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permaculture advocate in Zimbabwe - too little/too much rain  RSS feed

 
pollinator
Posts: 971
Location: Longbranch, WA
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It seems to me that 2 weeks is too long to  soak the chicken manure; it would lose most of ist nitrogen by then. Twelve to 24 hours should be enough.  Are you using the night droppings from the chickens or the the bedding/litter from a pen or coop?  The night droppings only need to be dissolved and diluted. The compost needs to be soaked and then the water kept aerated by pouring the water back and forth between containers to keep the soil organisms alive until it is put on the soil. The wet compost can then be put around the plants doing the poorest to increase the soil organism food around their roots.
 
Posts: 136
Location: Zimbabwe
46
greening the desert
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Thanks. It is a relief actually, the chicken soup we made was so smelly.
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busy brewing the wrong concoction (not to be repeated)
 
Rufaro Makamure
Posts: 136
Location: Zimbabwe
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We are slowly going back on course the maize is becoming greener and it is growing taller in some other parts which had stunted growth. Of course there is still a reasonable amount of feeding that is still needed in other areas, especially the sandy low level areas. But generally the look that is in the field now, is a breeze of fresh air. I managed to buy a hose pipe at some garage sale in Harare, so as to extend the already existing one, I suspect we might need to water the maize, because the rain pattern we have had, so far, is not consistent at all. Hope the hose arrives in time. I think I am still going to be hopeful that we will have a decent harvest if we put our hearts and energy into feeding and watering the place. I have not started on the drip irrigation system, I think it is important to make sure something acceptable comes out of the field.
This year my family agreed that it is not beneficial to rent the 2 acre area, which we used the conventional method to grow maize in. Below was the argument I put forward
  • managing two different places will be time demanding and we will not be able to focus on developing any of the two places to their fullest potential
  • the rented area is costly and yet we will not have any control what-so-ever on the outcome, which is not far from gambling with the resources we have available to us
  • from the past growing seasons the place which has proved to be more beneficial is the plot and this automatically made conservation farming at the plot a logical choice

  • It would be unfair on my family, for me not to try and make sure we get a good harvest, so I will do the best I can.
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    the area with the most improvement
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    sandy portion
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    best part of the field
     
    Hans Quistorff
    pollinator
    Posts: 971
    Location: Longbranch, WA
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    The plant stalks on the sandy part are doing a good job of shading the soil from sun and wind but they decompose very slowly so they do not feed the soil life very well.  If you cut the small grasses and weeds around the patch and put it in the plastic bag with water in the sun for a day it will start to decompose. then pack that around the plant in the pit. That should feed the soil and allow it to green up and grow faster. Every time you add water to the pit it decomposes more and continue to feed the plant.
     
    Posts: 43
    Location: Fort Worth, TX 76179
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    Rufaro

    First, I think your use of English far exceeds that of my 8th-grade child's advanced classes, here in Texas. High-five to you on that achievement.

    Also, the efforts you have made to improve your growing opportunities has been very inspirational. I too have young children in my suburban neighborhood that are showing a little interest in my permaculture ways. Their interest has not happened overnight but they are now part of the small population of US children to date that can point out specific food plants/trees correctly. They even help me to compost, collect leaves, and plant bulbs just like my old neighbor taught me as a kid.

    Their parents took 1 year to come around to my "crazy ways" but they enjoy the food benefits I share with them and I see them using the permaculture techniques when a new agriculture project is attempted. It is slow but very encouraging.

    Keep posting and letting us know how you are doing. I love seeing and hearing about your progress.
     
    Rufaro Makamure
    Posts: 136
    Location: Zimbabwe
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    We managed to soak chicken manure overnight and we covered almost a quarter of the field with the soaked manure. We added nut skins and shells in all the maize pits, so this will add to mulch and we hope due to the fineness of the material it will rot faster.


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    chicken manure together with nut skins and shells
     
    Rufaro Makamure
    Posts: 136
    Location: Zimbabwe
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    Our field looks beautiful now. A lot can be improved but from where we are coming from I will not complain. We have not had proper rain since christmas and the sun is blazing hot sometimes, from the weather forecast it is not promising to rain properly in the coming weeks either.
    We compared the soil under the mulch vs the bare soil, the one under the mulch is so wet such that if you make a fist with it in your palm it forms a ball that holds.
    Our watering schedule is now going to come useful. I have not yet made a plan on how to get our hose, but with what we have we can water the whole field though it will require more energy and time. There are used oil drums I bought as scrap from my old work place, 2 years ago, that we opened so that we can fill them up with water to make the watering process easier. It seems, what someone regards as scrap or a problem is a useful item to the next person.


