Friday, 8 March 2013

I am grateful to Heloise de Beer for her help with these updates from Luyengo Farm.

This week at Luyengo Fresh Produce 

The year is heading into the third month and early mornings one can feel the season is changing. The winter is slowly approaching. 
Only Cabbage was harvested this week. We have prepared 1 hectare to plant 5 000 cabbage seedlings, 5000 tomato seedlings, .25 hectare carrots, .25 hectare sweet corn and a small area of green mealies as maize / corn is called in Swaziland.
Our tomatoes and cabbage seedlings in the nursery are looking good and we are patting ourselves on the back for a success we achieved. We have always bought our seedlings from a local nursery. They use open pollinated seeds to make plants. We were happy with their seedlings but decided to do a test. We made our own tomato seedlings using an F1 hybrid. Our seedlings turned out to be very strong plants. We are so impressed with this achievement that we have decided to do the same with the cabbages and are eagerly awaiting the arrival of the F1 Hybrid Klabishi seeds, hopefully by next week. 
Farming is not just fun. Recently we had two incidents that got the heart rates up and the adrenaline pumping. While Tiekie took a rare weekend off and went away sword fishing in the lowveld the staff member who was assigned to water the plants in the nursery over that weekend, also decided to leave without telling anyone. We lost nearly half our tomato plants that weekend. The other incident is of great concern. The Malkerns valley has been battling Fusarium Wilt, a disease that attracts tomatoes, green peppers, brinjul/egg plants and potatoes, ever since people started farming here. It is cannot be killed and attacks the plants when they become stressed, like during a drought period or when the plants start making fruit. If the plants are in sandy soil the spores are carried by water through a field and you can lose a crop in a day. Our newly planted tomatoes were attacked like this recently and we lost some plants. Fortunately prompt reaction on our side saved the most of the crop as we were able to move the plants to an area of the farm where the soil is heavier and Fusarium Wilt will be kept at bay. We must now start looking for a tomato cultivar that is resistant to Fusarium Wilt and any suggestions from knowledgeable readers are welcome.  
In Swaziland 80% of the tomatoes that are bought are cut up and cooked to make a sheba (as a sauce is called in Swaziland). This knowledge has helped us make a decision that could improve productivity on the farm. The tomatoes we were planting had to be tied up. That meant planting stakes and making a trellis for the tomato plants. This is a time consuming task. We have decided to change to a tomato plant that grows in a bush and have settled for the F1 Hybrid Chibli. The difference between the two types of tomatoes is just the shape. The bush tomato has a pear shape and, as we found, our market really does not care about the shape of the tomato. 
In the coming week we are looking forward to harvesting our green mealies. They are on average three and a half metres high.
Average max temp this week on the farm: 28°C
Average min temp this week on the farm: 18°C
Rainfall Avarages 2013 To Date
January 169mm 270mm
February         140mm 180mm
March 100mm 77mm
Look out for the next blog in which we will tell you a heartwarming story about chickens who have crossed a road and will never look back.
We end this blog with a saying from Africa: In Africa when the sun rises the lions knows it has to run faster than the buck or it will go hungry. The buck knows it must be fast not to be caught and eaten by the lion. The moral is: When the sun rises in Africa, you have to start moving if you want to survive.
Tiekie’s motto is: When the sun rises at Luyengo and you wear a LFP overall you better be running.