|Many beneficial insects are predators or parasites which eat up harmful insects. These are the Pest Police. Some are pollinators which fertilise plants so they can produce fruit. Without them, there would be no agriculture.|
(Adapted from “Beneficial insects” Virginia State Univ., ww.ext.vt.edu/departments/entomology)
|1. Everyone knows the ladybug, or ladybird*. Some ladybugs eat aphids, others prefer scale insects and mites. They are very effective at getting rid of pests. Ladybug larvae also prey on aphids. They are colourful and look fierce, so people often think they must be harmful to people or plants. Nothing could be less true.|
|2. The praying mantis*, with its folded legs in prayer position, is another well-known insect predator. Both adults and young lie in wait for insects that stray too close, then grab them with their modified front legs.|
|3. Assassin bugs are found in tropical countries. Most kinds have slender bodies and dull colours so they are not noticed. They have a curved "beak" which they use to pierce beetles, grasshoppers and caterpillars.|
|4. Ground beetles (e.g. Carab) are often found under logs and rubbish. Both larvae and adults feed on insects, slugs, snails, snail eggs and mites.|
|5. The Lacewing fly has green filigree wings and metallic eyes. Close up, the larvae are like miniature monsters. Both adults and larvae hunt for scale, aphids, mites, mealy bug, thrips and whitefly. The larvae eat up aphids at the rate of 60 per hour and sometimes stick the empty bodies on their bristles as camouflage!|
|6. Soldier beetles or pirate bugs are slender, brownish red or yellowish, with long antennae. They are often seen on flowers, but both adults and larvae are carnivorous. Like their cousins fireflies and glowworms, they secrete a material which liquefies their prey. They have a "piercing-sucking beak" which they use to suck their victims dry. Each adult pirate bug can eat 5 to 20 thrips larvae per day.|
|7. Hoverflies or robber flies are a large and useful family. Some fat kinds look like bees; others with narrow waists mimic wasps. They hover in mid-air and dart in to get pollen or nectar from flowers. Their larvae prey on aphids - one larva may eat 900 aphids! The adults are more effective predators than ladybugs.|
|8. Centipedes feed on slugs, snails (and their eggs), mites and insets. Be careful! They can give a painful bite.|
|9. Spiders and scorpions are also dedicated hunters. Spiders use six eyes, eight legs, poisonous fangs and sticky, transparent webs to hunt on the ground or in the air. If you find their webs in your garden, leave them there!|
|10. Many small wasps and flies are parasites on other insects. They are valuable allies. Tachinid flies, for example, lay their eggs on caterpillars. When they hatch, the fly maggots burrow through the caterpillar's skin and feed on it.|
|11. Pollinators Many insects pollinate flowers: wild bees, flower flies, butterflies. The best known is the honey bee, which also gives us honey and beeswax. Without pollinators there would be no citrus fruit, nuts, berries, coffee, melons, cucumbers, squash, or other fruits and vegetables. Without them, farmers could not grow crops.|
* Mel Futter, pub Big Issue Namibia, 2004
Photos: Ken Gray, Oregon State University, www.govlink.org
|Planting particular plants together can attract good insects and drive away pests. In general, mixed crops and strong smells repel garden enemies, while flowers attract beneficial insects. ‘Companion planting’ is a natural way to protect plants.|
Flowers which attract beneficial insects are camomile, carrot, celery, clover, coriander, daisy, dill, canna, carrot, citrus, mint, nasturtiums, parsley, parsnip, rosemary, rue, thyme and yarrow. Let some of your vegetables flower.
Strong-smelling plants which deter pests by “putting them off the scent” are aloe vera, artemisia, basil, calendula, camomile, catnip, chilli, chives, citronella, garlic, ginger, horehound, lantana, lavender, leeks, lemon grass, marigold, mint, onions, tansy, thyme and tobacco.
Plants which repel soil pests
Garlic plants kill off some fungi in the soil.
Some marigolds kill nematodes in the soil. Get the right kind.
Cabbage smell repels soil pests.
Special combinations. Some say these combinations work well. Try them and see!
