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!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Herbal remedies for TB

This shows how important it is that we grow garlic, herbs and other natural foods in our gardens. Although we have a different climate to Europe many of the herbs mentioned below can be grown hee.
Another very good source of natural antibiotic is honey - we may not grow it but the plants we do grow help the bees to make it.

Tuberculosis (TB) is an illness related to the respiratory system.
It is a disease caused by a germ mainly found in your lungs. It is a contagious disease, which means you have to take extra precaution for the safety of other people.
By continuous sneezing, talking and coughing these air-borne germs can spread to other people.
It can turn into a dangerous disease if proper care is not taken.
Due to lack of symptoms, doctors have distinguished it into TB infection and Active TB.
TB infection provides no symptoms and is not contagious.
On the other hand, Active TB can make you sick and is very contagious.
Even though we may think TB is no longer a threat, it has still taken many lives. Millions have died even though we have proper medicines to prevent it.
The need for proper care becomes very crucial for the survival of the patient. The symptoms remain dormant, which makes the situation even worse.

Home remedies for TB
l Garlic is a great remedy to prevent tuberculosis. You can have raw garlic three times a day or have garlic capsule.
l Tuberculosis patients lack silica in their bone, which is one of the most important weapons to fight diseases. To increase that resistance level you must have one tablespoon of horsetail juice three times daily.
l Nettle juice taken raw is rich in calcium. You can use it in soups and salads to add taste and health in your food. Have nettle juice with carrot to make it more appetising. Have at least one tablespoon daily to find the right changes in your body.
l Any herbal tea made by using one part each of mullein, bugleweed, knotgrass and sage, including three parts each of chamomile and horsetail, which work immensely against the coughing problem.
For daily usage use three cups of boiling water over one teaspoon of this herbal concoction and have three to four cups daily.
l Consume natural antibiotics by having horseradish, watercress and nasturtium juice. Have one tablespoon of these juices daily or have them in your salad.

l Source: http://www.healthguidance.org

Monday, May 10, 2010

The way forward

Herbal Therapy Transforms Villagers Lives

Herbert Chifamba
7 May 2010
From the Herald 07 May 2010
Harare — Exactly two years ago, Ambuya Ednara Mushonga of Nyamajenjere Village in Guruve was afflicted by illnesses that saw her go through a horrendous patch, which left her incapable of performing any household chores.
She had essentially become a vegetable.

Today that "human wreck" has been miraculously revitalised and is up and about doing everything the younger generation is capable of, thanks to various herbal concoctions she took and the natural diet to which she simultaneously switched.

When The Herald visited the village recently, she was among scores of women who took to the stage gyrating energetically to the welcoming lyrics the villagers sang to receive the news crew.

"For more than a year, I suffered from swelling legs and hands, excessive weakness of the joints and excruciating pain in the kidneys, which left me unable to do anything and entirely dependent on my grandchildren.

"My situation changed for the better immediately after I started taking herbs in porridge and tea and eating purely natural foods that are not processed, a piece of advice I got from another villager," she said when the dancing team finally decided to take a break.

Ambuya Mushonga is now a member of the village Natural Health Action group that was formed at the instigation of one Bellington Nyamhondoro, who incidentally became the director of the programme that has since spread to many districts in the province and even some suburbs of Harare.

Under the programme, the villagers are in the process of establishing herbal gardens and training each other in the processing and cookery of natural foodstuffs to boost their immune systems in the face of the innumerable diseases that threaten mankind.

There are more than 10 pilot herbal gardens at the moment in Ward 5, incidentally the one under which Nyamajenjere Village falls.

"The herbs that we use here have seen people responding to treatment almost immediately and we have assisted thousands in many different parts of the country to address chronic sicknesses and other prominent diseases like cancer and asthma.

"We have also helped people who have reacted negatively to drugs for different health complaints, for instance those on anti-retroviral treatment," Nyamhondoro explained.

He said the programme began in 2005 when he was invited and trained by Environment Africa in the propagation, processing and use of herbs.

From there Nyamhondoro would go out and train communities holding workshops and it was during such exercises that he also introduced the use of the immune booster moringa tree in areas like Guruve, Zvimba, Mudzi and along the Nyamapanda border area.

"We taught the people how to process both the bark and leaves of the tree, a process that involves drying the stuff before pounding it into pulp or in some cases taking it to the grinding mill.

"Other herbs like 'gotakota', (a panacea for many diseases), 'borage' (a pain killer and blood purifier that is taken in just like tea) and 'resurrection' (an immune booster and panacea for backaches, stomach disorders and even renal problems) are among the herbs that we taught people to use," he added.

