A time to sow

A time to sow is a season of joy; mealies, peppadew seedlings and spinach must be in as soon as the soil warms up properly.

Spring is a very busy time at our green home. The early rains have arrived, the reservoir is full and we have again escaped from using municipal water for yet another year, and the solar panels are pumping; nine months since we’ve used any Eskom power. The word bandied about is “resilient”; preparing for the shortages that are becoming ever more likely.

One of those big changes is food availability and prices; they are soaring and more than likely will continue to do so. In a perverse way, I actually welcome that; it means we will all get a kick in the pants to start growing more of our own food, free from chemical biocides. That may mean some tatty spinach leaves where the locusts and snails have taken their share, and more time hoeing out the weeds. It’s good exercise.

Holey spinach.

We’ve been trying something new; spreading the autumn leaves directly on the ground between the plants instead of piling them on the compost heaps; and large sheets of cardboard too. The big plus is less weeding and watering because of the mulching, but obviously the compost heaps are suffering; a tradeoff that we are still evaluating. Moving barrowloads of compost from the heaps to the beds is one of my pet hates; it’s very hard work.

The good wife have been busy planting in her seed boxes and most of the veggie garden now has potatoes and mealies poking through, lots of peas, kale and other greens. Tomorrow more rain is expected so today we will plant out the peppadew seedlings.

Peppadew seedlings in a box.

To keep the enthusiasm up I like to try something new each year. Last year that was okra, but the hens took a real fancy to the seedlings, and not one survived. So it’s okra again for us, with the hens banished until the plants are well established, and sunflowers and lucern for the first time, for the chickens.

There’s strong research that those eating seven or more coloured foods every day, even in small quantities so a sprig of parsley would count, have a thirty percent lower all-cause of death; that’s massive. So I figure we are faced with a choice; spending time growing and enjoying our own organic vegetables or (even more?) time consulting doctors. You know where my sentiments lie!

WebMD advocates that we should “treat food like medicine, recognising everything you put in your mouth will have an effect on your body.” So will it be a potato chip with toxic chemicals like acrylamide, or a new spud just harvested from your garden?

One less known fact is that new potatoes, just harvested from your garden have a much lower GI than those from cold-storage; even diabetics can often eat them. Plus many commercial spuds are sprayed with a herbicide like paraquat just before harvesting.

The first mealies are up and we will be planting two new rows every month; we want some for the hens too. They also go crazy over corn on the cob, same as we do. First put the pot on to boil and then go and pick and shuck your mealie; the flavour and nutrition are divine and especially good for the eyes. It’s all about two phytochemicals called zeaxanthin and lutein.

There’s a huge dilemma with carbs grown in your garden. Many of the fad diets will not allow more than 20g of starch per day. But on the other hand, there’s strong research that ‘whole grains” are very good for us; only they are hard to get. Diabetics should test themselves but for most of us new spuds and fresh mealies from your own garden are a delight. But don’t make a pig of yourself; keep the load down.

Allowing starches to cool overnight in the fridge and reheating them the next day allows the molecules to “retrograde” making it more difficult for the enzymes in the small intestine to digest the carbohydrate, and more reaches the colon where there is then a feeding frenzy by the microbiota. They become less fattening and provoke only a small blood-glucose surge unless you are insulin resistant.

The obese should strictly limit even the good carbs until they have got those unwanted kilos off. But mostly it’s the refined carbs that are killing us.

Understanding how net carbs work is the way to wage that war on unwanted belly and thigh-fat. Actually the place to start is by strictly limiting sugar; do you know South Africans adolescents are having nearly two cups a day?[1]

Potato haulms.

It’s the 28th September as I write and my friend Piet still hasn’t arrived back from his summer holiday in Central Africa; I wonder what’s delaying him. I love his call when I’m working in the garden, and even in the middle of the night. The Diederik is everywhere though; they parasitise the weavers. 

A time to sow

A time to sow in spring for a wonderful harvest later in the summer.

  1. Evidence to support a food-based dietary guideline on sugar consumption in South Africa

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  • Mill your own flour
  • Bake your own sourdough bread
  • Microplastics from our water
  • Alternative types of water storage
  • Wear your clothes out
  • Comfort foods
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  • Go to bed slightly hungry
  • Keep bees
  • Blue zone folk are religious
  • Reduce plastic waste
  • Family is important
  • What can go in compost?
  • Grow broad beans for longevity
  • Harvest and store sunshine
  • Blue zone exercise
  • Harvest and store your rainwater
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