Photos: Ken Gray, © Oregon State University, www.govlink.org
|Compost, “brown gold”, is the magic ingredient of good gardening. It provides nutrients to make soil rich and fertile, and keeps it moist and airy by opening up the soil, and trapping and draining water.|
Compost ingredients Most organic materials can go into compost: straw, cut grass, organic waste from the kitchen, weeds, plants, leaves, animal manure, wood ash, animal and fish bones, feathers, cotton cloth, bits of leather or paper, soil. Do not use cooked food, large pieces of wood, plastic, metal, glass, crockery, wire, nylon, synthetic fabrics, coal ash, seeding grass or very tough weeds.
Compost containers Compost can be made in a bin with a roof for shelter. Having three bins is best: one to make it in, one to move it to, and one to store it. It can also be made in a pit, in a large cardboard box or in a large strong plastic bag with air holes. The important thing is keep it “cooking” by keeping it damp and giving it air.
Making compost Start with a layer of sticks for drainage, then follow with layers of grass, leaves, manure, soil. Mix wet and dry, and alternate brown and green. Chop up big leaves. Add a final layer of soil, make a hole in the middle to let air in, water the heap and cover with grass or with a cloth to keep it damp. After about five days the heap will heat up as bacteria work to break it down. Keep the compost damp. After about six weeks turn the compost - take it out and put it back, or move it to the next bin, always keeping it damp. Turn it again every few weeks. After three months test it. If it is dark, crumbly, light and moist, it is ready to use.
Using compost Use compost as soon as it is ready. Spread it before planting and when potting, and put it around growing plants every two weeks. Don’t let it dry out: use it in the early evening, when it is cool, and cover with mulch to keep it damp.
|General rules for processing foods are:|
Ten simple food-preserving projects:
Hang up strings/bunches of onions, garlic, chillies, herbs, cherry tomatoes, in a cool shady airy place.
Cure sweet potatoes, yams, pumpkins by leaving them in a warm shady airy place for a week after harvesting. The skin will thicken and they will keep better. Store in a dark cool dry place.
Dry fruit and vegetables in an airy open-sided shed. Put slices of food on a rack/ mat/ tray well off the ground with its legs in water to prevent climbing insects. Turn every day until dry (vegetables) or leathery (fruit). Thin foods (e.g. green leaves) can be dried whole. Dry legumes and oilseeds on the plant. Store in a cool dry protected place.
Use a solar drier A solar drier is basically a box or frame with a plastic cover. It is not difficult to construct. Solar drying is faster and preserves nutrients better. It takes about three days for fruit/vegetable strips and slices, two days for leaves. Store dried food in airtight containers.
Make flour (e.g. pumpkin, banana, sweet potato, breadfruit, cowpea) and use it in cakes, biscuits, pancakes, weaning foods. Dry the food, then pound, sieve and store in an airtight container. For banana flour, pick bananas when three-quarters ripe. Heat them, peel and slice them, then dry the slices. Pound into flour, then sieve and store. (FAO, 1995)
Make fruit leather by cooking fruit, pulping it, then drying it. For pumpkin leather, wash, peel, cut up and cook the pumpkin, purée, strain, add honey and spices, spread on an oiled tray and dry in a solar drier. Cut the leather into squares and wrap in cellophane.
