Gardening This Year

The whole shebang.

Reading this week:

  • To a God Unknown by John Steinbeck

The rainy season appears to have finally begun in earnest so it is time to do some gardening! The above picture is mostly all of my available gardening space. Last year my gardening started with just a few sunflowers, but pretty soon the project snowballed and I had taken over the whole yard. This year I felt like I couldn’t back down from what I did last year, so I did the whole yard again. This actually gets me a lot of credit; because everyone farms or gardens here, me having a somewhat sizeable plot earns me some street cred.

This year I wanted to mix it up a bit from last year. However, orange sweet potatoes are of course a necessity, so I have planted about half the yard with vines just this morning. Of the half of the yard that is sweet potatoes, about half are the same variety that I grew last year (“Olympia,” I think), and half are a new variety we got this year, called Chumfwa I think. That wasn’t super intentional; I just didn’t harvest enough Chumfwa vines down by the ponds and I was too lazy to go back. But some of the vines from last year grew back and so I just used those as seed. This picture is a few of the ridges I just planted; it doesn’t look like much right now, but promise there are some vines in there and it is gonna be like, so many potatoes:

In the rest of the yard I have planted groundnuts, soya, and pigeon pea. The groundnuts I planted literally just to make Jimmy Carter comparisons. Of all the things I planted so far, they’re actually doing the best, and I am excited for a nice big harvest. Gonna boil, mash ’em, and stick ’em in stews even. The pigeon pea I am growing because it grows into a nice big tree and I am excited to have a whole forest of it in the yard. I intercropped it with both the groundnuts and the soya, so hopefully those ripen before the pigeon pea has grown to its full height. The goats will of course probably tear down all the pigeon pea by the time the rains are even over, but until then I can dream of my pigeon pea forest. The soya I decided to grow to encourage other people to do the same, as it is a great source of protein, and way more profitable to grow than maize. All three of these crops should also do a lot to put nitrogen in the soil, and I am hoping that next year when they plant stuff their minds will be blown at how well it grows in my (then former) yard.

The groundnut/pigeon pea/soya beds.

Finally, on the other side of the house I have a small garden, currently in need of some weeding. There I am growing garlic, which is going like gangbusters, and carrots, which have just sprouted. In just a few months I am going to be able to make a super awesome sweet potato, ground nut, pigeon pea, carrot, & garlic stew. I didn’t bother to put a fence around the tinier garden this year, because it did nothing to stop the goats anyways.

Two beds of garlic in the middle (the left one I planted much earlier), with one of the carrot beds in the background and weeds everywhere.

And finally for dessert? Pineapple. As it turns out you can just grow more pineapple from the top of another pineapple, I decided to plant pineapple this year. Unfortuately, turns out it takes a few years for it to fruit, but in the meantime I hope it will look pretty cool. I also hope it will root; I just planted it today after letting it dry out for a bit (per the instructions). Once it roots I’ll plant it over in the garden with the garlic and carrots.

My pineapple with some moringa in pollipots my host dad planted behind it.

My garden here has been my biggest project for the past few weeks. I tried to get an early start this year but some ill-timed events somewhat delayed me, and most recently a week long dry spell put a damper on planting activities. Hopefully now rain is pretty consistent and everything will grow quickly. Just gotta keep it all weeded, and it’ll be legumes for days.