Masilimeni Training of Trainers Gardening Techniques

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Duncan Stewart, Managing Director
PO Box 11934, Dorpspruit, 3206
Tel:033-3429043 Fax: 033-3942691
Email: Duncan@lima.org.za
Masilimeni ToT3:Intensivehomestead
gardeningtechniques: September2016
2
Outline: MasilimeniToT 3:Gardening
intensificationtechniques
SESSIONS 3: LIMPOPO; Inside venue, garden with access to manure, grass, seedlings, plants,
trees etc
THEME
TOPICS
PRACTICALS
MONITORING
Visioning
1,5hrs
*Helicopter planning and
drawing
Garden plans
Garden monitoring forms,
Resilience index,
registration baseline
household information
Soils and bed
design
2 days
*Soil types, texture,
structure
*Soil nutrients: Including
carbon sequestration,
nitrogen, soil microbes
*Natural sources and
fertilizers, including
compost
*Bed design; water and
nutrients
*Trenches deep and
shallow
*Double digging, eco-
circles
-Soil tests; bottle, sausage
-Testing structure and
infiltration (VSA)
-Reading soil sample test
results
-Working out fertilizer
quantities
-Lay out and construct all
bed types
Garden monitoring forms,
Resilience index,
household information
Soil fertility DVD(EFSP)
Soil fertility manuals,
(EFSP, WRC)
Diversification
0,5 day
*Brews for plant nutrition
*Mixed cropping
intercropping, relay
cropping, crop rotation
*Mulching
*Greenmanures and agro-
forestry
*Integration of small
livestock
*Seedling production
*Earthworms
-Make brews
-Exercise to design mixed
cropping system, incl green
manures
-Making and sterilizing
seedling mixtures
-Chicken tractor
Garden monitoring forms,
Resilience index,
household information
Soil fertility DVD(EFSP)
Soil fertility manuals,
(EFSP, WRC)
Natural pest
and disease
control
0,5 day
*Integrated gardening;
plants, layout, sanitation
*Pest control brews
*Disease control; plants,
sanitation and brews
-Examples of plants and
mixed cropping- do tyre
gardens
-Make brews (pest and
disease)
-Identifying different
pests
-Workshop agenda
Garden monitoring forms,
Resilience index
Natural pest and disease
control handbook (EFSP)
Fruit
production
* Fruit types, varieties
Garden monitoring forms
Resilience index
3
1 day
ON SITE
WITH FRUIT
TREES
*Succession planting and
planning
*Planting and caring for
fruit trees, layout, water
harvesting basins
*Propagation; seed,
cuttings, grafting
DDS
Fruit production (WRC)
Seed Saving
0,5 day
ON SITE
WITH
PLANTS IN
SEED
*Gardening for seed
saving
*How to grow and select
plants for seed saving;
open and cross
pollinations, OPV’s,
hybrids, GMOs
Cleaning and storage
-Cleaning seed
-Garden Plan for seed
saving
-Caging
-Bottles etc for drying and
storage (bottles, silicon,
ash, rune, chilli, aloe, oil...)
-Workshop agenda
Garden monitoring forms
Resilience index
DDS
Exercises
EXERCISE
DESCRIPTION
TIME
1.
Contextual assessment and FS indicators
2.
Calculation of fertilizer quantities
3.
Garden monitoring forms and Resilience Index
4.
Garden plans
Gardening practical exercises
4
Contents
Exercises .............................................................................................................................................3
1.LIVING SOIL.................................................................................................................................7
Living soil ........................................................................................................................................7
Soil types ........................................................................................................................................7
Soil structure................................................................................................................................11
Soil fertility...................................................................................................................................15
Soil acidity.....................................................................................................................................19
Photosynthesis..............................................................................................................................21
Nutrient cycling .............................................................................................................................21
Improving soil health ....................................................................................................................22
2.COMPOSTING............................................................................................................................23
Compost Piles ...............................................................................................................................23
Pit Compost ..................................................................................................................................26
3.SOIL ENRICHING METHODS .......................................................................................................27
Trench beds..................................................................................................................................27
Shallow trench ..............................................................................................................................30
Eco-circles .....................................................................................................................................30
4.LIQUID MANURES.....................................................................................................................32
Brews for plant nutrition ...............................................................................................................32
5.MANURE ...................................................................................................................................37
Manure .........................................................................................................................................37
6.GREEN MANURES ......................................................................................................................40
How does green manuring work? ..................................................................................................40
Green manure plants ....................................................................................................................40
How to use green manure crops...................................................................................................43
7.EARTHWORMS ..........................................................................................................................44
8. NATURAL PEST AND DISEASE CONTROL.........................................................................................45
Enemies or friends........................................................................................................................45
Large mammals.........................................................................................................................45
Rodents....................................................................................................................................46
Birds..........................................................................................................................................46
Slugs and snails .........................................................................................................................46
Insect Pests ...............................................................................................................................46
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Nematodes...............................................................................................................................47
Micro-organisms ...........................................................................................................................47
Fungi .........................................................................................................................................48
Bacteria.....................................................................................................................................48
Viruses ......................................................................................................................................48
Diagnosing plant problems ............................................................................................................49
2.4.1 Ways to identify insect damage........................................................................................49
2.4.2 Ways to identify disease damage ......................................................................................49
Blo-Indicators................................................................................................................................50
Biological pest control...................................................................................................................51
Natural enemies........................................................................................................................51
Pollinators ................................................................................................................................. 52
Scavengers................................................................................................................................52
Encouraging predators ..................................................................................................................52
Physical control methods ..............................................................................................................53
Snail and slug traps ...................................................................................................................53
Other physical control methods ................................................................................................54
Botanical remedies .......................................................................................................................55
8.TREE PLANTING .........................................................................................................................56
Choosing a site..........................................................................................................................56
Choosing a variety .........................................................................................................................57
Planting fruit trees ........................................................................................................................59
Feeding your fruit trees .................................................................................................................63
Caring for your trees .....................................................................................................................64
Planting trees for wind protection ................................................................................................. 66
9.AGRO-FORESTRY .......................................................................................................................70
10.MIXED CROPPING ..................................................................................................................73
Inter-planting ................................................................................................................................74
Crop rotation................................................................................................................................76
11.INTRODUCTION TO SEED SAVING..........................................................................................79
Flowers .........................................................................................................................................79
Pollination ....................................................................................................................................79
Examples of pollination for imperfect flowers ...........................................................................80
Open Pollinated and Hybrid crops................................................................................................. 81
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Criteria for selecting seed..............................................................................................................83
Seed Saving Instructions for specific crops ....................................................................................84
How to know where to find the seed?...........................................................................................84
Cleaning seed ................................................................................................................................87
Drying seed ...................................................................................................................................87
Storing seed ..................................................................................................................................88
Pests .............................................................................................................................................89
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1.LIVING SOIL
Living soil
Healthy soil is living soil.It
contains many living organisms.
It is deep, loose, and easy to dig
and full of air and water.
Living soil is a mixture of many
things:
Bits of sand, silt and clay, which
are types of soil;
Bits of organic matter, like
leaves, grass, manure;
Inorganic matter, like rocks and
silica;
Minerals such as potassium;
Air and water;
Micro-organisms: Also known as microbes; are tiny bugs or
creatures that are too small to see and live in the soil. They
make the soil fertile by eating organic matter and changing it
into rich plant food or humus. Small creatures like
earthworms, other worms and beetles also live in the soil.
Without microbes the roots of plants cannot dissolve
nutrients from the soil particles.
Soil types
Soil is made through the breaking up of the basic elements or
minerals of the earth. These are initially found in the form of rocks. Over a very long time, these
rocks are broken down into small particles through rain, wind and sun and mixed with air and water.
This becomes soil that can support plants and micro-organisms to grow. Like people, plants cannot
live and grow without water, air and food.
oSand makes the soil loose.
From:WHC Manual, WRC,
2010)
From:WHC Manual, WRC, 2010)
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oSilt is very fine sand. It holds water and plant food better than rough sand, but it is easily
washed out of the soil.
oClay is the sticky part of the soil that holds it together. It holds water like a sponge.
The best soils are called loams and they are an equal mixture of sand, silt and clay.
Characteristics of soils
Sandy soil
Good things about this type of soil
Bad things about this type of soil
It is easy to dig and work with
It warms up quickly in spring after winter
It is good for root crops
Water and air can get into the soil easily
It gets dry quickly
It does not keep much fertility
It does not hold water well
Loam soil (Mixture of sand and clay)
Good things about this type of soil
Bad things about this type of soil
Holds water well
Best for root growth
Contains organic matter, like …..
This soil can be hard when dry
Clay soil
Good things about this type of soil
Bad things about this type of soil
Holds water well and for a long time
Holds fertility well and for a long time
Hard to work; heavy
Slow to warm up in spring
Sticky when wet
Hard when dry
How to tell your soil type
You can tell how much sand, silt or clay is in your soil by how it feels. Wet some soil and roll it into a
ball between your hands. Then roll this little ball into a sausage. You can tell what kind of soil it is by
looking at the table below.
It is important to know which soil type you have. Crumbly and loose soil holds the most water and
the most air, which is what plants need to grow. To make your soil more crumbly (whether it is
sandy, loam or clay) you need to keep adding lots of manure, compost and mulch. Never walk on the
planted areas, especially if they are wet.
Sandy soil needs to be given organic matter to increase its ability to hold water and plant food. Clay
soil needs to be given organic matter to increase its ability to hold air in the soil and to release the
plant foods that are there.
All types of soil need organic matter to increase their fertility, or plant food.
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What soil looks
like
What soil feels
like
When rolled into a sausage
The soil is
Very sandy
Very rough
Cannot be rolled
into a sausage
Very sandy
Quite sandy
Rough
Can be rolled into
a sausage but it
cannot bend
Sandy
Half sandy & half
smooth
Rough
Sausage can bend
a little
Sandy loam
Mostly smooth
A little sandy,
quite smooth but
not sticky
Sausage can bend
about half way
around
Loam or silt loam
Mostly smooth
A little sand quite
smooth and sticky
Sausage can be
bent more than
half way round
Clay loam or sandy
clay
Smooth
Smooth and sticky
Sausage can bend
into a ring
Clay
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Another method of identifying the proportion of soil
separates in a soil is to conduct a “bottle test”. To do
this, take a bottle and fill a third of it with soil. Pour
water into the bottle until it is almost full, place a lid
on and shake it vigorously for a few minutes in order
to separate the soil particles. Leave the bottle to
settle, and note what happens over the next few
hours.
You will see that the substances settle in layers, the
heaviest at the bottom and the lightest on top.
Heavy particles such as gravel, pebbles and sand fall
quickly to the bottom of the bottle.
The finer elements then accumulate first the silt,
followed by humus and then the fine and very fine
clay. These layers vary in colour and consistency.
The layer of water above the settled material
remains cloudy for a long time because it contains
clay particles which are so small that they stay
suspended in the water. Substances
which are lighter than water (organic matter
like leaves, seeds, spores, and insect and animal
waste) float on the surface.
Below: Using the bottle test to estimate the proportion of soil separates in a sample
Above: Bottle test showing proportion of soil
separates (From: WHC Manual, WRC, 2010)
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Why are nutrients and soil so important?
Nutrients are important to plants for health and survival. They are equally important to animals and
human health. This is because we get our nutrients from plants who take up essential nutrients from
the soil. If our soil is healthy our plants benefit by being healthy and we intern benefit from the
variety of nutrients available. Soil is important to human survival, health and vitality.
Soil structure
Soil structure describes the grouping or arrangement of primary particles (sand, silt, clay and organic
matter) into larger, secondary particles called aggregates or peds. In other words, soil structure is the
shape that soil takes, determined by the way in which individual soil particles clump or bind together.
Soil structure affects the movement of water and air in the soil, as well as root penetration and
biological activity. For example, a dense structure greatly reduces the amount of air and water that
can move freely through the soil, and it is difficult for roots to penetrate such soil.
There are five major classes of soil structure: granular, blocky, prismatic, columnar, platy. There are
also soils which lack structure, such as sandy soils, and these are referred to as “structureless”.
Table: Soil Structure( From: Wikipedia. Soil. [Online]. Available from: http:// en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Soil[Accessed 16
September 2009].
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Granular: Resembles
cookie crumbs and is
usually less than 0.5 cm in
diameter. Commonly
found in surface horizons
where roots have been
growing.
Blocky: Irregular blocks
that are usually 1.5 - 5.0
cm in diameter.
Prismatic: Vertical
columns of soil that might
be a number of cm long.
Usually found in lower
horizons.
Columnar: Vertical
columns of soil that have
a salt "cap" at the top.
Found in soils of arid
climates.
Platy: Thin, flat plates of
soil that lie horizontally.
Usually found in
compacted soil.
Single Grained: Soil is
broken into individual
particles that do not stick
together. Always has a
loose consistency.
Commonly found in sandy
soils.
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Massive: Soil has no
visible structure, is hard
to break apart and
appears in very large
clods
The structure of the soil is influenced by how it is managed some practices are harmful, while
others are beneficial. Harmful practices break down the structure of the soil, making it a lot harder to
work with and for plants to grow well in. Beneficial practices build up the structure as well as the
quality of the soil, making it easier to work with and for plants to grow in well.
Soil structure test 1: Shatter test
Here a 20cm square block of soil is dropped a maximum of 3 times from a height of 1m onto or into a
basin or square wooden frame or sheet of plastic. If large clods break away, drop them again
individually once or twice. If a clod shatters into small pieces after the first drop leave it like that.
Arrange the clods on the bag from coarsest to finest. This provides a measure of the aggregate size
distribution. Compare the results with the 3 photographs to provide a score.
Figure 2: Soil structure
Some examples of harmful practices:
oWatering too much andtoo often. Result:The soil organisms and plants get choked because
they lack air.
oAdding chemical products such as pesticides and fertilizers. Result:Causes unnecessary
Soil structure photographs courtesy of Dr. Elissa Levine, NASA/Goddard
Space Flight Center
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poisoning of the soil.
oHeating of the soil surface through fire or prolonged sunlight. Result:The ground dries up
and micro-organisms are killed.
oCompaction of the soil through tillage and walking result:: the soil crusts or caps
(From: WHC
Manual, WRC,
2010)
Some examples of beneficial practices:
oControlling soil erosion and rainwater run-off. Result:Minimises damage to soil and crops
(eg. valuable topsoil does not get blown or washed away).
oAllowing fallow intervals (periods where fields/plots are rested and not used for production).
Result:The soil has time to recover its structure and fertility before planting takes place.
oCultivating soil-enriching crops species high in biomass or green manures. Result:Species
high in biomass add a lot of organic matter to the environment and soil, while those high in
green manures add nutrients such as nitrogen to the soil.
oIncorporating animal manure or compost into the soil. Result:Improves the soil structure
and increases the soil life; helps create a well-balanced soil that is alive and can support plant
growth.
oMixed cropping; The soil structure benefits when the soil is occupied by the roots of many
different plants, because:
othe roots move the soil;
oThe roots create a network of living matter which dies and rots to create humus;
oWhen the roots die they leave tunnels which improve the porosity and drainage; and
oThe roots are a living store of plant nutrients.
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FIGURE:Making good soil in family food gardens.
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Soil fertility
Allliving things are composed of the basic elements of the earth. Plants consist mainly of hydrogen,
oxygen, carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and smaller quantities of magnesium, sulphur and
calcium as well as many other elements in very small amounts (these are called trace elements).
Plants need three main kinds of nutrients:
Nitrogen (N) for healthy leaf and stem growth;
Phosphorus (P) for healthy roots and fruit formation;
Potassium (K) for general health and healthy flowers and fruit.
The capital letters in brackets (N, P, and K) are called the chemical symbols. If you buy fertilizer or
other chemicals, they may use these letters instead of writing out the name in full.
All three of these foods are found in good compost or manure. You can also increase the amount of
these foods in the soil by mulching with leguminous leaves like beans, peas, pigeon peas and Acacia
(thorn tree leaves) or comfrey, using liquid manures, earthworm castings and effective micro-
organisms. You will need to make the earthworm castings and effective microorganism brews and
add them to your soil.
These are different ways of improving fertility that you will need to be shown.
Nitrogen
How do you know if your soil needs more nitrogen?
You will know your plants need nitrogen when the leaves are turning
yellowish, instead of a strong bright green.
How can you add nitrogen to your soil?
This element is found in most manures (cattle, sheep, pig, goat, chicken
and rabbit). There is more nitrogen in chicken and goat manure. These
must be dried before being used in the garden. Otherwise they can be
too strong and ‘burn’ the plants.
Nitrogen is also found in legumes
These are plants that form nodules or little knots on their roots.
These nodules ‘fix’ nitrogen from the air, so that the plant can
take it up through its roots. There are microorganisms (bacteria)
in the roots that help to ‘fix’ the nitrogen. After the roots of the
plant die the nitrogen is released into the soil and can be used
by surrounding plants.
Examples of legumes that we often grow:
oGround nuts
Nodulesontheroots
that fix nitrogen
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oCow-peas
oBeans (including soya beans)
oPeas
There are less common crops and also many
long living plants and small trees that also fix nitrogen. Some examples
are chickpeas, mung beans, lentils, pigeon peas and tree lucerne.
Some legumes are grown only as green manures, and are not used for
food. These include lucerne, clover, hairy vetch and lupins. These give a
lot more nitrogen to the soil than our food plants, because we dig them
into the soil when they are still green. This is why we call them green
manures. We can also plant our food crops in between these legumes.