    So I went to a friend of my mum's looking for comfrey leaves to add to the feed for the crops and I got more than comfrey leaves. She mentioned she planted comfrey because someone told her it helps people with hyper tension. She tried it but it did not work for her. What worked for her though, is the fern. She said the balls from the roots of the fern are the ones she cut and soaked in water overnight, then she used the water for drinking. Is there anyone who knows a fern as a herb and how far true it is, that the fern stabilizes blood pressure?  
    I am itching to share the images, but I guess I have to wait till I get a good connection.
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    fine looking field
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    the sandy part
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    could this be a herb?
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    covered area is still very moist
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    dryness of bare soil
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    candle melted in the car due to heat
     
    Posts: 197
    Location: On the plateau in TN
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    Rufaro Makamure wrote:Hi everyone.
    I am working on a 1/2 an acre piece of land, growing mostly maize with plans of inter-cropping it with beans. I started using permaculture principles in 2015 and my wish is to spread sustainability practices, through applying the principles and introducing an alternative farming method.

    Generally the area is usually drought stricken, so we have been putting systems in place to have increased control over water availability. We have stopped using fertilizers and we are using compost to feed our plant. We also dug conservation holes and mulched the area.  From the weather forecast it seems like we are going to have a period where the rain might be too much. How do I deal with excessive rain in the most natural way.



    Hello Rufaro,

    Did you ever mention crop rotation?  I would echo that last author about mono cropping focus.  Maybe with what sounds like a monsoon area.  Might want to try spreading bio char at 1% w/w.  Try using it sparingly in one area first?  Swales are a great idea as a number of authors have mentioned, look at ways to capture water?

    Good Luck.
     
    Rufaro Makamure
    Posts: 136
    Location: Zimbabwe
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    The heat is getting worse and worse by the day. It had been predicted that from last Wednesday rains would have started pouring steadily, breaking a dry spell which as was mentioned, is as a result of a cyclone that happened in Madagascar. Well we only received some showers and a cool weather, but nothing that is enough to quench the plants' thirst. It is now so difficult to remember that we had near mud flows last year because of excessive rain. We have just watered our crop again today and the stage the maize is at demands more water so we will see if it is going to be possible to water the maize twice a week until the rains come. Having time with family is one gift this permaculture journey has awarded me and I am forever grateful for that.  
    We have our income generating vegetable and the target is to make enough to enable us to pay the man who is helping at the plot fully, using money from the sales, so I got more skins to put in the beds that have the vegetable. The soil in and around the vegetable beds, is not yet rich but I believe with time it will be a lot different from what it is now.
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    some of the crops in nearby fields have started showing the effects of the harsh weather
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    mulching done at the right time thanks to this forum
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    putting skins in our income generating vegetable
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    more time with family
     
    Posts: 44
    Location: outside Brisbane, Australia
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    Wow, it can take time for organic gardening to show results, but your maize looks fantastic compared to the ones without mulch. Well done! Surely your neighbours will start to look at your fields and see the benefits of your methods. I hope the rains arrive soon and give everything a good drenching. I know what it's like to wait for rain.
     
    Rufaro Makamure
    Posts: 136
    Location: Zimbabwe
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    I enjoyed my time at the plot yesterday. Children never cease to amaze me, they have a tendency of having their way and still leave you in stitches or loving them more.  I went to the field to water the maize as well as plant more covo (the vegetable that we sell). So Jealous' son usually follows me around, putting an effort to chat, though he is still learning how to talk and also he speaks a different language from mine.
    He had so much energy especially yesterday and he did not want to just talk, but he wanted to do everything I did. I tried to distract him with every trick that I know, but nothing seemed to work. The time I meant to spend doing "constructive work" as I had planned was running out. I eventually gave in and started sharing my tools with him. I was so surprised when he started digging his hole and afterwards he grabbed one of the suckers, put them in his hole and covered it with soil. He mimicked everything I was doing and the straight face he put as he was doing everything, melted my heart with some warmth I can't even explain. I am even smiling as I am recalling everything.
    I failed to upload the last image of how the plant looked like, after it had been planted. One thing this experience made me realise is the responsibility I have by just being around any child, even without saying a word. I might not be aware of what a child learns from me by just being close to me, what I am sure of is that, it would be a good thing if I leave a positive mark in their lives. It was unfortunate I had to redo the work that had been done through such an effort.  
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    let the digging begin
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    "never mind the dirt ... I am going to plant this"
     
