Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Misadventures in Gardening

We want to grow a garden, and when I mentioned that to our gardener (Richard) he started to do that.  Except, I forgot to add the adjective "vegetable".   So, here are some of the misadventures so far.  Just beyond this little garden area you can see the edge of the lawn.  What you can't see is that this entire area is actually one huge ant farm.  Here are some close ups of the ants.  They are about 3/8" long, just the body.

The good news is that we actually have radishes!

And the beginnings of carrots.  Unfortunately, I assumed too much knowledge and we got an entire packet of carrots planted in two rows ... looks like I'll have to bring more back with me, and try to thin as they get a bit larger.

The strawberry plants have sent out plenty of runners.  Maybe next spring we'll have some fruit to pick.

I had Richard also plant out three egg flats to start lettuce seeds.  Unfortunately, I did not observe him doing the planting, they just reappeared back on the patio.  One of the flats is still growing, now to figure out where we can get them planted.

That also means that Tom and I will be looking for a source of concrete blocks and paving stones to build a raised bed garden that we plant and maintain ourselves.

Another difficulty is the poor quality of the soil.  And that brings us to another frustration.  We know all about composting.  But it is not done here because of snakes.  Oh, I wouldn't mind some little harmless garter type snakes.  But we are actually talking cobras in this neck of the Africa.  So, again, a dilemma.

Before learning this I did start composting kitchen waste, but the first turn of it was a grand breeding ground for maggots.  Mary and I walking that bucket outside, tossed it away and washed out the bucket to begin again.  But, now the problem of exactly what to do with the waste, since we do not want to create a problem with snakes.

Manure is from chickens, and it is used as soon as it is produced.  So far the supplier (as per our gardener) was out when we checked 2 weeks ago.  We did discover that less than 1/10th of a mile away is a chicken farm within the neighborhood.

The rainy season has given us this curiosity, growing in the planter where the termites were  exterminated.  The gardener maintains that he can simply turn it back into the soil.  I do happen to know better, and this entire bed will be dug out, and replaced with better soil.  I plan to at least try to plant some vegetables.

It has become apparent that we have to give direction to our household staff.  So far my focus has been the inside of the house, so now it is time to turn our attention to the outside.  Richard's sense of the beautiful and esthetics does not match ours.  And now that we know more of what is happening in the yard, and hopefully establishing more contacts with folks we can quiz who have more experience than we do here, this yard can become more ordered.

Eventually we hope to get this all sorted out, and in a year have real greens to enjoy as salad!  It is one of those little luxuries, like getting daily mail or a daily newspaper crossword that we all miss.

Now for more of the native plantings.  This tree is growing on the bedroom side of the house.  From the photos you can see how tall it is.  The flowers drop to the ground, but nothing, not even ants or monkeys seem highly interested in them.  The lawn crew should be hauling them away, or at least dumping them in the furthest reaches of our yard.

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