Phosphorous
How do you know if your soil needs more phosphorous?
You will know your plants need more phosphorous when they do not
grow fast, as they should. The leaves may also start to show unusual red
or pinkish colours, especially around the edges. If your plants are small and will not grow, even when
compost is added, then you almost certainly have a severe phosphorous deficiency. This can also be
caused by acidity in the soil.
How can you add phosphorous to your soil?
Many soils are poor in phosphorous. It is also a bit difficult to add phosphorous to the soil in an
organic way, as most of the sources of phosphorous are tricky to work with. They include urine,
bones, hair, feathers and blood. Usually we add these as ingredients to compost.
Natural rock phosphate can be added directly to the soil. This is also not easily available. Another
good source of phosphorous is bone meal. You can usually buy this from an agricultural supply store
but it is not cheap.
One other way of adding phosphorous is to place bones in a fire, for a few hours. You can then grind
them into a powder more easily. This powder can be spread on your garden beds or your compost
heap.
The bacteria in the root knotsbinds free
nitrogenfrom air in the soil and release nitrogen
after the plant dies
Soya
beans
18
The manure from animals grazing in areas where there is not much phosphorous will also have little
phosphorous. You may need to bring in phosphorous in the form of chemical fertilizer. The usual
source is called Superphosphate. Another chemical fertilizer known as DAP (Di-ammonium
Phosphate) can also be used.
Potassium
How do you know if your soil needs more potassium?
You will know your plants need potassium when the plants become brittle and the leaf edges
become brown and dry. When fruit do not form properly, you should also suspect a lack of
potassium. Other signs can be hard to distinguish. One of these is a yellowing around the veins of the
leaves. This could also be caused by diseases so it is difficult to know.
How can you add potassium to your soil?
Good sources of potassium are chicken manure and
fresh woodash. Never use ash from coal, as this is
very poisonous to the soil and plants. Another good
source of potassium is a plant known as comfrey. This
plant has large hairy leaves and grows in wet shady
places. The leaves contain a lot of potassium. These
can be used to mulch your vegetable beds and also to
make liquid feeds for your plants (We will look at
liquid feeds later in this section).
The other elements or minerals needed in smaller
quantities, such as Magnesium, Zinc and Iron, are
found in most manure and in compost.
Comfrey is also a good medicine. A tea made from the leaves is good for high blood pressure and
arthritis.
From: Useful Plants for
Land Design, Pelum
Comfrey
19
Other important nutrients:
Calcium (Ca) Promotes plant lifer and strong plant tissue, promotes early root formation and
seedling growth, aids in the uptake of nutrients, balances pH
Magnesium (Mg) Essential for the formation of Chlorophyll and formation of sugars, a carrier of
phosphate and starches through the plant, promotes the formation of fats and oils, vital for healthy
growth.
Sulphur (S) Increases root development, helps maintain the dark green colour, stimulates seed
production, necessary for protein production, flavor and odour in many fruits and vegetables.
Micro or trace elements (nutrients needed in smaller quantities)
Iron (Fe) Is an oxygen carrier, enhances chlorophyll formation, metabolizes RNA, enhances green
color of produce
Boron (Bo) Promotes early root formation and growth, improves health and sturdiness, increases
yield and improves quality of fruits and vegetables.
Zinc (Zn) Essential for enzymatic reactions in cells and promotes plant growth.
Copper (Cu) Is needed for Chlorophyll production, catalyzes several plant reactions and necessary for
making protein.
Manganese (Mn) Activates many metabolic reactions, increases absorption of calcium, magnesium
and phosphorus, speeds germination and plant maturity.
Molybdenum (Mo) Enhances absorption of nitrogen by plants
Chlorine (Cl) Involved in photosynthesis and chlorophyll production, stimulates enzyme activity,
helps control water loss and moisture stress.
Cobalt (C) Is needed in nodules of legumes for nitrogen fixing bacteria
Sodium (Na)Helps in water regulation and photosynthesis
These nutrients are important to plants for health and survival. They are equally important to
animals and human health. This is because we get our nutrients from plants who take up essential
nutrients from the soil. If our soil is healthy our plants benefit by being healthy and we in turn benefit
from the variety of nutrients available.
Soil acidity
What is soil acidity?
Soil acidity is can influence plant growth and limit crop yield. Minerals or nutrients needed by plants
to grow are dissolved in the water inside the soil. This is a bit like salt or sugar dissolved in a glass of
water.
Soil acidity is when the soil is sour. It is a bit like a glass of water that has vinegar dissolved in it. In
places where it rains a lot, some of the minerals can be washed out of the soil. The soil then becomes
acidic. The use of chemical fertilizers over a long period of time, can also make the soil acidic.
If there is too much acid in the soil, some minerals or plant food will dissolve too quickly and the
plants cannot use them. Other minerals will not dissolve at all, so again, the plants cannot use them.
Phosphorus is one of the minerals that cannot be used by plants when the soil is acidic even if it is
in the soil.
What causes of acidity?
Acidic parent rock material, high rainfall and leaching elements like calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg),
and phosphorous (K), decay of organic matter leading to release of organic acids intothe soil,
harvesting high yields (therefore removing plenty of Ca, Mg and K from the soil), widespread use of
nitrogen (N) fertilizers.
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How do you know if your soil is acidic?
You will know your soil is acidic if you provide compost or manure and water for your plants, but they
do not grow. The plants remain small and stunted. This is a common problem.
How will you solve the problem of acidity?
The only practical way of dealing with soil acidity is to add lime to the soil. Lime can be bought and is
a white powder, or grey granules.
It needs to be dug into your soil, at least as deep as the roots of the crop you are growing. For
vegetables this is between 30 - 60 cm. This is the width of 1 or 2 spades. You will need to add 1 kg of
lime for every square metre of soil. 1 Kilogram of lime is a spade full. It needs to be heaped high.
For field crops like maize and sorghum that have deep roots this is from 60 cm to 1 meter deep. 1
meter is the length of a spade.
Usually Lime is added 2 or 3 months before planting, as it is slow acting in the soil. If you add Lime at
the same time as you are planting your crop, you will only see the main effect of the Lime in the next
season.
Advantages and disadvantages of Liming
Advantages
Disadvantages
It is easy to apply, stays in the soil for a few
years, combats soil acidity by reducing metals’
toxicity, makes P more soluble and microbes
more active, supplies Ca, Mg to plants,
improves soil structure and water infiltration
(reduces energy needed by roots to penetrate
the soil), improves harvest
It is not easy to determine soil pH, might
not be easy to get, costs money,
Other (easily available) ways of naturally improving soil quality and balancing pH: bone meal, dried
and crushed egg shells, finely crushed sea shells
30 cm
Two meters
One meter
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Photosynthesis
Plants and animals need nutrients to keep alive and healthy. Plants also have a special green colour
(given to them by a substance called chlorophyll). They use energy from the sun, carbon dioxide from
the air, water and minerals from the soil to make uptheir food. Food is usually made in the green
parts (often the plants leaves).The process of making food using chlorophyll and sunlight is called
photosynthesis.
The type of food made by photosynthesis is
starch. This starch is used by the plant to
grow and stay alive. Plants also store food to
be able to grow after the cold seasons or for
when their seeds need to grow.
Besides the starch, the plants also produce
oxygen. Oxygen is a gas that all living things
need to live.
(from Agriseta NQF 3, LG:Plant anatomy and
physiology,2008)
Nutrient cycling
In nature nutrients are always being recycled. Plants take up nutrients from the soil to grow big,
strong and healthy. When they grow they produce flowers that attract beneficial insects. These
insects like bees and butterflies help with pollination (fertilization of the flower). The flower then
turns into a fruit which is food for insects, birds, animals and or humans. These animals take the fruit
(with seed inside) and spread the seed where ever they go. This ensures that the plants will grow in
other places. Manure is returned to the soil
(From: WHC Manual, WRC, 2010)
22
During the autumn and winter months plants may drop their leaves. These leaves and other organic
matter are broken down by micro-organisms, earth worms and other insects so that it can dissolve
into the soil and become humus. Humus gives the soil a dark colour, it holds a lot of nutrients and
improves soil fertility. That is why soil life is so important.
To summarize this - all the goodness (nutrients) from fruits, leaves, branches, whole plants, animal
dung and dead animals decompose and go back into the soil. The nutrients are taken up by plants in
the soil and in this way are recycled (used again and again). The life of a plant is therefore a cycle and
nothing is ever wasted. Nutrients are cycled through the soil and plants. Below is an example of the
nitrogen cycle
(From: WRC; Homestead Water Management Manual, 2009)
Improving soil health
Chemical fertilizers can restore soil fertility quickly because the nutrients are available to the plants
as soon as they dissolve in the soil. However they do not improve soil structure and there are other
disadvantages to using them.
There are many natural ways of improving soil health and fertility. Composting and manuring are
common examples. This is where manure (dung) from animals and compost (humus) is ploughed or
worked back into the soil. Other examples include the use of liquid manures and brews, green
manuring, nitrogen fixing trees, crop rotation, mixed cropping and worm farming.
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A comparison between chemical fertilizers and natural compost methods
Chemical Fertilizers: Disadvantages
Natural soil fertility methods: Advantages
* Chemical fertilizers are quick-acting, short- term
plant boosters.
* They can negatively impact on soil structure and
organic matters
*Beneficial life in soil including earthworms are
negatively impacted
*Chemical fertilizers alter vitamin and protein content
of certain crops making them more vulnerable to
diseases.
*Growing plants often take up a lot of nitrates which
makes growth soft and sappy and this is what pests
love
* Over time essential elements can be “locked up”
and are therefore not available to plants. This reduces
the fertility of the soil and plants can be more
susceptible to disease and pest attack.
*The activity of many soil organisms is
inhibited.
*The soil tends to become acidic
*Fertilizers meet the basic nutrient needs of soil NPK
but what about all the other elements?
*Fertilizers are inorganic. They are manufactured in
factories and this is not sustainable
*Fertilizers are expensive to produce and buy
*Chemical fertilizers are easily leached out. This can
lead to pollution of water sources
*We are working with nature and natural laws
*Natural methods of improving soil fertility endeavor
to address the issue as a whole -by increasing a
variety of nutrient levels, improving soil structure,
water holding capacity and microbial activity
(improving and encouraging life in the soil)
*When we make our own compost we are in charge,
we don’t have to rely on anybody
*It is sustainable because we can keep making
compost/use natural methods
*Nothing goes to waste
*We use what we have
*We don’t have to pay money. Why pay for fertilizers
when you can make your own?
*It takes a while for organic matter to decompose into
humus and before the nutrients are released but on
the other hand it continues to improve soil fertility
and soil structure for a long time.
*Nutrients are not as easily lost or leached out
*Crops produced in healthy soils are naturally healthy
and show more resistance to disease and pests
*An increase in organic matter reduces the likelihood
of erosion
2.COMPOSTING
Compost Piles
Compost is decayed organic matter (plant and or animal), used as a fertilizer. It is the decomposed
organic material called humus. Composting is therefore the art of making and using compost.
Nature maintains soil fertility by cycling and re using all dead animal and plant matter. Compost
provides most the nutritional needs of a plant. It encourages beneficial microbial activity, improves
water holding capacity and soil structure. It feeds and replenishes soil which in turn assists healthy,
disease free plants to grow.
Building a compost pile
You will need:
Air and water, nitrogen rich materials (animal manure, green plant material, vegetable waste, green
weeds), carbon rich material such as (thin branches, leaves, dried grass, dried maize, ground nut
shells)
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Not essential but helpful: lime, bone meal (reduces acidity), seaweed (full of nutrients), mushroom
compost, urine (diluted in water)
Creating your compost heap
Chose a suitable site (near water, in your garden, preferably under a bit of shade to prevent
moisture loss)
Collect all the materials you will need. Mark the area where you are making the pile. 1m by 1.5m is
advisable or 2 spades by 2 spades. The size depends on the amount of organic matter available.
Hoe the area you have marked out, removing all grass and plants.
Arrange the branches and sticks on the area you hoed. Lay the coarse material like dried maize, twigs
etc. on top (about 30cm thick) and water.
The second layer will be of dry materials such of leaves and grass. About 20cm thick. Again moisten
with a fine spray of water.
The third layer, of green materials is laid on top, about 1cm thick. Repeat the process (keeping the
flat rectangular shape of the heap) until about1.5m high. Cover the pile with a 5cm layer of manure.
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Cover the heap with big banana leaves, old sacks or plastic to conserve the moisture and to keep
nutrients from leaching out if you are experiencing a lot of rain.
Optional: Before you cover the pile, take a long sharp pointed stick and drive it into the middle of the
compost pile at an angle. Within 2 or 3 days decomposition will have started and the pile should be
hot inside. The stick helps you check the condition of the pile by showing you if it is wet or dry or
warm. It should be checked regularly. If the pile is too wet it will rot and if to dry the pile will not
decompose properly.
After a week or two the pile will cool, this is the time to mix the layers together. Turn the pile once a
week from here on. Turning is done by putting top layers at the bottom and side material inward
towards the center. This mixes materials and air which is essential for good decomposition. Spray
water as you turn the heap.
The compost should be ready after the fourth turning or 6-8 weeks. How will you know it’s ready? It
will be dark in colour, crumbly, soft, light, soil like and smell like rich soil.
Practical notes and tips:
A compost pile needs water and air for it to work properly. This is so that the micro- organisms can
do their work. Moisture speeds up the decomposition process and oxygen ensures the pile does not
smell. It should not smell.
Bacteria and fungi digest organic matter, they release organic acids which lowers the pH. The lower
pH encourages the growth of fungi and the breakdown of lignin and cell walls. A certain amount of
warmth is needed for quick effective decomposition and for the destruction of weed seeds. To get
active heat generating compost piles you will need the correct proportion of carbon as to nitrogen in
the starting material (30:1). If you do not have animal dung (especially in the dry season when
grasses are very low in Nitrogen content) add green tree leaves. The green tree leaves keep their
high nitrogen content throughout the year. Carbon provides both an energy source andthe basic
building block making up about 50 % of the mass of microbial cells.
Application of compost
Compost is applied directly onto the soil. There can never be too much compost. Apply at any time of
the plants growth as it is a complete fertilizer, full of nutrients. The best time to apply compost is just
before planting your seed and a few weeks after the seeds emerge. Vegetable gardens and nurseries
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need compost all year round. Well matured (well decomposed) compost can be dug in (never dig in
immature compost) apply approximately 5-10tons /ha.
Advantages and disadvantages of making compost
Advantages
Disadvantages
Easy to make, easy to find all the plant matter, can be made
at any time of the year
Uses a lot of water at first, takes a few
months to mature, takes a bit of effort
Pit Compost
The pit composting method is similar to that of a trench bed or eco-circle. Organic material is layered
in a pit and heaped up into a dome shape about 1m high and left to decompose.
Resources required
Composting materials; organic matter (nitrogen rich greens and carbon richbrowns), soil, wood ash,
water and farm tools (wheel barrow, watering can, spade, machete)
Making a compost pit
Step 1. Dig a pit 1-1.5mwide by a 1-1.5m (in semi shade and in an area that is not water logged)
Step 2. Put the dry materials in first (about 20-25cm thick),
water (moist not wet), add greens (20-25cm thick), then
add manure, soil and ash (10-15cm thick)
Right: A pit being filled with compost materials visible is a layer
of manure
Step 3. Repeat step two until the pit is filled.
Step 4. Place a sharp stick or sticks into the material in
the pit, vertically to allow air to circulate through the
various layers.
Step 5. Cover with dried grass, banana leaves (whatever
you have)
Right: An example of a compost pit that has been covered with
an old feedbag.
Step 6. Turn every 2 weeks. The compost will be ready in
3-4months
Advantages and disadvantages of pit compost
Advantages
Disadvantages
Easy, doesn’t require much time
Cannot be destroyed by livestock
Remains moist for longer
Could smell if it’s not done properly, need to dig
the pit and look after the compost
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3.SOIL ENRICHING METHODS
Trench beds
Introduction
A trench bed is a way to increase soil fertility and water holding in your beds and garden. It is an
intensive way of providing good soil for vegetables production on a small scale. It involves digging a
hole and filling it with organic matter, so that your bed can be fertile for a long time (around 5 years).
You will need:
A spade, water, tins, old bones, plastic (if your soils are sandy),
dried grass, wood ash, manure and organic matter.
The method
1. Dig a hole 60cm or deeper. It is usually about 1m wide (to
provide easy access, without having to step on the bed) and can
be as long as one likes.
2. Separate the topsoil and subsoil in piles while you are digging.
If your sub-soil is very in fertile it is not used in the trench.
Spread this soil around the garden to help channel water
towards your bed.
3. Place a layer of tins or branches at the bottom of the trench
to help with aeration and also with supply of some nutrients.
The tins need to be squashed before putting them in
the hole. Make a layer of tins about 3 tins deep. If there
are no tins use thin branches instead.
4. Fill the trench with a range of organic materials and
topsoil.
- First add dry grass or weeds (about 10 cm deep)
- Then add manure (about 2 cm deep)
Mandla (in Phuthadjithaba) isdigging his
trench bed and placing the topsoil on
one pile (darker soil with more organic
matter) and the subsoil on another
(usuallylightersoil with little or no
organic matter).
Layer of tins at bottom of trench
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- Add also some wood ash (a thin layer, less than 1cm
deep).
- Then add a layer of sop soil (about 5cm deep)
Mix these layers with a fork
Stamp them down by walking on them
WATER the mixture well!
Then start the process again.
You can also add other organic matter like green and
dry weeds and vegetable peelings, card board, paper
and bones.
5. Continue to place the organic materials into the
trench until it has reached ground level again.
6. Now build up the trench bed to about 10-15cm above
soil level. Use a good mixture of topsoil and manure and
or compost.
The organic material in the trench needs to decompose
for about 2-3 months before planting.
7. The other option is to use your trench bed as a seed
bed. In this way, when your seedlings are ready to be
transplanted, the trench bed will be ready to be
planted.
Growing seedlings from seed needs a well
prepared bed. The roots of the small plants do not
go down too deep. The materials in the trench can
decompose while the seedlings grow on top.
Above, Carrot and onionsseeds are being planted in a
seed bed in Potshini. This trench has justbeen
prepared.
Note; Fine soil is being used to cover the seeds in the
rows. This is because the seeds are small andin this
way they can germinate better.
A trenchbed in Potshini being filled and mixed.
Here thetopsoil is being added back into the
trench Notice the yellow subsoil on the one side.
It is not being used.
A trench bed in Phutaditjhaba being filled,
mixed and stamped down. Notice the
mixture of manure, grass and soil.
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Left: In this picture carrot seeds were planted in the smaller trench bed in
the far corner. There are also two tubs of seedlings being produced. In
the foreground is a recently completed trench bed intowhich bought
cabbage seedlings have been planted. Again these grewwell and did not
show anynegative effects from thedecomposing material in the trench.
Right: In this picture a number of
trench beds have been prepared in a
garden in Potshini. The owner has
used two of his trenches as seed beds.
They are covered with grass to hold
the moisture in the soil while the
seeds are germinating. This grass will
be removed when the seedscome up.
The middle bed is shaped like a horse shoe. This is anice design that makes
it easy to reach all sides of the bed. It also allows run-off water to run into
the middle of the shoe and soak into your bed. Here the owner has planted
swiss chard seedlings. They grew well; despite ourfears that the
decomposition of the organic matter in the trench bed may interfere with
their growth
8. It is very important that the trenches are watered well while they are being made and afterwards.
The organic material in the trench cannot decompose if it is dry.
Different ways of watering are possible; as long as a lot of water is given!
Advantages and disadvantages of trenchbeds
In this picture, drip irrigation is going tobe used to water a trench bed.
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Shallow trench
Shallow trench beds are shallower version of the deep trenches. This trench is dug to about 30cm
deep. The bottom of the trench is filled with sticks and branches. This is covered by a layer of dead
leaves or green leaves and grass (depending on what is available). Then the rest of the hole is filled
with compost and finally it is covered with the topsoil that was dug out.
(from WRC; Homestead water Management Manual, 2009)
Advantages and disadvantages of shallow trenches
Advantages
Disadvantages
Easy to make, takes less energy than a deep
trench, it also takes a shorter amount of time to
create
This is a difficult method if you live in an area with
hard soils and many rocks
Eco-circles
An Eco-circle is a unique, productive way of gardening. Eco-circles are (small) raised, circular garden
pits beds.
What you will need to make an eco-circle:
String and a stick, a spade, compost and mulch, seedlings or seed to plant, a candle and matches , a
piece of wire and used 2l bottle with a lid.
Advantages
Disadvantages
This method really works as the soil is rich in
nutrients, it is a good method for sandy soils (low
in nutrients)
Difficult to dig trench beds in hard soils, it takes
time and effort, some people are scared of this
method because the trench looks like a grave.
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How to make an eco-circle:
Mark out a circle (using a stick and some string) on the
ground where you intend growing food. Remove the first 20-
30cm of topsoil and put it in a pile next to the circle. Remove
another 20-30cm and put it in a separate pile, next to the
circle. The hole should be knee deep now (about 50cm)
Light a candle and heat up the wire (careful not to burn
yourself). When the wire is hot, burn 16 tiny holes in the
sides of the 2l bottle. (4 holes, in 4 vertical rows - going
down the side of the bottle).
Place the bottle (upright) in the center of the circle. Now
add a 2cm layer of compost, or decomposed kraal manure,
kitchen waste or dry grass, into the base of the hole. Cover
this with 8cm (4 fingers) of subsoil. Water the 2 layers well.
Continue replacing the subsoil layering it with compost
(grass and or whatever organic material you have) watering
each layer as you go. Having added all the subsoil replace
the top soil. The surface of the bed will be higher than the
surrounding ground. Scoop the soil from the center of the
circle to the outside to create a basin with the top of the
bottle in the center. The basin shape funnels water into
the center where it sinks into the soil. So it can’t run off
carrying precious topsoil with it. Mulch and plant.
Fill the bottle with water once a week. The water will
slowly drip out the bottle into the soil.
Practical notes and tips:
The compost creates a sponge which retains water and the mulching prevents evaporation. In areas
of high rainfall the surface of the bed should be flat to prevent water-logging.
You can make the eco circle bigger for example 1m by 1m
Advantages and disadvantages of eco-circles
Advantages
Disadvantages
Easy to make, effective method, small enough to
maintain, saves labour once the circle has been
dug, simple method, not much space needed, can
grow lots of food in the small space, low tech,
water saving method of gardening (there is a
saving of up to 70% in water usage), A good
method to use in dry areas
Could be hard to dig in hard soils
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4.LIQUID MANURES
Brews for plant nutrition
One way of improving plant nutrition is to make liquid teas or brews that will add fertility to the soil.
In this method nutrients (from plant matter or animal dung) are leached out (drawn out) into water
and applied to the soil. This should be used as an additional soil fertility technique rather than the
only one. Brews provide extra nutrients in case of small deficiencies, but cannot rectify major
nutrient deficiencies.
Liquid manures/brews/ teas are a simple way of giving your plants a boost. The aim is to provide
plants with natural plant foods quickly during their growing season. It is useful for heavy feeders like
cabbages and to give seedlings a boost.
How to make liquid manures from plants
A good plant for liquid manure is comfrey. Most soft green leaves and stems can also be used and
weeds are ideal. Avoid plants which are very strong smelling. Plants are made of different quantities
of nutrients and take up different nutrients from the soil. It is best to use a range of plant materials
to make your liquid. Make sure you only use healthy plants.
Make sure your container is clean before you use it.
Collect the plant material and fill up the container. You must keep on adding material to the
container every week
Place a rock on top of the plant material in the container and put the lid on. Do not add water. The
plant material will make its own liquid. If you are only using weeds, and no comfrey or banana stems,
you may need to add a little water, to just cover the compressed plant material.
Place it in a sunny position and two weeks later check to see if the leaves have turned black. If you tilt
the container you should find a black juice. This is the concentrated plant liquid manure.
This liquid is very strong and should be diluted as follows:
Seedlings: 1 tin of liquid manure for every 4 tins of water.
Bigger plants: 1 tin of liquid manure to 2 tins water. If you make the mixture too strong it can burn
the leaves of plants.
Every two weeks pour the mixture on the soil around your plants, after you have watered them. You
should pour at least one tin of this diluted mixture around each seedling or plant. The tin should be
the size of a big jam tin.
How to make a foliar spray
This is brew made from a mixture of plant and animal material. It is used by spraying onto the leaves
of plants from where it is absorbed. This brew contains antibiotics, microbes and plant hormones as
well as plant nutrients (potassium, phosphate and trace elements). (from :EMBRAPA; Brazilian
Agriculture Research Institute)
Place the following ingredients in a container with a lid:
30kg of fresh cow manure
50-60liters of water
5litres of milk (without salt)
5liters of sugar cane juice/ 15kg of chopped sugar cane/2kg of brown sugar (personal variation)
4kg of wood ash (not coal ash!!)
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4kg crushed bones or bone meal (fish bones are ideal if available. If possible do not use chicken
bones) (We use bone meal bought from a gardening shop)
3-5x 20l buckets of chopped weeds
2-3kg of agricultural lime/ crushed eggshells
Leave this mixture for 10-15 days
Dilute 2-10litres of this mixture in 100 liters of water.
This spray is highly effective. It is possible to keep the brew going for a period of time, by adding
more weeds and manure and fermenting the mixture again for about 10 days.
Advantages and disadvantages of foliar sprays
Advantages
Disadvantages
Foliar sprays are very effective and act quickly
in the plants.
If diluted properly, these foliar sprays do not
harm plants
Foliar sprays increase disease resistance in
crops
Foliar sprays provide a quick and cheap plant
booster food
Plant hormones and antibiotics are also
supplied through the fermentation process in
the making of foliar sprays
Some inputs for foliar sprays need to be
bought; such as agricultural lime and
potentially wood ash, sugar and milk
This mixture is exceptionally smelly while it is
fermenting
Foliar sprays can “burn” plants if they are too
strong
Good plants for liquid manures
Comfrey
This plant has large hairy leaves and grows in wet shady places. The leaves contain a lot of potassium.
These can be used to mulch your vegetable beds and also to make liquid feeds for your plants
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Comfrey is also a good spinach and medicine. A tea made from the leaves is good for high blood
pressure and arthritis.
Stinging nettle
This is one of the best plants you can use in
plant brews. It contains a wide variety of
nutrients and trace elements and is a well-
balanced plant food. It is best to collect these plants in the natural forests where they occur and
plant a few in your garden. They do not survive frost, but otherwise grow almost anywhere.
Banana stems
These are chopped up and placed in the container with other plants and leaves. The stems have a
high concentration of potassium and water and make a good liquid base for the brew.
Weeds
Black Jack, Amaranths, Chickweed, Galant Soldier. All fast growing weeds, with soft dark green leaves
are good. Avoid using grasses and sedges.
Advantages and disadvantages of plant brews
Advantages
Disadvantages
Plant brews are easy to prepare and use
If diluted these brews do not harm plants
Plant brews increase disease resistance in crops
Plant brews provide a quick and cheap plantbooster food.
Plant brews provide mainly potassium, phosphorus and trace
elements.
Nitrogen can be provided if the brew is used early in the
fermentation cycle (after 1 week) and care is taken to avoid it’s
evaporation by keeping the containers closed and cool
Plants drink their nutrients so nutrients immediately available,
easy quick method.
Resources such as containers with
lids are required
Plant brews can burn plants if they
are too strong
Effects of the brews on plant
growth are only visible after 3-5
days.
It is not possible to know exactly
which nutrients these brews
contain.
Comfrey From: Useful Plants for Land
Design, Pelum
A brew made from comfrey leaves can be
diluted as mentioned above and sprayed
on plant leaves to protect against downy
and powdery mildew. Mildews are a
problem mainly on cucurbits, pumpkins
and peas.
A brew made from comfrey and stinging
nettle can be sprayed on plants to
protect against early and late blight,
which attacks tomatoes and potatoes.
In these cases the brews are sprayed
onto the leaves of the plants.
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These teas are excellent to use on newly transplanted
seedlings to help them recover from transplanting shock.
Useful method for rainy season when there is lots of leaching.
You can prepare fertilizer teas from animal manure, plant trees
from parts of plants.
Some people do not like the smell
of these brews, which can smell
very rotten
Nitrogen is volatile and is lost from
the brews quite early in the
fermentation cycle
How to make liquid manure from animal manure
Manure can be used from chickens, rabbits, cows, goats and sheep. A mixture of manures is best.
Put your fresh manure mixture into an orange packet and tie the top of the bag.
Put the bag in the container and attach it to a stick or a rope. Then fill the container with water. For
every 1kilogram of manure you will need 5 liters of water. This means an orange sack full of manure
in a large bucket (50l), or half the bag in a normal sized household bucket (20l). This is a way of
keeping the manure and the water separate, because you should not put the wet manure on your
plants.
Cover the container with a lid. Stir every few days.
After two weeks the mixture will be ready to be used. It should look like weak tea. Before using the
liquid, stir the mixture well.
This liquid will be very strong and should be diluted:
Seedlings: 1 tin of liquid to 8 tons
of water (or buckets or bottles)
Bigger plants: 1 tin liquid to 4 tins
of water
If you make the mixture too strong
it can burn the leaves of plants.
Every two weeks pour the mixture
on the soil around your plants,
after you have watered them.
Again, use at least one big jam tin
full for each seedling or plant.
Avoid applying your mixture in the
middle of the day or on very hot
days.
Good sources for animal liquid manures
Kraal manure (cattle)
Either use fresh manure or use manure that has been collected in a kraal. In this way you can ensure
that the manure contains as many nutrients as possible and that the nutrients have not been lost
into the air through baking in the sun and drying out. This is especially important if you need your
liquid manure to contain some Nitrogen.
Plastic cover
Stick to stir
Sack with ± 40 kg
manure and/or
plants
200 litre drum
filled with
water
Nutrients
dissolve into
water
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Chicken manure
With chicken manure it is important to collect the droppings
while they are fresh. Again this keeps the nitrogen and other
plant food concentrated in the dry droppings. It is possible to
collect the droppings daily and keep them in a sack in a cool
dark place, until you have enough to make a brew.
Liquid manure made from chicken manure can burn plants, as
it can contain a high level of Nitrogen. It is important to dilute
this brew properly before use. If you are unsure, test the brew on a few plants only and come back
the next day. If the edges of the leaves have gone brown and crinkly overnight, the brew is too strong
and has “burnt” your plants.
Goat manure
This is very mild manure and is well balanced. It is unlikely to “burn” plants, but may also be a little
low in phosphorus, depending on the diet of the goats.
Other manures
Manure from rabbits can also be safely used. It is suggested not to use the manure from pigs, due to
the possibility of carrying worm eggs that can infect people. Do not use manure from dogs and cats
for the same reason.
Urine
Human urine is an excellent garden tonic. Urine (from healthy people who are not on medication) is
collected, diluted and watered onto the soil around plants. Like plant based liquid manure, it should
be diluted to a weak tea colour. Avoid using it in the same place regularly.
Advantages and disadvantages of animal liquid manures
Advantages
Disadvantages
Liquid manures are easy to prepare and
use
If diluted properly, these liquid manures do
not harm plants
Liquid manures increase disease resistance
in crops
Liquid manures provide a quick and cheap
plant booster food
Liquid manures provide mainly potassium,
phosphorus and trace elements.
Nitrogen can be provided if the liquid
manure is used early in the fermentation
cycle (after 1 week) and care is taken to
avoid it’s evaporation by keeping the
containers closed and cool
The liquid manure is only as good as the manure of
origin. If the animals are suffering from deficiencies
these will be transferred into the manures. As an
example, there is likely to be a lack of phosphorus in
cattle manure, where cattle have only been grazed
on veld. This means the liquid manure made from
this source will also lack phosphorus.
Liquid manures are generally low in nitrogen. Using
chicken manure drastically increases the nitrogen
content.
The source manures have to be handled well to
retain their nutrients before using as liquid
manures.
Effects of the liquid manures on plant growth are
only visible after 3-5 days.
It is not possible to know exactly which nutrients
these brews contain.
Some people do not like the smell of these liquid
manures, which can smell very rotten
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A few more recipes for liquid manures
Fermented Plant Extract (FPE) Recipe from the PELUM Conservation Farming course in Zambia
This liquid manure is high in micro-organisms and is a good mixture for boosting immunity of plants
(and people) and assisting against attack from fungal diseases.
You will need: 1kg brown sugar, chopped up green plant matter - bamboo shoots, banana leaves,
comfrey leaves, weeds (use only vigorous growing, nutrient rich healthy plants. No flower heads)
Instructions: Cut up the plants (small), add the sugar, mix well, put in bucket (push it all to the
bottom, tightly) and put a rock on top of it to keep the air out. Cover the bucket with newspaper (tie
the newspaper on with string)
The newspaper will let air in and keep fruit flies out. Keep at a stable temperature for 14-21 days.
This is when the juice will be drawn out and the microbes active. The juice is ready to use on plants,
in the soil, in toilets and is also suitable for human consumption.
Agroforestry Leaf tea Recipe
This is an excellent nitrogen boosting liquid manure.Collect fresh leaves from trees such as Leucaena,
thorn trees and wattle. Put about 30-40kg in a sack and tie securely. Suspend the sack from a stick
across the top of a 200l drum filled with water. Cover the drum with a lid. Stir every 2-3 days by
moving the stick gently up and down. This will release the nutrients into the water. Soak the leaves
for about 2 weeks and be sure the sack is kept underwater the whole time. Remove the sack of
leaves (add the leaves to the compost or use as a mulch) then dilute the tea by mixing 4parts of
water with one part of the tea. It should look like weak tea. Apply by pouring it on to the soil around
the plants or sprinkling over the leaves of plants.
5.MANURE
Manure
The manure of animals grazing on natural veld (rangeland) on infertile acid soils and sandy soils will
be particularly poor in plant nutrients. The older manure becomes the less plant nutrients it will
have. Old manure always contains less nitrogen than fresh manure due to the evaporation of some
of the nitrogen. If manure is subject to leaching by rains, and/or if the liquid manure is allowed to
flow or drain away, the manure will have much lower amounts of plant nutrients than the original
fresh manure.
Straw, dry hay and dry grass are excellent bedding materials for kraals and sheds where animals are
kept. Various types of shrubs can be used where these materials are not available. Manure should be
well mixed with bedding material and stored in piles that remain wet, but are not open to being
leached by rain. Some form of cover for the pile is a good idea.
