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permaculture advocate in Zimbabwe - too little/too much rain

 
pollinator
Posts: 593
Location: Zimbabwe
470
greening the desert
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I have not been to the plot for sometime, needing to clear my head and also revisit my life purpose and assessing whether I am on the right track with how I wish to live this life I have.

I'm also taking the chance to see if the plot works without my presence, following some of the unconventional methods I have spent years implementing. I met with Kumbi's mom in town and from our conversation which was just general, I picked that they are slowly buying the idea of intercropping plants. I had been growing beets with choumollier and I felt like the seedlings wouldn't be maintained properly so they would just die, and I think it's because beets aren't popular and also it was not making sense to both Kumbi and his mom, why we had to plant two different crops in one bed and they kept asking if we could have a bed specifically for beets. No matter how I tried explaining that we just wanted to see if intercropping worked it wouldn't change anything. That's when I decided to put leaf vegetables, rape and mustard greens, which are also very common and are as popular as choumollier in the market. They have started harvesting the few beds we did the sample on and now they are excited because we are getting sales from both choumollier and mustard plants. I noticed from the images Kumbi sent me, that, they are taking good care of the other seedling we planted in other beds so it's a relief. I have started buying the few beets that we grew, to show the potential beets have in the market, Kumbi's mom even sold a few to her friends, so after the leafy greens are a success, I will try again to add beets and also onions and carrots in the choumollier beds so that we will have variety.

Mai Kumbi has a lot of twigs for her rocket stove and she says she has reduced her gas and electrity bills. She now uses the rocket stove a lot. Later on when things stabilize on my side, she will be the best person to work with in spreading the use of a rocket stove in place of an  open fire because it actually works for her, lots of people are now going back to cooking with fire either because electricity or gas is too expensive for them or there won't be electricity due to load shedding and this means increased tree cutting. I know I won't need a big incentive for Mai Kumbi and once about 10 people enjoy the use of a rocket stove, I feel the concept will start spreading in its own.

In my personal life, I decided to cut ties with my university crush friend. I had managed to understand that he was now married and I had defined my boundaries, in our conversations. My concern was when I started missing him on the days we wouldn't talk. I don't think there is any innocent friendship like this, I think I like this man too much to be his friend. So to keep myself from disrespecting the marriage institution I had to stop talking to him and though a part of me feels like I have failed him, another tells me it's the only right thing for me to do.
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Mustard plants after being pruned
Mustard plants after being pruned
 
Rufaro Makamure
pollinator
Posts: 593
Location: Zimbabwe
470
greening the desert
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I have realised a couple of things, you cannot do/ produce/ speak a language that you don't know and also that when components you need, inorder to produce something are not enough, it does not matter how much effort or passion you put in producing a thing, you will not have an output.

We have certainly moved a level up in terms of being productive at the plot. This project is no longer my project for sure, I am not the only one worrying about whether things work or not. It's now "we", who are interested in mixing different plants in one bed and communication is so  much better. We met with Kumbi today, and I am not the one who called for attention on an area that needs to be looked into, it's him. This is now our thing for sure. The seedlings we planted are being attacked by pests again and birds are giving us a difficult time on a particular portion of the field so we needed to discuss what we have to do to address these issues. It did not feel like a monologue today, but a dialogue.  Also Kumbi requested for beetroots...!!!, It was music to my ears. You cannot force anything on anyone and I believe all you can do is to wait for someone to understand things the way you do or for you to understand what the other person is trying to put across. I was so happy that mixed farming was bought, it is an idea I believed in but I also am very new to it and I am glad we have tried it to a point where my partners also see light in it, the only thing that was left was for me to now open my mind up to the possibility if me being wrong about all this.

