Garden Update November ’15

The standing water in the garden from this morning's storm
The standing water in the garden from this morning’s storm

The rain has been relentless this last month and has taken it’s toll on the garden. Some things are doing well despite the rain but many other things have died because of it. With the heavy rainstorm just this morning, I’m not sure the new seeds that I planted a couple of days ago will make it. I replanted the green beans without presoaking the beans this time and planted another variety of Kohlrabi where the eggplant would have been if it had grown. Time will tell if they will grow.

IMG_9610The corn has tasseled and is now forming ears, though the storms have knocked some stalks over and the rain has made most of the corn sick. It is still alive but is by no means thriving. Hopefully we will get enough ears to mature to have a taste of sweet corn and save some seed for replanting.

Our sweet corn, sick from too much rain
Our sweet corn, sick from too much rain
The greens are all doing well.
The greens are all doing well.

Most of our greens (Swiss Chard varieties, Collard green varieties, and Tronchuda Kale) are doing well, even with all of the rain. Insects are still a problem for the Collards especially but overall they have all been a success and I will grow them again. The two lettuces that came up were the Buttercrunch and a few Baby Oakleaf. The mache from France never came up. We have been enjoying the Buttercrunch and it is regrowing nicely after being cut off at the ground.

Purple Vienna Kohlrabi
Purple Vienna Kohlrabi

Other things that are doing well are our Kohlrabi, fennel, and the Chinese Red Noodle beans. The Kohlrabi is seemingly thriving despite some insect damage and doesn’t seem to mind the rain one bit (other than some soil erosion problems). The fennel had a wonderful germination rate and will need to be thinned soon to allow the bulbs to grow larger. The Chinese Red noodle beans are climbing and even producing beans and continue to flower.

The Fennel
The Fennel
Chinese Red Noodle beans climbing and producing
Chinese Red Noodle beans climbing and producing
The Amaranth
The Amaranth

The Amaranth is also thriving! It is the tallest thing in the garden and has huge heads of grain coming on now. The storms have been a little hard on a few stalks though. With the constant rain the ground is kept soft and wet and some stronger winds have blown some of the Amaranth over. I was able to dig a hole and set up some of the stalks that got blown over in a storm a couple days ago and it seems to be recovering. It has been a beautiful addition (and tasty!) to the garden and will be a constant crop I have decided. So beautiful.

Beautiful Amaranth
Beautiful Amaranth
The Okra patch
The Okra patch

The Okra has been producing despite a lot of insect damage. It isn’t as prolific as some varieties but this could be because of all the rain we have been getting, I’m not sure. I may try to plant more of it to keep us in good supply if it continues to produce at this low level. If it still doesn’t produce after it dries out some I will probably try a different variety in the future. We love our okra by itself and even in things. Today for lunch we had some Jambalaya with fried okra in it. Delicious.

IMG_9619There are things, like I mentioned, that are not doing well or that are even dead at this point from all of the rain. Mainly the melon and squash patch. Even the cucumber is having problems with the rain and has begun yellowing from it. It is still producing and is far from dying but if the rains don’t dry out soon it too will die. The tomatoes are all struggling and very few are producing anything. They didn’t like the transplanting and the rains haven’t helped.

Dying squash and melon plants
Dying squash and melon plants

All varieties of the squash and melons are dead or sick and dying because of it. I’ve decided that when the rains slow down significantly or even stops I will replant the mounds and try again. For now I will leave what plants there are to help prevent soil erosion in future storms.

Squash rotting on the vine from all of the rain
Squash rotting on the vine from all of the rain

Even the local Congolese people are struggling and loosing crops because of all of the rain. They say it is an excessive amount and very unusual that we are getting so much. It really is becoming a problem and living in a place that already struggles greatly with malnutrition, having the weather killing people’s crops is a big deal. So knowing that even the native species are dying from all the rain gives me hope that we can get some of the varieties to grow and produce again.

Sweet potato vines growing from an orange-fleshed sweet potato tuber that I planted in the top of the mound.
Sweet potato vines growing from an orange-fleshed sweet potato tuber that I planted in the top of the mound.

We are growing a lot of heirloom imports but there is one import in particular that I am excited about – orange-fleshed sweet potatoes! Here there are basically two local varieties of white-fleshed sweet potatoes. One with a purple skin and one with a more rosy-brown colored skin. There are no orange-fleshed ones around, at all; not even in Uganda! So I’m going to cultivate them and hopefully we can have a steady supply of them to fill our table. Who knows? I might even try to get the local ladies to start growing them as they have a lot more nutrition than the white ones.

Pineapple tops in the ground after being planted.
Pineapple tops in the ground after being planted.

Along with our imports we are also growing some local plants from Nyankunde and some plants from the region that have been flown over from neighboring villages. Here in the tropics you can literally chop the top off of your pineapple and plunk it in the ground to grow your own pineapple bush. We have been sneaking in our good tops all around the yard where ever we can fit them in. The regional plants that we have from other villages include a coconut tree and some plantain trees.

The coconut palm
The coconut palm
The newest hen added to our small local flock. She is all black with some reflective green and a frosting of white on the tip of her tail.
The newest hen added to our small local flock. She is all black with some reflective green and a frosting of white on the tip of her tail.

Our herbs are also doing well (what came up) but there are some that will need replanting. We are excited to continue to try new varieties of plants and add plants to our collection as we go along. We are also continuing to add animals as we can including the latest local chicken addition, putting in an order for chicks from Uganda and tomorrow we will be getting some turkeys to breed!

Parsley
Parsley
Basil
Basil
Methi leaf
Methi leaf

There is a lot happening right now and there are plenty of plans for the homestead in the future. For now, I am especially excited about the turkeys coming and our chick order from Uganda in a few weeks, but we will save that for another post.

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