I recently had the opportunity to assist the Forestry Commission with their tree planting workshops in Ward 16 in the Khami Area. In an effort to encourage reforestation in an area with sparse vegetation, the Forestry Commission has started workshops with communal farmers to teach them how to grow trees for sale as well as for personal use.
The early morning drive out to Khami was bumpy and yet I managed to fall asleep along the way!!! After a short drive we arrived to a homestead with farmers anxiously awaiting our arrival. Besides the nursery, Agritex workers and those from the Forestry Commission have launched a small scale mushroom farming project in the area.
As soon as we got there, we got right to business. The initial step was discussing the processes that go into tree planting, pests to avoid and how to deal with an outbreak of pests. The farmers all had notebooks and were mostly recapping on previously discussed techniques.
The next step in the planting process is to carefully remove excess grass, twigs and stones from the soil used for planting.
The ground where the trees are grown needs to be level and so we used a long plank to level out the soil to ensure the ground is even.
Planters are readily available at stores however in the absence of planters the farmers use recycled mahewu containers and put holes in them.
After carefully clearing the soil of all unwanted components we began to fill the planters with soil. The planters must be placed in straight lines. This helps in the watering process and if the seeds are planted at different times it makes it easier to determine the growth of the seedlings.
The planters need to be well watered before the seeds are put into the planter. Traditionally one would use a watering can however in the absence of one; you can use a regular tin with perforations at the bottom. It works as efficiently as a watering can.
When the planters were well saturated with water, we began adding the seeds. The depth by which the seeds should be inserted can be determined by the index finger. Generally half the length of the index finger is a good depth to insert the seed however it can vary depending on the type of seed.
As an initial project the farmers planted fruit trees as well as a few indigenous trees found in the area. As time progresses and they monitor the growth of the seedlings they will decide collectively what other trees they will plant especially the ones they will sell.
I enjoyed the day I spent out in the Khami area and especially enjoyed the food the farmers shared with us. Every day is a brand new opportunity to learn something new and as I continue to learn more I hope to be able to share my knowledge with others and help them improve their lives.
Play your part today in preserving Mother Earth!!!