I encourage sprout formation in ginger rhizomes before the first rains come. This gives me a head start and ensures that my plants have enough water to grow and develop large rhizomes. The method is effective and costs nothing. All you need is some old newspaper, or any waste paper, a plastic bag, and small pieces of ginger rhizomes with two to three buds. Start this procedure two weeks before the rains come. Soak a piece of newspaper in water for a few minutes, then squeeze out the water, leaving just enough to keep the paper moist. Take small pieces of the ginger rhizomes and wrap them up inside the paper. Be sure to completely cover the rhizomes. Place the wrapped rhizomes inside a plastic bag and fold over the top of the bag to seal it. Store in a dark place for two weeks. This gives the rhizomes time to sprout enough roots, and possibly even shoots.
Two weeks later take the rhizomes out of the plastic bag and place in the soil with the news-paper. There is no need to remove the newspaper since the roots have grown in it.
A squirrel can be a real pest when it climbs in your fully grown fruit trees or corn plantations and damages the ripe crops. In Ecuador, in South America, farmers use garlic spray against squirrels to prevent them from damaging their mature corn crop. Garlic has special chemical properties that quickly produce an unpleasant burning or stinging sensation when the squirrel tastes it. Pick the garlic when it is very yellow and ripe. Crush, grind, or pound a handful of garlic cloves, then mix the garlic with four litres of water. Spray the corn with this mixture of water and garlic. You can also make a spray with ground chili peppers and water.
Once the corn has been treated, the squirrels will not eat it because the strong, bitter taste is very disagreeable to them. This method requires patience because you have to collect lots of garlic and then spray the crop. But spraying with garlic is a simple way to protect corn crops from squirrel attacks.
When you are planning a strategy to get rid of maize stemborers (Busseola fusca, Sesamia calamitis), it is important to understand their life cycle. The larva gets into the stalk and stays there as a pupa until the next season when the adult emerges and starts laying eggs. Knowing this, many farmers destroy all their crop residues after harvest. But this is wasteful because these stalks can be used as stakes for yams and cowpeas, bedding for animals, and mulch to cover the soil surface. An effective alternative is to kill the larvae by exposing the stalks to a dying fire for a day.
After harvest, cut down all the stalks. Now build some kind of rack so that you can suspend the maize stalks above a dying fire. Allow the warmth from the dying fire to heat the stalks for at least 24 hours. Most of the stemborers will die in the heat. Then your stalks are ready for use. This method reduces infestation the next season. It is best if as many farmers as possible take part in the operation. It is also important to remove all wild plants that are hosts of the stemborer if possible.
Many people realize that the garbage that piles up at the roadside, in rivers and lakes, in the markets, and in residential areas is a serious threat to the community’s health and the environment. Although garbage collection has mainly been a government responsibility, it is encouraging to see that many communities and organizations are doing the best they can to solve the garbage problem.
Abandoned garbage attracts mosquitoes, flies, mice, and rats. These creatures carry germs that cause diseases such as malaria, diarrhoea, dysentery, and eye infections.
Who is exposed to these risks? Everyone in the community is in danger if large piles of decomposing garbage are left in the street. If children who play in the garbage cut themselves they can contract tetanus. Wandering animals that look for food in the garbage piles can carry and transmit rabies.
What can we do? We can start a garbage collection campaign in our community. We can educate our neighbours on the dangers of garbage, using posters, flyers, slogans, theatre, puppet shows, songs, and musical presentations. And together with local authorities we should find and decide on the best locations to burn or bury garbage. Sort your garbage and teach your neighbours how to do it. Materials such as paper, plastic, glass, and tin cans can be re used and recycled. Clean the beaches and start a campaign to protect coral and sea shells.
To get practical advice on how to take action, contact local organizations such as the Red Cross or other not for profit organizations in your area.