    Rufaro Makamure
    Posts: 136
    Location: Zimbabwe
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    The rain has not come yet and most of the maize from different fields is now approaching a stage that is beyond recoverable. Our maize is still surviving, though the yield is definitely going to be affected. Last week I had tried to increase the watering of the field to twice a week, because the evaporation is way too much, even with the mulch. It became a little overwhelming and costly when I tried it, so I had an idea crossed my mind, of having water poured gradually without straining so much. I intended to maintain the once a week watering schedule but, for the second watering I had planned to substitute it with filled bottles which I would then sink into the soil, in each maize hole, upside down with the top removed. There are a lot of empty beer bottles that I could pick and use. Right before implementing the idea, I just heard today in the news that there is a cholera outbreak. I do not think it is wise to go around picking litter or having someone to do this, after such an announcement.
    I am now afraid that I am fighting a losing battle with this poverty alleviation thing. Maybe there are some places that are just meant to be the way they are.
    You know, along roads in the high density areas, most of the places that have no buildings, have maize planted on them, all in an effort to reduce the cost of buying food, by having some home grown substitutes. But when you really look at it, more is lost in the attempts. The area with the maize ...gosh ... its just way too big, when the small fields are all combined together. I used to wonder where all money and the so talked about abundant resources disappear to, wel I think this is one of the ways things are lost. There was money used to buy seed, fertilizer, labor... etc. For the majority of the families we are looking at around $50 to $100, for others who have more resources we are talking about figures that go to around $500, which will all disappear without even benefiting anyone, because of the dry spell. So it is just $50, it is not a big deal, but when multiplied by the number of families it will be surprising how much money would have been lost, unintentionally of-course.
    What if we are stuck on one position, almost like a pendulum. One moment we try something and the results are amazing (like last year with the rains the yields were out of this world) and the next moment we try the exact same thing (with additional capacity, hopes having been raised by the previous year's harvest) and we loose even more than we would have gain the previous trial. We will not end this poverty...
    I know one obvious answer is changing the type of crop and having a more drought resistant one. There are so many campaigns that are sending the message of small grains and more drought resistant plants. What if there is a more deeper root cause that might not directly be linked to food when we look at the surface. Maybe what we are failing to do is to learn from our past experiences and grow from there. Agriculture is just one area I am interested in, but all fields could be improve by one thing. I have a strong feeling if we have a certain shift in our efforts and we improve the planning phase, and we put more investment in finding ways to at least a little bit certain of favorable results, we can be more in control of our so called "abundant resources" and actually enjoy them. Lets say for example, as in our situation people decide to grow maize. Other people have done some research and there is a rough idea of how much water requirements are needed for a maize plant to produce yield. Well I think it might be a little bit wise to plan for the whole duration of the maize's growth. Considering everything that will be needed to at least have some certainty that there will be something coming out of the efforts. We know that we are in a drought prone area and there are chances that the rains might be good or bad, what are the small steps we are taking to take care of type of crop we are choosing. We might be able to just get by currently with the resources that we have, but what if we could have created something even better for the future generations by improving our chances of having positive outcomes, be it in fields, or companies, or which ever area. Imagine if all these big co-operations were relying on "maybe it might work or not" it might be difficult to then explain to employees that salaries are not coming because of unexpected losses that were not foreseen. There are bigger organizations that have decisions that have a realizable impact to the economy because of their magnitude, as families, be it we are into food growth or not we can make it easier, by minimizing losses of the little resources that come our way. We can work so hard and deprive ourselves of some of the luxuries that life has to offer, but as long as we do not work smart or progress, whether as individuals families or as a nation, it will be sad to see that we will be in the same position in years to come.
    I had hoped to speak out through writing, but I do not know anymore...the field outcome is what I relied on to do the talking but now it is out of my control which puts me right back to square one.
     