Pickle cucumber Wash 3 kilos of firm, fresh, medium-size cucumbers and put in a deep bowl. Mix salt and water, enough to cover the cucumbers. Let stand for two days. Drain, rinse and slice. Put 10 cups of sugar, 10 cups of white vinegar and some pickling spice in a pot and bring slowly to a boil to dissolve the sugar. Add sliced cucumbers to the hot syrup for a few seconds, then pack into clean hot jars. Fill jars with hot vinegar-sugar solution and seal. (Cooks Com 2004)
Make Kanji pickled carrot drink, popular in India. Wash a kilo of carrots and grate them into a jar/bottle. Add 7 litres of clean water, 200g salt and some hot spices (e.g. chilli, mustard seed). Close tightly, leaving a tiny hole for gases to escape. Ferment for 7–10 days. Strain. Consume within 3–4 days. (Battcock and Azam-Ali, 1998)
Make guava juice. Choose firm ripe guavas. Wash, cut off ends, slice. Cover with water in a large pot. Boil until very soft (15–20 minutes). Pour into a bag of rough cloth and let it drip through. Drink it right away. To bottle it, sterilize bottles and lids, boil the juice again, pour into hot bottles and seal. (FAO, 2004 website)
Bottle tomatoes Use plum tomatoes, ripe but hard. Wash well and remove bad bits. Dip in boiling water for 30 seconds, cool in water, then peel. Fill jars with tomatoes. Add a small spoon of lemon juice/vinegar to each. Seal while hot. Cover jars with water in a deep pan, with straw to stop rattling. Boil for 30 minutes (small jars) or 50 minutes (big jars). Let cool and label. (FAO Rural Processing & Preserving)
|If you plan to grow the same crops regularly, you will need to rotate them. Each kind of crop needs particular nutrients in the soil and uses these up at a particular level in the ground. At the same time, each kind of plant attracts its own particular pests and diseases, which soon become established around the crop. If you grow the same kind of crop in the same place season after season, the nutrients that the plant needs are quickly exhausted, the plants grow weak and stunted and quickly come under attack from waiting pests and diseases.|
Crop rotation restores the soil and frustrates the pests and diseases. The main crop families to be rotated are:
|Legumes||leguminosae||e.g. beans, peas|
|Solanums||solanaceae||e.g. tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, chilli, eggplants|
|Cucurbits||cucurbitaceae||e.g. cucumber, squash, melon, marrow, pumpkin|
|Brassicas||brassicaceae||e.g. broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, radish, rutabaga|
|Grains||gramineae||e.g. corn, millet, sorghum, wheat|
|Bulb crops||amaryllidaceae||e.g. onions, leeks, garlic, chives|
|Umbells||umbellifereae||e.g. carrots, fennel, chicory, parsnip, parsley, sesame|
|Greens||chenopodiaceae and compositae||e.g. beet, chard, spinach, lettuce|
(Adapted from Coleman, 1989)
Some “rotation tips” are:
Older children with a little experience of gardening can understand the principles of crop rotation and apply them in making decisions about what to grow.
|Permanent raised beds In this Manual we advocate permanent raised beds, which are easy to maintain, highly productive and excellent for improving the soil.|
Making raised beds:
Other kinds of beds:
Flat beds are easy to establish but not so productive.
Sunken beds trap water and are good for dry climate or dry seasons.
Ridged beds are good for root crops. The ridges help rain drain out of heavy soil.
Permaculture Where soil is poor, permaculture beds can be built on top of the ground by filling in a border with organic matter.
Containers (e.g. plant pots, old car tyres) are movable, good for limited space and for display.
|Gardeners should know if the crop must ripen on the plant or can also ripen off the plant. Harvesting should ensure that produce is fresh and undamaged. It should be done in the cool of the day. Produce should be handled carefully to avoid damage. Store only perfect foods; use up damaged foods quickly before they rot. Store foods in cool dry conditions. For transport, fruit should be packed carefully so it will not get hurt. Old plants can be left in the soil as compost.|
|Integrated pest management employs a range of natural methods to reduce and control pests and diseases. Ensuring that plants are healthy is the first strategy. Plants should be monitored regularly and treated immediately. The checklist below covers the main points to be checked.|
Plant Patrol Checklist
|1. Growth||Have the plants grown? What stage are they at? Any fruit/seeds?|
|2. Health||Are they looking well? Are there signs of pests or diseases? Are any plants wilting or stunted? Are there fallen leaves, eaten leaves, yellow leaves, fungus?|
|3. Garden creatures||What insects/worms/animals are around? Are there plenty of beneficial creatures (e.g. lacewing, ladybug, frogs, lizards)?|
|4. Soil/water||Is the soil dry? Which plants or beds need water? Is anything too wet?|
|5. Mulching||Is everything well mulched? Where do we need more mulch?|
|6. Protection||How good is our protection against predators (e.g. fences, walls, scarecrows)?|
|7. Wind and sun||Is anything getting too much wind, sun or shade?|
|8. Space||Is anything overcrowded? Does anything need thinning/transplanting?|
|9. Weeds||Are there a lot of weeds near the plants?|
|10. Support||Does anything need training up, tying up, spreading out?|
|11. Hygiene||What needs tidying up? Burning? Cutting back? Cutting down?|
|12. Compost||How good are our supplies of compost and mulch?|
|The sprays below are cheap to make and effective against a range of pests, while also relatively safe for children to make and use.|
Chilli pesticide spray To control aphids and other sucking insects. Slice a handful of dried chillies and some onion or garlic and mix together in a litre of water. Grate in a small handful of hard soap. Leave overnight, then strain through a cloth and add 5 more litres of water. Brush, sprinkle or spray on affected plants, but not in direct sunlight. Don’t get it on your skin or in your eyes. If plant leaves burn, make the mixture weaker with more water. Repeat the treatment as often as necessary. (Adapted from FAO, 2001)
Simple soapy water spray For sucking insects. Use one teaspoon to two tablespoons of normal liquid detergent soap for every four and half litres of water. Spray as often as needed, especially under the leaves. Increase the amount of soap if necessary. (Guy et al., 1996)
Flour or ash dusted onto leaf vegetables suffocates caterpillars. Flour is also a stomach poison for them. (Chris Landon-Lane, 2004)
Tea or coffee spray To deter insects. Soak coffee grounds or tea leaves in water and spray on plants.
