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14 Feb 2022
Growing Baby Carrots
Growing Baby Carrots

A Guide to Growing Baby Carrots ...

There’s always a market for baby vegetables, and carrots are no exception. In the past, top-shaped baby carrots were the most popular in the frozen range.
Frozen food producers would harvest the carrots, trim the leaves, remove the skin with a steam peeler and then freeze the vegetables.

The variety commonly used was Chantenay Red Core, which is slightly shorter than the regular Chantenay.
This variety is also used for the production of normal-sized carrots, so producing mature baby carrots of about 5cm in length requires special procedure.

Fertilisation ...
The first step to producing these carrots is to ensure correct fertilisation. Too much nitrogen will stimulate leaf growth, causing the more advanced plants to overshadow the weaker ones. 
The advanced plants will then form normal-sized roots, while completely suppressing the adjacent carrots, rendering them useless.

Planting and Spacing ...
The next step is to select the correct location for planting. 
You need 10 to 12 times more seeds per hectare in order to produce a plant density where competition for light restricts growth. 
Depending on the seed size, use 10kg to 12kg of seed per hectare.
Although some farmers choose to broadcast the seed and work it lightly into the soil with a spike-toothed harrow, the best method is to use a regular carrot planter, preferably one that plants three rows per planter bin.
This planter is slightly off-set to one side. When it reaches the end of the row, return on the same tracks so that the planter plants between the rows already planted. The more even the spacing, the better.
Spacing is important; you need a population in which every plant produces a marketable root. Too high a population will result in unusable plants, often at the expense of the plants alongside them.

Irrigation ...
Step three is to ensure correct irrigation. While normal-sized carrots need to be progressively stressed, and heavier irrigation applied in stages, baby carrots need frequent, light irrigation, as root growth must be restricted.

Other Varieties ...
You could also plant baby carrot varieties, which produce cylindrical carrots that are about 10cm to 12cm long. 
These are known as Amsterdam Forcing types. They’re usually early maturing, sweet and juicy, and very attractive.

Article Credits : Bill Kerr & Farmers Weekly

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10 Feb 2022
Food Forests
Food Forests

Food Forests for First Timers

Food Forests for First Timers is an easy-how-to-guide introducing permaculture principles with each layer of the food forest. 
Simple best ways to design Organic home gardens and landscapes are invaluable for anyone seeking ways to become more self-reliant and resilient while re-envisioning living spaces to provide year-round crop harvests. 

Plants, like people, thrive in community ...
Appreciate how nature evolves its plant communities so each member benefits from its associations with the others. 
That’s valuable knowledge to bring into the garden.
A way that our living spaces can be designed to provide yearly tree crop harvests. 
When our earth is remembered as a living and responsive plant campus, we activate along with this planet’s inherent abundance.
Permaculture is a way of design that links resources, use, and harvest into a connected whole. 
Although it is a complex system of design, permaculture is perfectly suited to community-scale production. 
By taking into account the local microclimate conditions, permaculture asks how many harvests and functions can be simultaneously realised from one plot of land. 
It challenges you to shift your focus from machine-centric gardening to plant-and-home-centric gardening.

Like anything worthwhile in life, managing your food forest requires preparation and sustained effort all year long. 
As you get into the rhythm of seasons, always thinking ahead, you will be rewarded with a bounty that will sustain you.
More on this subject to follow ...

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8 Feb 2022
Soil Health
Soil Health

Soil Health: Farming with Nature, Guided by Science ...

Changing to a healthier production system may pose new challenges, but is worthwhile in the long run. The use of compost improves soil structure and boosts soil health. 

Two decades ago, ZZ2 embarked on a journey that steered away from conventional agriculture towards a system more in tune with nature.
They called this farming approach Natuurboerdery.
It is based on a set of principles aimed at economic, social and environmental sustainable agriculture, inspired by insights gained from living ecosystems.
The approach is much broader and encompassing than ‘conservation farming’, which makes use of minimum- to no-till, stubble retention and crop rotation to conserve soil health, and includes most of the components of regenerative agriculture, such as the use of mulching, compost teas and compost to build soil health.
Natuurboerdery seeks not only to regenerate, but to improve and actively build productive and functional novel ecosystems.

Retief du Toit, a member of ZZ2 who has been using Natuurboerdery since 2001, talks about his experiences with this farming approach on the farms Lorraine in the Warm Bokkeveld and Bokveldskloof in the Koue Bokkeveld.
• What were some of your fears when you switched to Natuurboerdery in 2001?
° We were afraid the switch might negatively affect fruit yields and quality, but our yield curve has been consistently upward and the overall quality of our product has remained excellent.
The switch resulted in higher potassium levels in the soil, which we feared might exacerbate problems with bitter pit, a common apple disorder that causes dark spots. But it didn’t, revealing once again nature’s incredible ability to balance and maintain itself.

• What were some of your observations during those first few years?
° The soil carbon levels and structure improved, creating a more favourable environment for soil organisms. A change also occurred in the weed spectrum, with overall problems with weeds decreasing.
The water-holding capacity of the soil improved, resulting in better water infiltration, less run-off and better wetting of the subsoil during irrigation.
We saw changes to the root systems of the trees, enabling the trees to seek nutrition and water over a wider area.
The healthier production environment allowed us to reduce our dependence on harsh pesticides and also our use of inorganic fertilisers.

