ukuGalesha – Expanding from past to present to future

 How were things in the past?

Watch this YouTube video opens the discussion on living waters for supporting life and plant growth.

Baba Cele told the class how it is important to capture water in the soil over the winter months because we can never know when the rainy season will start or whether it will be a drought year. The Xhosa captured soil water at the end of the season when Orion’s Belt was clearly visible in the night sky He described how Communities would put cattle into their croplands into to eat the remaining stalks of the summer crops and also fertilise the lands for the next season. They would then break the soil and dig in humus to hold the moisture from the light winter rains. The cleaning of the lands (ukuGalesha) at the end of the season that followed, was a mystery in early colonial times. Colonists saw it as one of many cultural rituals to close the cropping season.

How can harvesting rainwater and ukuGalesha improve soil-moisture retention in heritage food gardening?

Unit 4: Living waters

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How are things today?

Did you know?

Most drains are designed to take storm water away quickly but this normally causes problems downstream. New suburbs are now designed to have retention drains that take the flood waters away but slow them down into basins that hold the water for a few days. This allows it to slowly seep away into the groundwater.
These wide drains are ideal places for planting wild wetland and grassland species that will attract back many of the species of birds whose habitats were lost when houses were built in the area.

Wide drains are important to stop local flooding, but they can also become wetlands with the right plants to suck up more water and provide a habitat for interesting birds and insects.

What does this mean for us today?

In the warm, dry winter season in Africa, rivers dry up and become green puddles that are important feeding grounds for insects in the spring. Market gardeners apply the same principle when they put a small bag of chicken manure in a drum filled with water to make liquid manure. A good indicator that the nutrient is not too strong is that tiny water organisms like water fleas thrive on clean, nitrogen-enriched water. If the nitrogen in the liquid manure is too concentrated, then the conditions are not suitable for living beings, and the liquid manure can become too concentrated or polluted, so more fresh water should be added and the amount of chicken manure reduced. In this way, gardeners are able to provide nitrogen-enriched water for healthy plants and tiny animals living in the water, show the farmers that the concentration of nitrogen will support animals in the water as well as plant growth in the soil.

  • Who lives downstream from you?
  • Who lives up-stream?
  • Where does your water come from?
  • Where does your wastewater go?
  • How do we best live and work togehter in a changing world?