White oil or “summer oil” spray To suffocate chewing and sucking insects. Make a concentrated mix with half a litre of vegetable oil (e.g. coconut oil) and half a cup of detergent or soap dissolved in water. To spray, mix 1 tablespoon of the mixture in a litre of water. If you store the mixture, shake well before using to mix up the ingredients. (Adapted from ABC Brisbane, 2004)
Bug juice made with the bugs themselves is effective against caterpillars, slugs, larvae and bugs. Catch and kill a few of the pests which are attacking your crops, cover with water, grind to a paste and strain through a fine sieve or cloth. Dilute 50 ml in 100 litres of water - then spray their friends and relations! (C. Landon-Lane, personal communication, 2004)
Tomato leaf juice Useful in controlling aphids and caterpillars on many plants. Boil 500 grams of tomato leaves in 5 litres of water. Strain and dissolve 30 grams of soap in the mix. For spraying, use one part of the mixture to 4 parts of water. N.B. Do not use this mixture on tomato plants or members of the tomato familt (e.g. pepper or Irish potato). (ABC Brisbane, 2004)
Marigold leaf juice made the same way as tomato leaf juice, is a powerful, broadspectrum pesticide (it even deters fleas on dogs!). Wild marigold, which comes up in fields, on roadsides or any patch of disturbed soil, is much more effective than the garden variety.
|Spray bottles are not always easy to come by. A large paintbrush, broom head or tied bundle of grass will work just as well. Dip this into a bucket of the pesticide and shake it to splash the mixture onto the plants.|
|Intercropping (growing different crops near to one another) helps to utilize and conserve the soil and protect plants. A multi-layered garden, with plants at different heights, is a form of intercropping that makes the most of garden space and sunshine.|
Putting plants with different needs together cuts competition. In particular, try growing:
Mulching means putting dry organic material (grass, straw, leaves) about 6 cm deep around the base of plants. The mulch keeps moisture in the soil, keeps the soil surface cool and soft, prevents weeds, and gradually decays like compost to enrich the soil. It is particularly useful where the soil is poor or there is very little water, in hot climates and hot seasons. The best mulching material is light-coloured and reflects the light. Use grass and weeds before they produce seeds, otherwise you will be providing competition instead of reducing it!
Fertilisers can supply these nutrients There are:
Inorganic fertilisers (e.g. ammonium nitrate, ammonium sulphate and ammonium phosphate). These are quite expensive. They give quick results but don’t help the soil structure in the long term.
Organic fertilisers (e.g. bone meal, blood meal, seaweed, manure). These cost a little more than inorganic fertilisers, but they improve the soil structure as well as add nutrients.
Homegrown organic fertilisers (e.g. green manure, compost and animal manure). These cost very little, improve the soil structure, and provide nutrients as well.
Animal manure Use manure from plant-eating animals. Fresh animal manure hurts roots: either leave it for six months or add it to compost.