• What are some of the biggest mistakes farmers make when taking this route?
° To give up. One of the problems with Natuurboerdery is that it is difficult to quantify or translate the benefits into a monetary value, and the start-up costs are high, as you need special equipment and plenty of compost. Also, you need to use good-quality compost or you’ll only create more problems for yourself.
Another problem is that people are afraid of change, so instead of abandoning their old ways, they continue using their old plant nutrition practices, which then double production costs as they now have to pay for the old inputs and the new more environmentally friendly ones.

• What kept you going when you experienced problems?
° With the introduction of compost, our focus shifted to caring for the plants, which helped us rediscover old truths. The fact that we managed to sustain really high production with above-average fruit sizes was also a great motivator. We saw the benefits from day one and never doubted what we were doing.

• To what do you attribute your success with Natuurboerdery?
° We use science as a guideline to calibrate decisions in line with the needs of the soil and plant, and all the problems we experienced were approached with a will to solve them.
We measure everything. This helps us gain more insight and better understand what’s happening in and around the plants. This, in turn, allows us to make informed decisions.
In addition, we’ve had strong technical support.

• What does the future hold for Natuurboerdery?
° Like natural ecosystems, farming is dynamic and ever-evolving. You have to start working today on solutions for the problems of tomorrow. We’re trying to address this by sourcing and developing talented young people to build on our farming legacy.
We’re embracing the Fourth Industrial Revolution by working on data-driven solutions to improve our ability to understand and manage the relationships between production factors, such as the soil, water, genetic varieties and so forth, and on-farm practices.
In addition, we’re researching plant protection strategies based on beneficial and predator insect populations and pheromone technologies to further improve our integrated pest management strategies. We’re constantly looking at nature for ways to improve our overall resilience.

Article Credits : Glenneis Kriel & Farmers Weekly

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2 Feb 2022
GreenAgric Greenhouse Tunnels
GreenAgric Greenhouse Tunnels

How to Plan a Bigger, Better Vegetable Garden ...

Spending time planning before you start sowing helps you to maximize your harvests. Taking time to observe where sun and shade fall in your garden will help you to pick the right plant for the right place ...

Tender crops such as tomatoes, peppers and squashes grow best in a sunny part of the garden, while leafy greens, salads, and some herbs such as parsley and chives prefer partial shade, particularly in hotter climates. If necessary, lower-growing plants can be grown behind taller ones (e.g. sunflowers or tomatoes) so that they benefit from the shade cast ...

Make sure you know which direction the wind comes from and where the more sheltered areas in your garden are so you can best choose what to grow where. For instance, high winds can damage pole beans so they are best suited to a sheltered spot, but corn needs light winds for pollination and is better in a more open position.

Crop Rotation ...
Rotating crops from the same family to a new bed each year makes it harder for soil-borne pests and diseases to thrive. It also helps to keep the soil in great condition, because different crops place different demands on the soil.

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12 Jan 2022
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7 Jan 2022

GreenAgric's Community Project ...

Sustainable Organic Food Crops
Sustainable Organic Food Crops
Are you a Sustainable Organic Food Crops Grower ?
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Do you have excess crops that you would like to sell ... If so, let GreenAgric Help ...

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This is part of our FREE National Service to bring ... 
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6 Jan 2022
Sweet Potatoes
Sweet Potatoes

Sweet Potatoes Grow Like Weeds ...

Sweet potatoes are extremely easy to grow at home in garden beds or containers. They make beautiful foliage plants which can be placed on a sunny patio and trained up a trellis. Their lush foliage also makes them lovely indoor pot plants. Here's everything you need to know about growing your own delicious and nutritious sweet potatoes.

For South Africans sweet potatoes are the traditional “soet patat” or batata, and because they thrive in hot summer conditions and are so easy to grow, they could almost be classifies as weeds. 
And, there's no denying the beauty of a sweet potato plant, whether it's placed where it can creep up a trellis or is grown in a garden bed as a groundcover, or as a simple container plant, its foliage is quite beautiful. 
And when it comes to its health benefits, sweet potatoes are well worth adding to your diet as they are loaded with vitamins, minerals, fibre, and phytonutrients that can bolster your body and mind.

The origins of sweet potatoes are shrouded in the mists of time, and although it is generally accepted that they originated in Central and South America, and we are taught in school that Christopher Columbus and his European compatriots are responsible for spreading many foods like tomatoes and chilli peppers, as well as sweet potatoes around the world, many anthropologists think that a few foods made the vast trek across the Pacific Ocean long before Columbus landed in the New World, and their proof is in the sweet potato.

Archaeologists have found prehistoric remnants of sweet potato in Polynesia dating from about A.D. 1000 to A.D. 1100, according to radiocarbon dating, and these archaeologists hypothesized that these ancient samples originally came from the western coast of South America. Among the clues were the names for sweet potatoes as the Polynesian word for sweet potato "kuumala" resembles "kumara," or "cumal," the words for the vegetable in Quechua, a language spoken by Andean natives.

For a very long time there was little genetic proof for this theory, partly because modern sweet potatoes are a genetic muddle - a hybrid of different cultivars that Europeans helped spread around the globe - so it's hard to decipher their origins from their DNA. Caroline Rouiller, an evolutionary biologist, got around this problem by turning to dried sweet potato remains preserved in a London museum, which Captain James Cook's crew picked up in Polynesia back in 1769, before all this interbreeding took place. Examining the genetic blueprint of these sweet potatoes allowed Rouiller and her colleagues to trace the root's evolution all the way back to Ecuador and Peru.