    Hans Quistorff
    pollinator
    Posts: 971
    Location: Longbranch, WA
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    Question cam to my mind. Can you plant earlier now that you have the soil covered and it may not be so hard to dig and plant the seed next year.  For example here it is too cold to put the seed in the ground earlier but starting the plants in flats and then transplanting them results in the ears forming before the drought starts at the beginning of summer.  
    It would be much more efficient to water a lot of little plants close together early in the year than a lot of big plants far apart later in the year.
    I have discovered that the golden flax seed that has the omega 3 oil that balances the omega 6 oil in corn prefers to sprout when my field is flooded which allows it to mature before the ground dries out.
    You are doing well on the permaculture course. Observe, try to apply what you observed, observe what happens and try again to apply what you observed.
     
    Rufaro Makamure
    Posts: 136
    Location: Zimbabwe
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    I received my hose today. We are  still waiting for the rain, in the meantime an extension to the existing hose pipe is a dear thing.
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    at the railway station collecting thhe hose
     
    Rufaro Makamure
    Posts: 136
    Location: Zimbabwe
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    Today we had a cool morning and a passing cloud with a few drops of rain (don't even know if the quantity is even worthy calling rain, but it bought us some time, since transpiration was low today).
    20180125_175017.jpg
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    the sandy part
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    best part of the field
     
    Rufaro Makamure
    Posts: 136
    Location: Zimbabwe
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    I took pictures of the effect the sun has had on the other fields. With the one field, I have included view A and view B to show how big some of the fields are.
    20180126_184657.jpg
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    view A
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    view B
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    crops planted early
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    crops planted later on in the season
     
    Rufaro Makamure
    Posts: 136
    Location: Zimbabwe
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    We had fresh maize cobs a week and a half ago, and it never crossed my mind to take a picture of the cobs because all I could think of was the taste of the maize. The way I gobbled the maize cob actually surprised me. I was told that the maize was not from a big commercial farm. The size of the cobs vs the intensity of the heat we are experiencing, made the farm an interesting place to visit. I am excited because we are planning on visiting the place tomorrow. I hope we will be able to learn some skills that make them survive through this heat, as though we have had really good rain.
     
    Rufaro Makamure
    Posts: 136
    Location: Zimbabwe
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    Today has left me speechless and very hopeful. The past weeks have not been the best times I have had. The reality of the effects of the dry spell were becoming more and more apparent, and it seemed like we are always going to be a few steps behind, in planning to survive in the erratic climatic conditions. The drip system kept on crossing my mind, what was eating me up is, it was not that I was not thinking about working towards having the system set up, but the feasibility of having the system before the dry spell is the one that was beyond my control. Accepting that we can never be proactive and prepared in times of disaster meant that everything I had hoped for would be shattered. My mother thought of taking me to insukamini which is the place where the irrigation scheme we went to today is, and the trip was very inspiring.
    It is a community owned irrigation scheme with 125 families and it was started in the early 80s. There is a dam which has water flowing to the fields through canals and by gravity. Individual people then siphon the water to the various parts of the field and the member rotate different plants throughout the whole year . We can survive hash conditions...
    Someone can say of course they can, because they have a dam. What I just learn't is, we can harness whatever it is we have and create a convenient life. Just like the butterfly effect that is created by the small individual fields that are surrounding my neighborhood today, we can focus on manageable water harvesting technique which collectively will have the same effect as one dam owned by a community. We were fortunate to meet a lady who was there, when the irrigation scheme was being developed. She said even up to today, it is a wonder how the place which was so rocky was turned into such a productive area.
    20180128_152045.jpg
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    amazing work from beautiful people (despite the burning heat)
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    one of the farmers
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    not everything that might seem impossible is really impossible, early stages of maize towards the end of a very dry rainy season, weather does not disturb plans
     
    Rufaro Makamure
    Posts: 136
    Location: Zimbabwe
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    It is 4:30 in the morning and it is raining.
     
    Rufaro Makamure
    Posts: 136
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    The weather outside is just perfect for starting on researching about drip irrigation systems. I did try this same research over a year ago, I confused myself in the process, so this will be my second attempt. It is cool with a bit of some showers, which the plants needed. On Saturday morning we planted 2 beds of covo which is highly on demand, so things are really looking up.
    For my irrigation research I am in a catch 22 situation. I have an option of finding a more standardized system with most of the design almost done, or go through the whole process that an irrigation designer goes through, which is specific to our place. The prescribed one saves time and leads to results showing sooner, which is good considering the stage I am at is mostly experimental. Starting designing from scratch has more to do with personal satisfaction, to be able to design something using mathematical calculations (more of a dare, as the whole designing concept scares me). I really liked mathematics in school, but I never got to apply much of it and it is slipping away slowly. Maybe at the end of the day when done some research I will know which route to take.
     
