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Sustainable Vegetable Gardening in Zambia

Written by Sarah Talbot

Sustainability is not some trendy fad in Zambia - but a necessity.  Conserving water is the number one priority so a good place to start.

Garden Watering

Vegetable Garden Home of chances ZambiaCultivating a vegetable garden in Zambia presents challenges, primarily due to the region's infrequent and unpredictable rainfall. This semi-arid environment means the first step for the gardener at the Home Of Chances was to set up an efficient irrigation system to maintain a steady water supply.  This, plus extra watering to establish the plants, ensures the garden will provide the food the children need.

 

Soil Quality

Soil quality also affects their vegetable gardening.  Erosion can be an issue but by keeping the garden full of plants the roots minimise this.  Like with any garden, another issue is depletion of nutrients in the soil.  In the past some chemical fertilisers have been used to stop this but now a more organic method has been found.  Using the materials available 15kg of animal dung soaked in 40L of water for a day makes a nourishing solution to use for watering.   

Along with this they are moving toward making the garden more organic. Beds 9 to 12 have been set aside for this and work has started to prepare the beds by digging a trench 1m long by 60cm deep and filling it with maize stalks, dried grass and manure.  This will rot down, enrich the soil, and create a fantastic growing environment to support the veg plants.

Pest Control

Maize in Vegetable gardne Home of chances ZambiaIn common with the rest of the world pests and diseases, like aphids and blight, can be an issue.  Voracious army ants have been a problem in the maize. Vigilant pest control is needed to ensure a successful harvest and the children are happy to get involved in this.

The garden requires inventive solutions like tinfoil around the base of cabbages and companion planting rosemary and marigolds to deter snakes. Birds help themselves - particularly feasting on the strawberries - and the solution here is to plant extra. 

The last 'pest' in the garden is the dogs who have no regard for the cabbages.  If they are not digging them up, they are trampling them or lying on them. The plan is to build small grass fences around the vegetable patches to stop this.

The Future of the Garden

Watermelons Vegetable Garden Home of Chances ZambiaConsidering the limited access to modern gardening technology and educational resources in Zambia, Haxnicks plays a pivotal role. Supporting the gardener in educating children not only provides potential career opportunities but also has a lasting impact on the broader community. Teaching gardening skills enables children to enjoy a diverse diet, enhance resilience, and produce their own food. Quality seeds are provided to initiate crops, and the ability to save seeds ensures sustained growth.

Despite facing universal challenges like weather fluctuations and protecting crops from pests, the garden becomes a source of food security for these children. Gardening is a lifelong skill, ensuring a resilient and self-sufficient future.

The Content of the Garden

Core Crops

Tomatoes, Spinach, Onions, Beans, Pumpkin Leaves, Cabbages, Red Cabbages, Cucumber, Strawberries, Rocket. Lettuce, Ground Nuts, Butternut squash, Maize, Okra, Sugar cane

New Trials:

Carrots, Courgettes, Potatoes, Peppers, Broccoli, Aubergines, Melon. Milkthistle, watermelon, Kasava 

Herbs & Spices

Basil, Coriander, Garlic, Ginger

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