01 02 03 Africa Expat Wives Club: Dry gardening in Kenya 04 05 15 16 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 31 32 33

Dry gardening in Kenya

Today’s gardening session/lecture was all about dry gardening and growing succulent plants. I started the morning fairly ambivalent about fleshy leaved or stemmed ‘succulents’, then left three hours later quite keen on them actually. I like the idea of a colourful rocky garden with zero watering required, but am not so keen on the multiple truck loads of boulders, hard core, horse manure and top soil required to achieve it. Anyway, simply knowing what ‘succulents’ are is like having the scales fall from my eyes and I can look at plants and even actually differentiate between them now. The Latin names are not coming yet though!

Now I know that there are tons of different aloes and not all are the famous ‘aloe vera’, in fact some aloes are deadly poisonous so best not to squeeze the juice onto your open wounds unless you know what you are doing? (Was also surprised to learn that Oleander are so deadly poisonous too and I’ve warned the kids not to touch them when collecting leaves and flowers for their muddy potions?!)

Something else that’s been bothering me from a previous session is how impossible ‘organic gardening’ seems to be. Previously I enjoyed blissful ignorance on this subject; ‘buy organic’ ‘don’t use chemicals’ ‘fertilizers are harmful’ slogans ringing in your ears while shopping. Well it’s all very well if you are not faced with pests, fungus and disease in your garden. Using garlic sprays to treat one problem, white oil to deal with another, neem for nematodes, introducing predators to eat up your pests without harming your plants. It seems that the whole topic is a minefield and I seriously feel for farmers compelled to ‘go organic’ these days – it seems a nigh on impossible task and a wonder that they can produce anything!

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