For vegetable production, at least 20 tons farmyard manure should be applied per hectare. This
means that at least 2 kilograms (one 5 litre bucket) of manure must be applied per square metre. In
South Africa, farmyard manure is relatively poor in phosphorus (P). Natural South African soils are
also very poor in phosphorus. Thus, additional phosphorus must be applied together with manure.
This can be in the form of superphosphate or bone meal
In rural areas where chickens roam freely, their manure is often not available, or may be difficult to
collect due to the small size of the droppings. However, chicken manure is an excellent source of
38
plant food. Chicken manure contains high concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorus and is
therefore a good source of these nutrients. It is a “sharp” fertilizer that will damage (“burn”) the crop
if applied in too large quantities.
Application of chicken manure to a crop should never exceed 2 tons per hectare. Two tons chicken
manure per hectare is the same as 200 g (about 500 ml) per square metre. Thus, for the application
of chicken manure to small areas of land or to beds, the following measuring method can be used:
Cut the neck off a 500 ml plastic soft drink bottle, at the “shoulder” of the bottle. Apply one such
bottle full of chicken manure for every one square meter.
Crop typeNPK
kg/ha kg/ha kg/ha
CowHorseGoatSheepPigChicken RabbitKraalCompostAmadumbe 100 100 150
N (Nitrogen)56 14 7 5 1318 7 5
P (Phosphorous) 23 2 3 4 1113 1 2
K (Potassium)36 6 4 6 20 6 78Beans80 40 50
Nitrogen Beetroot 68 60 80
Promotes vegetativegrowth, i.e.
stemsand leavesBrinjal (Egg fruit)100 6080
Cabbage 18080 100
Chillies &SweetPeppers100 6080
Phosphorous Carrot 7575 100
Promotes rootdevelopment,
needed for flowers andseedsLettuce10075 100
Maize (green/sweetcorn)100 2080
Onion 10075 100
Potassium Peas 40 40 50
Strengthens plant, gives resistance to
heat,cold, disease and pestsPotatoes160 100 130
Pumpkin &Hubbard squash100 6080
Spinach 10075 100
Sweetpotato100 6080
Tomatoes 16075 100
Nutrients in animal manures (average): Kg/ton
Purchased
39
Manure as a natural fertilizer
Manure is an excellent fertilizer containing nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and other nutrients. It
also adds organic matter to the soil which may improve soil structure, aeration, soil moisture-holding
capacity, and water infiltration.
Nutrient content of manure varies depending on source, moisture content, storage, and handling
methods. The management of manure can also affect its value. For example; nitrogen is present in
manure and gradually converts to ammonium and nitrate nitrogen. The ammonium form can be lost
to the air if not contained and the nitrates can be leached by rainfall.
Nutrient availability and manure application
Table : Nutrient availability in different types of manure
Nitrogen
Phosphorus
Potassium
Calcium
Magnesium
Organic
matter
Moisture
content
(N)
(P2O5)
(K2O)
(Ca)
(Mg)
FRESH
MANURE
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
Cattle
0.5
0.3
0.5
0.3
0.1
16.7
81.3
Sheep
0.9
0.5
0.8
0.2
0.3
30.7
64.8
Poultry
0.9
0.5
0.8
0.4
02
30.7
64.8
Horse
0.5
0.3
0.6
0.3
0.12
7.0
68.8
Swine
0.6
0.5
0.4
0.2
0.03
15.5
77.6
TREATED
DRIED MANURE
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
Cattle
2.0
1.5
2.2
2.9
0.7
69.9
7.9
Sheep
1.9
1.4
2.9
3.3
0.8
53.9
11.4
Poultry
4.5
2.7
1.4
2.9
0.6
58.6
9.2
Rates of Manurefor Nitrogen Needs
Nitrogen compounds in manure eventually convert a nitrate form. Nitrate is soluble (dissolvable) and
is moved into the root zone with water. It is then available to plants in same form as commercial
nitrogen fertilizers.
The release of available nitrogen from the complete organic compounds during manure
decomposition is very slow. This is important as it extends nitrogen availability and reduces leaching.
This is especially important if your soils are sandy.
The idea is to first apply enough manure to meet the first year's need of available nitrogen.
Decreasing amounts are then applied in following years because of the carry-over organic nitrogen
that will be released from previous applications. If the same rate of manure is applied each year, it is
possible for a field originally low in nitrogen to accumulate unnecessarily high levels in successive
years.
The nitrogen in poultry manure is in released fastest,about 90% is released in the first year. Fresh
manure which contains both the urine and solid portions and has a large amount of urea or uric acid
provides a somewhat slower release rate, with approximately 75% of the total nitrogen released the
40
first year. An even more gradual nitrogen release can be expected from dry feedlot steer manure,
with only 35% of the total nitrogen released the first year.
Every so often, the garden needs a tonic to revitalize and revivify. Making liquid manure from
“found” ingredients provides a cheap and effective way of increasing and maintaining garden fertility
and capturing minerals from deep within your soil.
Advantages and disadvantages of using manure
Advantages
Disadvantages
Manure helps to maintain the organic matter
content of the soil, improves soil structure and
water infiltration.
However, manure is quickly decomposed under
warm, moist soil conditions. Composting and
stockpiling manure can reduce the number of
viable weed seeds.
Composting manure increases the nutrient
content and safety for use considerably.
Manure is cheap and readily available in rural
areas.
Weed seeds are common in some manure..
Poultry droppings typically have fewer weed
seeds surviving the digestive processes..
With the manure rates used for most crops,
organic matter content in soil is only
temporarily increased.
Manure can cause a build up of salts in soils
that are already highly saline or very badly
drained.
Fresh manure can burn young plants.
Zinc deficiency can be induced or increased with
repeated high rates of manure, especially on
sandy soils.
6.GREEN MANURES
How does green manuring work?
Green manure crops are sown and allowed to grow, either until the land is needed again or until the
plants have reached a certain growth stage usually just before flowering. At this point, they are cut
down, dug in to the soil and are left to decompose, releasing vital plant nutrients back into the soil
which are then used by the nextcrop.
If you don't want to dig in the plants, then green manure crops can also be composted or used as a
mulching material instead.This is how nutrients are recycled in nature so we are repeating nature’s
effective system.
Green manure plants
There are many plants suitable as a green manure crops.
Some examples are given in the table below.Plants marked * are nitrogen fixers
Table: Examples ofgood green manure plants
Name
Latin
name
Sowing time
Characteristics
Growing
time
Alfalfa/ Lucerne
Medicago
sativa
Sept- Nov
Bee plant. Very deep rooting, long
livinggood animal fodder
1-2months or 5-
10 years
*Winter Field
Beans
Vicia faba
April- June
Bee plant, similar to broad beans.
overwinter
41
Buckwheat
Fagopyrum
esculentum
Sept-Dec
Bee plant, deep rooting, very frost
sensitive, but can resistcold. High
protein grain
up to 2-3 mths
*Clover, red
and white
Trifolium
spp
Sept Dec
Bee plant, adds nitrogen and boronto
the soil
1-2 mthsor a
few yrs
*Fenugreek
Trigonella
foenum
graecum
Sept- Dec
Butterfly nectar, looks similar to clover
2-3 mths
*Lupin, bitter
Lupinus
angustifolius
Sept-Nov
Bee plant, very deep rooting
2-3 mths
Mustard
Sinapis alba
March-Sept
Fast growing, good biomass
2-8 wks
Rye, grazing
Secale
cereale
March-May
Bee/caterpillar food.Deep roots good
for soilstructure
autumn-spring
*Trefoil
Medicago
lupulina
Sept-Dec
Bee/butterfly nectar. Tolerates some
shade and drought
up to a few yrs
*Tares,winter
(annual vetch)
Vicia sativa
March- May,
Sept-Nov
Bee/butterfly nectar. For alkaline,
heavy soils not droughttolerant
2-3 mthsor
overwinter
Nitrogen Fixing examples
When using legumes as green manures it is important not to try and grow them to term and harvest
seed. If this happens a lot of the useful nutrients that would have been incorporated into the soil is
then used by the plant for producing seed and many of the
benefits are reduced.
Lucerne
Lucerne is a legume that helps to enrich your soil. Lucerne
can be chopped up and cooked as spinach. Lucerne is also
a good food for cattle, sheep, pig and chickens. You only
have to plant lucerne once every 5-10 years. You can
harvest it every summer.
Right; above close up view of a lurcerne plant; below; a bed
planted to lucerne.
Planting: Lucerne is planted during the summer months.
Prepare the land well. Add compost/manure and ash. Work
into the soil. Lucerne needs a lot of potassium (K) and
phosphate (P). The seed is quite small. Seed can be
scattered over the land and covered using a hoe or a rake.
Seed can also be planted in little furrows like carrots.
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It can also be planted as small patches or beds in the garden and left for 3-
5 seasons before digging over the bed to plant vegetables again. Lucerne
can also be planted as a ground cover and intercrop with vegetables.
Harvesting: Lucerne can be cut and used green. It is cut down to around 5-
10cm above the groundat about the height of one’s ankle. Lucerne can
also be dried to be stored as winter food for animals.
Dry lucerne in flat piles in the sun. Keep on turning these piles over.
Otherwise the hay at the bottom may rot. Drying takes about 3 days.
Clover (white and red)
Clover is most well known as
a fodder crop grown in
irrigated pastures for livestock. It is a cool season plant.
In the garden, the creeping growth habit means they
can be planted on paths and between beds. It works
very well when cut and used as a mulch and works well
in compost heaps.
Right: Red clover
Field beans/ broad beans
Winter field beans are one of the few winter green manures, as it is
a cool season crop. These beans can even be sown in between rows
of vegetables in your raised bed system if you are short of space.
Right: Winter field beans
Mixtures of green manure plants can also be used. For example:
field beans/mustard; or vetch/clover/rye.
Right: grazing rye
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Grains
Buckwheat
Buckwheat is used as a grain. It is high in protein, iron, calcium and magnesium. It is a hardy creeper
that can be cut back and used repeatedly before being left to seed. It is a perfect green manure crop
as it stores calcium, potassium and magnesium in its leaves and
will immediately enrich and sweeten soil once dug in.
Right: Buckwheat flowering
Buckwheat is a good companion to other grains such as oats and
barley.
(Pics fromP. Pears. HDRA, )
When is the crop ready?
It is better not to leave your green manure crop in the ground for
too long, as land occupied in this way cannot be used for growing
other crops. Also, if green manure plants get too old, then they
can become tough and will take longer to decompose and be
incorporated into the soil by soil organisms. For most green
manure crops, it is usually recommended that they are cut
and used just before they flower.
How to use green manure crops
1. Usually, green manure crops are cut down and dug into
the top 15-20 cm of soil with a spade. The beds are left for
several weeks to allow decomposition of the material in
the soil, before planting.
2. Or, simply hoe off young plants (or chop down older
ones) and leave them on the soil surface as a mulch. If
plants are chopped down, then to prevent any re-growth
of the stubble, cover the ground with a light-excluding
mulch (e.g. black polythene/newspaper) until you are sure
that the green manure crop is dead. If you are in a hurry to
start replanting the ground, then you can of course simply
plant through the mulch. You will need to allow several
weeks before planting the next crop in the mulched area, in order to give the mulch some time to
decompose and release its nutrients back into the soil.
3. Cut the green manure and use the leaves for making compost. Composting is also a very good way
of using any crops which have been allowed to get too old and tough to dig straight into the soil.
Advantages and disadvantages of green manuring
Advantages
Disadvantages
Cheap and easy to grow, they can increase soil fertility, they
improve soil structure and help prevent soil erosion, they
encourage efficient use of land.
Might need a tractor if you plan
to plant a large field.
Selecting green manures:
- Choose a quick or a slow-growing
crop - to fit in with the time that
the land will be left vacant and
whether you will cut and use ordig
in the crop.
- The season of the year. (Not all
varieties will survive the winter.)
- Whether you want your crop to
fix nitrogen or not.
- Your soil type and how much
drainage it offers
44
Most green manure crops are very attractive to wildlife. Green
manures keep weeds in check (bare soil encourages weed
growth).
By taking up nutrients from the soil, green manure crops prevent
them from being washed away when it rains.
Some green manure plants (legumes) are nitrogen fixers. Green
manuring increases the humus content of the soil.
It takes time and effort. Green
manure crops mostly can not be
used as food crops.
7.EARTHWORMS
Normal digging of the soil can help with the drainage and
aeration of the soil. There are natural diggers in the soil-
earthworms. They can dig just as well or even better than
humans can dig with tools. Ploughing with tractors and hoes
can kill many of these natural diggers and will compact the
soil.
A
way of increasing the fertility of the soil is to add earthworms
to it. Earthworms serve several vital functions, including:
Breaking down dead organic matter in the soil.
Burrowing and moving under the soil, thus naturally
aerating the soil.
Providing a source of nutrients to other organisms
when they die.
It is also possible and well worth while to farm with
earth worms to create vermin-compost and vermi-
compost liquid manure for use in gardens (shown
alongside).The worms create compost from the
organic matter, including kitchen scraps,crop residues,
manure or almost any other organic material.
Making vermi-compost
To start, use any dark container with a
drainage hole at the bottom. Place a layer of
stones and paper atthe bottom. Fill around
half the container with grass, manure,
kitchen scarps and other organic matter.
Place the worms in the container and
continue to fill. Make sure this mixture
remains moist and continue to ‘feed’ the
wormeryona weekly basis. Intime
everything will be reduced to thick crumbly
humus. The worms move to thetop of the
bin/container and thehumus can be
removedfrom the bottom,with a few
worms, and used in garden beds.
45
8. NATURAL PEST AND DISEASE CONTROL
Enemies or friends
Plants, animals and micro-organisms can influence the productivity in your garden. About 99% of all
plants, animals and microorganisms are beneficial to agriculture and the general economy. It is only
1% of all living creatures that causes so much trouble in gardens around the world. If left
undisturbed, natural enemies could mostly keep this troublesome 1% under control. Modern
agriculture techniques generally do not consider the relationship between organisms, or the balance
between different populations that keep pest explosions in check.
Small scale farmers may attempt to grow crops in poor soils under less than ideal conditions. Plants
stressed in this way are easily susceptible to pest and disease attack.
Plants
Unwanted plants are called weeds. Weeds can cause damage to crops in several ways:
They take up water and nutrients from the soil, in competition with the crop.
They can shade crops from the sun. Sunlight is very important for the growth of crop plants.
They can host insect pests that can damage the crops.
They can reduce the quality of the produce, e.g. weed seeds found in cotton would reduce
the price considerably.
Weeds aren’t always pests
They can be used to your advantage:
-Weeds can be slashed and used as a green manure to feed the soil.
-They cover the soil and can prevent soil erosion.
-They can attract and host very valuable beneficial insects (predators and parasites).
-They can act as wind breaks.
Animals
These include large mammals, rodents, birds, slugs and snails, insects and nematodes.
Large mammals
Buck, pigs, goats, cattle, rabbits, dogs and
cats are considered to be large mammals. If
these are not kept out of the garden they
could cause considerable damage.
Animal manure can be very useful in
feeding the soil.
46
Rodents
Rodents include mice, rats and mole
rats and moles. These animals can cause
damage to your crops and stored grain
and should be controlled.
Birds
Birds can be divided into two large
groups: the meat-eaters andthe plant/seed
eaters. The plant/seed eating birds can
damage your crops by eating the seedlings,
fruits and seeds of the crop. Such birds are:
crows, sparrows, pigeons and finches.
Not all birds are pests
The meat-eating birds can be very beneficial in
your lands, as they will reduce the numbers of
insects and rodents in the crops. Such birds
are owls, swallows and hawks.
Slugs and snails
These creatures can cause considerable damage to your crops if they are not controlled.
Insect Pests
Insect pests can be divided into two categories:
47
Sap-sucking pests
Examples are aphids, scale insects, mealy bugs, leaf and plant
hoppers, whiteflies, thrips, mites and red spider mites.
Plant-eating/chewing pests
Examples are caterpillars (armyworms, leaf-miners,
cutworms), beetles, locusts and crickets.
Not all insects are pests
Some insects are beneficial to your crops, such as:
Bees that pollinate crops,
Predators that feed on insect pests (e.g. wasps) and
Insects that help to decompose organic material (e.g.
dung beetles).
Nematodes
Nematodes are very small worms that can hardly be seen
with the naked eye. These tiny worm-like creatures feed
mainly on the roots of plants. At first the damage will not be
noticed, but as the numbers of these little creatures increase,
the plants will decline and could eventually die.
Not all nematodes are harmful to plants.
Only a small percentage of nematodes are plant eaters, the
rest live on organic material in the soil or feed on small
animals in the soil.
Micro-organisms
Micro-organisms are tiny creatures that can usually not be
observed with the naked eye. They can, however, be seen
when they occur in large numbers. Micro-organisms are
responsible for diseases and can be classified as fungi, bacteria
and viruses.
48
Fungi
There are quite a variety of fungi that can influence
our lives. Fungi that cause plant diseases are usually
tiny parasitic organisms that grow on or inside plants.
A mass of these usually consists of tiny threads (called
hyphae), which infect the cells of the plant. Fungal
spores can disperse through the air or with water or
with the help of other organisms and cause new
infections. They can lie dormant in the soil for several
years, as sporing structures. Most fungi prefer moist,
warm weather. Fungi can be devastating in a crop.
Fungi cause diseases such as blights, mildews, and
certain root rots.
Fungi are not always disease causing.