    Nicola Stachurski
    Posts: 44
    Location: outside Brisbane, Australia
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    When you were writing about the long dry spell, I really felt for you! Australians know what it is like to have a drought. There are months every year where I wring my hands and spend lots of time checking the weather forecast. For 2016 and 2017 my internet bill actually went up in the dry months because I was checking the forecast every night. And it is only because I love my plants, not that I need to depend on them for food or income! At the same time a few charities sprung up where you could make a donation to buy some feed for farmer's cattle, in the driest areas in the interior of Australia. They were sending out trucks of hay, and positive messages for the farming families, who were facing the desperate situation of not being able to pay their bills and maybe losing their farms.

    I am lucky that my husband is very good at construction, and has studied earthworks. He made some swales for my orchard, and dug the dam a bit deeper, using borrowed equipment. Many of my fruit trees only just survive the dry times, but without these extra resources they wouldn't survive at all.

    When I travelled to Italy in my twenties, the first thing I noticed on arrival was the light. It was a warm, nurturing, gentle light. The sun was so benign, so benevolent. It was sunny without being harsh, and warm without being hot. It was also very stable weather, with no tornados or droughts. It was a mild, dependable climate, and it made me see just why great civilisations had risen up in the Mediterranean. Although humans had suffered the same awful diseases that they had in other places, here it was possible for civilisations to survive and build, without regular devastation. Without the extreme challenges of the tropics or cold climates, humanity had been supported in its development. In other places, it had been too much of a challenge just to survive, or what had been built up was regularly destroyed by natural disasters.

    Over here the weather can be life-threatening, either with bushfires or drought. Mother Nature is not always friendly. Best of luck in finding a way to manage hot sun and unreliable rainfall. Human ingenuity plus technology will find a way somehow!

     
    pioneer
    Posts: 2175
    Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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    Rufaro,

    a couple of thoughts for you:

    1) Your pipes may perish if you leave them in direct sunlight. If possible try to cover them to protect them from UV.

    2) Have you seen Joseph Lofthouse's work on landrace seeds? He breeds his own varieties to thrive in his harsh conditions.  You might find - as a longer term project - that you get good gains by learning how to select your own seeds to save.
     
    Rufaro Makamure
    Posts: 136
    Location: Zimbabwe
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    I have started reading about micro irrigation and this is what I have so far
    PRIMARY OBJECTIVE: to make water from the borehole available to the field plants,using less effort, in order to supplement rain water and also to enable growing of crops in times other than the rainy period.
    I have chosen micro irrigation because of its effective use of water. The water used is mainly from rainwater collection as well as the borehole, and to cut on filtration units costs, I could choose to apply water through basin bubblers, seeing as they are not quickly blocked by particles and other things that might be found in the water.
    STEP 1: Calculation of water requirements
    I do not think I have the luxury of learning about designing an irrigation system for now, so I have gathered information from the internet, on maize plant water requirements per day. For the evapo-transpiration rate reference value, I used the value from a research paper done by Zirebwa in 2014, for the Gweru region and I picked the relatively high value of 9mm from the tables presented. The crop coefficient for the maize I will use, is 1.15 from the www.farmwest.com website, this then allowed me to calculate the evapotranspiration value which makes it 10.35mm/day. I will write the other steps as I progress.
    It has been raining in other areas of my town in the past days,we are receiving showers sometimes. We took a sample of two random maize ears that have started to grow and they were fertilised fully which is a good thing.
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    fertilization satisfactory
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    The splendour of the sky as the clouds formed
     
    Rufaro Makamure
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    There are moments where reading, sometimes makes something more intimidating than simple. I wish there were emojis I could use to explain how confused I was getting with the irrigation literature I had collected. The main reason why I had posted the first step I had done, on water requirements calculation is to make it difficult to quit on the whole irrigation system installation, (you know how when you put word out there, it kind of makes it difficult not to fulfill it). I have not seen in real life an irrigation set up really close. The best I have had a close up on is a sprinkler at the end of a hose. Today as I was checking out videos, to help with a visual of the actual system, I stumbled upon a you-tube video on "Installing a Drip Irrigation System for Raised Bed" which explained drip irrigation system set up in a very simple and straight forward way, it is now actually funny to me when I recall what picture I had in mind (a seriously complicated thing I tell you).  There are some components we bought from some guy last year for irrigating our garden beds, but we did not have enough knowledge and the things have never been used. This year my hope is to be able to know enough of the irrigation set up before purchasing anything, which I think is know becoming more and more possible.
     
