Setting up a Veggie Patch

July 7, 2015 by Naibor No Comment

It sounds easy and makes sense after all our nearest supermarket from camp is quite some way away so we can not just pop to the shop when we run out of something. However there are challenges to growing vegetables in an environment where many of your wildlife visitors want to eat what you are growing. We have tried planting various items lettuce, herbs, spices, peppers and squash. We have found that peppers and squash are too popular with the visiting birds and monkeys so these had to be abandoned. We now focus mostly on leafy greens of varying kinds.

We have not wanted to cover our vegetable patch so we have had to find a different ways to keep some of the nocturnal visitors away, like the elephants. We regularly hear elephants coming through camp at night and to avoid our carefully tended patch being trampled or eaten by the wandering pachyderms we have planted a chili fence as a deterrent which seems to be working so far.

In addition to chili fences the other approach communities around Kenya are using to keep elephants away from their precious harvests are beehive fences. It has been found that elephants will run from the sound of disturbed honey bees. Additionally, when they do run away, the elephants also emit a unique low frequency rumble vocalization which warns neighbouring elephants to retreat as well. Farmers are using this knowledge and building fences round their vegetable fields on which they hang beehives. When an elephant walks into the fence it disturbs the bees and scares off the elephants. Brilliant for reducing elephant human conflict and increasing the bee population, although not an ideal solution for a vegetable patch in the middle of safari camp.

Growing greens in the Mara is not easy.

Growing greens in the Mara is not easy.

Spinach is not as popular with the monkeys as peppers.

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