to add some beds which he will water using water from the well. He is committed to make things work and it's not been easy, particularly this month, so I respect him so much for this.

I did not succeed with the seedlings again and this time Kumbi's mother offered to help so we will try once more. She has bought into the idea of intercropping maize with cow peas, so we are in this together now. But this is as far as intercropping goes at the plot. Because I haven't successfully proven that intercropping works in the vegetable beds everyone is vouching for mono cropping, so I need to work more on this one.

We will water the maize the best we can. Again there was no power today and we divided labour. 2 on the well and one of us was using water from the tank.

* Our booster pump is a 2hp pump
And our submersible pump is 0.75hp
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Thom Bri
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The corn in the background looks good. Hope you get some rain.
 
Rufaro Makamure
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I attended 1 session on some program for regenerating land online. I met a man briefly, I don't even know his name, but he seemed really experienced. He mentioned how he couldn't see the possibility of us changing the climate change trajectory and he sounded so genuine and concerned. I felt for him and I was a little surprised that he was taking part in a session meant for making a change and yet he did not have any hope. Personally I believed a 101% that all it requires are people who will take the regeneration challenge up like all our lives depends on it, because we really do depend on it, it will be a matter of time before others follow. It really did not matter to me how long it takes for different people and at what scale because we all have things we have to learn and unlearn.

What if the man with lost hope was kind of right, could we be too late in trying to fix things. If we do not have rain at all or if when it comes it's too damaging, or the sun is too hot, it will be a matter of time before things crumble.  I think prioritizing healing the earth was such a great gift, I got lucky this way, but I am now wondering if my scale and pace has any significance. I remain hopeful, even though I have such questions swirling in my mind.
 
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Hi  Rufaro,

I think we are all here because, at a minimum, we feel doing something is better than doing nothing.
 
Rufaro Makamure
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We got some drizzle today which has made it cooler, and a lot more comfortable.  

I followed up with my uncle on his project in Hurungwe, to find out about his sales and progress. He said he sold his tomatoes, but the bulk of the money was spend on a dispute that he had to solve as well as daily needs. We are now adding how we interact with others, as something that might have an impact on our work.

My sister has also started a garden in Masvingo where she stays and she has used her cow dung to make a composts pile. This is another person's progress I will be adding. So it's now three different areas with which I will be updating on, in terms of how we can both grow our own food and take care of the land as we grow in our understanding of our responsibility when it comes to our land.
 
Rufaro Makamure
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I met Mai Kumbi's father today and it was a memorable encounter. He wanted to see us so that he could bless us for sharing our home with his daughter, which has enabled her to consider taking in one of his grandchildren, whom he has custody of. I regard any blessing highly so seeing him brightened the whole day.
Mai Kumbi is planning on taking in her late sister's son who stays in a very remote rural home so that she can help him get a decent education, now that he is going to be starting high school. Her father (the boy's grandfather), is the one who is the child's guardian but he is not so well such that for the past 2 or so years he was staying with his children in South Africa, and he had to leave his grandson with other relatives. He was not settled because of the living conditions of his grandson, now that his daughter is in a position to take in his grandson, he feels like so much weight has been taken off his shoulders.

The maize has started tasseling and it's so short I am confused. I am stressed out because nothing seems to be working. It's now cold, I don't think it's raining soon. The mulched raised beds are changing, the plants in the beds are getting greener and for the gaps, we planted suckers they seem to be having some life but it's taking forever. We literally had nothing from the sales this month, apart from a few dollars we added to money for buying manure. We are making some changes, want to see if things will get better significantly. The changes follow:
1) Cutting down watering area.
2) reducing number of plants in beds.
3) investing in a compost, to start consistently  feeding the beds weekly or once in two weeks.
4) Mulch as much space as we can.