These clues naturally led to the question “how did the sweet potato travel 5,000 miles across the vast Pacific Ocean?” It is surmised that the seeds could have possibly hitched a ride on seaweed or gotten lodged in the wing of a bird, but Pat Kirch, an archaeologist at the University of Berkeley, California, thinks the Polynesians were well-equipped to sail right across the Pacific to South America, and he states that there is a lot of new evidence that the Polynesians made landfall in South America, and that it is highly possible that they had sophisticated double-hulled canoes much like very large catamarans which could carry 80 or more people and be out to sea for months. For those who like to study history there are many articles online on this subject, but no matter what you believe, today no one can dispute the popularity of sweet potatoes, and this warm-weather crop grows worldwide, from tropical regions to temperate climates.

Sweet potatoes come in two different varieties - dry flesh types and moist flesh types. The moist fleshed types convert more starch to sugars when cooked, thus becoming softer and sweeter than their dry kin and are often referred to as yams, although true yams can only be cultivated in tropical climates. Either variety has roots variously hued from white to orange or red, depending on the cultivar.

In South Africa the major commercial production areas are in Limpopo, Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape.

Health Benefits ...
The orange and red-fleshed types are rich in beta-carotene, a pro-vitamin A carotenoid that is converted to vitamin A by the human body, and for this reason they are grown to alleviate vitamin A deficiency in many parts of the world, including Sub-Saharan Africa, and South and East Asia. In South Africa, this food source is of great importance as a recent survey indicated that 43.6% of children aged 1 to 5 years, and 27% of women of reproductive age, are deficient in vitamin A, a level which is considered as a serious public health problem.
Sweet potato is an excellent source of carbohydrates and has a low glycaemic index (GI) because they take time to digest and so keep blood sugar constant.
Sweet potatoes are remarkably nutritious and are also rich in vitamins B6 and C, along with many other important minerals like iron and magnesium. Including them regularly in your diet can help prevent heart attacks, boost the immune system, protect the body against toxins, and improve the metabolism.

In the Kitchen ...
Use sweet potatoes grated raw, boiled, or baked, in soups, casseroles, desserts, breads, or stir-fried, and for a delicious treat make some homemade sweet potato fries!
There are many exciting ways to use your sweet potatoes in the kitchen and one classic favourite that will please adults and children alike is 'Candied Sweet Potatoes' which are often served in America for Thanksgiving and Christmas. This dish is easy to make and many recipes are available online, often including brandy. And for those with a really 'sweet tooth' Thanksgiving isn't complete without a homemade sweet potato casserole, topped with marshmallows and toasted pecans.
Savoury recipes include: 'Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes with Ricotta Cheese' where baked potatoes are scooped out and blended with ricotta, salt, pepper, and sugar (optional) until smooth, before adding finely sliced spring onions or shallots and placing the pulp back into the shells, then sprinkling Parmesan cheese and freshly chopped sage on top before popping them back into the oven to finish them off - delicious!
'Slow-Cooker Vegetarian Chilli with Sweet Potatoes' is a delicious dish where sweet potatoes are used to bulk-up vegetarian chilli with lots of sweet potatoes and veggies like red onions, bell peppers and tomatoes. To round it out, add two different kinds of beans. This sweet potato chilli has staying power, whether it’s for a weeknight dinner or a crowd-pleasing main course.
'Sweet Potato and Kale Frittata' is perfect for breakfast, lunch, or dinner; and 'Sweet-and-Spicy Chicken with Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Asparagus' is an easy weeknight dish which is packed with flavour, and the leftovers taste delicious reheated or cold. 'Bean and Corn-Stuffed Sweet Potatoes' is the ultimate filling yet quick and easy lunch or dinner meal. Microwave or bake the potatoes, top with beans, greens, cheese and spices, and voilà, a happy and full tummy is guaranteed.
Explore the multitude of yummy dishes using sweet potatoes online to find the perfect ones for your family.

Uses ...
Sweet potatoes may be not as popular as other vegetables like potatoes and tomatoes, but they still play an important role in South Africa in terms of food security and alleviating malnutrition. 
Sweet potato is grown by many resource-poor farmers in virtually all provinces of South Africa. 
Because they are very nutritious, the leafy vines are used by rural farmers feed to their stock, and the tubers that cannot be sold or eaten because they are damaged or too small or cracked, can also be used as stock feed.

In the Garden and Home ...
If you're curious about growing sweet potatoes at home, keep in mind that they do best in a sunny position. They can be grown in the vegetable garden and can even act as a temporary groundcover. They also look beautiful climbing up a trellis or trailing down a pot on the patio, where the vine will form a gorgeous foliage plant that you can harvest in autumn by tipping the pot over to remove the tubers. The plant can even make a glorious trailing houseplant, so no matter how much space you have available most folks can grow some sweet potatoes.

Companion Planting ...
Root vegetables, such as parsnips and beets, are good sweet potato companions, and bush beans also make good companions. Regular potatoes, because they are not actually closely related at all to sweet potatoes also make good companions.
Aromatic herbs like thyme, oregano and dill, are great with sweet potatoes, and to deter the sweet potato weevil plant summer savoury nearby.
Be aware that your sweet potato vine will grow to cover a large area, so take care that it doesn’t crowd out its beneficial neighbours. For this reason pumpkin and squashes, which also spread widely, do not make good companions for sweet potatoes.