Nyamhondoro and his team of trainers also focussed on the use of other herbal remedies like makoni tea (immune booster and cure for flu and colds, remedy for swellings resulting from use of anti-retroviral drugs) and "allena" for tooth aches, oral thrush and ulcers.

"We have a combination of different drugs called 'murapa' that is used for such complaints as sore arms and legs and asthma and we work hand in hand with the University of Zimbabwe's school of medicine and do tests in their laboratories," he said.

The advantage with natural herbs is that they do not have any known side effects at the moment compared to other drugs that have chemical residues that may have the adverse effect of weakening blood cells and destroying the individual if used wrongly.

To date more than 2 000 people have benefited from use of the herbs and their various health complaints have ended while more than 5 000 country-wide have also been trained to train others in places like Guruve, Mudzi, Chitungwiza and Harare's Mabvuku, Warren Park and Highfield suburbs.

Apart from the use of herbs, Nyamhondoro and his team have also broadened their scope to the adoption of nutritional diets and natural foods.

"We have trained people on the use of natural foods as very reliable sources of nutrition and therefore key in boosting immunity of the body.

"They now know how to process mbambaira (sweet potatoes) into flour, biscuits, chips, buns, jam, meat and most interestingly, a drink that is very nutritious and almost the equivalent of orange crush," the programmes manager Privilege Muchenje explained.

Recent developments at Nyamajenjere Village explicitly testified to Muchenje's claims, as the villagers put on display different foodstuffs processed from their local agricultural produce, trees and other plants from the wild.

"We process Soya beans into milk, chunks that are meaty in taste and we can also use it for making tea with the residue left after processing usable for stock feeds.

"Hatinwe tii tsvuku muGuruve isu (we do not drink black tea in Guruve) as even those without livestock can still make milk from Soya beans," a Nyamajenjere villager, Judith Kanhanga said.

Scores of other villagers also gave testimonies of how they had been cured of different health complaints by herbs introduced by Nyamhondoro and his team before joining the Natural Health Action Programme.

By processing crop produce or wild fruit and plants into herbs and natural foods, the villagers are actually adding value to the natural resources paving the way for them to sell them at competitive prices.
The majority of the villagers have since forgotten what it is like to buy groceries from shops, as they only need things like sugar and salt only while the rest is locally produced.

"It pains me to note that we used to sell produce to cities or industry and the same produce would return processed and asking for a fortune.

"We are now doing it ourselves and getting the value of our produce at no cost at all," area co-ordinator of the programme, Chiwanza Kadamuto said.

The villagers have now focussed their sights on establishing a big communal herbal garden for the project and are appealing for well-wishers to help with funds for building infrastructure like sheds for storage and the processing of the herbs and other produce.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Elder trees

We have a lovely Elder tree growing in our garden. lots of lovely white flowers loved by us and the birds.
Did you know that the  flowers from elderberry trees must be cooked before eating. They can be used to flavour cooked fruit and jam and desserts. Elderflower contains natural yeast which is key to making elderflower champagne.
The flour heads can be combined with citric acid to make cordial, which in turn makes a useful ingredient for adding to sauces and jellies.

Steeped in boiling water and strained the white flowers make a good skin tonic suitable for most skins.

When I bought my tree it was very small and I had no idea how large it would grow.  Perhaps our good soil and plenty of water have helped it.  it is a wonderful tree for the birds who roost in in at night and are in and out of its foleage all day.
The elder tree itself has been known as the "witch's tree" and has been both seen as a protection against witchcraft and a favourite form that a witch may take. Perhaps and ideal plant for the cyberwitch's garden?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Now is the time to plant strawberries

There is nothing quite like picking a few strawberries to eat there and then when you walk your garden. But time is running out. You have to plant your strawberries right now
With their low growing, creeping habit they are perhaps the easiest of all the berries to grow, and they are also the most adaptable to different growing conditions. You can grow them in beds, as borders or even in pots and hanging baskets. they flourish among your vegetables and give great satisfaction.

Give them an open, sunny position. The soil should be well composted and well drained. . Do not let the plants dry out, but beware of over watering. They can withstand light frost but if you get severe frost it pays to protect the plants.
Here in Zimbabwe they should grow well in almost any situation.
Nothing better than a good home grown strawberry that you know has no incesterside or fertiliser!
They will flowerin spring. The plants will stay productive for at least three years.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

These are useful as tips on what to do in your garden this month -

Theses tips come from from Di-Di Hoffman, SA's Blogging Herb Man - they are equally vaklid for Zimbabwe gardens as well.  I follow these guidelines and have done so for years - and they work.  remember i only use organic products and NO Chemicals even for keeping insects at bay!
Planning and Recordkeeping

□ Now is the time to think about some colour in the winter garden. Consider winter flowering bulbs and Namaqualand daisies.

