Farming 101Instructional MaterialvaMudhumeni

Winter – What to do

Winter is here! And some farmers are contemplating putting tools down for some time and commencing production when the sun starts properly kissing the earth again, in fear of the brutality winter serves to crops. Winters can be dull, cold and grim-but your pockets don’t have to be. There are various ways in which a farmer can protect his crop from frost damage and keep up an all-year-round production system on the farm.

First of all, we advise you:
✅Choose frost-tolerant crops such as cabbages, carrots, brocolli, and lettuce
⚠️Crops such as tomatoes and potatoes are tender crops that are easily prone to frost damage, you may need to stay away from these in winter. However some farmers have had success with them in winter but they need extra special attention

Now, whether you choose cold-hardy or tender crops, here is what to do to make sure your crop thrives even in the lowest temperatures:
✅ Choose part of the field that is less prone to frost damage. High areas away from valleys and slopes that face the sun are less likely to be affected by frost

✅ Avoid frost pockets- these are depressions in the field and cold air loves setting camp there, frying whichever unfortunate plant will have been stationed in there. Fix these areas on land prep and if they cant be fixed rather not plant anything in there

✅ You can choose to plant your crop in protected environments e.g. Greenhouses instead of open field production.

✅ Use sprinkler Irrigation to lightly water your crop in the early mornings to increase humidity in and around your field.

✅ Create physical barriers such as walls or plant bushes around the field, of between 1.5-2m that shield the crop from wind and frost. Some people use thatching grass, fencing it around their crop field. It’s something that is easily and cheaply attainable especially in rural areas

✅Covering the crop with polythyene plastic before nightfall. The plastic acts as a blanket, trapping heat inside to keep the plants warm. Be sure to remove the plastic in the morning so more heat can be trapped by the soil for the next night

✅ I am sure most of us have come across 2 liter Mazowe or Pure Drop oil bottles filled with water and put in vegetable gardens and lawns and wondered why. I am sure like me you used to believe it was to ward off dogs😂. Well they are there to absorb heat during the day and emit it at night. Make sure the bottle is about 10cm above the plant so they are the first to catch the cold drift. As the plant grows, put blocks underneath the containers to raise their height

In as much as knowing what you should do, you must also know what you shouldn’t do.
❌ Large Fires- these attract and suck in cold air from the surrounding environment, causing the ground temperature to be even colder! There is also the danger of starting uncontrollable fires here so beware

❌Mulching- this actually prevents the soil from soaking up enough heat during the day, then at night the mulch prevents the little heat absorbed from rising up to warm the plants.

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