Cultivation/Propagation ...
Although the sweet potato is a perennial plant in its native environment, in South Africa it is treated as an annual summer crop because it cannot tolerate cold and frost. The plant requires plenty of sunlight, with hot days and warm nights, with very few cold, cloudy days. The flesh is classified as either moist or dry, and the moist, deep orange types which are sometimes called yams, are more popular with home gardeners.
Depending on the cultivar grown, sweet potatoes have a growing season of 3 to 5 months, and planting should preferably take place from October to December. In frost-free regions planting can continue up to about March.
Sweet potatoes can be grown on a wide variety of soils and thrive on fairly deep, sandy loam which drains well. Heavy clayey soils are not recommended as they may produce misshapen roots (tubers) and cause tuber rot. Very rich soils which contain a large amount of organic material are also not suitable, because the plant will produce very lush top-growth at the expense of the tubers which will be long and thin. For this reason fresh compost or manure should not be worked into the soil immediately before planting. In very poor, sandy soils the tubers will also be long and stringy.

Sweet potatoes are usually propagated by means of rooted shoots or vine cuttings, and unfortunately for the average gardener or small-scale farmer there are not many commercial sources of cuttings. Livingseeds supplies them to the public but orders need to be placed in advance for planting from September to November. Luckily sweet potatoes are easily grown from a few well-shaped, disease-free tubers bought from the store or local farmers market, or you could get a few runners from a friend who is growing them.

Plant the tubers closely together in a seedbed, cover them with a 5cm layer of soil, and water moderately until the shoots appear, after which watering can be increased. When the shoots are about 20 to 30cm long they are ready for planting out, and the shoots are then simply tugged gently or cut off of the tubers. Cut off a small portion at the bottom of each slip before planting as that portion sometimes harbours disease organisms. Carefully plant them up to half their length into the soil, gently firming it down and watering well afterwards.    

It is possible to plant the crop successfully on level soil and then simply allowing it to spread as a groundcover, but better yields are obtained by planting on top of flattened ridges, about 25cm high. Space the ridges about 90cm to 1m apart, and space the shoots 30cm apart. The closer the spacing, the smaller the tubers will be. 

To smother weeds, conserve moisture, and keep the soil loose for root development, mulch the vines two weeks after planting. As the plants grow, draw up soil to the main stem to ensure a good yield and to prevent the sweet potato weevil from reaching the roots through cracks in the soil. Keep the beds free of weeds which can harbour pests and diseases.

If you are growing them on open soil it is advisable to occasionally lift the longer vines to prevent them from rooting at the joints, or they will put all their energy into forming many undersized tubers at each rooted area rather than ripening the main crop at the base of the plant. Otherwise, handle the plants as little as possible to prevent wounds that make them vulnerable to disease spores.

Although sweet potatoes are fairly drought resistant, if the weather is dry, water moderately to ensure a good yield, but do not overwater, or the plants may rot. About two weeks before harvesting, reduce the amount you water and allow the soil dry out a bit.

How to Grow Sweet Potatoes in Containers ...
If space is limited you will be glad to know that sweet potatoes grow easily in containers of all sorts and grow bags are available from garden centres. These bags are designed specifically to provide aeration to the roots, adequate drainage, and some even have side pockets so you can sneak a small spud here and there. When your sweet potatoes are ready to harvest, you simply lift the bag and dump the contents out onto the ground or into a wheelbarrow, making harvesting extremely easy. Grow bags can be re-used and are easy to store in the winter because of their collapsible nature, making them very economical in the long run. Many gardeners have also had great success when using whiskey barrels as well as clay containers. If you can, for pot culture, select varieties which are more compact in their growth habit.

Sweet potatoes love to remain moist, but do not like to sit in water. Therefore it is important to have a good soil mix which drains well while still retaining moisture. Therefore, when planting in containers, using a container mix amended with compost, some washed river sand, and a fertiliser for vegetables is ideal. Place gravel or pebbles at the bottom for drainage then add about 10cm of soil to cover them before planting your sweet potato slips. Then add just enough soil to secure the cuttings firmly and water well.

Once planted, make sure to water regularly. Water frequency depends upon the type and size of container selected. If you are using a grow bag which is porous, it causes the soil mix to dry out quicker than it would in a clay or wooden container, so check the soil daily and water if dry. If fertiliser was not included in your original mixture, two weeks after planting, feed with a fertiliser for vegetables. As the stems grow upward, continue to add more of your soil mix until the level reaches the top of the container.

Harvesting, Curing and Storing ...
Sweet potatoes can be harvested as soon as the roots are large enough, usually 3 to 5 months after planting, depending on the cultivar. A good indication that they are ready to be harvested is when the ridges crack open because of the swelling roots. You can also start harvesting as soon as leaves start to yellow, but the longer a crop is left in the ground, the higher the yields will be. Once frost blackens the vines, however, the tubers can quickly rot. If the vines are still green but the crop needs to be harvested, they can be cut off, but not earlier than 2 to 3 weeks before harvesting. This makes it easier to lift the tubers.
Dig the tubers out on a sunny day when the soil is dry, using a garden fork to lift them, and remember that tubers can grow a 30cm or more from the plant, so ensure you collect them all. Be very careful not to damage the tubers as any nicks on their tender skins will encourage spoilage. Damaged tubers should be used as soon as possible.

Sweet potatoes do not store very well unless they are well cured, so if you have a small crop, lift only as many as you need every time. Do not wash the tubers but rather brush the soil off and then dry the tubers in the sun for several hours before moving them to a warm and dry, well-ventilated spot to cure for 10 to 15 days. After they are cured, store in a cool place at about 13 to 16°C with a humidity of 75 to 80%. Properly cured and stored sweet potatoes will keep for several months.

A 3.5m row will produce about 3 to 4.5kg of potatoes, and if you have a large enough crop to sell, cure the roots by placing the tubers in small heaps on the land for about 7 days to dry off, covering them lightly with vines to prevent sun damage.

