Updated: May 9
Winter is just around the corner in Zambia and with the dry season comes a different set of challenges for gardeners such as managing ground water, dry and sometimes cracked soils, frost and pests infestations. However, in this guide to preparing your zambian garden for the dry season, you can ensure that your garden thrives despite the harsh weather conditions.
Mulching is definitely an under-utilised superpower in Zambia. Mulching is a great way to protect your plants and conserve soil moisture during the dry season. By applying a thick layer of organic material, such as leaves or straw, around the base of your plants, you can to keep the soil cool, retain moisture, and reduce evaporation. It will take a bit o extra time to collect and move the mulch but it is better to do it earlier in the season before the material decomposes. This will also help to suppress weeds and improve soil fertility over time.
Move Sensitive Plants
Some plants are more sensitive to the cold dry season than others, this is around July -August, so it's a good idea to move them to a more protected location if possible. Potted plants can be moved to a sheltered area such as a porch or covered patio, while sensitive in-ground plants can be covered with shade cloth or relocated to a shadier spot. Seedlings and freshly planted vegetables can be protected with mulch or temporary shade cloth covers at night when the temperatures can drop. In greenhouses or enclosed areas, you can boil drums of water at night and the warm steam may ward off the cooler temperatures.
Pruning is an important task to prepare your garden for the dry season. Removing dead or diseased branches will not only improve the appearance of your garden, but it will also help your plants to conserve energy and resources. Pruning also helps to stimulate new growth and promote healthy root systems.
Collecting seeds from your garden is a great way to save money and preserve the genetic diversity of your plants. It's also a fun activity that the whole family can get involved in. Choose healthy, ripe seed pods and store them in a dry, cool place until spring. There is currently a lot of discussion about using non-GMO seed. If you do have a harvest of a seed crop from organic seeds. Consider saving the seeds and sharing with friends.
By following these simple tips, you can prepare your garden for the dry season and keep it looking its best, even during the harshest of conditions. A good resources to find out about the specifics of the different crops is the Zambia Agribusiness Society Website which has guidance on the most commonly grown crops in Zambia.