Some fungi are very useful and even crucial for life on
earth. Some of these fungi are bigger and can be seen
with the naked eye. For example the mushrooms and
bracket fungi that are found on fallen trees. These fungi
help with the decomposition of the wood and the
nutrients in the wood are made available to other
organisms. Other fungi are used by ants and other small
insects as a food source.
Bacteria
Bacterial diseases are caused by minute
organisms that reproduce rapidly by division.
Bacterial diseases in plants are difficult to cure.
The best way to prevent serious damage is to
destroy affected plants. Bacteria cause diseases
such as soft rots and some leaf spots.
Viruses
Viruses are amongst the smallest of all living
organisms. They cannot be seen with the naked
eye. Only the symptoms can be seen on the
plants. Viruses cannot reproduce without the
help of another organism. They also need a
vector to infect a plant. Many sap-sucking insects
act as vectors. Generally there are no cures for
virus diseases and affected plants should be
destroyed.
Not all micro-organisms are pests
49
Many species of micro-organisms can help plants by feeding them. Such beneficial micro-organisms
are encouraged by healthy soils.
Diagnosing plant problems
Before symptoms can be treated it is important to have an idea of the cause of the problem. Damage
to plants can be caused by insects, animals, micro-organisms, natural causes (such as drought and
nutritional disorders), or by chemical injury.
It is not always easy to identify the cause of a problem immediately
from visual symptoms. There are hundreds of causes of plant
problems and two or more of the causes might produce the same
symptoms. A single visual symptom can also be caused by a number of
different problems.
Identification of the cause of a particular symptom requires years of
experience, but guidelines can be given to make it easier.
2.4.1 Ways to identify insect damage
SYMPTOMS
CAUSE
Ragged leaves, holes in wood, fruit or seed. Mining on
leaves. Wilted or dead plants.The presence of larvae
Chewing insects
Foliage and fruit are off-colour and sometimes a bit
distorted
Sucking insects removing sapand cell contents
from the plant and injecting toxins into the plant
Black sooty substance covering the leaves, twigs,
branchesand fruit. Thesooty cover can easilybe
removed by rubbingthe leaves.
Honeydew excreted by certain insects leads to the
growth of sooty mould. Leaves suffocateand
plants donot grow well.
Galls on leaves, twigs, budsand roots
Gall forming insects
Scars onstems, twigs,bark and fruit.Fruit is
sometimes infested with larvae
Insects laying their eggsin or on the plants.
2.4.2 Ways to identify disease damage
SYMPTOMS
CAUSE
Wilting, root rots and stunting
Clogging of water-conducting cells of the plant
Blotching, scab, black spots on leaves
Destructionof the chlorophyll in the leaves
Unusual growths onflowers, twigsand roots
Gall forming bacteria that disrupt normal cellular
organization
Flower and seed rots
Fire blight and bacterial rots
Wilting, dwarfingandoff-coloured foliage, usually
patchy in appearance, leaves become distorted
Viral diseases carried from one plant to another
by aphids and other sap sucking insects
Soft rotting of fruit, foul smelling.
Bacterial soft rots; usually in awet environment
The symptoms of
diseases are
often similar to
nutrient
deficiencies and
can easily be
It is important
to note that
the following
are rough
guidelines.
50
Blo-Indicators
Pests and diseases can be helpful in a way too. When these are spotted in the garden, they are
indicators that something is wrong. In order to fix the problem, you need to know what the indicator
is telling you. By just killing off the pests and diseases with chemicals, you will never fix the problem.
The solution would be to make the plant and its environment healthy enough to fix itself. Healthy
plants have a natural resistance against pests and diseases.
Weeds can also be used as bio indicators. They can tell us a lot about the soil
they are growing in. Weeds with very strong taproots indicate soil compaction.
The weeds grow there to break up the soil and improve the soil structure. Ferns
and Oxalis indicate acidic soils, while nutgrass and sedges indicate that there is
not enough air in the soil, because of compaction or water logging.Amaranthus
(shown alongside) indicates fertile soil with bad structure, but very rich in
nitrogen.. Weeds also take up minerals from the soil and keep them from
washing away or leaching into the soil. Blackjack has the ability to take up
nutrients that are not available to crop plants. If you take out the weeds from
your land and bum them or just throw them out, you are losing vital minerals.
Try to incorporate them back into the soil, so that the minerals can be used by
your crops.
51
Biological pest control
Beneficial insects
A relatively small number of insects can be regarded as pests.
The majority of insects are harmless or do insignificant damage
to crops.
Some insects are beneficial to the farmer in various ways. It is
important to encourage the activities of these beneficial
insects. 0
The beneficial insects can be divided into three major
categories:
Natural enemies
Many insects eat other insects that are possible pests of crops.
In this way the numbers of the pest insects are kept down.
These insects include:
Dragonflies- Feed on insects and worms.
Mantids - Feed on insects.
Ground beetles - Some species feed on aphids and caterpillars,
snails, fly larvae, eggs or pupae, white others are vegetarian,
living on seeds or green plants.
Ladybirds - Feed on aphids, leafhoppers, plant hoppers, scale
insects and mites.
Lacewings - The adults and the larvae prey upon many pest
species such as: plant hoppers, leafhoppers, aphids, scale
insects, larvae of moths and mites.
Ant-lions - Feed on small crawling insects trapped in their pits.
Maggots of hover flies - Feed on aphids. The flies feed on
pollen and nectar.
Robber flies - Feed on small flying insects and small
grasshoppers.
Parasitic wasps - Parasites of pest species like caterpillars. They
can also parasitise the eggs of pest species.
Robber fly
Lady bird
Dragonfliy
Praying mantid
Lacewing
52
Advantages of biological control
The agent targets the pest species and are non-toxic to
other species and to human beings.
Once the population of biological control agents are
established, it normally retains itself.
The development of genetic resistance is minimised,
because the pest and the predator develops together.
Disadvantages of biological control
Biological agents are slow to react. You will not get
immediate protection from pests.
Predators will have to be protected from pesticides
sprayed elsewhere, because most pesticides kill all insects.
Pollinators
Bees are the main pollinators, but insects like butterflies,
moths, several fly species and some wasps can also assist in the
pollination process.
Scavengers
Some insects live on dead organic material and help in the
breakdown of plant debris in compost heaps and in gardens.
Animal wastes and dead animal tissue are also broken down in
this manner, e.g. dung beetles.
Encouraging predators
It is important to recognize other predators of insects as well.
The encouragement of predators can help control pests and
diseases. A soil with a good structure can host a number of
beneficial soil organisms.
Birds - Some birds feed on insects and can help in protecting
your crop. Seed-eating birds will damage your crop.
Chickensfeed on insects, but can damage seedlings.
Geese are used for weeding of orchards. They will eat fruit that
has dropped from the trees, preventing them from rotting and
contaminating other fruit.
Hover fly
Parasitic wasp
Bee
Diadem
butterfly
Chameleon
53
Chameleons - Feed on insects that can damage your crops.
Lizards - Predators of insects.
Frogs are good for controlling insect pests.
Snakes eat rodents and insects.
Spiders eat insects. The majority of spiders are harmless to
human beings and they can be very helpful in keeping pests
away.
Physical control methods
This is the use of physical methods to
prevent or control the outbreak of pests or
diseases. Physical control methods include
barriers, traps and artificial guards. Some
physical crop protection methods are still in
use, but are mostly not regarded as
important. Fly traps and sticky yellow insect
traps are commonly used and very effective.
Right: A home made fly and fruit fly trap and
Far right; a sticky yellow insect trap.
Protective borders andbarriers
Set up boards about 10cm high around your crop and paint them with fuel or oil,
or use bands made of cloth or board on larger stems or trees. These boards or
bands will discourage crawling insects from getting into the crop.
A tin can open at bothends,or toilet roll centers, can be placed over seedlings as
collars to keep cutworms away from the seedlings. They should be pushed firmly
into the soil (Shown alongside).
Traps
Snail and slug traps
Stale beer in a shallow plate or container, dug into the
ground. The slug or snail will crawl into the liquid and
drown. Other liquids containing yeast will also act as
baits.
An inverted cabbage leaf placed on the ground will
attract snails, slugs, cutworms and other pests that hide
during the day and forage at night.
Right: A beer trap for snails and slugs.
Ants can be lured into containers baited with sugar water, fats or
any other food residue.
Grasshoppers are attracted by all kinds of scents: citrus fruit,
lemon or vanilla extracts, beer, vinegar, salt, soap and smoke.
Spider
54
Cockroaches can be trapped by greasing the inner neck of a bottle baited with a raw potato or stale
beer.
Some flying insects can be attracted by light. Red, orange and yellow lights are avoided or ignored by
almost all insects.
Aphids, wasps and all kind of flies are attracted to the colour yellow. A trap can be made with a
shallow yellow-painted bowl, filled with soapy water.
Many insects are attracted to different colours. Try experimenting with
different colours. The collected pests can provide food for fish and chickens.
Rodents can be trapped in several ways. It is important to place the traps in
the regular paths of the rodents, and they must be attractive to the rodents,
so that they will investigate and not avoid the trap.
Rodents can be trapped and drowned when a large bucket is dug into the soil
and almost filled with water. About 3 cm below the top edge a line of peanut
butter is smeared. The animals fall into the trap and drown when trying to eat
the peanut butter.
Artificial guards
Black cotton threads can be used to scare birds away from crops. The threads
should be spread wide and loosely between the branches of fruit trees or around
crops. The birds will fly into the threads and be scared away, without being
trapped.
Scarecrows, cans and aluminium foil strips on strings,, as well as old cds’ can be
very effective in scaring birds and other animals away shown alongside). Care
should be taken to move them on a regular basis so that the animals don’t get
used to them.
Rodents and seed-eating birds can be scared by cutting out cardboard
silhouettes of owls or other birds of prey and suspending them over the ground
by attaching them to a rope and on top of a high pole. The shadow is cast on
the ground and is mistaken for the real thing (shown alongside).
Other physical control methods
Burning of infected plant material, ploughing back, etc., can be regarded as
physical control.
55
Pupated maize stalk borers can be destroyed by
making animal feed or fuel out of the maize stalks.
Stored beans can be protected by storing them in
sand.
Weeds should be slashed before they flower to
reduce reproduction by seeds.
Ants can be controlled by constantly destroying
their nests and re-mixing the soil.
Botanical remedies
Remedies made from plant material
In this chapter a few recipes for plant mixtures are given that can be used to control insects and
diseases. Be sure to read the warnings, where present, carefully. No responsibility will be taken for
damage to plants, animals, people or property.
Spraying with herbal poisons or plant teas can control pests and diseases to a large extent. Some of
the most widely used insecticides originally came from plants. The flowers, leaves, or roots have
been finely ground and used in this form, or the toxic ingredients have been extracted and used
alone or in mixtures with other toxicants. The active chemical from the plant was then identified and
reproduced as a synthetic chemical in the laboratory and sold as a chemical. These synthetic
chemicals have the same properties as the natural chemicals but do not break down as easily as the
natural chemicals and can thus damage the environment.
Another advantage of natural or organic remedies is that they are cheap. But it must be realized that
some organic remedies are as poisonous as some chemicals and that some chemicals are less
poisonous than some of the organic remedies.
Many plants with control possibilities are known and probably many others are yet to be discovered.
Leaves of many strong-smelling, bitter-tasting plants like gums, lantana, khaki weed, tomato or any
other herbs have great potential for insect sprays. Plants that do not get attacked while in among
affected plants are also potential remedies.
At least 3000 plant species have already been studied in laboratories to determine their effectiveness
for controlling plant pests and diseases. Of these, approximately 1800 plants have been shown to be
more or less effective against certain pests.
Hot water seed treatment to eliminate seed
borne diseases
Seed can be treated using the following
process:
- Place 250g of seed in a cotton back
-Soak the seed for 30 seconds in cold water
and for 20 minutes in water heated to and
maintained at 50°C (just too hot to touch)
-Cool the seed in fresh cold water
-Spread immediately in the shade to dry
Most plant material such as bulbs, rhizomes,
tubers and cuttings can be treated in this way
to reduce or eliminate disease.
56
8.TREE PLANTING
It is possible to grow many different types of fruit trees around your homestead. You can acquire
your trees by growing them from seeds or cuttings or buying grafted trees from nurseries.
Choosing a site
Different trees grow better in different climates. The table below will give you some ideas of which
trees will grow in your area.
VERY COLD AREAS:
Has frost often in winter and sometimes
snow
NOT SO COLD AREAS:
Has frost sometimes in winter and rarely
snow
Apples, pears, peaches, nectarines, plums,
almonds, grapes, cherries, apricots, pecan nuts
and walnuts
Apples, pears, peaches, nectarines, plums,
almonds, grapes, cherries, apricots, pecan nuts
and walnuts
Also: figs, granadillas and citrus fruit (lemons,
oranges, naartjies and grapefruit)
Your trees will grow for a long time; so it is important to choose the right place.
General points regarding aromatic plant sprays
Sprays can be made up from the chopped up leaves of different strong smelling plants. Plants
like garlic, chilli and onion work well.
The sprays have to be re-applied after rain or irrigation as they are washed off with water
Green bar soap can be added to make the spray stick to the plants and the insects
Generally the sprays are made up in 1 liter of water. They are diluted from there; 1 part solution
to four parts water before being applied
Most botanical insecticides are contact poisons. Spraying has to be done rather intensively to
ensure all insects have been covered by the spray.
Sunlight breaks down the sprays, so they should be prepared and stored out of direct sunlight
Some crops are damaged by sap from other plants and it is possible for some of these remedies
to ‘burn’ the leaves of plants they are applied to. Always test a new remedy on a small number
of plants first
For most applications against insects the best time of day to spray is in the late afternoon
57
You need an area with well drained and deep soil that has enough sun (preferably a north facing
slope) where fruit trees can be
protected from wind.
As it becomes colder in Autumn
deciduous trees and vines shed
their leaves and go into a state of
rest. They all need a certain period
of cold weather to break this rest.
The degree of coldness needed
varies for different varieties of
trees. In some cases when the
temperatures in June/July are not
low enough the rest periods are
insufficiently broken, which results
in a state called “delayed foliation”. In spring some buds and leaf blossoms drop of and some
branches remain dormant and die back. The trees do not grow
or produce well. It is thus important in warmer areas to choose
varieties that do not need very cold winters.
Choosing a variety
Each type of tree has many different varieties and you will need
to choose a variety that is suited to your area and climate.
Some varieties grow better in very cold areas and others in
warmer areas.
Another consideration for choosing a variety: Pollinators
Here you will need two different varieties of the same type of
tree (and two specific ones!) For example; you will need to plant
both Granny Smith and Golden Delicious varieties of apples.
WarmNorth
facing slope
Frost Zone
Rows of trees can trap
cold air and should be
removed
Cold air flows down slope
without causing damage
to blossoms
Cool cold
South facing
slope
Cold air in valley bottom in winter
It is also important to
know when a tree flowers.
Late frost will kill early
blossoms on a tree and
badly damage the fruit
production for that tree.
You will need to choose a
tree that flowers after
the threat of frost has
passed.
58
They will help each other bear fruit, as they pollinate each other. The blossom of the one
cultivar/variety will need to be fertilized by the pollen of the other cultivar/variety. They need to
flower/blossom at the same time and they need to be compatible, so that both types can bear fruit.
These trees must not be planted more than 30metres apart, so that the pollen can be transported
from tree to tree with the help of bees and the wind.
You can plant 1 tree of one type (cultivar/variety) and 4-5 of the other; depending on which variety
you prefer. This means that you can have more of one variety of trees, than another.
Which trees need pollinators?
YES
APPLES
PEARS
PECANS
SOME PLUMS
PAWPAWS
NO
CITRUS
MANGOES
GRAPES
Different varieties/cultivars you can choose from
There are many, many varieties and cultivars and new ones are always being produced. It may help
to ask the nurseries in your area which varieties are suitable. In the table below some varieties are
mentioned to give you an idea.
CULTIVARS FOR VERY COLD AREAS
CULTIVARS FOR NOT SO COLD AREA
NAME
POLLINATOR
FRUIT
RIPENS
NAME
POLLINATOR
FRUIT
RIPENS
APPLES
Granny Smith;
green apple
Yes: Golden
Delicious or
Starking /Top
Red
April
Granny Smith;
green apple
Yes: Golden
Delicious or
Starking /Top
Red
April
Golden
Delicious;
yellow
Yes: Granny
Smith or
Starking /Top
Red
15 February
Golden
Delicious;
yellow
Yes: Granny
Smith or
Starking /Top
Red
15 February
Starking/Top
Red:
Red
Yes; Golden
Delicious or
Granny Smith
March
Starking/Top
Red:
Red
Yes; Golden
Delicious or
Granny Smith
March
PEARS
Packhams;
Light green
Bon Chretion
and Forelle
Mid
February
Packhams;
Light green
Clapp's
Favourite
Mid February
Bon Chretion;
Yellow
Self pollinator
March
Forelle;
yellow with
red blush
Packhams and
Bon
Chretion
Early April
PLUMS
Santa Rosa:
red skin and
Self
pollinating
15 December
Begin
Pioneer;
red skin and
Self
pollinating
20 November
59
flesh
January
flesh
Songold:
yellow skin
and flesh
Santa Rosa,
Laetitia
15 February
Songold:
yellow skin
and flesh
Santa Rosa,
Laetitia
15 February
Laetitia;
red skin and
flesh
Songold
30 January
Laetitia;
red skin and
flesh
Songold
30 January
PEACHES
Elberta;
yellow
freestone
Self
Pollinating
25 August
1 February
De Wet;
yellow
freestone
Self
pollinating
25 July
25 October
Kakamas;
yellow
clingstone
Self
Pollinating
15 August
15 January
Oom
Sarel:
yellow cling
Self
pollinating
5 August
15 December
Early Dawn:
white
freestone
Self
Pollinating
15 August
20 November
Boland;
White
Freestone
Self
pollinating
15 August
15 December
NECTARINES
Flavortop;
dark red kin,
yellow flesh
Self
pollinating
20 August
5 January
Sunlite;
dark red
skin, yellow
flesh
Self
pollinating
5 August
5 December
APRICOTS
Peeka;
Dark orange
Self
pollinating
15 September
25 December
Palsteyn;
dark orange
Self
pollinating
30 August
30 November
Planting fruit trees
It is a good idea to prepare the planting site/hole a few weeks before you want to plant the tree. The
soil will settle in the hole that you dug and the manure will not be too strong for the roots.
