Tuesday, October 28, 2014

3 Sisters

Multicropping is a great way for smallholders to get more bang for their dinar.  Consequently we have invested heavily in a technique called "3 Sisters" that combines corn, beans and squash or zucchini.  This combination combines a stalk producer (corn) to provide a platform on which soil enriching beans can climb as well as a ground shading broad leaf producer to reduce evaporation (zucchini/squash).  Corn and beans are planted every 60cm, instead of every 30, to ensure that the other plants receive plenty of light.  In order to achieve more consistency in this three part system we invested heavily in its success.

Firstly, several seeds were planted near each water emitter in our drip irrigation system to ensure consistent germination of all the needed components.  Secondly, we invested in lint film to cover and protect each row.  As is evident from the photographs below the two part strategy is working.  Corn and beans are springing up together and zucchini/squash sites are almost universally germinated.  This bodes well for a good harvest and an effective new technique to demonstrate to Jordan Valley farmers.

Corn and climbing beans on the left and zucchini on the right

Protective lint is laid over each row with room for plants to push it up as they grow

First Harvest

We will begin harvesting young eggplant next week along with a great many of our neighbors.  The first harvest of immature eggplants goes to make a traditional Jordanian dish called "makdous" in which the eggplant fruits are cored, salted and then preserved with walnuts in olive oil.  We look forward enjoying some of the fruits of our labor along with our neighbors.
AC4Ds agro-consultant examining corn

Corn is now heading out and should be ready for harvest in about one month

Saturday, October 25, 2014


Find below a link to an article about fertigation, one of the technologies that we are demonstrating at our Jordan Valley Demo farm. 


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Neighbor Bio - Majid

We received a great compliment when our neighbor to the west, Majid, came in to evaluate how our preplanting process worked.  He had noticed that our first two crops, eggplant and corn, had shot up more quickly than his own and was interested to find out how.  Our process involved spreading chicken manure along our drip irrigation lines first and then having the rows mixed and hoed thoroughly before planting.  This allowed for our seeds and seedlings to be planted into a nutrient rich environment that their roots could easily sink into.  Having seen the difference that the extra preparation made he left the farm repeating the phrase "illa al takhleat!" - "mixing is the only way to go!"

This was a real compliment for us as newcomers since Majid has been growing open-field crops like zucchini, eggplant, tomato and corn in the Jordan Valley for all of his adult life.  
Mr. Majid


Our first experimental crop - Asparagus

Asparagus is naturally hearty and very salt tolerant, a perfect combination for the Middle Ghor of the Jordan Valley.  With the price of asparagus at over 15 US dollars per kilogram in Jordan we believe that the plant itself can be successful in this agro-climate as well as a financial winner for small farmers looking to diversify their vegetable production using poor quality water and relatively small amounts of land.  We expect to plant 450 semi-mature crowns in late December once the mild weather sets in as a demonstration of how to get asparagus production started. 

A portion of the asparagus is just beginning to bud

First Rain of the Season

We are pleased to report the first rain of the season.  Though not enough to saturate the soil a steady rain cleaned the plants and drove off a small white fly that was beginning to effect our eggplants relieving us of the need for chemical treatment. 
Eggplant after the rain

Neighbor Bio - Abu Abdullah

Abu Abdullah visited this week to advise us about how and when to plant greenhouses.  He was a great help and we took away a lot of wisdom regarding house temperature and irrigation scheduling.  Abu Abdullah is just one of a growing number of farmers who frequent the demo farm.  Some people come to hear and some people come to talk, what is important to us is that we are building community among our neighbors. 

Abu Abdullah - A successful Jordan Valley Farmer focused on Greenhouse Pepper Production

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Companion Planting

Companion planting, or multi-cropping, is a great way to get more produce out of the same land and water resources while naturally enhancing your soil.  Currently we are planting red cabbage and corn alongside our eggplant.  This combination allows fast growing corn to spring up quickly while the slower growing eggplant establishes itself.  Other companions that we will be trialing include carrots with tomatoes and a large section of "three sisters."  Three sisters consists of corn (which produces a stalk) peas (which introduce valuable nitrogen into the soil and need a stalk to climb) and crook-neck squash (whose large leaves spread out along the ground conserving water in the soil). When planted close to one another these three crops enhance, rather than limit, one anothers productivity and conserve expensive water and fertilizer. 

Corn planted alongside eggplant