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The abundance of rain

Last year, I wrote several articles about the effects of drought. There were numerous issues surrounding the subject, including depleted water sources.

gardening with Doreen Badze

Flooding Mtshabezi River in Gwanda
Flooding Mtshabezi River in Gwanda

The farming community had no option but to watch helplessly as the rivers, streams and dams were dried up. Pastures dried up and sadly, many animals started to drop dead with hunger and thirst. We witnessed the heat wave as it worsened the drought conditions causing shrinkage of food supply. Anxiety was running high when rains delayed beginning of the season, leaving us wondering whether we were going to get adequate rain or not, especially those in areas operating water rationing. Undeniably, drought causes serious health, social, and economic complications with far-reaching consequences. We are deep in the rainy season now and farmers are generally happy about their crops. Additionally, our rivers and dams are filling up countrywide. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “Never ask for what you cannot handle.” We seem to be in that mode as rain has been pouring excessively, and with our drought memories still fresh, most of us cannot even begin to complain. My favourite thing to do now is to sit by the window and just watch the precious rain outside, a sight that was not too common last season.

Impact of too much rain on plants

Rain water is better than ground water on plants as it possesses nutrients like nitrogen that is essential for crop growth and development. However, plants can only take so much of the rain at any given time. Due to our recent lack of rain, we now understand the depth of its preciousness, and wouldn’t dare open our mouths to complain. However, we must acknowledge soil saturation when it occurs. It rained almost every day last week, and the rain continues this week per weather forecast. We are beginning to see the impact of too much rain in the fields that do not have good drainage, with some plants succumbing to root rot. Damp conditions are favoured by diseases like mildew, mold and bacteria. Plants like tomatoes that are susceptible to black spot and similar diseases will struggle in the damp weather while some tomato fruits have a tendency of cracking.

Regardless of these potential threats, we hope the benefits brought by rain will outweigh its adverse effects.

Managing weeds grass

Weeds are the biggest annoyance for farmers and gardeners. I watched a farming programme on television where an agronomist was giving advice on the use of herbicides (a practice not fully accepted by traditional farmers). The old methods of weeding using hoes are physically demanding and no longer necessary with all kinds of herbicides on the market. If used, farmers have to make sure their livestock don’t go anywhere near grass with herbicides. The affected manure may end up affecting the future crop that will be fed with that compost. Weeds thrive in rain as well as grass, usually growing faster than the farmer can manage. Most chemical stores sell herbicides and have agronomists on sites to explain the pre and post emergency chemicals to combat weeds and grass. I don’t embrace change very well but I have used herbicides and they are making my life easier.

Floods

Floods can occur when streams, rivers and dams overfill, sending raging rain water across the land and in severe cases, destroying buildings, bridges and roads. It is very important for the public to heed flood warnings and refrain from crossing flooding rivers and streams. Many lives have been lost due to people underestimating the strength of raging waters. In regards to farming, the worst case scenario of flooding is causing soil erosion.

Tuta Absoluta update

Tuta Absoluta is a devastating tomato leaf miner. The life cycle ranges from 24 to 38 days, thriving in hot temperatures. It involves the female laying 250 to 260 eggs and up to 12 generations per year. Reproduction is rapid, with eggs developing into caterpillars that will mine the leaves, stem and fruit. The caterpillars will later exit to pupate. Those willing to join our tomato WhatsApp group may request on the telephone number below.

This week in our nursery we have the following seedlings; rape hobson, tsunga paida, lettuce commander, cabbage star 3316 and more coming.

Happy gardening week!!

Doreen Mutobaya Badze is a retired nurse and passion-driven gardener. She can be reached on Cell: 0779730880 or 16 Metcalf Road, Greendale, Harare. Email: dbadze4@gmail.com Facebook page: Badze Garden Nursery

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