Green manure gives a rich airy soil. Grow legume crops and dig them in or use them for compost. For example:
Particular organic materials supply particular nutrients. Put them in your compost.
|Nitrogen N||Phosphorus P||Potassium K|
|Bonemeal or bones|
|Banana leaves and stems|
|Compost and manure|
|Shredded castor oil plants|
|Organic gardeners use natural methods to protect and improve the soil, control pests and diseases and increase production. Some ways of gardening organically are rotating crops, using compost and manure, making raised permanent beds, mulching, weeding, using good seeds, growing local varieties, treating plants well, doing companion planting, not using artificial pesticides or insecticides, harvesting rainwater, and using drip irrigation. Most of these are dealt with in detail in these Notes; here we summarize the important points to demonstratethe value of organic approaches.|
Keeping the soil healthy The soil is full of nutrients, which go into the food we grow. When we harvest food, we remove these nutrients. If we do not put back into the soil what we take from it, it becomes “exhausted” and cannot produce good crops. Good gardeners have to protect and maintain the soil. How is this done?Chemical fertilisers put nutrients back into the soil, but they are harmful to worms and good soil fungi and are also expensive. They can burn roots; they dissolve quickly and are washed out of the soil. Organic gardeners protect and maintain the soil in other ways:
Keeping plants healthy A popular way to keep down pests and diseases is with chemical sprays. This is expensive, and creates a lot of problems. Pesticides are poisons: they kill insects which pollinate plants, and also birds and insects which eat pests. They can also poison us if we eat sprayed foods, or breathe the air after crop-spraying.
The natural way to fight pests and diseases is to make plants healthy and resistant to pests and diseases. Choose good seeds and local varieties, add compost, weed and mulch to keep down the competition, control pests and check plants regularly.
Make sure plants have enough water, but not too much. Keep the soil damp and add compost to help it drain well. If water is scarce, harvest rainwater or use grey water, and use every drop - for example, use drip irrigation or mulch plants to stop water from evaporating. Grey water, or waste water from washing hands, clothes, etc, usually contains soap, so has the extra benefit of helping to contol pests.
Organic gardeners encourage beneficial insects like bees, butterflies and ladybirds by growing plants that attract them. They keep away harmful pests by companion planting with strong-smelling plants and pick off harmful bugs, worms and beetles before they spread. They use sprays that do not harm birds and bees, and natural insecticides that disappear after doing their work.
A few examples of harmful pests:
Chewers Most chewers are big enough to see easily. If there are holes in the leaves and fruit, ragged edges or pieces missing, look for caterpillars, beetles, weevils, grasshoppers, slugs and snails. If plants are wilting or falling over, look for root-eating crickets, beetles, millipedes.
|1. Caterpillars* (Lepidoptera) Example: Cabbage looper butterfly and larvae|
Green caterpillars, about 1½ long, pale stripes along their backs. They “loop” as they crawl, making a little arch. They chew leaves of all the cabbage family.
|2. Weevils* (Chrysomeloids & Cucurlions) Example: Vegetable weevil|
Typical weevil “nose”, 10 mm long, grey brown. The larvae are slug-shaped. They chew holes in leaves, root vegetables and plant tops. They feed at night and shelter on soil during the day.
|3. Slugs* and snails* (Molluscs)|
Slimy and soft-bodied. The snail has a shell, the slugs have none. They leave a silvery slime trail. They chew plant leaves and cut seedling stems.
Suckers If plants are wilting or stunted, with leaves curling, yellowing, or distorted; if there is sooty mould on citrus, look for aphids, scale, mealy bugs, thrips, plant hoppers or whitefly.
|4. Aphids* (Aphids)|
Tiny, yellowish green or grey/black insects, about 2–5 mm long. They suck plant juice from leaves, buds, stems and pods of vegetables, fruit trees and grains and leave a sticky "honeydew". They attack beans and the cabbage family.
|5. Whitefly* (Aleyrodids) Example: Citrus whitefly|
Tiny insects, like winged aphids. They look like scale on the underside of leaves, and fly out in clouds if disturbed. They suck plant juice.
|6. Scale, mealybugs*(Coccoids)|
Scale are oval, blue/red, waxy insects. They suck juice from stems, leaves, roots. Mealybugs are small white cottony pests found on the underside of leaves.
|7. Shield bugs and Stink bugs** (Pentatomoids) Example: Stink bug|
Bright green, 12 mm, shield-shaped, they make a foul smell if squashed or disturbed. They leave blotches on fruits and limp seed pods.
|8. Leafhoppers** (Cicadelloids) Example: Vegetable Jassid|
Broad head, gauzy wings, 5 mm long, sometimes bright colours. They fly out in clouds if disturbed. They suck the sap under the leaves, and leave bleached blotchy areas.