Problems, Pests & Diseases ...
Sweet potatoes are generally not bothered by many pests and the sweet potato weevil is the most serious pest affecting crops around the world. The adult beetle measures 5.5 to 8mm in length and appears smooth and shiny, but upon close examination shows a layer of short hairs. It is striking in form and colour, and the body, legs, and head are long and thin, giving it an ant-like appearance. The head is black, and the antennae, thorax and legs are orange to reddish brown; and the abdomen and elytra are metallic blue. The snout is slightly curved and the antennae are attached at about the mid-point on the snout.

Adults are secretive and are not readily noticed, often feeding on the lower surface of the leaves and stems of sweet potatoes, and quickly feign death if disturbed. Adults can fly in short, low flights, but rarely seem to do so. However, because they are active mostly at night, their dispersive abilities are probably underestimated. Females feed for a day or more before becoming sexually active, after which they puncture the stems and tubers of their host plant to lay their eggs. Developing larvae tunnel and feed on the fleshy roots, while adults generally attack the vines and leaves. They also spread foot rot, which creates enlarging brown to black areas on stems near the soil and at stem ends. Since weevils multiply quickly and prove hard to eliminate, try to plant certified disease-resistant slips and practice a four-year crop rotation. Destroy infected plants and their roots, or place them in sealed containers and dispose of them with your household trash.

Fungal diseases include black rot, which results in circular, dark depressions on the tubers, which should be discarded. Don't confuse this disease with less-serious ‘scurf’, which creates small, round, dark spots on tuber surfaces but doesn't affect eating quality.

Stem rot, or wilt, is a fungus that enters plants injured by insects or by careless cultivation, or wind. Even if this disease does not kill the plants, the harvest will be poor. Minimize the chances of disease by planting only healthy slips; and avoid black and stem rot by planting resistant cultivars. Reduce the incidence of dry rot, which mummifies stored potatoes, by storing the fleshy roots at the correct temperature.

Article Credits : Gardening in South Africa

'Grow Your Own' ...
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Contact The GreenAgric Group on .
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Twitter : @GreenAgricThe
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5 Jan 2022

GreenAgric Greenhouse Tunnels

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'Grow Your Own' ...
Sustainable Organic Food Crops
in GreenAgric Greenhouse Tunnels ...
for Improved Health
for Food Security

Only GreenAgric Offers ...
* Free Delivery to most places on SA
* Free Assistance with your DIY Tunnel Installations
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4 Jan 2022
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

That’s a wrap: French plastic packaging ban for fruit and veg begins ...

Law bans sale of carrots, bananas and other items in plastic as environment groups urge other countries to follow ...

From Saturday cucumbers, leeks, carrots and about 30 other fruits and vegetables will no longer be sold in plastic in France. 
A law banning plastic packaging for large numbers of fruits and vegetables comes into force in France on New Year’s Day, to end what the government has called the “aberration” of overwrapped carrots, apples and bananas, as environmental campaigners and exasperated shoppers urge other countries to do the same.

Emmanuel Macron has called the ban on plastic packaging of fresh produce “a real revolution” and said France was taking the lead globally with its law to gradually phase out all single-use plastics by 2040.

Spain will introduce a ban on plastic packaging of fruit and vegetables from 2023. For years, international campaigners have said unnecessary plastic packaging is causing environmental damage and pollution at sea.

From New Year’s Day, France will ban supermarkets and other shops from selling cucumbers wrapped in plastic, and peppers, courgettes, aubergines and leeks in plastic packaging. A total of 30 types of fruit and vegetables will be banned from having any plastic wrapping, including bananas, pears, lemons, oranges and kiwis.

Packs over 1.5kg will be exempt, as will chopped or processed fruit. Some varieties, including cherry tomatoes or soft fruits such as raspberries and blueberries, will be given longer for producers to find alternatives to plastic, but plastic packaging will be gradually phased out for all whole fruits and vegetables by 2026.

Disposable tableware and cutlery on blue wooden table, top view
Single-use plastic plates and cutlery to be banned in England
Read more
With an estimated 37% of fruit and vegetables sold wrapped in plastic packaging in France in 2021, the government believes the ban will cut more than 1bn items of single-use plastic packaging a year. The environment ministry said there must be curbs on the “outrageous amount of single-use plastic in our daily lives”.

Fruit and vegetables wrapped in layers of plastic have exasperated consumers not only in France but neighbouring countries. Nearly three-quarters of British people have experienced “anxiety, frustration or hopelessness” at the amount of plastic that comes with their shopping and 59% think supermarkets and brands are not doing enough to offer refillable, reusable or packaging-free products, according to a poll commissioned by Friends of the Earth and City to Sea in June.

An Ifop poll for the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) France in 2019 found that 85% of people were in favour of banning single-use plastic products and packaging. More than 2 million people have signed a WWF petition calling on world governments to stop the plastics pollution crisis. In angry posts on social media, shoppers have complained of what they deemed absurd wrapping such as coconuts in several layers of plastic or single bananas in individual plastic bags.

Moïra Tourneur, an advocacy manager at the NGO Zero Waste France, said the French law was a “good and appropriate” move, although she questioned what she called the “surprising” list of exempt fruit and vegetables given a longer transition time of at least another year before going plastic-free. These include brussels sprouts, spring onions, green beans, broccoli, mushrooms, peaches and apricots, some of which are already sold loose in many shops. Tourneur said: “The ban is fair and fitting … Giving more time for certain fruit and vegetables is a bit of a shame. There is a climate emergency. People are conscious of the need to act urgently on this issue.”

