Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Autumn in Zimbabwe - disposing of leaves

On Behalf Of Dr Lisa Marabini awaretrust@gmail.com

Autumn is here, the leaves are falling and already an alarming number of residential bonfires are being set. Choking on an inconsiderate neighbour's leaf smoke is more than just an irritation: it can pose serious health risks. The open burning of leaves produces particulate matter and hydrocarbons (similar to those found in tobacco smoke), which contain a number of toxic, irritant, and carcinogenic (cancer-causing) compounds, as well as carbon monoxide.

1.  The particulate matter consists of tiny particles (<10 2.5="" ability="" air.="" air="" also="" and="" are="" as="" asthma="" attacks.="" attacks="" blood="" breathing="" can="" cause="" chances="" concern="" deepest="" for="" heart="" impair="" increase="" infection="" inhaled="" lead="" less="" lung="" lungs="" matter="" microns="" months.="" most="" of="" particles="" particulate="" penetrate="" reach="" reduce="" regions="" remain="" respiratory="" span="" strokes.="" than="" that="" the="" there="" these="" to="" trigger="" use="" vessels="" volume="">
·    2. Because leaves are often moist and burn without proper air circulation (those insidious smouldering fires that last all night!), they often burn poorly, producing high levels of hydrocarbons. Hydrocarbons are chemicals, e.g. aldehydes and ketones, that can cause irritation of the eyes, nose, throat, and lungs, and can cause cancer in the long term.
·    3. Carbon monoxide is an invisible gas that results from incomplete combustion in burning leaf piles. Carbon monoxide is absorbed into the bloodstream through the lungs and combines with red blood cells. This reduces the amount of oxygen the red blood cells can absorb and supply to body tissues. Unborn children, newborn infants, smokers, the elderly, and persons with heart and chronic lung disease are the most susceptible to carbon monoxide.
Additionally, burning organic matter also releases carbon dioxide into the air which can contribute to global warming and climate change. Current CO2 levels in the world are 391 parts per million (ppm), a whopping 111ppm greater than pre-industrial levels of 280ppm! 
We need to take protecting our air quality seriously. I'm sure nobody wants to don respirators just to go outside as residents have to do in Beijing. Our children may well be faced with that prospect if we do not do something. There are 7 billion people that we share this planet with, and we each need to make sure we are not part of the problem.
The eco-friendly alternative of disposing leaves is to make compost. Composting is a simple process that involves placing yard trimmings and other organic materials such as vegetable peelings into a pile or bin. Microorganisms gradually break down the yard trimmings. The process is speeded up by watering the compost heap and turning it occasionally to mix in oxygen. You can cover with plastic once watered to keep the moisture in. Use the compost to enrich your soil - your plants will love it.

Also, don't be afraid to educate your neighbours on the hazards of leaf burning. Awareness is needed. 


Dr Lisa Marabini
Director, AWARE Trust
Cell: 0712 886650

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Natural Flea Deterrent

 Natural Flea Deterrent If you have fleas in your area I have discovered Fennel is the answer. Bought for under $5 at most nurseries (or they can get it in for you). Plant it in a pot outside your dog kennel or in 500mls of hot water place about 3 generous sprigs (crushed up)and let cool strain and spray the water inside kennel, or you can pick fennel, scrunch it in your hand until the juices flow and rub it into your dogs coat (my dogs don't mind) they seem to like the aniseed flavour and the fleas hate it. If you plant it in your garden keep it away from all beans, tomatoes, kohlrabi and coriander.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

National Botanical gardens in harare

The 58-hectare National Botanic Gardens contain examples of the diverse plant life that thrive in Harare's pleasant climate. Most Zimbabwean species are  represented, as well as specimens from Southern Africa. It's a great place to spend the day.  One can walk one's dog, have a light meal in the restaurant and generally enjoy the situation.  Societies such as the Tree Society and the Aloe and Cactus Society are regular visitors.  It is good to know that this park is still very much in existance.  There is a herbarium when specimens can be identified and a plant nursery.  For anyone interested in Zimbabwe plants this is one definate place to visit.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

It is summer again!

At last summer is with us although, like the rest of the world our weather has changed.  It is cool and wet  - meaning our vegetables are suffering - what was a good vegetable garden is now producing weather damaged crops!  Anyway at least we have fresh and organically grown produce.

The worst hit seem to be the marrows and squash - a pity as we love to eat them.  Perhaps we will have a day of sun shortly!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Epsom Salt Fertilizer

Now spring is nearly with us in Zimbabwe we are planting seeds for our veggie garden.  We do not use any form of fertiliser but we do use compost and i have come across this recipe which sounds quite useful and harmless..  It is good as Houseplant food, Vegetable fertilizer and Rose fertiliser.

•1 Tablespoon Epsom Salt
•1 gallon water
in a watering can
Use the solution to water your plants.
Repeat once a month.

Epsom salt is made up of magnesium and sulfate – both vital plant nutrients. Some magnesium-loving plants to try it on: are houseplants, roses, peppers, tomatoes and potatoes.
Good gardening!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Winter is still here

Looking round the garden this morning it is very evident that winter is still here.  The dry season has caused brown patches in lawn.  Plants have died back and even having a bore hole has not saved us from lack of rain.  This year has been cold but no frost has settled - thank goodness.  Although one knows that as soon as the rains return we will get green grass again it is still sad to see so little colour. 

What colour there is comes from the aloes with their lovely yellow, orange or pink flowers - much loved by the sun birds.
We have been against watering anything but what we need to water in the garden - letting it rest during winter and conserving the underground water supply.  So many people water their garden throughout the year - even the verges outside their houses and then wonder why their bore holes dry up!

In two weeks we should be ready to start planting the seeds which need spring - and within a short time the garden will be returned to its glory.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Planting at this time of year

I have been silennt for a while due to power failures, load shedding and Internet problems.
Anyway in our part of the world these are the best things to do this month in your garden:

Sow root crops in July. Sow/plant hardy spring edible flowers such as borage and violas. Mulch beds.

Harvest medicinal herbs and crops that are to be dried such as broad beans. Zap any weeds and pests that are still around.

Plan your spring garden. Water and fertilize as needed. .

Prune Roses!  - this weekend is the best time!

Good gardening!