    pollinator
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    Might it not be better to work out how much water you have and then calculate how much you can plant .
    Is there any milage in growing different stuff to everyone else . :-)
    Cow peas etc

    David  
     
    Rufaro Makamure
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    David Livingston wrote:Might it not be better to work out how much water you have and then calculate how much you can plant .
    Is there any milage in growing different stuff to everyone else . :-)
    Cow peas etc

    David  


    My answer to the above if everything was up to me, on the kind of crop chosen, a different plant more adaptable to the climatic conditions which can be marketed easily, would make efforts profitable and less strenuous. The place I am working on is my mother's and after that suggestion on whether it would be possible to not grow maize, I passed on the question to my mother, again looking at what is generally spent in growing the maize vs the outputs (which we have been going through repeatedly these past months). The losses are apparent even when we put the maize produced at the highest price it has ever had in the past, we have never harvested maize that returns the value of the inputs.Real life example of the 2 acre place we have been growing maize in the past years follows:
  • ploughing-$100
  • Total fertiliser-$222
  • labor-$100
  • seed -$30

  • making the total $432, and the highest we could remember that one 50kg bag of maize fetched is $24 and the most we got from the field is 12 bags, meaning if we would sell this maize it would fetch us $288
    We are trying to consider the input vs output not only in agriculture, because there is indeed a gap in whether the choices we are making are best for us or not. In terms of what generally is planted, I can only suggest what to grow, but the final word is my mother's. When we discussed the issue on looking at growing other crops at least she did not shoot it down, she actually commented on a field she saw which had entirely sugar beans. The best bet I have is when it is not the rainy season, since the field is only planted during the rainy season, I could grow a different crop in the field, proving that we can in actual fact produce a profitable yield and that strange as it might seem it might be less costly to buy mealie-meal, after selling whatever crop we would have planted.
    In terms of the water available, we have a borehole currently that pumps water into two 5000L tanks and when it rains the tanks collect water from the roofs. The borehole has never run dry on us, so I had concluded we have enough water basing on this, more advise on this is welcome.
     
    David Livingston
    pollinator
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    Are there any trees you could start ? Apricots citrus for example such trees need not be pricy you can grow apricot from seed plus they will provide shade etc and if they loose leaves enrich the soil eventually these  may become a cash crop as well . Once they start cropping and people get used to this welcome addition to their diet they will want more and with their help eventually you might be able to move away from maize which I know is the staple in Zimb.
    Have you read the lost crops of Africa there may be some ideas there :-)
    What did folks use before maize which has it's origins in the new world ? Maybe my name sake would have known :-)
    Getting your mum to change her mind might have to be a gradual thing :-)
     
    Rufaro Makamure
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    Time really flies. It is hard to believe that the bean plant is ready to be harvested. We are planning on harvesting the beans this weekend and I am really excited.
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    picked a few pods from the field
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    ...THE BEANS!!!
     
    Hans Quistorff
    pollinator
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    Have you tried growing the beans with the maze like the native americans do?  They use a three sisters system where squash plants cover the ground between the corn stalks and the bean vines are held up by the corn stalks.
     
    Rufaro Makamure
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    Today I am celebrating the past year which marked a complete turn around in my life and I am going to share some of the important moments.  
  • being part of a soil building generation
  • Hope of healthy food accessibility to everyone: discovering, areas we can improve and harvesting what we would have sown has brought hope to me and the belief that we truly can alleviate poverty if we really try and if we are patient  
  • increased quality time with family: In all my life I just found out my mother can play checkers last year. It is surprising that just a slight change in a family environment has an impact on productivity and growth. So much has been achieved and not necessarily because of increased income, but because of extra effort and time we are putting to try and accept each other as different individuals.
  • having times to just live in the moment



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    some legacy to leave for the future
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    variety is possible
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    it is a beauty seeing loved ones relaxed.
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    us dancing
     
