Bethany Tennent’s Alagwa Garden

Bethany has been working with the Alagwa people in Tanzania on behalf of Wycliffe Bible Translators for the past few years. She grows sweet potatoes, sunflowers (for the oil), corn, millet, beans, tomatoes, and onions.  Miss Tennent is operating in a very subsistence farming situation, so everything she and her co-workers grow is for their daily food and/or dried for long-term use.

AlagwaGarden

Onions

onions
  • Start seeds 1/4″ deep indoors 12 weeks before last frost.
  • Transplant plants into garden a month before last frost. If planting sets, plant them 1″ deep.
  • Spacing: nine plants per sq. ft., or plant more densely, and then, thin and eat small onions.
  • Days to harvest: 100 to 120. Frost-hardy.
  • Hint: Onions will not tolerate weeds and require consistent moisture.

Cherry Tomatoes

cherry_tomato
  • Sow seed indoors 1/4” deep, six to eight weeks before last frost. Choose a compact patio type for raised beds, or plan to install a support for tall varieties.
  • Transplant into garden one to two weeks after last frost or when soil reaches 65 degrees F.
  • Spacing: one plant per sq. ft. if grown on trellis. (Four squares required if grown with cage, nine if grown with no support). Grow early season crops nearby to allow more room later.
  • Days to harvest: 55 to 100 from transplanting, depending on variety. Not frost-hardy.
  • Hint: Remove lower leaves before planting, and bury extra stem.

Tomatoes

tomatoes
  • Plant seeds 1/4″ deep indoors, six to eight weeks before last frost.
  • Transplant into garden one to two weeks after last frost or when soil reaches 65 degrees F.
  • Spacing: one plant per sq. ft. if grown on trellis. (Four squares required if grown with cage, nine if grown with no support). Grow early season crops nearby to allow more room later.
  • Days to harvest: 55 to 100 from transplanting, depending on variety. Not frost-hardy.
  • Hint: Remove lower leaves before planting, and bury extra stem.

Beans

beans
  • Sow seeds 1″ deep directly in garden after all danger of frost.
  • Spacing: four plants per sq. ft. for bush beans, six to eight plants per sq. ft. for pole beans
  • Plant second crop of bush beans (if needed) two weeks after first planting.
  • Days to harvest: 50-80 from seed, depending on variety. Not frost-hardy.
  • Hint: Add a legume inoculant when planting to increase vigor and yield.

Sweet Potatoes

sweetpotato
  • Plant slips (rooted sprouts) two weeks after last frost, once soil and night temperatures are 60 degrees or more.
  • Spacing: one per sq. ft.
  • Days to harvest: 90.
  • Hint: Cover soil with black plastic to increase heat and prevent unwanted rooting of vines.

Millet

Millet thrives “in difficult production environments, such as those at risk of drought [and has] been in cultivation in East Asia for the last 10,000 years” (see source). Millet can serve as food for humans, stock, and birds, either as hay or seed, and can also be used as a cover crop in no-till farming.

Milletsm
  • Sow seeds 1″ deep directly in garden after danger of frost has passed.
  • Spacing: Plant seeds every 2″ (36 per sq. ft.).
  • Add compost.
  • Days to harvest: 60 to 90. Drought tolerant.
  • Hint: Millet appreciates addition of more compost as it grows. Harvest when golden brown. Thresh before eating. Use as porridge, a side dish, or grind to make a flour or meal.

Corn

corn
  • Sow seeds 1″ deep directly in garden.
  • Spacing: Plant four seeds per sq. ft.; thin to two plants per sq. ft.
  • Plant after frost, when soil reaches 60 degrees F.
  • Need to grow at least 12 to 18 plants of same variety to ensure good pollination.
  • Days to harvest: 65 to 75 from planting. Not frost-hardy.
  • Hints: Use garden fabric (row covers) early in spring to protect against frost and crows.

Sunflowers

sunflower
  • Sow seeds 1″ deep after the danger of frost is past.
  • Spacing: two plants per sq. ft. or six inches apart; can plant multiples and thin when six inches tall.
  • Tall species may require support.
  • To use for bouquets, in the early morning, cut the main stem at the time just before the bud opens (to encourage side blooms).
  • Days to harvest: up to 110 for seed harvest.