How to Make a Women’s Garden

9 Apr
How to make a Women’s Garden
  Find a piece of land that can be used for a garden. Make sure it is near the well, so that you don’t have to carry the water too far when you are watering the plants. It will need lots of sun so that the plants can grow well, so don’t put it where the trees will cause too much shade!.

Hire someone to clear the ground of weeds and small thorny bushes. Put the weeds in piles ready to burn later – the ashes can be spread on the plants as fertiliser.

Dig some holes ready for the fence posts. You will need a very strong fence to keep out the cows, goats, pigs and chickens, which all wander around during the dry season looking for food. If a cow gets into your garden it can eat everything in a very short time!

Then you can begin to prepare the ground. The ground will need watering first, to soften it, so you will need about 50 buckets of water from the well. Then you use an African hoe to remove the furrows left from the previous crop of cassava plants. Collect all the weeds for burning.

Ask some kind teenagers to collect palm leaves from the surrounding forest, and lay them out to dry in the sun. After 24 hours they can create the fence, making sure the leaves are tied firmly to the posts.

Use the hoe to pull up a little wall around each bed; this will keep the water in the bed when you water the plants – you don’t want to waste water if it all has to be pulled from the well! If you have any fruit trees in the garden, include them in a bed so they will be watered when you water the vegetables.

Invite the neighbours to come and help make the beds – it will take a very long time if you make them on your own. They will be happy to help, and everyone will have lots of fun and laughter in the process. (It may get a bit noisy!)

Ask your brother-in-law to make a strong gate. To keep the garden safe you will need to close the gate, cover it in an old duvet, then cover it with strong netting. Put some boards across any gaps near the ground (to keep the chickens out), place a huge palm leaf in front and wedge it with a stick. Finally put a broken chair in front to discourage the larger animals from nosing their way in!

 There’s a lot of work involved in establishing the garden, so accept all the help you can to dig, make beds, and pull water.

You can buy some small plants from a friend or relative to get you started. You can also buy seeds for sowing in Brikama, the nearest town (about 25 km away). If you eat fruit such as oranges, grapefruit, and tangerines, you can save the pips for planting. You could also buy a pineapple, cut off the top, and plant it in an oil container for propagation. The neighbours might sell you chillis, so you can save the seeds for planting.

Many hands make light work!

Only the women do vegetable gardening in The Gambia, but the men may come along and make ataya (green mint tea) to keep everyone refreshed. The children will take it round to everyone on little metal trays.

When all the work is done, serve a meal of chicken (a real treat in The Gambia), vegetables, sauce and spaghetti to thank everyone for all their hard work. 

4 Responses to “How to Make a Women’s Garden”

  1. Grandma's Basket March 13, 2017 at 10:03 am #

    Love this ! Please talk more about the vegetable garden 🙂 Debbie


  1. Thinking about water | Life in The Gambia - December 17, 2013

    […] I wrote a lot about the garden last time I was here, and you can read all about it in ‘How to Make a Woman’s Garden‘. Currently we are establishing banana and orange orchards; each tree needs at least one […]

  2. Home-grown bananas – a real luxury! | Life in The Gambia - January 24, 2014

    […] making our garden for the first time (if you didn’t see it before, you can read all about it here), there were a couple of rather sad banana trees planted around the garden. They hadn’t been […]

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