Photos: * Ken Gray, Oregon State University, www.govlink.org
Photos:** © Robert Bercha, www.insectsofalberta.com
|It is not always easy to tell if a plant is suffering from disease, diet/water problems or pests, since a single symptom (e.g. wilting) may be a sign of any of these. But some symptoms are more specific|
|soggy rotten flesh||withering|
|rolled-up leaves||oozing sap||Burn infected plants and start again.|
|red and yellow streaks||spots||- Use clean seeds.|
|discoloured leaves||- Plant in a new place.|
|black patches with yellow edges powdery substance on leaves||- Let the bed dry out before replanting.|
|Diet||Lack of nitrogen||FEED|
|- yellow leaf veins||For all problems, give compost and mulch and rotate crops.|
|- stunted growth||For nitrogen, give compost, green manure and legumes.|
|- pale leaves||For potassium, give wood ash or wood bark.|
|- red colour||For phosphorus, add chicken manure or animal bones to compost.|
|- nearby plants have same problems|
|Lack of potassium|
|- edges of leaves look scorched|
|- brown patches in leaves between veins|
|Lack of phosphorus|
|- purple in stems or leaves|
|Water||too little||too much||WATER OR DRAIN|
|wilting||wilting||Water regularly OR drain the bed|
|leaf tips burnt/crinkled||yellowing|
|yellow leaves||stem rot|
|Pests||Sucking insects||PICK, WIPE, TRAP, SPRAY!|
|insects on buds, leaves, stem (aphids, scale) sticky secretions||Pick Hand pick caterpillars, slugs or snails, beetles - look in possible hiding places and you'll find them.|
|sooty mould on leaves||Wipe whitefly, scale, mealybug by hand.|
|pale, brown, speckled, drying leaves or fruit||Trap whitefly with “sticky traps”. Smear yellow cardboard with petroleum jelly (Vaseline). Whitefly like yellow things.|
|Chewing insects||Trap slugs under citrus or potato skins, in a slug trap (e.g. a half buried can of beer or milk) or with ash or sawdust around plants.|
|jagged edges||Spray with natural pesticides, or dust with wood ash or flour. Spray under leaves too.|
|Pest police Let in ducks and hens, carry in ladybugs and lacewing, encourage frogs and lizards.|
Sowing big seeds directly in the ground
Soil should be raked finely, removing lumps, roots, stones.
Seeds should be sown at a distance that allows for the size of the mature plant. Use pegs and knotted string to mark out rows, and measuring sticks to measure distance between plants. Make furrows at a depth approximately 3 times the seed's diameter.
Add a little compost, then drop in the seeds.
Cover the seeds and press down.
Water gently and keep damp.
Protect seeds/seedlings from sun, rain and predators with canopies (fronds or sacking) and thorns.
Small seeds need to be started in a protected seed bed, thinned out, hardened off and then planted out. Seed beds may be:
A seed tray in the classroom is good for study purposes. Cover trays with a damp cloth until seeds germinate.
Preparations Make a seed bed with fine rich soil, and no lumps, sticks or stones. Weed it well and flatten it neatly with a board. Prepare a canopy of sacking or fronds to protect the bed from sun and rain. Protect the seed bed from predators (e.g. with wall of thorns, or by putting trays on a table).
Sowing Mix seeds with fine soil or sand. Make furrows in the soil a few cm deep and about 15 cm apart. Sprinkle in the seeds and cover lightly. Water well, but don’t flood. Label the rows with seed packets on sticks.
Growing Water gently twice a day - morning and evening. When seedlings appear, add mulch to keep them cool and damp and keep down competition.
Hardening off and thinning When seedlings have two leaves, harden them off for about ten days, giving them a little more sun and weather every day. When they are about 8 cm high, thin them out to about 5 cm apart by cutting them close to the ground with scissors.
Transplanting/Planting out Transplant when it’s cool into raised beds. Mark lines and holes. Choose good strong seedlings, scoop them up with a little soil to keep their roots intact. Plant them in the holes, fill with soil, water right away and mulch around the plants. Water regularly.
Ways of protecting the garden have to take account of the commonest local animal predators, their size and number, what they attack and how they move (flying, burrowing, scratching, crawling, jumping). Local measures are generally the most economical and effective because they make use of widely available materials. Some protective measures are
Walls made of brick, concrete, stone or earth are strong but need a lot of work. Deep foundations are necessary if they are to prevent burrowing animals. Dry stone walls need constant maintenance. Rammed earth walls are easy to make, but need tiles on top to keep the water out.
Fences made from brushwood, wattle or bamboo are light and easy to move but need to be renewed every year. More permanent wire fences with concrete posts should start half a metre underground to keep out burrowers. Solar-powered electric fences can keep out big animals.
Hedges or living fences keep out big animals. Plants for thorny hedges are thorny vines, brambles, thorny wild apple, sisal, pandanus or Parkinsonia aculeata. Other thick hedges are euphorbia, cactus, bamboo and vetiver grass. Some (e.g. pineapple, salak, lemon grass, cassava and yucca) give food as well.
Nets are costly and time-consuming but effective for keeping birds, animals and insects away from fruit.
Scarecrows and scarers (e.g. shiny metal or plastic strips) are fun for children to make, watch, draw and tell stories about.
At the grass roots level, mini-fences of sticks or thorns protect young plants. Coverings (e.g. dry branches or sacks on sticks) keep away chickens and birds from seedlings. Coconut shells or stones can be used as earth blocks around carrots or sweet potatoes to keep diggers away from roots. Chickens are mostly beneficial for the garden, as they seldom destroy vegetables, aerate the soil by scratching and help to control pests. Marigolds planted as mini living fences around seedlings or fruit which chickens like, such as tomatoes, will keep chickens doing good and not harm to the garden.
Some snacks Fruit, fruit leather, sugarcane, sweet potato, carrots, celery, maize cob, rice cakes, nuts, sunflower seeds, raw young beans and peas, bean and seed sprouts from alfalfa, barley, wheat, beans, pumpkin, popcorn (with salt or honey) made from maize or sorghum.
Some drinks Fruit and vegetable juices, herb teas and spice drinks, coconut water, bean milk from pulped and sieved black or green gram.
|For wet areas or wet seasons:||For dry areas or dry seasons:|
|Dig holes and canals to drain water.|
Add compost to drain clay soil.
Grow plants that love water (e.g. rice, taro, lotus, water chestnuts).
Protect young plants from heavy rain.
Grow plants on trellises and use containers.
Don't mulch too much.
|Use “grey water” from washing.|
Harvest rainwater with gutters and water tanks.
Grow crops near the water.
Prevent runoff - put beds across slopes and build up edges.
Water conservatively - use a drip system, NOT a sprinkler.
Use a lot of compost and mulch.
Provide shade for young plants.
Remove competitive weeds that steal water.
Grow dry-climate crops (e.g. mung bean, egg-plant, sweet-potato, mango, groundnut, okra).
Methods of watering plants
Weeds are only harmful if they threaten crops. Some weeds attract pests like aphids and can starve crops by taking light, water and food from them, but some attract beneficial insects like bees and butterflies, while others (e.g. clover, vetch) make the soil rich with nitrogen. Here are some elements of a good organic weed policy:
Prevent weeds by filling up the space between plants with mulch or ground cover (e.g. pumpkins, sweet potatoes and other vine plants). Create shade with multi-layer cropping to deter weeds.
Remove weeds when the ground is damp by digging them, pulling them, or cutting them off under the surface. Try to catch them small, or at least before they go to seed. Avoid weedkiller: it can kill good insects and good plants, poison the soil and harm children.
Use weeds for mulch or compost (but not if full of seeds).
Leave a patch of flowering weeds to attract beneficial insects.
Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). 2004. Brisbane. www.abc.net.au/brisbane/stories/s780287.htm
Battcock, M. & Azam-Ali, S. 1998. Fermented fruits and vegetables: a global perspective. FAO Agricultural Services Bulletin No. 134. Rome.
Bercha, Robert, www.insectsofalberta.com
Bruce, B. 1998. Corn in the classroom. Developing Countries Farm Radio Network Package 48, script 7. (a broadcast on Sligoville School, Jamaica)
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