Preparing the hole
1. Dig a square hole that is at least 80 cm
wide and 80 cm deep. A big hole means a
good tree. Put the top soil in one pile and the
subsoil in a separate pile.
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2.Now put 1 bucket (10 litres) of manure in the hole. Mix it with a few buckets of subsoil.
3.Mix in 500 g of superphosphate or 1kg of
crushed bone.
4.Next, put in two more buckets of manure
and some topsoil and mix them together.
5.Now fill up the rest of the hole with
topsoil. You may need to dig up some topsoil from
somewhere else.
Planting the tree
Caring for the little tree before you plant it
If it is in a plastic bag, water it every few days.
If it has bare roots, put moist sandy soil over the
roots and wrap it in a wet sack until you are ready to
plant it. You can place the trees in a bucket of water
for 2-3 hours before planting them.
Planting a tree that is in a plastic bag
These trees are usually planted in spring and will have leaves on the trees when you plant them.
(September-November)
manure
Measure it in an
old tin
Place bare-rooted
trees in a bucket
for two hours
before planting
Keep trees in a
shady place before
planting
Cover the roots
with grass,
sawdust, or moist
sandy soil
Water trees every
2 3 days
Water roots at
least once per day
Bagged trees Bare-root trees
61
1. Water the tree in the bag without breaking the soil bundle
2. Make a hole in your planting hole (which you prepared earlier) the same size as the plastic
bag
3. Take the tree out of the plastic bag
4. Plant the tree and make sure the roots are covered with soil. The planted tree should be the
same depth as it was in the bag.
5. The join or graft/union on your tree must be 10cm above the soil level
NOTE: Graft union must be 10 cm (hand width) above the soil level
Graft unions:
Wild fruit trees grow in many different soils and climates and have very strong roots. But the fruits
from these trees are not very big or tasty. Other trees that are not so strong may bear good, tasty
fruit. To obtain a tree with both strong roots and good fruit the roots of the wild tree are joined to
the branches of the tree with tasty fruit. The process is called grafting; this is done by cutting the
stem just above the roots of a wild tree and binding a branch that has been cut from a good fruit
bearing tree. The two trees grow together to form a single tree.
The graft union can be seen as a large lump just above the roots. It should always be above the
ground when the tree is planted.
Planting a tree with bare roots
These trees are usually planted in the middle of or towards the end of
winter (July- August).
1. Make a hole in the soil you have prepared for planting. It should be
a bit bigger than the roots of the tree.
Rootstock
Scion
Graft
Union
10 cm
Dig the hole the
same size as the
bag.
Carefully cut
the bag and
remove it
without
disturbing the
soil around the
roots.
62
2. Cut cleanly any broken roots to avoid disease.
3.Hold the tree in the hole so that it is a little bit higher out
of the ground than it was before.
4. Carefully place the soil around the roots.
Make sure the soil gets right in between the roots so that
there are no air spaces left. The planted tree should be the same
depth it was before in the soil.
5. The join (bud union) must be at least 10cm above the soil.
6. Once the tree is planted
(bagged or bare rooted),you should
prune it. Trees are weak after you
plant them, because their roots
take time to get used to the new
place. It helps the roots to grow
strong if you prune the tree after
planting. You need to cut off the
top and all the side branches.
7. To help the tree grow straight, tie it to a strong stick
pushed into the ground. As the trees grow, they will take
up more and more space.
It is important to plant them far enough apart. Peaches,
plums and apricots should be planted 3 paces (metres)
apart in the rows and rows should be 5 paces (metres)
apart. Pears, apples and citrus trees need to be 5 paces (metres) apart in and between rows.
Watering your newly planted tree
1. Press down on the soil gently all around the young tree.
2. Make a small dam around the tree to hold water.
3. Give the tree 4 buckets (10 L) of water.
4. Mulch around the tree with dry grass or
10 cm
60 cm
(knee height)
Graft union
must be 10 cm
above the soil
63
newspaper or rocks, keeping the mulch away from the trunk of the tree. This will save water
for the tree. It will also stop weeds from growing.
5. Water that runs off the roofs and bare ground around
the houses can be directed by means of small furrows
to the trees, so that when it rains the trees will get a
good soaking.
6.Use the following guidelines to water your trees.
Year
Spring and Summer
Winter
1
2 Bucket (20 L) every
7 days during dry weather
1 Bucket (10 L) every
14-21 days
2
3 Buckets (30 L) every
7 days
1 Bucket (10 L) every
14-21 days
Year 3 onwards
3-4 Buckets (30-40 L) every
7 days
2 Buckets (20 L) every
14-21 days
Feeding your fruit trees
Using kraal manure
Spread the manure on the ground, as far as the branches reach. Do not let the manure touch the
stem of the tree. Then cover the manure with mulch, otherwise it will lose its strength.
Age of tree
September
December
Year 1
1 (10 litre) bucket
1 (10 litre) bucket
Year 2
2 buckets
2 buckets
Year 3
3 buckets
3 buckets
Year 4
4 buckets
4 buckets
Year 5
5 buckets
5 buckets
From 5 years onwards, you should apply the same amount of manure each year.
64
Caring for your trees
Inter planting
It is more natural for trees and other plants to grow
together rather than to stand alone. If you only plant
one crop, insects will have a feast. Growing
vegetables and other crops between your trees
encourages “good” insects that control the “bad”
ones and a better balance is maintained.
It is also possible to grow a mixture of other ANNUAL
crops such a grasses (oats, annual rye grass) and
legumes (vetch, lupins). These grow through winter
and die down in early summer to provide mulch and
compost.
OR it is possible to grow PERMANENT crops between your rows of trees. Here you would mix grasses
(rye grass, fescue), legumes (clover, lucerne) and herbs (comfrey, chicory). These plants can be
regularly cut short and the cuttings can be used as mulch, compost or animal feed. A variety of
species always attracts a variety of organisms that may help in pest and disease control.
Pest and disease control for fruit trees
Growing healthy trees is a good starting point. They are stronger and more resistant to insects and
diseases. Use lots of compost, manure and mulch and weed your trees regularly.
Other ways to grow strong healthy trees include:
Growing marigolds, leeks and
comfrey nearby deters
insects.
Promote the presence of bees. Bees
help to pollinate the flowers of the fruit trees and
thus to bear fruit.
Promote the presence of insect predators (good
insects); these insects live off other insects and
provide a natural way to control pests (bad
insects). These include ladybirds, lacewings, wasps,
praying mantis, dragonflies and frogs.
Inter-
planting
Marigold
s
Bees
Praying mantis eat many kinds of insects
65
Make up simple mixtures or brews that will get rid of insects and diseases
Garlic and onions sprays (deter most insects): Chop up 1 whole garlic or onion bulb. Soak it
for 1 day in two teaspoons of paraffin. Add 0.5 litres of water and strain off the onion or garlic from
the liquid. Add a medium bar of green sunlight soap and mix it in until it has completely dissolved.
This will help to stick the mixture to the leaves of the trees. Dilute this mixture 1:10 with water and
splash or spray on the tree.
Tobacco mixture: This should be used carefully as it is a strong poison
and can kill bees and useful insects as well. Boil up 0.5 cup of cigarette ends
or tobacco in 1 litre of water. Strain off the liquid andmix with 2 litres of
water. Splash or spray on the tree.
Ladybirds eat lots of
aphids and other bugs
Dragonflies eat flies, aphids
and mosquitoes
Wasps lay theireggsin living worms and
caterpillars. When the young hatch they
feed off these worms
Lacewings eat aphids
Frogs eat worms, caterpillars, slugs and
even snails
66
Fruit fly traps: Fruit flies spoil fruit later in the season by stinging them and laying eggs inside
the fruit. Small worms hatch in the fruit and make them rotten. Fruit flies like eating ripe fruit like
plums, grapes and oranges. You can fill a trap with some water mixed with fruit (you can use any
sweet smelling fruit), water and sugar. The fruit flies will fly into the traps to feed and will not find a
way out again.
Another fruit fly trap consists of making up a mixture of Bovril or
Marmite and mixing in some poison such as the tobacco mixture above.
Fruit flies can also be controlled by picking up fallen and rotten fruit
beneath the trees EVERY day. The fruit is collected in buckets of water,
which will drown the small worms. The fruit can also be fed
to chickens and pigs. It is important that the small worms do
not make contact with the ground. They burrow out of the
fruit into the soil and rest there to start a new cycle of fruit
flies.
Wrap a band of paper or cloth covered in grease around the
trunk of each tree. The grease should
not touch the bark as it is poisonous
to the trees. Any pests, ants and other
insects walking up the trees will get
stuck on the grease and die.
Diseases such as mildew (a white powdery fungus on the leaves, mostly on
apples, pears and vines), black spot (little
black spots on leaves and fruit) and leaf curl (mostly on peaches and
nectarines) can all be controlled by dusting the trees and fruit with
sulphur or copper-oxychloride. These chemicals can only be
obtained from gardening shops and some hardware stores.
Planting trees for wind protection
The movement of air is important to plants. It prevents diseases caused by too much
moisture/wetness and lack of air. It also helps to spread pollen (which is necessary for fruit
production on some trees and plants) and helps plants to seed themselves.
Leaf spot
Peach leaf curl
67
Wind can affect your plants in negative ways:
Strong winds can blow over or break your crops
and trees
Dry winds cause the soil and plants to dry out.
Very hot or cold winds can destroy crops.
Dust carried by the wind scratches plants like
sandpaper.
Wind can also cause soil erosion, especially in the
dry months. Your topsoil can be blown away by
the wind, leaving you with the less fertile subsoil.
Where to place a windbreak
Windbreaks are planted across the path of the main hot, cold and dry winds in your area.
Windbreaks are good around homesteads. They can also be planted along roads andpaths and also
as boundaries around your fields and gardens.
How to make a windbreak
It consists of rows of trees and shrubs, usually of various kinds and heights. They are planted as a
semi-solid barrier. This means that some air can still move through the windbreak, but it will be
slowed down. The best windbreaks consist of at least three rows of shrubs and trees of different
heights.
The trees and shrubs can also be planted in 1 or 2 rows. If you can, make sure thatbranches and
leaves still grow close to the ground. With tall trees only, the lower branches die back over time. The
wind will then "tunnel" past these bare stems and damage your crops. The shorter shrubs and plants
can be planted on the side the wind is coming from as well.
A Windbreak
Useful plant species to inter plant as wind breaks
Small shrubs and trees
Medium Shrubs and trees
Large shrubs and trees
Aloes
Comfrey
Wormwood
Herbs;rosemary, thyme, lavender, etc.
Napier fodder
Pigeon pea
Buddleja or Sagewood
Halleria or Tree Fuchsia
Casuarina or Beefwood
Acacia or Sweet thorn
Mulberry
Some extra advantages of
windbreaks
Can provide firewood
Can provide fruit
Can be thorny for protection
Can provide fodder for animals
Can provide medicine
68
More about some of the suggested small plants, shrubs and trees
Aloe
These are good for protection as they often are thorny. They also provide some protection against
fire, as the leaves are fleshy and hold a lot of water. They can be used for medicine. A good kind to
use is Aloe maculata. This is a low growing aloe with white speckles on the leaves. The gel in the
leaves is very good as a medicine for constipation and contains a trace element known as selenium.
Selenium is a very important supplement for your immune system.
The aloe often grown around homesteads, Aloe striatula, which has long, thin leaves, can be a bit
invasive.
Marigolds and Fennel
These are small strong smelling plants that help to protect your garden
from insect attack. The white umbrella-like flowers of fennel help to
attract insects (predatory wasps) that eat the pests in your garden (worms
and aphids). Marigolds can be used to make a poison that will kill small
worms (nematodes) in your soil.
Napier fodder
This is a tough, hardy fodder grass that can be used for hay and silage. It is
also good for mulching. It grows fast. It is propagated by taking small rooted clumps from a
"mother" plant. It is also possible to lay the canes/grass stems in shallow furrows. These
will grow from the nodes/notches in the stem. In cold areas the plants will die back in
winter (the dry leaves remain as a windbreak). They will re-shoot in spring.
Buddleja salvifolia; Sagewood; Lelothwane
These are tough, fast growing, evergreen shrubs. This means they do not
lose their leaves in winter. They are frost resistant. They will need to be
protected when young, but are robust when older. The flowers attract birds
and bees. The leaves can be used as tea or as a medicine for eye complaints.
Halleria lucida; Tree fuchsia; Lebetsa
This is a shrub, but can also grow into a small tree. It grows up to about 3-
10metres high. It has multiple stems that can be cut for firewood, garden
stakes and fencing. It has tubular orange/red flowers that attract birds and
bees. The fruit is edible.
Marigolds
Fennel
Runner beans
Vines; grapes, granadilla
Dovyalis or Kei-Apple
Carrissa or Num-Num
Euclea or Blue Guarri
69
Euclea crispa; Blue guarri; Mohlakolo, Motsoetla
This is a shrub or bushy evergreen tree that grows between 1 and 5 metres
high. It has small, black pea-like berries that are edible. It grows wild in some
places.
Carissa bispinosa; Num-num
This is a branched, spiny evergreen shrub. The leaves are small, shiny and
thick. Fruit are small oblong red berries that are good to eat and for making
jams.
Cajanus cajan; Pigeon Pea
This is a small tree that is native to Africa. It fixes nitrogen in the soil and has deep roots. It
can be used for firewood. It is frost tolerant, but needs to be protected when young. The
young leaves can be eaten as spinach and the seeds are eaten as beans or "dahl". The
leaves are also good fodder for animals; especially cattle and goats.
Dovyalis caffra; Kei Apple
This is a very thorny small tree with fleshy leaves. It makes a good protective
hedge. It grows a bit slowly. It is resistant to drought and frost. It needs to be
protected from frost when young. The fruit is good to eat and can be made into
jams and jellies. The flesh needs to be washed off the seed before planting.
Mulberry
These are large deciduous trees. This means they lose their leaves in winter. The
leaves are good animal fodder. The small black berries are very sweet and can also
be used for making jam. Mulberries are
easy to grow from cuttings. They can be
pruned and these branches can be used
for fences, stakes and firewood.
It is possible to plant fruit trees together with some of the
trees and plants mentioned here. This helps to protect your
fruit from pest attack and wind and frost damage. On the
right is an example of a peach tree planted with runner
beans, marigolds, fennel and Pigeon Peas. Different
combinations of plants can be used.
70
Casuarina Cunningham; Beefwood
This tree originally comes from Asia and Australia. It is a large shady tree with leaves
that look like pine needles. It grows very fast and can grow in poor soil. It provides
good timber and firewood. It can be planted easily from seed. It is moderately frost
resistant and should be protected when young.
Acacia karroo; Sweet Thorn
These are very hardy, fast growing, very thorny trees. They are frost
and drought resistant. They fix nitrogen into the soil. The tree
provides good firewood. Leaves, flowers and pods are good animal
fodder.
Advantages
Disadvantages
Trees are multi-functional, they provide: oxygen,,
shade, food, medicine, furniture, trees can be used
as wind breaks, places to sit and enjoy nature, we
can climb them, they are low maintenance, we can
use the dead branches and leaves in our compost
heaps and we can mulch with them, increases
biodiversity, is a place for beneficial insects and
animals to live
It’s a long term investment
9.AGRO-FORESTRY
What is the aim of agro-forestry?
Agro-forestry combines or integrates trees and or shrubs with other crops and or animals in a
farming system. Trees and shrubs may be grown at the same time alongside crops or in rotation with
crops.
Agro-forestry imitates a natural ecosystem, in which a great variety of living and non-living creatures
interact in a highly productive and sustainable fashion. The same land is used more productively to
yield a variety of crops and maintain fertile conditions. It can mitigate against environmental
degradation and has the potential to ensure food security and fodder supplies for livestock
consumption.
Planting treesfor soilfertility
Trees in a farming system have a number of functions and advantages:
They add substantial amounts of organic matter to the soil from leaf litter and root decay,
They absorb nutrients from deep soil layers. They begin the cycling of nutrients by mining and
accumulating available nutrients. As more nutrients enter the biological system and vegetative cover
is established, conditions for other non-pioneering species become favorable.
They reduce erosion and promote recycling of nutrients,
They can improve the physical properties of soils, including water holding capacity and break up hard
layers.
Pigeon pea
Peach
Runner beans
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Pioneers like nitrogen fixing trees tend to benefit other forms of life by boosting fertility and
moderating harsh conditions
Constant leaf drop nourishes soil life, which in turn can support more plant life.
The extensive root systems stabilize soil, while constantly growing and atrophying, adding organic
matter to the soil and creating channels for aeration.
