It’s hard to believe that the semester is already on the down swing and in less than two months we will be on our way to South Africa for the adventure of a life time. As one part of our trip we will be helping to re-build and fix the Varkplaas community garden. Our main focus for this garden will be to determine the best plan of action for fixing the fence, finding a way to make it sustainable but acceptable in the community, and to find a way to get the community continuously involved in the upkeep and success of the garden.
As the garden stands right now it holds tomatoes and onions and is protected from the elements by a dilapidated fencing structure. Developing a better fence will be the key factor in fixing up the garden, This garden is a vital aspect of the community it resides in since it provides its community a means to grow and sell crop for profit. Having a sustainable vegetable garden also provides the community with essential nutrients for creating a healthier lifestyle. The windy conditions and constant sand create a challenge in making the garden sustainable. Communicating with the community members will also be necessary since they will ultimately by the ones tending to the garden.
Going forward with our plans we have two different options to approach the wind and sand problems currently hurting the garden. Our first option is to use the same material that currently surrounds the garden and adding reinforcement to it. The problem with the current material is that it is developing tears from the continuous wind gusts. Reinforcing the material from behind with a stronger more durable material will give the benefit of wind protection and strength. The second option for the fencing is developing a greenhouse style structure using PVC pipe and a mesh type covering. This sort of tunnel looking enclosure will protect the vegetables from wind and sand and will be very durable. The problem with such an enclosure is that it can be costly to have it made and the individual pieces would be hard to assemble correctly for a reasonable price. I came across a very helpful website that lists steps, with pictures, to build a greenhouse style garden. Although the website does not come from South Africa I feel it can be easily translated to fit the prices and materials there.
A current issue facing the Varkplaas garden is a large amount of snails which can be detrimental to the growth of the vegetables. Since our funds are limited and our time is of the essence I tried to find quick and easy solutions to such a problem. Many websites had organic techniques that seemed a bit quirky but showed great results. Some of the solutions include throwing broken up egg shells into the dirt or filling an aluminum tin with beer so the snails crawl into it and drown. The solution that seemed most plausible was to create a water and salt solution to spray along the border of the garden on both sides of the boundaries.