WWF France, which has campaigned on the impact of plastics on biodiversity and marine life in the Mediterranean and across oceans, said it was important to welcome the law as “a positive step in the right direction”, while reminding governments there was more work to be done to end plastics pollution, including on microplastics.

Pierre Cannet, its director of advocacy and campaigns, said the law sent a positive message and “puts plastics at the heart of the national debate”. He added: “We need to stay humble and vigilant by saying there is still a lot to do. We’re still very far from an economy without plastic, and from all the steps needed to eradicate plastics pollution.”

Camilla Zerr, a plastics campaigner at Friends of the Earth for England, Wales and Northern Ireland, said: “I think it’s a very good approach and I would hugely urge the UK to be doing the same and not to lag behind.”

She said that in the UK fruit such as bananas or apples wrapped in plastic packages were sometimes cheaper than those sold loose, which was “very problematic”.

Zerr added: “It is interesting to note that in the UK the main brands sell fruit and vegetables wrapped, but at corner stores you can find a lot of loose fruit and vegetables on sale, which proves it is possible to go without plastic.”

Article Credits : Angelique Chrisafis in Paris

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1 Jan 2022

January Special Offer ...

GreenAgric Greenhouse Tunnels
GreenAgric Greenhouse Tunnels

Confirm & Pay for your GreenAgric Greenhouse Tunnels by latest 31st January 2022 and ... 

Receive a 10% Discount on our published prices 

  • T&C's Apply ...
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  • Low Cost Eco Tunnels not included in this offer 
  • Limited Quantities available, so confirm your order soon, to avoid disappointment


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31 Dec 2021
Agriculture in Africa Outlook
Agriculture in Africa Outlook

Agriculture in Africa 2014 to 2023

We end yet another extremely challenging year, by bringing you a link to a very interesting and in-depth analysis of Agriculture in Africa over a 10 year period ... 2014 to 2023 ...

Written in 2014, the details have been somewhat distorted, due to ongoing unrest in Africa, as well as the recent pandemic ... but still relevant ... now looking back in hindsight over the past 8 years ...  

Due to it's detail and length, we recommend that you click on the link below and either read the 160 pages online, or download the pdf document for your ongoing reference ... 

https://www.sagis.org.za/BFAP_2014.pdf

Africa has and will continue to be challenged by the inceases in the population verses the availability of plant food crops ... 

Having 'got off extremely lightly', so far, from the current pandemic, population numbers continue to grow disproportionately to the food crops being grown in Africa ...

As a result over 100 Million are starving !!! ...

Unless Everyone in Africa starts making a real concerted effort to 'return to the land' ... and the sooner African Governments learn to stop pay out Millions in grants, making people lazy to ...

'Grow Your Own' ...

Sustainable Organic Food Crops 

in GreenAgric Greenhouse Tunnels ... 

for Improved Health ... for Food Security

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GreenAgric are the Very Best Value for Money Tunnels in Southern Africa ...

Contact The GreenAgric Group on ...

+27 72 387 2293

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on +27 72 387 2293

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30 Dec 2021
Start Farming with only R1 Million
Start Farming with only R1 Million

How to Start Farming with R1 million ... 

Is it possible to start a farming operation in South Africa in 2021 for less than R1 million? A number of experts discussed the start-up potential of layers, broilers, pigs, vegetables and lucerne ...

With limited capital, quick turnover cash crops such as cabbage or butternut might offer a viable business opportunity for new farmers ...

Could a recently retrenched individual who has always dreamt of farming take R1 million from his or her pension savings and start a farming operation in South Africa’s current economic climate ? ... 
The answer is yes, no, and maybe ...

In this case, the devil truly lies in the detail. For this hypothetical farm, Farmer’s Weekly limited the scope to pig, poultry (both layers and broilers), vegetables and lucerne. While experts quickly dismissed some of these hypothetical farms, others just might be possible.

A few assumptions are necessary. The first is that the farm is in Gauteng, close to a market. The second is that the potential farmer does not own land and has no political means of obtaining land.

According to Michael Corbett, FNB’s head of agriculture in Gauteng, leasing land would probably be the best bet. After all, there is a difference between being a farmer and being a landowner.

“A quick Internet search indicates that we could possibly find land to lease for between R10 000 and R12 000 a month. Depending on size and infrastructure, this could work for a new farmer.”

“Leasing does make sense, because you’ll be able to free up capital. Unfortunately, it does have the downside of not having security. That’s a risk that the farmer would have to manage.”
When leasing land it is important to keep infrastructure to a bare minimum, as it will not necessarily benefit one’s farming operation to build infrastructure on another person’s land.
That and the potential farmer has to understand the crucial importance of profit.
“You are not a developing farmer; you are a small commercial farmer. When looking at these hypothetical farms, keep profit in mind. This should always be your motive. Even if you decide to exchange your cabbages for eggs, or vice versa, a transaction is still taking place.”

No-Go Options: Pigs and Lucerne ...
The cost of the infrastructure needed to start a commercially viable piggery makes this option unfeasible for a R1 million start-up.
“To get the housing up and running for a single sow will cost around R85 000. It’s incredibly expensive to start a piggery,” 
However, if a beginner farmer decides that money is no object after all, and wants to start a piggery, it is important to keep an eye on feed prices, as feed amounts to 70% of pig farming costs ...
“Moreover, 50% of that is linked to the maize price, which is extremely high at the moment.”

Another option that is less than ideal is a lucerne as it is important to look at the value per kilogram. “Lucerne needs a lot of water, you need heavy equipment and your potential market is quite small. You’ll only be able to sell to other farmers.”