They also provide numerous useful products and functions, including food, wind protection, shade,
animal fodder, fuel wood, living fences, and timber
There are a number of fast growing leguminous trees that are used commonly in agroforestry
systems. These include for example Sesbania sesban. Leaucena spp, Cajanus ss (Pigeon Pea), Acacia
spp and Moringa oliefea (Drumstick tree) Below is a reasonably comprehensive list of species that
can be tried.
Nitrogen Fixing Trees
Acacia leucophloea - shade and fodder for livestock in arid environments
Acacia mearnsii - multipurpose highland legume tree
Acacia nilotica - pioneer for dry lands
Acacia karroo - for dryland fodder and soil stabilization
Acacia tortilis- fodder tree for desert sands
Albizia lebbeck - a promising fodder tree for semi-arid regions
Albizia odoratissima - Tea Shade Tree
Albizia procera - white Siris for reforestation and agro forestry
Albizia saman - pasture improvement, shade, timber and more
Azadirachta indica - neem, a versatile tree for the tropics and subtropics
Cajanus cajan - it's more than just a pulse crop
Casuarina cunninghamiana - the river she-oak
Casuarina equisetifolia- an old-timer with a new future
Casuarina glauca - a hardy tree with many attributes
Chamaecytisus palmensis - hardy, productive fodder shrub
Dalbergia latifolia - the high-valued Indian rosewood
Dalbergia melanoxylon - valuable wood from a neglected tree
Dalbergia sissoo - the versatile rosewood
Erythrina edulis - multipurpose tree for the tropical highlands
Erythrina poeppigiana - shade tree gains new perspectives
Faidherbia albida - inverted phenology supports dryzone agro forestry
Flemingia macrophyla - a valuable species in soil conservation
Gleditsia triacanthos- honeylocust, widely adapted temperate zone fodder tree
Gliricidia sepium - the quintessential agro forestry species
Grevillea robusta - a versatile and popular tree for farm forestry
Guazuma ulmifolia - widely adapted tree for fodder and more
Hippophaë rhamnoides - an NFT valued for centuries
Honey Mesquite - a multipurpose tree for arid lands
Hymenaea courbaril - the flour tree
Leucaena diversifolia - fast growing highland NFT species
Leucaena leucocephala - a versatile nitrogen fixing tree
Moringa oleifera - a perfect tree for home gardens
Myroxylon - balsam and much more
Pongamia pinnata - a nitrogen fixing tree for oilseed
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Prosopis alba and Prosopis chilensis- subtropical semiarid fuel and fodder trees
Prosopis pallida - pioneer species for dry, saline shores
Pterocarpus erinaceus - an important legume tree in African savannas
Pterocarpus indicus - the majestic N-fixing tree
Robinia pseudoacacia- temperate legume tree with worldwide potential
Senna siamea - a widely used legume tree
Sesbania grandiflora - NFT for beauty, food, fodder and soil improvement
Sesbania sesban - widely distributed multipurpose NFT
Ziziphus mauritiana - a valuable tree for arid and semi-arid lands
Systems for inclusion of trees
Alley cropping
This is a system where food crops are grown in alleys in
between rows of trees or shrubs, preferably nitrogen fixing.
When trees are pruned or cut the plant material can be turned
into the soil as a green manure, composted, or left on the
surface as a mulch.
Right: A field with a row of trees planted long the edge and
further in lines within the field. Crops are planted in the ‘alleys
between the trees
Resources required: space, trees, shrubs and or seed of suitable
plants (refer to list)
Method: Investigate where the wind comes from, what
nitrogen fixing trees are available to you, where you can get
them from etc. Plan and design your garden well so that it works for you. Plant the trees and crops.
Practical considerations for implementation: Green tree leaves keep their high nitrogen content
throughout the year. This means it makes a good green manure and good material for compost
heaps.
Improved fallow
The trees can be densely planted in an area with poor soil fertility and left to grow for 1-3 years. The
trees are then cut (green material, leaves and small stems are
left on the soil as plant residue) and rain fed crops grown. This
has a considerable effect on soil fertility and structure, but is
labour intensive and problematic if land is at a premium.
Contour hedgerows, shelter belts and clump plantings
Here trees are planted along contours but are interspersed in the
cropping landscape as hedges and windbreaks. This system is less
intensive and does not interfere with the field crops, but the
potential advantages in soil fertility are also reduced. The trees
now have the additional function of creating suitable micro-
climates for crops and animals in terms of shading and cooling effects onthe
one hand, or in terms of creating sun trapping, warm microclimates in colder
areas. Another function is for these trees to serve as living fences.
Right top: Shelterbelts planted on contour in between rows of crops. And Right
bottom: clumps of trees planted as shelter for livestock and to improveveld
condition. (From:www.agf.gov.bc.ca/ resmgmt/ agroforestry/)
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The diagrams below show some examples of possible layout using the NTF (Nitrogen Fixing trees)
species in a cropping system.
1. In the first diagram NTFs are planted in between tree crops such as citrus, coffee, nuts and other
food and fruit trees.
2. In the 2nd diagram clumps of trees are interspersed in cropping fields; mainly to accumulate
biomass and provide mulching material for the crops.
3. In the 3rd diagram tress are planted on the contour in hedge rows meaning that they form
hedges that help with protection against wind and creating favourable micro-climates for crops.
Biomass Accumulation
This refers to the accumulation of organic material to work with. If you have many trees and plants in
your garden you will have lots of organic matter (leaves, twigs, etc.) to make compost and mulch and
improve soil health. It is always good to increase biomass (organic matter) supplies.
Advantages and disadvantages of Agroforestry
Advantages
Disadvantages
Indigenous species can be used, tree roots penetrate
soil deeply, grow without irrigation in the dry season,
take nutrients up from deep in the soil and
accumulate biomass Provides a source of wood and
energy, fodder, food, oils in seed and other products
year round, improve soil fertility (by fixing nitrogen),
can provide a source of income and increased natural
diversity. Used as windbreaks, assists in pest and
disease control (integrated pest management),
pollinator forage, prevents soil erosion, living fences,
medicine, green manure and liquid manures, habitat,
noise reduction, Trees release oxygen and shelter
animals.
Long term investment, long term results,
need lots of land/space. Most will not
thrive in shade or fertile conditions.
Because of their ability to thrive under
poor conditions, they can easily become
weedy. Therefore, if possible, use only
NFTs which are already established in your
area, or that have a history of not
becoming weeds. NFTs can also become
competitive for available soil nutrients,
especially in arid areas.
10.MIXED CROPPING
Diversity in our gardens is important for family nutrition and for continuity. We also want to create as
much diversity n pour gardens as possible to ensure a natural balance in the garden. We want to
create a living soil, use water efficiently and minimize pest and disease attack on our crops.
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To attain mixed cropping, corps can either be inter-planted (different crops in the same bed at the
same time), or crops can be rotated (different crops are planted in the same place at different times).
Using both practices in your garden is a good idea.
Inter-planting
When planting a number of different crops together we need to consider the following:
Nutrient consumption: We mix crops together that consume different amounts of nutrients.
Some plants are heavy feeders and need a lot of nutrients. Other plants are light feeders and
some even add nitrogen to the soil. A good example is the traditional practice of planting
maize and beans together. Maize is a heavy feeder, while beans are light feeders as well as
fixing nitrogen in the soil.
Root depth: Plant deep and shallow rooted plants together to ensure that they do not
compete for nutrients and water. A good example is planting maize and pumpkins together.
Maize is an upright plant that has a deep rooting system and pumpkin is a creeping plant
with a shallow rooting system. They do not compete for space either below or above the
ground.
Insect repellent plants: There are some crops which have a unique smell that repels some
kinds of insects. For example, onion has a specific smell that butterflies dislike. If onions are
inter planted with cabbage, this will reduce the attack from insects (worms). Combinations
like onion and cabbage are called companion plants. Companion planting is an effective pest
prevention measure.
Timing: Some crops have a longer life cycle than others. It is possible to plant crops that
mature quickly in-between crops thattake longer to mature. In this way one crop can be
harvested while the other crop is still growing and competition is reduced. An example is
planting radish, mustard spinach and potatoes together. Radish matures quickly and is
harvested within 6 weeks of planting. The leaves of the mustard spinach are harvested for 2-
3 months. This reduces competition with the potato plants that are now growing large.
Potatoes are harvested after 3.5-4 months. A combination such as this also includes that
aspect of rooting depth, nutrient consumption and insect repellent properties.
Shade tolerance: This becomes important when tall crops and perennial plants are also
grown in the garden. These include fruit trees. Some crops such as comfrey, lettuce and
strawberries are shade tolerant.
Examples of inter-cropping in a vegetable garden
The following combinations work well together in the same bed:
Plant carrots and onions together: Carrots protect against onion fly and onions protect against carrot
fly. Carrots root more deeply than onions and are harvested earlier; giving the onions the space they
need to mature.
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Plant cauliflower or cabbage, lettuce, fennel and onion together: This combination
gives complete control of aphids and diamondback moth (shown on the right) on the
cauliflower. It takes into account nutrient consumption, rooting depth, insect
repellent properties (onion and fennel), timing and shade tolerance.
Plant tomatoes, onion or garlic and carrots together:This combines insect repellent
properties, nutrient consumption, rooting depth, timing and disease control. Tomato plants are
scattered so that they do not touch each other, whichreduces the incidence of early and late blight.
Plant swiss chard (spinach) and beans together: this combination takes into account nutrient
consumption, rooting depth and disease control on the chard. Planting the chard in alternate rows
with beans reduces the incidence of bacterial spot on the chard.
Many different combinations are possible. Below are two more examples:
Left: Swiss chard inter-
planted with fennel and
garlic chives
Right: A bed with onions,
cabbage, lettuce and
swiss chard planted
together.
There are a number of
crops that grow well together and some that do not. When
planting a bed, use the diagrams below to choose combinations of crops that suite each other.
Some plants whichgrow well together:
Beetroot - onions
Carrots - peas, lettuce, onions, tomatoes
Onions - beetroot, strawberries, tomatoes, lettuce
Eggplant - beans
Cabbage - potatoes, beetroot, onions
Green Pepper- all vegetables
Lettuce - carrots, radishes, strawberries, cucumbers
Pumpkin - mealies
Swiss Chard - strawberries
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Tomatoes - onions, carrots
Mealies - peanuts, peas, beans, cucumber, pumpkins, potatoes
Sunflowers - cucumbers
Beans - potatoes, carrots, cabbage, most other vegetables
Plants that do not grow well together:
There are some plants which do not grow well together. Try to avoid putting them in the same beds.
Try and experiment for yourself.
Beetroot - pole beans
Onion - peas and beans
Cabbage - strawberries
Pumpkin - potatoes
Tomatoes - potatoes and cabbage
Beans - onions
Sunflowers - potatoes
Advantages and disadvantages of inter-planting
Advantages
Disadvantages
Efficient use of space below and above ground
Looks “untidy”
Reduces and avoids pest and disease build-up in
the soil and in the garden
Can make harvesting of crops more time-
consuming
Reduces weeds. Covers the soil and uses
nutrients in an effective manner. Building of a
healthy, living soil is possible.
Weeding can be more time consuming initially,
as crops may be scattered, rather than being
planted in rows
Plants support each other in a synergistic
relationship that protects against pest and
disease attack and increases vigour and growth
Some shading may occur if plants are not spaced
well
Efficient use of water
Some plants may be over or under watered
depending on their life cycle. For example, some
plants may be seeding while others are still
growing.
Crop rotation
The same crops are not planted in the same areas, fields or beds season after season. Different crops
are planted in a 2-4 year rotation. These crops are chosen to have a mutually beneficial effect.
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Effects of crop rotation
It prevents or stops the accumulation of insects and diseases. If the same crop is planted some
insects and diseases will become more every year!
Different crops use different nutrients or plant food stored in the soil. In this way you do not
overuse some of the plant foods, while not using others.
The soil can be covered all year round.
Some crops add nutrients or nitrogen to the soil. Examples are beans, peas, broad beans,
soya beans, peanuts, cowpeas, lucerne and clover.
It prevents the soil from building up bad or
negative reactions to specific plants. An example
here is nematodes on tomatoes and swiss chard.
Nematodes are very small worms that we cannot
see with our eyes. They live in the soil and feed on
the roots of your plants.
There is no buildup of specific weeds.
There are a number of different crop rotation systems that
can be used. Below is an example of a system that is easy
to use and remember.
A 3 year rotation for vegetable and field crops:In the first
season after applying compost and or manure heavy
feeders or nitrogen consumers are planted.
In the second season light feeders are planted and
In the third season legumes are planted. This is followed by
another application of compost or manure and the cycle is
repeated.
In trench beds, where the organic matter is decaying slowly in the soil, you may want to start with
legumes, move on to heavy feeders or nitrogen consumers and then move on to light feeders. This is
because during the decaying process plant nutrients will take a while to become available for use by
plants. The legumes can fix most of their own nitrogen and are thus a better starting point.
Nitrogen fixers
E.g.: Beans, broad
beans, soyabeans,
peas, cowpeas,
lucerne, vetch
Light feeders
Examples:
beetroot, carrots,
parsnips, onions,
leeks
Heavy feeders
Examples: Potato,
maize, pumpkin,
tomato
Nitrogen consumers
Examples: cabbage,
cauliflower, broccoli and
mustard
1
1
3
2
Preparing the bed well:
This would mean trenching, or
doubledigging or addition of a
lot of compost/manureforked
into the top 40cm of soil. You
will need at least 4 full spades
for every square meter.
A general recommendationis to
place 30 tons of compost to a
hectare of land. This comes to
about one half of a wheelbarrow
load for everysquare meter
(whichis about the same as 4
full spades!)
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A 4 year rotation for vegetables.
This alternative system is presented below:
Prepare the land or bed well. Put a lot of compost or manure in your bed (4 full spades/ square
meter). Then:
Start by planting a fruiting crop. These plants need the most food.
Leaf crops need less and can follow fruit crops.
Then root crops can follow leaf crops without much addition of plant food. Root crops like fertile soil,
but do not like fresh manure or compost. It has to be well rotted.
Then, nitrogen fixers can follow, with addition of little or no plant food. Then you need to prepare
the land well again. Start once more with fruiting crops.
Advantages and disadvantages of crop rotation
Advantages
Disadvantages
No build up of pest and diseases
Soil nutrients are used effectively
Soil moisture is used effectively
A healthy living soil can be built up over time
Without a plan, either drawn or written on
paper, it is difficult to remember which crop is
to follow
It can be tricky to decide which rotation to
follow when inter-planting is also used
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11.INTRODUCTION TO SEED SAVING
In agriculture and gardening, seed saving is the practice of saving seeds or other reproductive
material (e.g. tubers) from open-pollinated vegetables, grain, herbs, and flowers for use from year to
year for annuals and nuts, tree fruits, and berries for perennials and trees.
Keeping your own seed is central to your independence as a homestead food gardener. You can
choose which varieties and types of crops you like and keep these seeds. You do not need to go to
the shop to buy seed. There are still many varieties of seed that farmers keep or that you can buy
from a shop that you will be able to keep for yourself once you have grown the crop.
Growing from seed to seed, involves the following process:
Germinating seeds,
Transplanting seedlings,
Looking after selected healthy plants
until they mature, so that
Their seeds can be collected, and
Stored for the following year.
Plants adapt to the environment they are
grown in and produce seeds that carry those
local adaptations, producing healthier plants
that are better able tocope with the local
environment.
There are a few things about how plants work that you need to understand to help you to
successfully keep your own seed. In the sections below we will discuss
pollination (self-pollination and cross- pollination), how pollination
happens (pollinators), and how you select and store seed.
Flowers
Many vegetable species produce flowers with the male part (anther) and
the female part (stigma) in the same flower. These are called perfect
flowers
Right: an example of a perfect flower where the stigma is surrounded by
the anthers (brinjal)
However, in maize and most varieties of the cucurbit family (cucumbers,
melons, pumpkins, etc.), the anthers and the stigma are in the same
plant but on different flowers. These are called imperfect flowers.
Right: the male and female flowers of a pumpkin plant cut open to
show the stigma and anthers in different flowers.
Pollination
Pollination occurs in plants when pollen from the anthers of the flower
is deposited on the stigma. In some perfect flowers, self pollination
occurs.
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Examples of pollination for perfect flowers
oLettuce, tomato, capsicum (peppers) and okra
have the stigmas so close to the anthers thatthe
slightest wind movement can cause the pollen to
drop onto the stigma within the same flower.
They self-pollinate, but belonging to the same
family they can cross pollinate as well.
Generally, plants that self-pollinate can be grown
quite close together (4-200m) without them
crossing with each other. It is still a good idea
however, to separate different varieties of the
same plant from each other (e.g. different varieties of
lettuce), as some crossing can still occur -especially those
where pollen is carried by wind. These include also spinach
and beetroot.
oIn peas and beans, self-pollination occurs even before the
flower opens.
oOther types of perfect flowers require cross-pollination. An
external pollinator such as an insect is necessary. Onion,
carrot (cross pollinated by wasps and flies), cabbage, and
radish, for example, belong to this type. This means that all
the different varieties in these families will cross with each
other.
Right: A bee cross-pollinating a head of onion flowers.
For example, all brassicas cross pollinate with each other; thus
cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale and Brussel sprouts all cross
Then Chinese cabbage, turnip, radish and mustard spinach will all
cross as they are in the same family.
Right: A cabbage plant seeding.