Progress is veeeery slow since I started all this but I think it's legitimately and permanently progress towards the direction I am hoping for. Literally it could be a scenario of "slow but sure".
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Many Sandy soil beds look green
Many Sandy soil beds look green
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Successful mixed planting
Successful mixed planting
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Mixed planting again
Mixed planting again
 
Rufaro Makamure
pollinator
Posts: 593
Location: Zimbabwe
470
greening the desert
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A lot of expansion is happening at home as we proceed. Our place is a little bit of everything now, hospital, school, source of sustenance  as well as a place for resting, and following is why this is. At the beginning of the month my sister and I started taking care of a relative who is redoing her ordinary level. Caring for extended family was a common practice especially soon after the 80s, when people were moving from rural areas to towns, after independence. Now it is becoming rare, mainly because things are getting harder and the thought of adding an extra head in the house is not so easy.  We cannot say we planned for this, but we are glad we are an option that was worthy considering. Our parents took in a lot of their extended family and personally this is one of the things I admired about them, for them, progress was not about an individual  it involved family, so  a retake of such an opportunity is an honor actually. Just like how I feel growth into the new 'civilised'  way of doing things, could have been done better, I also look at how my parents helped their extended family and see room to improve and I am glad we got a chance to try out a different way. I feel love and Christianity then, centered on selflessness in an exaggerated way, where one ended up giving more than they could and also erasing their self value which is a fate  that fell on my parents and some of their peers. This time around when my aunt brought her child, we were clear about what we could cover financially as opposed to just taking up all the responsibility and financially we are not strained. What we had not been aware of is how our schools are like now, we just assumed standards were similar with what we had when we were in school, if anything we expected things to be a little better. After our cousin started going to school we learnt that for informal students (those repeating their ordinary level) their classes have no doors and windows and they have a make shift board. So far in the past month we can count the number of times her teachers have come for their classes. I quickly decided to do a lot of schooling at home and coincidentally work at the plot is becoming organised and in a day I have time for school. Our plan with my sister is for our cousin to write in November so that she does not have to spend the whole of next year on this which is a huge advantage financially on her parents and us, also it gives her time to proceed to the next phase in her life, a win win for everyone. We asked her parents to pay for this year's registration and they did, now the responsibility is on us to teach her at home as much as we can for her to write and pass. This is the part on school.

For the hospital part, we are living the lifestyle medicine life and we have adopted it as our way of life. We have changed a lot of how we relate with our food and cooking is now an important part of our day. My sister is losing weight, I now no longer have constipation (it used to be my normal) and we are paying attention to a lot of what our bodies are telling us. For my lump, I am currently putting a patch with castor oil and tumeric, until  I can get checked properly. I started this quite recently, so I have not yet noticed any changes. Whatever chance we get at preventing illness we will take it. If we can take care of our health, it will increase our stability.

At the plot, we are now also selling vegetables, to add to the sales Kumbi makes at the plot, this is because the vegetables we are now producing have gone beyond the plot market and my sister and I have to find a bigger market. So there is growth. Our banana plant is also giving us fruits. We have had a bunch already this year and now one is almost ripening and  there are three more  bunches in the tree, this is to just add on how small things can make a difference.  

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My sister tying bundles for selling
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Bunches still to be harvested
Bunches still to be harvested
 
Rufaro Makamure
pollinator
Posts: 593
Location: Zimbabwe
470
greening the desert
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Since we made a decision to put liquid manure weekly in our soil, we are keeping our ears open for any opportunity to get cheap manure.   We learnt that there's an abattoir that gives cow manure freely and we paid them a visit. We got quite a lot of manure though we had to pay the employees who attended us $5. They did tell us not to say because manure should be for free, and this was their money. I know one can say we shouldn't give them because we are kind of feeding a corrupt practice, but it's not as easy as that. If we choose to expose these guys, we will surely lose this opportunity because they are the ones on the ground who determine whether there is manure or not. The manure is cheaper than the one we were buying and I hear cow manure lasts longer than chicken manure that we have been buying, which could be cost effective in the long run. Not getting this manure is not a risk we want to take.

An area of growth on my part is, I was afraid of spending money, on myself or my individual project without having had an initial flow of money from the project itself, for me to be convinced that I could pay back the money. That is, even if on paper a project looked profitable, I would not risk taking money to fund the growth of the project. I think it's a good concept but it was leaning more to the extreme side because even if I would get money or have access to borrowing, I would not take the opportunity even if it meant fast tracking my project. My sister came into the picture and her approach is a little different, she is a 'live in the present' kind of person and I am learning to balance worrying about the future and being in the present. This growth has allowed us to take up the manure opportunity, I did not over think the costs involved, and now we stand a chance of benefiting more from our efforts.
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