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Stepping up horticultural activities wherever you are

I write about home gardening. Home is where you live, be it rural Filabusi, Zhombe, Gutu, Mhondoro, Mabvuku, Borrowdale, Mufakose, or Calidonia. This column is not about urban gardeners only, it is about home gardening wherever you are. Many people relocated to farms and now live in homesteads they built themselves or found already built. However, most home gardeners are on the other hand farmers. It is difficult to separate the two. I get phone calls from all over Zimbabwe with some readers showing appreciation for my articles and others sharing their experiences as gardeners and farmers. I am not sure if you are aware that the import of vegetables will be banned and what it means to gardeners and farmers.


Home gardening
In normal circumstances, home gardening is considered to be a relaxing activity around residential yards. There is usually the practice of horticulture, cultivating many plants such as root vegetables, leaf vegetables, fruits and herbs mainly grown for own consumption. Well, our current economic situation has turned most gardeners into serious horticulture specialists. I see gardeners picking seedlings to commercially plant in places like Highlands, Kuwadzana, Ruwa and Beatrice, among others. Every space around your residence should matter more than ever, especially when there is a water source around. While a patch of green leafy vegetables feeds your family, the surplus can earn you the much-needed income.

Local horticultural markets
Banning fruit and vegetable imports is most welcomed by our local gardeners/farmers. If you talk to any farmer, their concern mostly verbalised is that they do not have readily available markets for their produce. One lady farmer from Chegutu I talked to few months ago, explained how tomatoes were rotting in her field with no real place to take her produce considering what she has to pay for transportation. That personally made me sad knowing the amount of work that goes in up until harvest time, only for one to not get rewarded for the hard work. However, if farmers can meet local demand, filling the vacuum being left by imports, it would boost horticulture in the country. I live very close to a fruit and vegie store and have seen off-loaded pellets imported butternut and questioned myself why local farmers have failed to meet demand. Additionally, I still don’t understand why by now we cannot produce quality vegetables. I once asked why I was seeing imported carrots and the answer was ours were of poor quality.

Stepping up
Now is the time for horticulture farmers to step up and demonstrate we can shine. In my opinion, it starts with choosing best varieties of seeds or seedlings to plant as well as nurturing them, aiming for nothing but quality produce. I have a simple example of lettuce. If you buy the Great Lakes seed variety and expect to compete on the market, that will not happen, compared to other varieties that produce quality heads of lettuce. If you lack the knowledge of what seeds to buy, nurseries should be able to advise accordingly. High quality plants are worth more money than normal ones, more so if grown organically.

Quality scale
Putrid, horrifying, bad, normal, nice, very nice, great, excellent, outstanding and perfect is the plant quality scale and you should strive for perfect produce. Horticulture gardeners and farmers, now the ball is in your court.
This week in our nursery, we have the following seedlings; rape hobson, tsunga paida, cabbage star 3311, cabbage Indica, romaine lettuce, red lolo rosa lettuce, lettuce commander, covo hybrid, spinach and broccoli non-hybrid (very good for the backyard continues to give shoots long after first harvest). A large variety of flower seedlings to be ready next month at wholesale prices.
Happy gardening week!
l Doreen Mutobaya Badze is a retired nurse and passion-driven gardener. She can be reached on Cell: 0779 730 880 or 16 Metcalf Road, Greendale, Harare. Email: Facebook Page: Badze Garden Nursery

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