Cross-pollinated plants produce more varied offspring that are better
able to cope with a changing environment.
Examples of pollination for imperfect flowers
Plants with imperfect flowers require wind or insects such as bees to transmit
pollen from the anthers of the male flowers to the stigma of the female
flowers.
Maize, for example, is cross-pollinated by wind. Most other grains are also
wind pollinated, including sorghum, millet and Imfe. Pollen picked up by the
wind can travel very far (many kilometers) on air currents before coming to a
rest.
Cucurbits (pumpkin, melons, gourds and cucumber) are cross-pollinated by
bees. Other examples are paw-paws and asparagus.
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Open Pollinated and Hybrid crops
Vegetable seeds can be saved to sow new crops in the future, but not all seeds are suitable for
saving. Varieties suitable for seed saving include local varieties that have been grown in one region
for a very long time, self-pollinating crops (for example, beans and peas), and open-pollinated
varieties of some cross-pollinating crops (for example, pepper, cucumber and carrot).
Commercial F1 hybrid varieties are popular among many vegetable growers today. However, the
seed of hybrid fruits should not be saved, because the F1 hybrid seeds were produced by forcing
across between two different parent varieties, that would not naturally cross. Seed saved from
hybrids will either be sterile or the plants of the next generation may show wide variation.
You know that a packet contains hybrid seed when the sign on it says:
How to take control of cross-pollination
Any insect or wind pollinated plant will need to be isolated from other varieties of the same plant to
stop them from crossing with each other. Below are four techniques you can try to achieve purity in
your seed.
Grow them apart:
Grow two varieties that cross-pollinate at least 500 m or more apart. This is how far most insects fly,
although bees can fly up to 4 km. Obstacles that deflect wind or insects such as hedges, buildings and
ridges can greatly reduce cross-pollination.
Isolate themin time:
This is possible for crops where all the plants flower at the same time, such as maize and sunflowers.
Crossing can be avoided by growing early, mid- and late season varieties that shed their pollen at
different times.
Cage them:
Caging is needed for species that flower over a long period of time, such as cabbages, peppers and
chillies. Put cages made of fly or nylon netting over the flower stalks of the different varieties to
exclude all insects. Pollinate by hand.
Right: caging of individual pepper plants in small nylon
neeting cages.(From Saving your own vegetable seeds. World
Vegetable Centre)
Cage one and then the other variety:
This can be used instead of hand pollinating varieties that
are flowering at the same time, for varieties that are insect
pollinated. Cage one variety while insects pollinate the
second variety.
Then cage the second variety while insects pollinate the
first one. Once they have been pollinated, both varieties
should be caged until flowering has stopped.
Right: A vegetable garden for growing seed with a number of isloation cages in the garden (from
www.alcoopershomecountry.blogspot.com/preserving our seed heritage)
F1
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Making an isolation cage
To make a simple isolation cage ideal
vegetables, you need some cheap nylon fly-
screen or other netting of 1m by 5m will,
four canes or thin stakes, and some string
and garden wire. This gives a cage large
enough to cover 3 or 4 plants.
Cut a square piece of screen 1m x 1m to
make the top of the cage, and then fold the
remaining strip of fly-screen round and sew
its ends together. The resulting band will be
the sides of the cage. Then sew the top to the
sides, making a cube of fly-screen with the
bottom missing.
To put up the cage over your plants, hammer the four canes into
the ground in a square a little smaller than the cage top, so that
they stick up a little less than the
height of the cage. Twist a short piece
of wire tightly round the top of each
cane, and then run string in a square
around the tops of the canes,
supported by the wires to stop it
slipping. Run a second piece of string
around the stakes lower down to stop
the sides of the cage blowing in against
the plants. Then slip the cage over your
plants, and weigh it down with earth or
rocks.
Far Right: Exmple of a simple cage made from
nylon.(From www.realseeds.co.uk)
NearRight: A pollination cage made from sticks and netting held down with stones to stops insects
form getting in.
Bagging and Hand Pollination
If none of the above isolation techniques are practical for you, or you
want to maintain a high degree of control over whichplants pollinate
each other, you can individually hand pollinate flowers or flower heads
and enclose them in cloth or paper bags. This technique works well with
large-flowered plants such as pumpkin or maize.
Bagging is only necessary from the day before the bud opens until the
flower falls off the plant, so the bags do not need to be long lasting.
They must, however, be well secured to the plant, as the plant is open
to cross-pollination if the bag blows off or becomes unsecured.
83
Right: Maize flowers or ‘heads are covered iwth paper bags for hte
duration of pollination to ensure pure lines/varieites (from
www.info.seedsavers.org)
Bags must be made of a porous or "breathable" material so the plant
has access to light, air, and water. Paper bags work in drier climates but
may introduce rot or block light in wetter climes.
Right: A porous plastic ‘cloth’ bag held in place by a clothes peg protects
a pumpkin flower. ( From www.realseeds.co.uk)
Hand pollination of cucurbits involves choosing the female and male
flowers to be used for polliantion the day before, as they start opening.
These are then taped closed till the next morning when
pollen from the male flower is introduced to the female
flower.which is closed again to allow the pollen to
fertilize the flower. The tape is left on until the flower
withers and falls off the stem. This fruit is then tagged for
collection of seed.
Right: A femla squash flower taped closed for pollination
( from www.chickensintheroad. com / hand-pollinating squash)
Criteria for selecting seed
oThe seeds should possess the same quality as the variety that was planted. If you planted a
long, purple brinjal, collect seed from a long purple fruit. If the fruit looks different, the seed
will also be different.
oTake out plants with undesirable characteristics before they start flowering. Examples are
slow growers, sick/diseased plants or ones that bolt (start seeding) too early.
oHarvest seed only from strong, good looking plants
oHarvest seeds from plants that perform well under stress, such as extreme weather
conditions, and plants that resist disease or insect attack.
oHarvest seed only from healthy plants. If the leaves or fruit have rotten spots or a mottled
appearance, do not use seeds from these plants. These diseases are carried in the seed and
will appear next time.
oAlso do not harvest seeds that have diseases such
as brown blotches or mould growing on them.
oDo not harvest seed from plants that have bolted.
Bolting is when the plant goes to seed much
quicker than it normally should. It could be due to
stress, such as hot and dry conditions, but is also
in-built. So, if you take seed from plants that have
bolted, you are selecting for a plant that bolts, or
goes to seed very easily. This is particularly
important for crops such as mustard spinach and
lettuce where you are looking for a prolonged
leaf stage.
You should harvest seed from at least
six (6) plants of each variety or type
that you want to keep. For some
crops,such as onions, you need to
keep seed from at least 20 plants and
for crops such as sunflower and maize
you need seed from 50-100 plants. In
multi-coloured maize you may lose
some colours and insect resistance if
too few plants are used.
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oHarvest the seed when it is ready. Immature seed will usually not germinate, as it has not
fully formed (if the seed is still green or wet when picked). Over-mature seed tend to go
rotten before you plant them.Do not harvest seed that has been damaged by insects or in
any other way. They can only germinate if they are whole.
Seed Saving Instructions for specific crops
Plant Isolation Distances Table
Plant
Isolation Distance
Pollinator
Amaranth
~1000m
wind, insects
Lamb's Quarters
~ 1000m
Wind
Bean, Common
0m
self
Bean, Lima
0 to 2m
self
Cowpea
0 to 2m
self
Sorghum
800m
self
Maize
800m- 3200 m
Wind
Chinese Cabbage
~ 400m
Insects
Chinese Mustard
~ 400m
Insects
Kale
~ 400m
Insects
Mustard
~400 m
Insects
Okra
500m or more
self, insects
Pumpkin
400m - 800m
Insects
Watermelon
400m - 800m
Insects
Gourds
400m-800m
Insects
Working with isolation distances can be very tricky unless one individual or group grows one variety
of a crop and anther person grows another variety. These distances are good to get an idea how far
you have to be form your neighbours so that what you are growing does not cross with theirs.
How to know where to find the seed?
Seed heads
Some plants carry pods which contain the seed, like beans and peas. These are called legumes. They
are mostly self pollinating, so you do not need to be too
careful in separating different varieties.
To collect the seeds, allow the pods to mature fully on the
plant until they startto yellow and dry out. In wet weather,
collect the pods individually as they get to this stage; then
spread out somewhere out of the rain with a good airflow
until the pods are fully dry and brittle. Once they are dry, shell
out the beans and dry further out of the pods. The beans
should be dry enough that they break when you bite on them,
rather than leaving a dent. Store in an airtight container If
they are well dried, and stored in a cool dark place, the beans
will last around 3 years.
Beans
Beans
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If you have problems with weevils eating your seeds, put the sealed container in the freezer for a
week immediately after drying the beans; this will kill any insect eggs before they hatch. When you
take them out, let the container come up to room temperature before opening it, otherwise the
beans will absorb moisture from the air
Leafy crops like lettuce and swiss chard will send out stalks from the middle
of the plant. The flowers and seeds will be produced on these stalks.
Brassicas (the cabbage family) will first make a head, or compact leaves.
Examples are cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, kholrabi, kale, chinese cabbage
and mustard spinach. Then, in the next warm season, a flower stalk will grow
out and seed pods will be produced on these. Sometimes a deeply cut cross
needs to be made across the head to assist the tlak to come through This can
take up to 18 months.
The cabbage family requires bees or other insects to carry pollen between
plants. You need as many plants as possible to collect seed from (at least 6, but up to 20). One plant
on its own will produce hardly any seed. Brassicas can cross with any member of the family. A
cabbage can cross with a cauliflower or a broccoli or chinese cabbage!!! It is important to isolate
different members of the cabbage family to obtain seed.
Root crops like carrots: With this type of root crop, the bulb will start to
go woody and harder and send out a long stem on which flowers and
seed will develop. This will take about 9 months. Wasps and flies carry
pollen from one “umbel” to another or from one plant to another. Other
crops in the Umbelifferae family (umbrella shaped flowers), behave in a
similar way. Examples are celery, parsley, fennel and parsnips.
Root crops like onions: With this type of root crop,
the flowering stalk develops in the second warm
season, as the crop is biennial. This stalk is leafless,
hard and hollow, and can grow very tall.
Other plants in this family (Amaryllidaceae) are
leeks, shallots, garlic, spring onions, chives and
garlic chives. These plants are pollinated mostly by
bees. Pollination occurs between the little flowers
on the same flower ball and between flowers from
one plant to another. Seed from at least 20 plants
needs to be kept to keep the variety strong. Seeds don't all ripen at the same
time and they need to be harvested as they become ready, as they tend to
shatter and are blown away by the wind.
Leave these seeds on the plant to dry. For those plants where the seed heads
shatter and scatter seeds, you will need to collect them as they dry, rather
than waiting until all the seeds are ready. Examples are lettuce, carrots,
parsnips and onions.
Lettuce
Carrot
plant
flower and
seed head
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Seeds in fruit
Fruit is produced only after the fertilisation of the ovules has taken
place. These ovules develop to produce the seeds inside the fruit.
Fruit is picked when it is slightly over-ripe. Examples are tomatoes,
chillies, capsicums (green peppers), gooseberries and brinjals.
Tomatoes and capsicums are self pollinating. The other plants in the
Solanaceae family like chillies and brinjals are cross pollinating. If you
are growing more than one variety of chilli, they need to be isolated
from each other. Otherwise you may get some HOT surprises!
Pumpkins, melons, gourds and squashes are picked when over-ripe
and then left for a few more
weeks for the seed to mature
further. There are many
different kinds of pumpkin and
melons. All different kinds of pumpkins will cross with each
other, but they will not cross with melons, cucumbers or
marrows which are all in the same family (Cucurbitaceae). In
this family there is crossing in each species, but not between
them. A cucumber for example will not cross with a pumpkin.
The best (and usually the only0 way to save pumpkins seeds at
a home level is to hand pollinate the fruit.
In this family, plants have both male and female
flowers. The male flowers grow on long thin
stems and open before the female flowers, which
grow on a short stem and have a small swelling at
the base.
Cucumbers and marrows are left on the plants until
they are fully mature; cucumbers will go brown and
marrows will go yellow (and VERY big!).
Seeds that are eaten
Examples here are maize, beans, peas and sunflowers. These are left on the plants until they are
mature and dry.
How to know when your seed is ready?
oThe fruit has a hollow sound and/or is disconnected from the branch. Examples: pumpkins,
cucumbers. For these fruits it also helps to leave the seed inside the fruit for several weeks after
picking.
oColour, size and shape of fruit. Examples: tomato and chillis (red), aubergines (purple or yellow).
Green peppers need to be left until they go red. They are immature when green!!!
oShattering of pods. Examples:beans, peas, cowpeas.
oDryness. Examples: carrots, coriander, lettuce, swiss chard, cabbage (seed head goes brown and
dry)
Chilli
fruit and
seeds
Capsicum
Male and female
flowers on a vine
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Cleaning seed
Winnowing
Chaff and stems need to be removed from seed, as they can hide insects that can attack your stored
seeds.
oSeeds and chaff are tossed into the air and the chaff is
wafted away with a gentle breeze. Elongated flat baskets
work well.
oOr put the seeds in a bowl and shake them until the debris
floats to the top. Gently blow the chaff away.
oLarge quantities of podded seeds (peas, beans) can be
placed in a sack and the seeds separated by stomping on
the sack or beating it with a stick. The dried empty pods can
then be winnowed out.
Wet cleaning
This is used for plants that carry their seeds in moist flesh or
fruit such as tomatoes, melons, pumpkin and cucumbers.
oScoopthe seeds out into a large container of water and rub
vigorously. Pour off the water and place seeds on a flat
surface to dry.
oFerment the seeds of tomatoes and cucumbers. These seeds are encased in the flesh of the fruit
and have a slippery jelly around them. This jelly needs to be removed before the seed will
germinate. It also rids the seeds of unwanted seed-borne diseases.
Method:
Place the seed in a container. Cover with water. Add one to two table
spoons of sugar and stir until it is dissolved.
Now leave this mixture for 3-5 days (NOT LONGER!!!). A foam or crust
will form showing that the fermentation has occurredand the jelly has
dissolved.
Rinse the seeds with large amounts of water.
Spread them out to dry in a cool place
and store in an airtight container like a
glass jar.
Drying seed
Large seeds need longer to dry than
smaller seeds. A simple test for large seeds (such as beans) is to try to bite one of the seeds. If no
impression is made on the seed (tooth marks) it is ready.
oYou need to dry seeds away from the sun in a dry and breezy, airy place.
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oIn wet or cold weather, place seed on screens for fly
netting and place them high up on racks in a warm room,
such as the kitchen.
oHang up small quantities in paper bags in a breezy spot.
oLay larger quantities on screens or hang them up in
hessian sacks. Do not use plastic bags.
Storing seed
The length of time that seed can be stored depends on:
oThe seed type;
oThe quality of the seed; and
oThe storage conditions.
Storage conditions
Darkness
Find a way to keep the seeds in darkness.
Use paper bags, dark coloured plastic and
galls jars and place them in cupboards. DO
NOT place the seeds on a shelf in clear glass
jars.
Moisture
Even if the seeds are dry, if you store them
in a damp environment they will absorb
that moisture/water. This seriously affects
how long your seeds will be viable. Mostly
we can only dry our seeds in the air. Do not
dry them in the sun, but in a shady place
where the air can move (ventilated). When
the weather is very wet with a lot of rain and mist, it will be
difficult to dry seeds, especially the larger ones, like beans and
peas.
The life of seed doubles when the moisture content is
lowered by 1%.
Temperature
Seeds last longer in cold, but not freezing conditions. Choose a
cold place such as near a river, under trees, under the ground
or inside a clay jar.
The life of a seed doubles when the storage temperature is lowered by 5°C.
Most seed can be stored for a
period of 3-5 years and remain
viable.Viability is the ability of the
seed to germinate. Your seed may
look perfect, but if it is not viable,
it will not grow!
If you store your seed in hot, light
(sunny) and wet conditions they will
lose theirviability very quickly. You
may even not be able to plant them in
the following season. They like cool,
dark and dry conditions to germinate.
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Pests
Storage weevils, fungi and bacteria shorten the life of
seeds.
oWeevils begin to multiply when the
moisture content gets high enough
(10% or more). The eggs are laid inside
the seed, under the seed coat, and the
insects hatch from there.
oStorage fungi/ moulds begin to grow when the moisture content is high
enough (around 13% or more) and bacteria start growing around (20% moisture).
Mostly we cannot measure the moisture content of our seed. All we can do is
keep our seed as dry as possible.
Materials that stop the growth of pests can be used:
oDry ash: this absorbs moisture inside the container and also prevents the growth and increase
of weevils. Add ½ kilogram ash to 1 kilogram seed.
oLime: can be used in the same way as dry ash. Mix 15 teaspoons (50 grams) with every kilogram
of seed.
oCooking oil: mix cooking oil with your seeds to prevent increase of weevils. Use only 1 teaspoon
of oil for every kilogram of seeds.
oDried and powdered leaves of different aromatic plants: weevils are sensitive to aromatic or
strong smelling plants. Try the following:
CHILLI: mix 4-6 teaspoons of chilli powder with 1 kilogram of seed.
WORMWOOD (MHLONYANE): Dry and crush the leaves and mix with seed. Use 4-6
teaspoons for every kilogram of seed.
ALOE: As above.
Store your seeds in dry, clean,
airtight glass jars or other airtight
containers. AND LABEL THEM
Give them names!! By next year
you will not remember what it was.