Around two months ago, I finished my permagarden in my compound backyard. I had help from to teens who lived nearby who – from the moment I came to my village – were interested in growing crops in my backyard. Anytime either of them would see me they would ask, “what’s the plan?” “when are we going to dig?” And at first I didn’t know because I was new to my community and unsure of even where to buy eggs and veggies! After adjusting, maybe a month into site, we finally finished the garden. We had to wait to dig because we first wanted rains to start falling so it would be easier, and we managed to double dig, fertilize the soil with cow manure, charcoal powder (small chunks), dried crushed egg shells, and ash. We bought chicken coop wire, foraged for wood branches and constructed a fence around the permagarden. Since I now have chickens in my backyard and anticipated the chicken problem before the chickens were actually mine (they were a former neighbor’s who used to live in the compound as well) we built a fence for the garden. We bought the seeds together and they helped me make the seed decisions! We planted the following: carrots, onion, passion fruit, green pepper, tomatoes (cherry tomatoes from US), green pepper, sunflowers, and buugga (greens). Now, I’ve never grown ANYTHING in my whole life… so this has been a pretty amazing experience. Here are some photos of my garden from start to finish growing!
Now, months later, still in rainy season, my garden has blossomed. Bearing sunflowers, cherry tomatoes, carrots and buugga. I have loved tending to it (mostly) because what has also blossomed has been WEEDS. Lots and lots of weeds. The weeds here are absolutely insane. They start and spread, planting roots on the sides of their arms every few inches they grow sideways. And they drive me crazy!
My garden is awesome, and also not perfect. I had many seeds that did not sprout at all- green pepper, passion fruit, and onion. I now have one lovely sunflower out of two sunflower seeds I planted. One already blossomed and was beautiful then I was gone for a few days and noticed it drooping and dying. I hacked it down to ensure it wouldn’t fall or rot on other plants and focused on the growing plants I did have! The successful plants list! Carrots, cherry tomatoes, and a random regular size tomato plant that sprung up out of no where (plus sunflowers). My buugga was growing strong and I was sharing the bounty and then after a vacation I came back and all of the plants were drooping – practically dead. I wondered if rain pounded them or oversaturated their living quarters… but anyway… they died. Something I’ve been doing with the extra space is planting more seeds where others have not grown. I recently had help planting some Irish Potatoes (Lemonde Muzungu – White potatoes) and I also planted some more carrot and tried green pepper again. I’m fortunate enough to not have to rely on my garden to feed me as many other neighbors and villagers must do, but my garden is not my full time job either. I didn’t raise my permagarden beds (oops, we just didn’t manage accumulating enough soil for them while we were double digging) and we didn’t utilize all the space I had because I didn’t think I wanted to plant (and water) too many seeds so that my garden felt manageable while I did other health work with groups and kids. Next season I’m definitely PACKING my garden with my favorite fruits and vegetables. I’m going to try to plant more lettuce, greens, beans, onion (get better seeds), tomatoes, kale (if I get sent some kale seeds), and possibly fruits too. I would love to try to plant strawberries here if I can get my hand on some seeds! There are many possibilities!
Meanwhile, I’m also enjoying my trusty, beautiful, giving mango tree right now. I’d say I collect about 5-10% of the mangoes that are being shaken, picked, or fall off and the rest I give to many kids and adults around me and those who stop by. I even brought mangoes to my banking town and ended giving them to the friendliest and most helpful Post Office worker! His face lit up and that made me smile.
Here in Central Uganda I am enjoying the fruits of nature and the fruits of my work tending to my garden, the initial work of digging, the daily work of watering, and the weekly work of ripping out all the weeds I can!
Here are some pictures of my harvests!
Happy Holidays everyone!