    Rufaro Makamure
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    The maize has started drying up and I am so eager to know what our harvest is going to be like this year. We have decided to let the maize stay longer in the field so that we have as much of it properly drying, before we start harvesting it. The one miraculous area is the sandy part. The really tiny yellow maize turned into green and grew a little taller and has small cobs with good grains, which I found fascinating. This farming season is very much similar to the 2015-2016 period. The maize looked so healthy and during the silking  stage the water stopped raining which led to the maize drying up and the yield was dismally low. I am happy to say we did improve this season and, baby steps going in one specific direction, in this instance towards becoming resilient and sustainable (from how I see it), is so much better. From 2015-2016 we realized the value of water to back up rainwater, which made the availability of a borehole a priority. This farming season we need to look into improving distribution of water, because it seems the uncertainty of the weather pattern is becoming the normal thing now.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          
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    an image of the 2015-2016 season
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    2017-2018 maize drying up almost ready for harvest
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    the sandy part had tiny looking maize
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    the tiny maize has cobs with good grain
     
    Rufaro Makamure
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    I just finished an online course "from soil to sky" which was offered by Citizen science. There is a man who was talking about their space, which they grow olives on, and he used a phrase which made so much sense and pretty much sums up my main objective, "Growing soil". If, among the goals of producing farm products, one of the goals is to develop and improve soil, I can only imagine what the world will be like in 50 years to come.
    We finally planted covo in our orchard area, which has been an activity that had been on the to do list for a long time. The idea is to feed the area, while at the same time profiting from the exercise, so the best way we thought of is to put a vegetable that is on demand, as we wait to add more fruit trees. The other covo plants, did not survive the last bit of the rainy season which had a lot of rain and the vegetable beds were water logged. Below are images of the orchard area when we were starting to put vegetable beds and then weeks after the covo plants had been planted. The other attachments are of beds I put nut skins in, almost 2 months plus ago and the soil is a little different now, between the bed which was mulched with skin (which has decomposed) and the adjacent one which wasn't mulched.  
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    it did not look like there could be life on this space
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    The soil growing begins
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    the plants grew faster than I thought was possible
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    the soil with added organic matter (nut skins)
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    soil not yet worked on
     
    pollinator
    Posts: 843
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    Hi Rufaro. It's so good to see what's possible in your climate, and what efforts you do to make it possible!
     
    Hans Quistorff
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    the soil with added organic matter (nut skins)


    Proof that you grew soil.  Notice the contrast when you watered the transplants that the soil clumps remained intact instead of dissolving like they did in the dirt in the next picture.
    I would encourage you to cover those soil nodules with whatever you can as soon as you can after transplanting to prevent the sun and wind killing the soil organisms in them.
     
    Rufaro Makamure
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    We have started harvesting the maize. Its all stacked now and it looks really promising.
    20180414_180413(1).jpg
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    seeing the fruits our work
     
    Rufaro Makamure
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    I decided to check out last year's yield (when we received the best rains ever in my lifetime), against the general expected yield in my country. One of the reports from the internet presented a record of the overall recorded yield of 2.2 million tonnes, over 1.9 million hectares. From the report this is a massive achievement my country has ever had for over a decade, its like *300 the year before it. Reducing this yield to an area of half an acre was shocking (hoping I calculated properly). On reducing the area that was farmed to 1/2 an acre, the yield reduced to 232kg. This is equivalent to 4.64 '50kg bags'. That same year we got 14 bags over 1/2 an acre.... This affirms that food security is not a far fetched dream. It is achievable!!!
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    we are still harvesting
     
    Posts: 137
    Location: Maritimes , Eastern Canada
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    Amazing work !

    I hope many eyes are following you in your country, as you are going forward with an excellent example that many can benefit from emulating.

    Nice to see such healthy plants and such healthy food !
     
    Nicola Stachurski
    Posts: 44
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    Fantastic!  Well done. You will be a leader to others in the future.

    And you have all those stalks and leaves you can use as mulch to improve the soil when you plant the next crop!
     
    Posts: 29
    Location: Northern AZ
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    I am in a too little/ too much rain area also. I am working on a greywater system to water my tree in a mulch pit - almost done digging! On the post above by gustavo alcantar (page one of thread), he shows putting a cardboard barrier down before multch. I have not seen this before. Why is the cardboard used?
     
    Rufaro Makamure
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    Hi Melissa,
    The cardboard use was new to me as well, but I thought its just being resourceful, using available materials to mulch. I had not given it a lot of thought, but I just assumed that the cardboard serves the same exact purpose as any common mulch, moisture retention, weed suppression and maybe eventually degrading thereby adding to soil improvement. It would be interesting to know if there is a different reason to the use of cardboard.
     
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