Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Zamani Farms update

Haven't pasted a Zamani Farms (Jos) update from Norma in a while. Here you go:

Hello customers,

After some very violent rains towards the end of last week, we had a couple of sunny days. Yesterday we had harmattan haze all day, and cool temperatures (18 at night). Today it is cloudy again, but no rain so far.

We are hoping that the rainy season is really over so that we can get down to the business of producing beautiful vegetables without worrying about rain, hailstorms and high winds. The rains last week destroyed some of our maturing iceberg lettuce, but not too much damage was done to other crops.

(I apologise if you think I am obsessive about the weather here, but please understand that everything we produce, the type of veggies, and their quality, depends on weather conditions. We are lucky in some ways in that we can grow some crops all year around, but the changing of the seasons really does affect what we do on the farm, so we have to keep a close watch on the weather. And we do try to make our customers aware of the conditions we are facing, especially since Abuja is really an artificial environment quite different from the rest of Nigeria.)

Our new lettuces are coming along well, although we will have very limited amounts of iceberg for a couple of weeks until the young ones mature, since the ready to pick ones were damaged by the rains. Other varieties are growing well, including cos, butterheads, and various leaf lettuces. Please bear with us for a couple of more weeks, and by the end of the month we should have nice lettuces of all types.

Meanwhile, we will give you the best available on the day we pack your order. Endive frisee and escarole will be a bit limited for about two weeks until the next batch is ready, although we will have a small amount to supply. Radicchio is finally maturing and we should have some of that as well.

Herbs are doing fine, with new basils growing well in the sunnier conditions. Nearly all types of herbs are available. Our new arugula is looking lovely, and cilantro (coriander) and dill are also fine. In addition we have nice oregano, chives, mint, parsley and all the other varieties. We have plenty of tarragon and rosemary too. We have also planted new chervil. We will let you know when it is ready.

If the cooler and drier weather continues our new broccoli and cauliflower should grow well and we will have some to supply in a few weeks. I know you are looking forward to these, and we will certainly keep you informed of their progress.

Nice beef tomatoes are available, and good plums are starting to come into the market so we will be able to supply much higher quality ones than we have been for some time. Cherry tomatoes in the greenhouse are on their way out and there will not be many of them. We have planted out lots of tomatoes in the field -- beef, cherry and plum -- but they will take a while to mature. Some of the new cherries should be available in about two weeks.

Courgettes are coming along, and green ones are available. Cousa are on the verge of flowering, so we might have some by the end of next week. Yellow ones are also beginning to fruit, along with some yellow squash. Butternuts and other winter squash are also fruiting, but need a little time before they become mature. We will let you know.

Nice carrots, beetroots, leeks and radishes are available for next week. There will be a bit of fennel, and hopefully a little kohlrabi too. We have been planting lots of beetroots, carrots and turnips for the dry season and they have all germinated well. We are also planting our dry season potato crop, but you will need to wait a couple of months before they are ready. Meanwhile we are getting nice Nicola potatoes from local farms, and they are very delicious.

Our greenhouse French beans will finish this week, but hopefully the new batch we planted outside will be ready to pick by next week. There is a very limited amount of asparagus beans, but we have planted lots more. We have also planted yellow and purple French beans, and they will take another month or so before picking. Our new mangetout (snow peas) have come up well, and need another couple of weeks. Sugar snaps are also on the way.

Green and red cabbage are available, along with Chinese cabbage and a limited amount of bok choi. Spinach, which suffered a lot from the rain, is starting to come back, but the quantity we can pick will be limited for the next couple of weeks. Swiss chard is coming along, but not a lot will be ready for next week. We do have lots of sorrel and collard greens. New varieties of kale are on the way too. We should have a bit of Mizuna from our new batch, and in the next few weeks quite a bit should be available.

Celery is still young and small, and we can supply only a limited amount -- you can use it for soups and flavouring, but the big stems and heads will take another few weeks.

Mushroom production is sporadic, but some should be available. Order early if you need them.

The fruit scene is looking up with the drier weather. We still have some passion fruit, and maybe some rhubarb, although this will stop growing in the dry season. But our pawpaws should start ripening and we should have a few to supply.For the first time since we started the farm we have planted some watermelons and other types of melons this year. They are growing well, and we hope to have some sweet ones to supply in a couple of months. The watermelons available in the market are usually very watery but not very sweet, mainly because of the large amount of chemical fertiliser used to grow them. Ours are strictly organic, and you will be able to taste the difference.

The best news is that our strawberries have started flowering, and if the weather stays dry and sunny we might have a small amount to send to you by the end of next week. We are keeping an eye on the situation, and will let you know more next week. I read recently that strawberries have the highest anti-oxident content of any fruit and are exceptionally good for you.

Unfortunately, in many places a lot of chemicals and fertilisers are used in growing them. But ours are grown with only animal manures -- no artificial fertilisers, and certainly no fungicides or pesticides. So we can guarantee you will enjoy them and they are completely safe for your kids. I usually eat them straight off the plant, but you probably will want to wash off the sand first.

We have been waiting for really dry weather to come before pruning our grapes. Meanwhile, we are replacing poles that were blown down in the rainy season, and stringing up new support wires. If the dry weather holds we will start pruning next week. After that, we need to wait 100 days before we will get fruit to pick (if we are successful in keeping the birds away). When we do manage to get a crop, it is really a treat since they are truly delicious, as you will see in early January if we are lucky.


Anonymous,  12:22 am  

Sounds wonderful Jeremy! Just discovered your blog.Is it your farm? Do you get the fruit and veg. to the south?This is really great as i dont think Nigerians eat enough fruit and veg.
Good luck with the harvesting.

Nonesuch 8:37 am  

jeez where is this farm? you can feel the passion of Norma. Do they supply to Lagos? I doubt it. Another reason to add to the list of reasons to move out of Lagos.

Kody 9:54 am  

Even if you don't like fruit and veg, the writing alone would make you put in a large order!

How can anyone not admire the marketing savvy and affable style of the person who sends such e-mails to their clients.

Red Eyes 12:31 pm  

Brilliant and thanks for the update. Here is someone (Norma) who knows what they are doing...

Meanwhile, (sotto voce) I have always had a dream of Jos being Nigeria's capital city with underground trains and such and such...turning into some sort of mini london with lots of this and that...shhh

Its such a beautiful place, and the weather is...I freaking love it...

Ah! nothing but tears for my Nigeria...the hidden/lost fortress...

That's enough gossiping.

Anonymous,  2:37 am  

wat u gon do wit all dat herb u growing? U gonna sell it? or smoke it?

Jeremy 9:15 am  

First few commentors: nope its not my farm. Zamani supplies to shops, restaurants and private customers in Abuja. The deliveries come by road. I strongly doubt whether they could supply to Lagos.

Jos is a major 'asset' to Nigeria. Perhaps one day someone will notice..

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