I keep praying so hard for it to rain.
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gardener
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Rufaro Makamure wrote:The maize has started tasseling and it's so short I am confused. I am stressed out because nothing seems to be working. It's now cold, I don't think it's raining soon. The mulched raised beds are changing, the plants in the beds are getting greener and for the gaps, we planted suckers they seem to be having some life but it's taking forever.


Rufaro, I follow your updates every time, and I'm sorry to hear about the challenges you face (but I always am glad to hear about the good things too).
The short maize tasseling early happened to me too last year, which for us was a dry spring. I harvested what I could and planted again, and it did better in the second round.
This year so far spring (I'm also in the southern hemisphere) has been strange, with extreme heat as well as cold, but we are getting lots of rain- a whole month in the space of 2 or 3 days, for example.
We are just trying to adapt what we grow to the changing conditions. This year they say with El Niño we will have a hot, wet summer where I am in southern Brazil, while other parts of the country will have drought. I planted crops that can tolerate extra water and skipped the things that will moulder with too much rain. I bet if you are in dry conditions, your cowpeas will flourish; the maize may be challenging. Mulch seems like a good solution. I wonder if you could trade for sorgum seeds, sorgum does well in drought, the grains  are good for eating and you can sell the greens as forage, as animals love them. (can also make syrup from the stalks like sugarcane if you can process them).
I feel like what should be simple gardening  and working has turned into a game of strategy now, as things are changing.
I hope you get some rain soon!
 
Rufaro Makamure
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You know what I have found changing crops to be extremely difficult. It's only this year that I am getting so much support in intercropping maize with cow peas because it's really bad in terms of weather, cow peas is giving that extra hope of us harvesting something. But still that maize crop has had to be there for me to be taken seriously. Changing diet is not as flexible as I would have hoped and I think this rigidness is adding frustration to our growth.

I have to grow things that will be eaten at home and I am afraid of whether a drastic change, will be embraced. I feel it's why I am stuck, because I am working to prove that with what we are familiar with, this way of farming is still better and when I am someone worth listening to it will be easier to experiment with other foods.
My sister is growing cowpeas at her place by the way. She was bought by the cowpea burger we had in the beginning of the year and part of last year. So I think we just might be adding cow peas back to our diet. It's indigenous but it was scrapped off as the new civilization was embraced. So it's something we would eat once in a blue moon and it was looked down upon.
 
Tereza Okava
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Cowpeas here are also exactly that sort of thing: "old time food" that was discarded as soon as possible. Now people are starting to look back at it as food prices are rising.... We eat them like we would other dry beans, but we also eat the unripe green beans, cooked together with rice, or as people might use (imported) frozen/canned green peas (people love to throw them in salads and such, I'm not a fan). Shelling the green peas is much harder, but they are worth the work and sell at better prices, at least here where there are people who grew up eating them who today live in the city and miss them.
still, fingers crossed for rain for you!
 
Thom Bri
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Pollination is the most critical time for watering corn. I surely hope you get some rain, and pumps hold up!
My corn looked similar this year, very dry spring and summer. But was fortunate in getting a little rain just in time, and got a decent harvest from the corn.
 
Rufaro Makamure
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Thank you all for good wishes.
Tereza I am surprised at how similar things can be. Traditionally cow peas is dried and either boiled on it's own and just salted or it's mixed with other grains like round nuts, peanuts as well as maize, this is more tasty. During the harvesting period, fresh maize would be boiled in the same pot with pumpkins and green cowpeas and I think round nuts. They would just be put in different layers such that they would not end up as a messy mix and I hear each item would add flavour to the other. This I have just heard about but I haven't seen for myself. I have tasted fresh cowpeas boiled and salted, I liked these a lot.

I saw a friend with a foreign origin make burgers out of cow peas and I knew that cow peas would be looked at gently if I incorporate them in a burger which is a morden thing, since my wish is to start eating nyemba permanently. I was right because the reason why my sister is growing nyemba is because of the burger. I will find the next thing to reintroduce when we stabilize with nyemba growing and eating.
 
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