Here’s Miyanda’s Update from November 28, 2011
Drilling and Production of Filters
There are no new developments with the drilling.
More Bio- sand water filters have been made. The total number of filters made so far is 25. The 25 filters are yet to be completed with stones, quarry dust, lids and diffuser boxes. We are thinking to stop production of filters at this number and wait to see if some can be sold. End of November should mark the end of the Bio-sand filter project.
The tomatoes from all the gardens are ripening. The harvests and sales are summarized in an excel sheet attached. We have been working hard with Beatrice and David to pick, pack and transport them to the cooperative. Beatrice and David have been putting in their best into their work. We stay up late together whenever there is some work to be done; picking, sorting and packing tomatoes. . Beatrice has been working tirelessly to get the produce sold. She has been more involved in sales and marketing, and equally very committed to her other duties. From the time we started selling tomato she has been sleeping over just to get things in place. It would not have been possible to achieve much especially with regards to sales and harvest of produce without her.
Beatrice with Cherry Tomatoes
David has also been very useful with work at the garden at sibunimba and in transporting produce to Livingstone.
We have also been selling some locally. It has been easy so far to sell Rodade and Bonarda because it is the common kind people know. We have had some difficulties with Roma but we are still able to sell it. The most difficult to sell has been the cherry because it is ‘strange’ to the market. Even at the cooperative it has not been able to sell. We had a very big yield within a short time from the cherry though, and much of it is nearly finished, which we took to the co-operative hoping it would sell. Unfortunately, up to now, much of it still remains in storage. Since we were using much money on transport taking produce to the co-operative and realizing little we decided just to try and sell everything locally. After all we had no problem with selling Rodade and Bonarda locally. I would say we have done much better in selling Cherry and Roma locally than at the co-operative. We have realized more income and cut on costs. Some of the locals are even beginning to prefer Cherry instead. Never the less, I would say what we have done so far was more like setting up. It would be best to grow a diversity of crops into the rain season to try and recover the losses made earlier. It would also be best for the market to maintain production throughout the year. If we stop now we may lose market and it would be difficult the next time we grow crops because it would be like starting afresh.
We are planning to grow a diversity of crops at Sibunimba and the Church garden after the tomato. Simakalanga has been very disappointing; it is almost impossible to think they would manage a crop during the farming season. Crops at simakalanga have been continually water stressed and the yields for the tomato are almost amounting to nothing. Therefore, for simakalanga it would be best to wait for the next dry season in order to see how best to do things there. Otherwise it would be a waste.
The tomato in the experimental plot is reaching senescence; beginning with the first 30% and 60%, second 30% and 60%, first 90% and second 90% deficit irrigations respectively, while both 120% irrigations are reaching senescence later but nearly at the same time.
The soil around the met e station on the side of lysimeter 1&2 also collapsed in which may has left behind a leak in both lysimeters; since the soil collapsed in through valve 1&2 from lysimeters 1&2. I had to clean out the mud and fill in the hole left behind with soil. The morning that followed the day we had heavy rains large amounts of drainage water were collected from valves 3&4 from lysimeters 3&4 respectively but nothing came out from valves 1&2. Three days after the rains however, I was able to collect some drainage water from lysimeter 1&2 also.
Work Plan for the Gardens
It would be best to grow a diversity of crops that would sell locally because Livingstone market is not very different from the local market only with a few additions. Generally, what sells locally would also sell in Livingstone and what is difficult to sell locally is also difficult to sell in Livingstone. It would also be best to have more of stagger of crops so that we do not get too much yield at once than the market would take.
Since the soils in both Gardens are quite poor we will need to apply manure to ensure the crop does well. The success of the Garden project during the farming season will also depend much on the use of hired labor for certain tasks such as weeding.
1. Tomato; we are thinking to plant more of the Rodade and less of Roma and cherry.
2. Leafy vegetables; Broccoli. Cauliflower, cabbage and Kale.
3. Egg plant
5. Green beans
6. Onion and
7. Squash; we give it a try with the light colored variety since the other option is expensive.
1. Last week of November: first seeding for crops that require to be put on a seed bed. This was done on 26th November 2011.
2. Early December: preparing field and applying manure.
3. Mid December: begin transplanting into field.
4. Late December: Second seeding. This will depend on whether you would want the Gardens to run until April.
5. Routine crop management.
What would the plan be for the farming season with regards to labor for the gardens and garden managers? Beatrice and David have been very helpful and committed to their tasks. Especially Beatrice, who has also been very helpful in selling tomato and pepper locally, doing some of the work in the garden for others.