Sunday, November 24, 2013


Beetroot and lettuce, the lettuce is not small, the beetroot is big...

The moya is just not bringing the bula and the ledjadji is very wafisa.

All I am trying to say is that the wind is just not bringing the rain and the son is very hot. My attempt at Pedi, it is getting better, but the spelling is probably completely wrong.

Suddenly there is a flurry of mulching going on. It is still very hot and very dry and you have to be blind not to see the difference. We have got lettuce in mulch beds, planted in direct son and they are thriving and in the rows the spinach are looking sad and droopy. Now mulch is being placed everywhere, there is hardly a plant left without it. We are in the progress of changing most of the rows into beds, but this is taking time.

Lettuce and more growing in full son (30 C+) and thriving

The mulch just helps an enormous amount against evaporation of water. It is also a much lighter color than the soil (especially the areas where we placed manure), so it tends to reflex the son and not attract it.  If it was not for the mulch I am not sure if anything would still be alive.
Another benefits of mulching is that you have so much less of a problem with “weeds” (there is actually no such thing as a weed). There are sometimes plants that you did not plant that creates a bit of competition for your plants and they have to go, but seriously, with the beds you have the weeds growing in the pathways and not in the beds, this happens because the mulch blocks their son, so they cannot grow.

Then there is the whole issue of turning rows into beds, the easiest way is to simply “fill in” between rows. Obviously the soil in these new beds are not the best, because it used to be pathways, so a nice thick layer of dry cow dung is a good start, wet the cow dung well and then lay down a nice thick layer of mulch and wet again. Keep this bed wet for about two weeks and it starts looking like soil you can plant in. Your first crop might not be the greatest, but by the second planting you have fantastic soil and very happy plants.

 We use to make most of our seedlings in trays, but with Sabrina being reluctant to plant in beds and the trays taking such a lot of time and effort, we came up with the following solution. The old rows, which are now on the sides of the bed, are being used as “seedling trays”. In other words, instead of planting in trays we plants in the old rows and then simply spread the seedlings over the bed, once they are up. This seems to be working well and saving time, but there are certain things, like tomatoes and sunflowers, that stand no change against the invading forces, so they still have to be planted in trays until they are big enough to face the “big bad world”.

The 3 sister, in this case, Marrows, Beans and Corn and them some Spinach in the mix

As I said, Sabrina is still finding it hard to let go of the notion of planting everything in rows, but at least I can get her as far as planting more than one thing in the same row, we are making progress!  She has now seen that the Corn planted with the Beans and Butternuts are all looking and doing well, the Beans get a bit of shade and use the corn as a climber, while the bean replace what the Corn takes out of the soil. The Butternuts provide some ground cover and later natural mulch, while they also get some shade from the beans and corn. This is called the 3 sisters and it is apparently and old American Indian way of planting Corn. It does not always have to be exactly these three; it can be corn with peas and Watermelon, as long as one is a legume (beans, peas, fenugreek, etc.) and one a cucurbit (pumpkin, cucumber, melon etc). Basically, instead of rotating the three crops, you plant them all at the same time, in the same place. I do find it works best if you plant the Corn first and wait until they are up and looking healthy before you plant the beans, otherwise the beans outgrow the corn and this just means the corn does not work so well as a climber.

Furthermore the onslaught continues, but what can you expect, this is the only green spot for miles around. You can get all stressed about this, but it will just make you old before your time. I have come up with my own 3in1 Magic O (organic) Mix spray, it is a liquid fertilizer, a general insect deterrent and an anti Mildew, all in one.  Any plant that is healthy is less likely to be attacked by anything, hence the fertilizer (it is like you getting a vitamin shot and if you are strong and healthy, you are less likely to get sick). The liquid fertilizer I make by rotting Comfrey leaves in water. The general insect deterrent I make in a similar way, by rotting Marigolds (leaves) in water. I them mix the two (5lt/5lt) and add about half a cup of Bicarbonate of soda to the (10lt) mix. So far I have only tested this on some selected plants, but it really seems to work well and it saves a huge amount of time, because you only spray once and you sort the whole lot.

Popcorn Party? Chafers in the Corn

Last but not least, by pure chance I discovered how to get the Chafers out of my Corn. I took some pineapple heads from the kitchen, because I have started planting them. The first thing you do is to remove all the fruit. I threw this fruit in a bucket and the next thing this bucket was attacked by a force of Chafers, the poor guy/girls could not help themselves. Now I get all the old fruit leftovers from the kitchen and place them in bowls/buckets near the Corn and other plants, they definitely prefer the fruit. Now I just have to outsmart the baboons, a tricky one that, apart from having somebody, armed with a Paintball Gun, in the gardens from sunrise to sunset, nothing seems to work and they watch you, you leave the garden alone for 5 minutes and they are in there...