To all our friends in the US caught in the “lake-effect” blizzard, please stay safe! And #TeamTomatoJos sends you a very warm (literally!) welcome from Keffi.
Last week, we blogged about our Kickstarter campaign and thanked our backers for their support. Between our last blog post and the close of the campaign we had even more friends join the team, so we wanted to be sure to thank all 638 of you for the $55,178.11 that you contributed. What a great success!!
And now, back to the farm.
Over the past week, our fields have seen a dramatic transformation. During the rainy season, local farmers were using them to grow a mix of sorghum and cowpea. These crops were recently harvested, and a few days ago, the remaining organic material was harrowed back into the soil.
For the most part, our nucleus farm lies on flat ground – we didn’t need to do very much to mechanically level our fields. This enabled us to move quickly without spending a lot of money. In total, we have just about 2 hectares (about 5 acres) of land cleared and ready for the tomato seedlings.
Speaking of which, those little critters are coming along real fine! Our first batch of seedlings is just a few short weeks away from being transplanted, and our germination rate is excellent – despite the fact that temperatures in our greenhouse can reach a sweltering 117 degrees Fahrenheit (47.5 degrees Celsius) at 11am!
In order to make sure our seedlings’ new home is ready for them, we will continue to work at a frantic pace to prepare the fields for their tenants. Our drip lines (sourced from Netafim) will arrive next week, but before we can set them up in the fields, we will need to enrich the soil itself. We recently got the results back from our latest round of soil analysis, and our agronomist has made many recommendations based on the report we received.
For example: our soil is slightly too acidic, so we will need to mix in some lime to bring the pH closer to 6.5, the ideal level for tomatoes farming. As we mentioned in our blog post on composting, the soil on our farm has low levels of organic material. It doesn’t have enough Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium minerals (known as “NPK” to farming folk), and these are vital to plant growth. Thank goodness we’ve been cultivating all that organic compost! Otherwise we really would be in deep… well, you know what!