Maybes: Vegetables and Broilers ...
Our experts are divided when it comes to broilers. It might be a viable industry, as a farmer does not have to spend too much on infrastructure.
“There are many farmers who have carved out a niche for themselves,” but a producer could raise broilers in a free-range set-up and sell them live.
“The venues where people collect their social security grants could be great locations to sell live chickens. It makes sense for a person without a fridge to buy a live chicken and slaughter it at home. The same cannot be said for pigs.”

Vegetables are the easiest to get to market, but the type of vegetable is a crucial factor. Cabbages or butternuts, for example, could be profitable.
“What’s good about these is that you’ll be able to store them,” Farmers should consider growing vegetables that are not readily available. “Don’t try to compete with mega-farmers by producing tomatoes.”

Farmers should rather consider crops such as marog (wild spinach), rocket or edible flowers.

“But first, find your market. Only then will you be able to work your way back to what, where and when you’ll be able to produce. If you don’t do this, you’ll end up being a price-taker.”

Would-be farmers should also consider adding value to their products. An example of this would be vegetable preserves.

Corbett says that a cash crop such as lettuce could also be a viable option for new entrants. It costs at least R3,29 to produce a head of lettuce, and with hydroponics this goes up to R6,29. The average retail price of lettuce is around R10,40/kg.
“This comes down to a profit margin of around 40c per head of lettuce. The margins would be tight, but this could potentially be an option to consider.”

The Probable Winner: Layer Hens ...
It seems the safest option is to start a layer farm for R1 million.
This assumption is based on a 4,9ha piece of land near Benoni advertised on safarmtraders.co.za. 
The property has a storeroom of 800m2 that should be able to house two layer cages. 
A basic cage can be procured for R110 000, so this would be an infrastructural investment of R220 000. The cages are large enough to house 4 480 chickens.
“A good farmer can get 330 eggs per chicken per year, but for our theoretical farmer work on a figure of 300 eggs.”
This amounts to 1 344 000 eggs (112 000 dozen) annually. At an assumed selling price of R15/dozen, the income from egg sales would be R1 680 000.

“We’re also working on the assumption that every hen, which costs around R80 to procure, could be culled and the farmer would be able to receive R35/hen,” 
If the replacements were estimated at around 80%, then 3 584 culled chickens would add R125 440 to the farmer’s bottom line.
This means that a farmer could potentially earn R1 805 440 per annum. “But this is only your income. Costs still need to be deducted to determine profit,” 

The estimated feed costs for running such a layer farm would be R787 046 and hen replacement costs would escalate to R286 720 per year, according to Corbett’s calculations.
Other variable operating costs that must be considered are packaging (R112 000), marketing (R56 000), administration (R78 400), delivery (R84 000) and medicine (R79 520). 
The estimate shows that total annual costs could amount to R1 483 686. A farmer should also ascertain whether he or she needs to have an environmental impact assessment performed on the property.

Water, electricity and rent were not included in the calculation. However, it seems as if a farmer could expect an annual profit of just over R320 000 after deduction of costs. If the cost of utilities were added at R12 000/month, profit would be reduced to R176 000/year (R14 999/month).

A farmer should also factor in losses that could be suffered. It is probably more realistic that a farmer would earn around R10 000/month from this farm.

Article Credits : Susan Marais & Farmers Weekly

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29 Dec 2021
No Till Benefits
No Till Benefits

No-Till ... Better Soil at Less Cost ...

One sure way of reducing soil degradation is to cut down on tillage. Numerous crops can be grown using the no-till approach, and many farmers who have done so will testify that it cuts costs and improves rain penetration in the soil.
The soil also holds more water; in fact, no-till soils generally show drought stress two weeks later than tilled soils do.

There is, however, one important requirement for no-till farming: you need to grow a legume in rotation on the land. Soya bean is usually the preferred option.

The reason for this is that a leguminous crop such as soya bean captures nitrogen (N). Without it, there would not be enough N to maximise the conversion of carbon (C) in the crop residue to humus.
You can have tons of crop residue, but if there isn’t enough N in the soil, the residue will simply evaporate as carbon dioxide.


One ton of crop residue contains about 400kg of C, of which 140kg can be converted to humus. The balance is lost to the atmosphere through metabolism of the soil microbes.
Humus contains 50% C, with a C:N ratio of about 10:1. This means that 140kg of C can produce 280kg of humus, and requires 14kg of N to do so.

Wheat residue has a C:N ratio of 80:1, so there are only 5kg N in 1t of this residue with which to form humus. Because of this shortfall of 9kg of N, 1t of residue will make only 100kg of humus. That’s a shortfall of 180kg of humus per ton of residue.

No-Till vs Tillage ...
No-till can work well for small-scale vegetable farmers growing a range of crops; I’ve been doing it for 18 years and have never looked back.
Large-scale vegetable farmers who till their lands should realise that every tillage operation reduces the soil carbon. The land may appear neat, clean, and professional, but it has been damaged, and this can only be seen with a microscope and tests.
To make the point, agronomists often show a slide at presentations of a tractor pulling an implement with flames rising from the implement to illustrate that the carbon is being burnt out of the soil.
Every soil disturbance needs to be fully justifiable. Disturb the soil as little as possible when planting the crop; don’t think that deeper and more vigorous cultivation will benefit the root system. It does the opposite, by scrambling the natural soil structure.
This slows down water penetration and, after rain or irrigation, interferes with the soil’s oxygen levels. This, in turn, favours pathogens rather than beneficial microbes.

Resistance ...
A client told me that a fellow farmer had benefitted from deep-ripping his lands and he intended following suit.
I brought him my soil probe, and we found that it penetrated 1,8m deep with little resistance. This showed him that ripping would be of no benefit to his land; it would simply cause damage and waste money. If there had been a hard layer in the land, it would have been a different story.

Article Credits : Bill Kerr is a Specialist Vegetable Grower and Farmers Weekly

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Contact The GreenAgric Group on .
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28 Dec 2021
Take Care of the 'Critical Zone'
Take Care of the 'Critical Zone'

The “Critical Zone”

The Pandemic is a Warning ... 
We must ALL Take Care of the Earth
It's Our Only Home !!!

The climate crisis resembles a huge planetary lockdown, trapping humanity within an ever-deteriorating environment ...

There is a moment when a never-ending crisis turns into a way of life ...
This seems to be the case with this Pandemic ...
If so, it’s wise to explore the permanent condition in which it has left us ...

• One obvious lesson is that societies have to learn once again to live with pathogens, just as they learned to when microbes were first made visible by the discoveries of Louis Pasteur and Robert Koch ...
These discoveries were concerned with only one aspect of microbial life. When you also consider the various sciences of the earth system, another aspect of viruses and bacteria comes to the fore. 
During the long geochemical history of the earth, microbes, together with fungi and plants, have been essential, and are still essential, to the very composition of the environment in which we humans live. 
The pandemic has shown us that we will never escape the invasive presence of these living beings, entangled as we are with them. They react to our actions; if they mutate, we have to mutate as well.

This is why the many national lockdowns, imposed on citizens to help them survive the virus, are a powerful analogy for the situation in which humanity finds itself detained for good. 
Lockdown was painful enough, and yet many ways have been found, thanks in part to vaccination, to allow people to resume a semblance of normal life. 
But there is no possibility of such a resumption if you consider that all living forms are locked down for good inside the limits of the earth. 
And by “earth” I don’t mean the planet as it can be seen from space, but its very superficial pellicle, the shallow layer of earth in which we live, and which has been transformed into a habitable milieu by the aeons-long labour of evolution.

This thin matrix is what geochemists call the “Critical Zone”, the only layer of earth where terrestrial life can flourish. 
It’s in this finite space where everything we care for and everything we have ever encountered exists. 
There is no way of escaping our earth-bound existence; as young climate activists shout: 
“There is no planet B" 
Here is the connection between the Covid lockdowns we have experienced in the past two years, and the much larger, but definitive state of lockdown that we find ourselves in ...
we are ALL trapped in an environment ...
that we ALL have already altered irreversibly !!! ...

If we have been made aware of the agency of viruses in shaping our social relations, we must now reckon with the fact that they will also be moulded for ever by the climate crisis and the quick reactions of ecosystems to our actions. 
The feeling that we live in a new space appears again at the local as well as the global level. 
Why would all nations convene in Glasgow to keep global temperature rises below some agreed upon limit, if they did not have the sensation that a huge lid had been put over their territoryb? ...
When you look up at the blue sky, are you not aware that you are now under some sort of dome inside which you are locked? ...

Gone is the infinite space; now you are responsible for the safety of this overbearing dome as much as you are for your own health and wealth. It weighs on you, body and soul. 
To survive under these new conditions we have to undergo a sort of metamorphosis.

This is where politics enters. It is very difficult for most people used to the industrialised way of life, with its dream of infinite space and its insistence on emancipation and relentless growth and development, to suddenly sense that it is instead enveloped, confined, tucked inside a closed space where their concerns have to be shared with new entities: other people of course, but also viruses, soils, coal, oil, water, and, worst of all, this damned, constantly shifting climate.

This disorienting shift is unprecedented, even cosmological, and it is already a source of deep political divisions. Although the sentence “you and I don’t live on the same planet” used to be a joking expression of dissents. 
It has become true of our present reality. 
We do live on different planets ...
with rich people employing private fire fighters and scouting for climate bunkers ...
whilst their poorer counterparts are forced to migrate, suffer and die amid the worst consequences of the crisis ...

This is why it is important not to misconstrue the political conundrum of our present age. 
It is of the same magnitude as when, from the 17th century onward, westerners had to shift from the closed cosmos of the past to the infinite space of the modern period. 
As the cosmos seemed to open, political institutions had to be invented to work through the new and utopian possibilities offered by the Enlightenment.
Now, in reverse, the same task falls to present generations: what new political institutions could they invent to cope with people so divided that they belong to different planets ? ...

It would be a mistake to believe that the pandemic is a crisis that will end ... 
instead of the perfect warning for what is coming ...
the 'new climatic regime' ...
It appears that all the resources of science, humanities and the arts will have to be mobilised once again to shift attention to our shared terrestrial condition ...

Article Credits : Bruno Latour a philosopher and anthropologist, the author of 'After Lockdown' ... 
A Metamorphosis and the winner of the 2013 Holberg prize ...

'Grow Your Own' ...
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* Free Assistance with your DIY Tunnel Installations ...
* Free Ongoing 'Best Help and Advice' for growing your own Food Crops ...

GreenAgric are the Very Best Value for Money Tunnels in Southern Africa ...

Contact The GreenAgric Group on .
+27 72 387 2293
or via Telegram*, Signal* or WhatsApp ...
on +27 72 387 2293
We are also available on Twitter*, MeWe*, Facebook and Messenger ...
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Email : Sales@GreenAgric.com
Please visit GreenAgric's Website ...
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We look forward to hearing from you soon ...

Please Support the ...
Pete's Pet Help Rescue Pets Food Appeal
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