Farming 101Instructional MaterialvaMudhumeni

Patience pays

This is a cycad. If you have ever grown or attempted to grow one you will know that it takes patience, A LOT of patience to nurture it from seed until it is a fully grown, self-sifficient plant. I planted this early November 2020, and even though a friend who had gifted me the seed forewarned the need for patience, I brushed it off silently arguing that all plants needed was a regular checkup plus the right amount of water and sunlight. I mean, I studied agriculture, I knew what plants generally needed to do well and I challenged myself to nurture my cycad so well it would take 4 months tops for it to be all grown and dazzling!

You can imagine my surprise when by January the seed had not germinated! What could I have done wrong? I had placed it on sandy soil, made sure it was not submerged under the soil and watered it enough just as the internet and my friend had instructed (let’s not forget I hold a degree in Agriculture). So then what had gone wrong? By end of January, I was almost giving up on it. I was nolonger checking up on it, mother nature would do to my beloved seed what she saw fit.

My father upon noticing my dwindling enthusiasm, took me to the garden that late January, filled the watering can with water, handed it to me and silently pointed to the cycad seed. Now, I have lived long enough with the man to know that that was an order that entertained no argument. I grudgingly took the can and watered the seed with a pout, mumbling how this was a waste of time, the seed was probably dead. Nevertheless, I would do this every 2-3 days, not necessarily watering it but just giving it care and attention in general. I fiddled with the soil around the seed, removed  weeds that had grown in the pot and I stationed the plant pot where it would get a bit of sun in the morning. One morning in the second week of February, I woke up to the unmistakable signs of a sprouting seed, and 4 days later, to the mesmerising sight of 2 light green, tender leaves poking their way out of the feathery sprouts of the seed. Oh the Joy! My seed was finally germinating! With renewed vigour, I would now check the plant each morning making sure it is watered and receiving sunlight. Its taken me 6 months to get to where it is but the value of that plant is totally worth it to me.

Most people venturing into agriculture for the first time usually find themselves in this scenario. You start out very enthusiastic but along the way unexpected costs, natural phenomena such as droughts, floods, disease outbreak and general life barriers knock you so hard you end up seeing quitting as the only solution. Don’t. Be patient, Keep nurturing your seed. Accept that you do not know everything then take time to learn that which you do not understand. A diploma/degree/doctorate does not automatically make you a guru, life will school the pride out of you. Even then, stand up, dust yourself and keep going.

In my case, even though I had an agricultural background, it did not mean I knew everything concerning cycads. That is a subject I had to look and learn about. So, read that piggery manual, understand how farm budgets work or find out why cabbages do really well in winter. Then be patient during those 3, 4 or 5 months before your tomatoes are ready for harvest. Trust me, the fulfilment and MONEY borne out of patience and hardwork is worth it!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *