In my last blog post, I mentioned that our transition back to Gaborone has been seamless and that we were enjoying being back. Our household goods container finally arrived on September 5th and we worked feverishly to put our house together. It has been wonderful having our own furniture this time. The week after our container arrived, school started so I have been busy shuttling the kids around. The school day here is from 7:30 AM to 12:30 PM for the early years kids, so we have had to adjust to getting up early and having our afternoons free (and let’s be honest, I’ve had to get used to having less free-time during the school day!). The girls have been enjoying spending afternoons next door at the American Embassy’s Recreation Center (Rec Center) where there is a playground and a posse of children who play most afternoons from 3-5 PM. Jeremy has been at work and is getting settled back in. We managed to find a second car and that made life so much easier for us as Jeremy had been walking back/forth to work (about a 15 minute walk from our house). He didn’t mind the exercise, but his shoes took a beating from walking in the red African dirt on the sidewalks. All in all, we are really happy here and just looking forward to what God has in store for us.
Now to the reason for this post. We were paying what felt like an exorbitant amount of money to water our grass our first month here. Imagine growing grass in Phoenix, Arizona where it rarely rains. Now imagine the amount of water it takes to keep it alive in that climate. Our climate is similar, though not as intense. It is raining more here than our last 3 years we spent here, but it is still very hot and very dry. We cannot use the city water supply to water our gardens/lawns, so we must pay for borehole water to be delivered to our giant green JoJo in our yard (a JoJo is a type of giant reservoir where our water is delivered). Our garden hoses are then pulling water from the JoJo to water the lawn, and that water costs more than city water, but due to years of drought in Botswana, the water restrictions have been in place to maintain the drinking water supply. It seemed such a waste to water the grass just so we could have a green lawn. So, we decided to stop watering the grass and let nature take its course with the lawn, and rather spend the money to water something that will give us something back in return. A garden!
We have been busy buying seeds, compost, fertilizer, potting soil & pots, and a host of other things necessary to make our urban garden work. We live ‘in town’, but the plot of land our house sits on is quite large. There was a ton of dirt space without dessert garden landscape or grass, so our gardener has been busy tilling up the soil and making the soil ready for seeds and transplants. The girls really get excited about the growing process. They are fascinated by it all, and to be honest I am too. There is immense satisfaction in growing something from a seed. It is really a miracle to see something go from nothing into an amazing plant. There is also sadness when a plant doesn’t make it due to transplant shock, extreme rain, lack of water or the extreme heat. We are doing everything we can to make our urban garden work.
|Watermelon seedlings - gonna have to thin them out because I planted 4 just in case 1 didn't work!|
|Mixed baby lettuces|
|I just love this one - catching the action of the seedling bursting forth|
However, we are not just gardening for our own use. Sure, having a stable crop of vegetables and fruits would be fantastic as sometimes we find it difficult to find tomatoes or carrots at the grocery store on a given week, but our garden has a greater purpose. Community. We really want to bless our staff who work with us with the ability to have “free” fruits and vegetables. The goal is to allow them to feed themselves and their families from our garden. The pay here is very low compared to wages in western countries, so sometimes meat is scarce on their table and vegetables if not grown in their own backyards may be limited to just 5-6 staple ingredients each month in addition to the local traditional foods of corn meal (mealie meal/super maize meal) and sorghum (mabele). Can you imagine going to the store each month only to be able to afford onions, tomatoes, carrots, beets, and greens (kale/spinach)?
|Mustard greens in the foreground and 'rape' in the background - a spinach-like green that is soooo tasty|
We also want to bless our neighbors. We have a tight-knit community here and we all pitch in to care for one another when spouses are traveling, folks are sick, or when you need a helping hand with a project or a lift around town when your vehicle is out of commission. God has blessed us with this amazing space and opportunity, so we want to be good stewards of what he has given us so we can give to others freely. It’s kind of a throwback to the olden days when you said thank you with a crops or a pie! 😊 The crops don’t belong to us anyway – every good and perfect gift is from above (God), after all! So, as strange as it may sound, would you pray for our garden? We would love to have a bounty to bless others with. There are garden pests, lack of rain, harsh dessert sun, and a host of other things to contend with, so we are going to do our best to combat it all with our staff pitching in to help us. If you have any gardening tips, please let us know by leaving a comment! I have somewhat of a brown thumb when it comes to growing things, so I have been reading up a bit and mostly watching YouTube tutorials to get a better sense of what we need to do to make our garden the best it can be! Thankfully, our new gardener, Boyce, seems to have a good grasp on when to water or not, so at least I won’t be drowning my plants with too much water 😉 I can't wait to update in a couple of months to show you the produce!
|Aphids taking over the new growth on our citrus tree|
|Sweet little baby lemons, I'm told|
|Container gardening our tomato plants - need to make some trellis/stakes|
|We grew this one from a seed - cherry tomato plant|
|Our first squash blossoms - zucchini|
|I spy with my little eye - tomato blossoms forming :)|