□ Consider sowing Calendula officinalis for winter skin ointments.

□ Prepare strawberry beds now. They do better in a slightly acid soil. Dig in plenty of well-rotted manure and/or compost. Scatter a cupful of 3:1:5 per square meter.

□ Keep weekly gardening diary and records up to date.

□ Compare actual results and actions with plans and make notes for next year where necessary.

Herb Propagation

Maintain the succession of seed sowing of:

□ Nasturtiums

□ Flat-leaf parsley

□ Chives

Start Sowing:

□ Coriander

□ Sage

Start taking cuttings of:

□ Lavender

Lemon Balm

□ Mint

□ Oregano

□ Rosemary

□ Thyme

Tip: When taking cuttings select healthy growth and cut just below a node or leaf joint. Remove the lower leaves. Many cuttings root better if the ends are dipped into a root-forming hormone before inserting the cutting in a rooting medium. Your local nursery will be able to advise.

Tip: If you have perennials such as yarrow, bulbine, echinaceae and bergamot now is a good time to divide them. Water the clumps the day before dividing. After lifting, do not let the roots dry out. For replanting choose healthy young growths from the outer edge of the clump.

Veggie Propagation

Maintain the succession of seed sowing of:

□ Cabbage - last month to sow cabbage

□ Spinach

Swiss chard

□ Lettuce

□ Rocket

□ Carrots

□ Beetroot

□ Radishes

□ Peas

Start sowing:

□ Green Beans

Planting and Thinning Out

Tip: If you don't like propagating your own herbs you can buy all herbs on our recommended varieties list and transplant into permanent beds or bigger containers. The same goes for veggies. Buy seedlings from your local nurseries.

□ Thin out beetroots, carrots, lettuces to the desired distances.


□ Check garden and containers daily during hot spells, especially salad crops and chili bushes.

□ Supplement rainfall (in summer rainfall areas) with thorough waterings.


□ Fertilize once with a liquid fertilizer like Groweasier (Available and made in Zimbabwe)

□ Containers need a diluted feeding once a week.


□ Give hedges a final clipping.

□ Expose the fruit of tomatoes to the sun by removing the covering leaves.

□ Prune all herbs to keep them in shape.


□ Remove weeds regularly as they appear. Don’t give them a chance to flower and seed.

Pests and Disease

□ Note the occurrence of pest and disease, measures taken (if any), and results.

□ Be on the lookout for aphids, caterpillars and red spider mite.


□ It is a good month to start harvesting seed. Especially coriander and dill. Cut ripe seed heads and place in brown paper bags to dry thoroughly.

□ Harvest perennials and start making oils and vinegars.

□ Harvest herbs and veggies as required for daily use.

□ Harvest annuals as soon as they come into full flower by cutting back by about two thirds. Dry, freeze or preserve in oil or vinegar for winter use.


□ Remove unused chili fruit and either process or discard.

□ Remove debris to the compost heap, or use as a mulch elsewhere in the garden.

□ Dispose of any insect or disease infested plant material.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Using tin cans to replenish the soil

We have long been into recycling and have made our own compost for years but this is a new idea put out by Environment 2000 - if it works it gives us a better soil and stops pollution!

If one can remove the aluminium at the top of the can - the key that one has to pull to open the can -the tin can be used in pit beds in the garden as it puts the necessary nutrients back into the soil.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Vegetable gardening in Zimbabwe

A lot is being written about how people in Zimbabwe are turning their gardens into vegetable plots! We are managing to produce more than we can cope with in our garden. We have a modest garden and we make sure that we only grow as much as we, and our neighbours and staff, can cope with at one time. By careful planning this is possible.

We love spinach and this time of year is when we have rain - this means the spinach droops and dies off.

We have discovered that by growing it under the eaves of the house we can keep our spinach on the go almost all year.

Another discovery this year has been that the coloured spinach called 'bright lights' (actually kale) does not mind the rain - we now have green, red and yellow spinach on our table on a regular basis!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

No Fungus this year!

At this time of year we usually have an abundance of fungus of many varieties.

This year - nothing!

Our rains have been good and our soil is ideal - but why no mushrooms?
Let us hope that later on in the seson we will see them.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The toad tree is so called as it's seed pods resemble a toad in shape and colour. this tree was grown from seed from the Chiredzi area. It is about four years old and has yet to produce seed - however it is a lovely tree in any garden