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Joe Black

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since Dec 24, 2017
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Revolution Farm
Limpopo, South Africa. Sub-tropical, summer rainfall, 1200m.
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Recent posts by Joe Black

Kiwi fruit (ie not hardy kiwi) grow very well where we are in South Africa. They don't like to be overwatered in the dry months but keep the soil moist and mulch well. Having said that we have pretty high rainfall here (650 - 1200mm per year) and they do just fine. A good feed of organic compost and comfrey tea for nitrogen needs will help them. They need to be pruned and trained otherwise you will end up with tangled chaos and not much fruit. Choose a good strong main runner and prune the side shoots in the summer. For good fruit production, you should aim for 1 male to 5-8 female plants.
10 months ago
It seems that information in general about kenaf is quite hard to find. There are a few sites and articles I've managed to dig out but I'm really struggling to find a seed supplier. Anywhere in the world. I did find out that Sustainable Fibre Solutions in conjunction with the South African government built the largest kenaf processing plant in the world in 2007 which cost millions and soon after it was built it closed down, apparently because the seed or fibre was of poor quality. I don't want to sound like a conspiracy theorist but it almost seems as though information about kenaf is being deliberately suppressed and I would hazard a guess that it's the timber/paper industry that sees kenaf and hemp as serious threats to their business. But I'd still love to get hold of some seed and run some trials!
1 year ago
Hi there,

We have been living on a rented farm for the past 3 months. The owners are not farmers but someone in the distant past grew kiwifruit (Chinese gooseberry or Actinidia to distinguish it from hardy kiwi) amongst other fruit crops. Over the years the land has been neglected and Japanese knotweed has taken over most of the property, something which the owners thought looked pretty. There is an area about 600 sq.m. (about 6400 sq. feet) on a terraced slope which was mostly kiwifruit with a few avocado trees. I have some help and we have been clearing the knotweed so we can see what the story is. There are about 40 kiwifruit vines that still look in good condition. They need a good pruning but we are in the middle of summer here and the rainy season starts soon so I've decided to see if any of them flower and fruit. The plan in the meantime is to get some cover crops going - we have Japanese green radish, red clover, sunnhemp, cowpeas, barley and oats which we plan to do a mixed broadcast over the area and irrigate if the rains don't start on time. I'm not sure if it's the right or wrong time but this soil desperately needs some help, so I figured right now is the right time. In the spaces in between where individual vines have died I'd like to replace them with fruit trees that are growing in pots at the moment and get a sort of permaculture orchard going. We'll let the cover crops do their thing and then cut them back as green manure and plant some mixed pasture grasses in. In the meantime I want to construct a pergola/support to let the vines grow up after pruning. There are Eucalyptus plantations all around here so I might make use of that; not my first choice but it's what's available. We plan on using the area for pasture for chickens and wild boar eventually.

Anyway if anyone has experience growing kiwifruit, I'd appreciate some input as I'm just going on the little I've gleaned off the internet. It would be great to be able to harvest some fruit of them (kiwifruit season starts around February here) but that might be pushing it.
1 year ago
Thanks for your update Su. I came across this thread because we are planning to raise domesticated wild boar and I want to try and feed them off the land. In my country all the corn-based animal feeds are GM based and I don't want to feed them that. Can I ask how many pigs you have and what it takes to feed them? What are you growing for them and on how much land?
I raw-feed my cats and dogs and would also like to raise pigs and chickens to feed them and feed the pigs and chickens from my land. I have 6 hectares.
1 year ago
Any update on your kiwi cuttings, Dennis? I am planning to do the same and wondered if the natural method of using cinnamon or honey works as an alternative to rooting hormone. I would think that these act as natural antibiotics rather than rooting hormones though. I don't have access to willow in my area.
1 year ago
Plastic ones. They have value here as people use them to carry water but they only cost the equivalent of 50p each. Some of my trees have been in these containers for much longer than they should have - over a year in some cases, but no casualties yet.
They were in 20 litre cooking oil buckets that I scrounged from a chicken shop for next to nothing. I just drilled holes in the bottom for drainage but did not do anything to prevent the roots getting bound. Some of them are seriously root bound but are fine.

natasha todd wrote:Does anyone have experience of growing trees in containers then eventually loading them into a moving van and trucking them on a 30 hour journey?

Yes! We hauled our trees in buckets (a mixture of fruit and indigenous trees) on a trailer 1400km across the country. The journey took us 3 days as we had furniture and animals too. But everything survived including the trees
I had planted all the trees as container guilds using a variety of beneficial plants - comfrey, wild garlic, yarrow, marigolds, thyme, rosemary, lemon balm - which all flourished and had no negative effects on the trees as far as I can tell. In fact we are about to finally plant out all the trees and they are all looking amazing. If you didn't have all the legal red tape to get through I would say go for it.
I totally understand your situation - sorry for the loss of your precious tree. Here we don't have bears but we have Samango and Vervet monkeys and baboons who come over the fence for a tasty fruit snack. I don't bear them any grudges though - their natural habitat has been destroyed and replaced with vast awful mono-cropped plantations of eucalyptus and pine all around us, virtually eliminating the natural source of food for the monkeys and baboons. We plan to plant living hedges of indigenous thorny fruit bearing bushes and trees around the perimeter to both provide food and try and keep them out of the orchard.
1 year ago
I've been composting and peeing on my lemon trees under sound advice from you good people
I also harvested most of the lemons this morning (6 large buckets to be turned into juice, lemonade and Moroccan salted lemon).
I noticed what are obviously two industrial scale aphid farms right at the top of one of the trees. I've left them alone and will approach the issue via building the soil and the strength of the trees. Just thought a pic of the aphid farm might be of interest.
(I wanted to upload a small video too but it looks like that's not possible except via YouTube).
1 year ago