Going to seed does not just happen to humans, of course. It is part and parcel of the plant world too. You can't help getting older.
But the trick is to do your level best not to get old.
Nevertheless, it is sad to see both humans, and your winter vegetable patch turning into a flower garden; are you about to push up daisies? But, it is part of the cycle of nature, and it simply means that you have to keep planting again; new ideas and more seed in order to enjoy more fruit, and longer years.
It has been called the greening of the self. It is the practice of those living in five-areas of the world where Blue Zone longevity is astounding; in all of them they garden and much of their food they grow themselves.
This page was last updated by Bernard Preston on 30th March, 2021.
It is late spring here, and the broccoli and spinach, the kale and cabbage are all producing heads of the most beautiful flowers; even the purple-leafed lettuce has the tiniest of lovely yellow blooms appearing.
Broccoli flowers you can enjoy on a salad, of course, but quite soon they will go to the chicken-tractor that is in the making; more about that later.
The bees are very happy and there is plenty of pollination happening. They are seriously under stress, as we are, in our toxic, chemical-laden society; having a few friendly plants is important in every garden, and there is none better than the broccoli family.
There is merit in going to the corner garden-shop for new seed, but there is also virtue in keeping your own; it is free apart from anything else, and you know it is fresh. Do you ever get poor germination from a packet you have only just purchased?
My recommendation is that you only buy from companies that put a date on the packet; otherwise, you have no idea just how old the seed is.
Unscrupulous companies are deliberately packing old seed, methinks, knowing we will blame the garden-shop; however, talking to them, you will soon realise they are at the mercy of their suppliers who are out to make an extra buck.
This branching broccoli is my favourite; it goes on for months producing little florets of the queen of the anti-tumour league. This chicken broccoli recipe is a gem and so easy to prepare; really it is a soup.
Going to seed is part of the cycle of nature and we must take advantage of it; alas it is happening to Bernard Preston too. However, patients and family who reach a zestful ninety with all their marbles intact, have inspired me to promote the building of an eco friendly home, take an interest in subjects like growing lettuce, and harvesting and storing the rainwater to provide for our house and garden throughout the year.
We have had the most wonderful winter and early spring lettuce but now alas they are bolting, and the leaves start to turn bitter.
She who must be obeyed has been busy with seed she collected last year and there are some interesting cross pollinations of red and green lettuce.
And the spinach that kept us in greens right through the winter is about to go to flower. Whilst Swiss chard goes on for months and even years, keeping us in eggs Florentine for breakfast, the softer variety needs to be replanted regularly, and kept moist in the hot summer months.
Luckily the boss has been keeping abreast of these developments, so new seedlings are up, and our daily fresh spinach recipes are not threatened.
Going to seed is about the most normal thing happening in the veggie garden. But there is no need for it to happen to us. Eat these kinds of foods every day, and you have to work quite hard at becoming obese, with all its attendant problems.
Like knee arthritis that keeps chiropractors and surgeons in business, and the diabetes and neoplasms that maintain the practices of so many doctors.
Herbs like this coriander that is going to seed, and parsley and sweet basil are a must in every garden. They count as one of the colours you can chalk up in your must have eight colours per day diet, and are mostly not difficult to grow. They add so much variation of flavour to the boring old iceberg lettuce and tomato that barely qualifies as a salad.
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We will be collecting a mountain of coriander seed for our curries in a couple weeks; meanwhile we've had a mountain of cilantro through the spring and summer. It is lovely because it seeds itself.
Eight coloured fruit and veg every day means 35% lower all cause of death. That is massive. Do not get neurotic, just try to enjoy as broad a spectrum of foods as you possibly can.
And then on the positive side of these dying plants, are the many other flowers coming into bloom, like citrus, and of course the whole flower garden; all is not lost!
So, do collect the seed when you see your plants going to seed, and do keep planting. Enjoy, when the world wearies, and society ceases to satisfy, there is always the garden.
This year we were very pleased that we had held back some broad bean seed at the end of the season last year; you could not purchase seed for love nor money anywhere in South Africa.
They are the only source of L-dopa the precursor to dopamine; without it you will get Parkinson's disease. Also it satisfies the pleasure centre in the brain; you will not be hungry all day if you have half a cup for breakfast. It sounds a bit weird, but I am convinced. You have to grow them; you will not find them in the green grocer. How to plant broad beans, also known as favas is very important to me.
Choice foods in the garden will often but not always produce excellent seed for next year's crop. Keep only the best, and make sure it's properly dry; going to seed can be a blessing.
We have had a great deal of difficulty growing beans over the last few years due to a pesky beetle that ruins the plants. Last summer we introduced hens to the garden for the first time; holding thumbs because it appears the pest is a thing of the past. The birds found all the larvae skulking over winter under the mulch. The synergy of green living has made a big impression on me.
Save bean seed, but only the best.
There's a serious neurosis called orthorhexia that comes from being overly concerned about what you eat; it is impossible to make sure you have enough zeaxanthin and betaine in your diet for example. If we just concentrate on eating from a wide range of fresh foods we can be relatively sure all is well in the state of Denmark.
A deficiency of zeaxanthin means you will get macular degeneration by the way; and betaine prevents the build up of a very toxic breakdown product of protein metabolism.
Bernard Preston books are not about healthy choice foods, but about people going to seed; can we at the coalface make a difference?
I am busy with my seventh book; it is about the first married pope in a millennium, and what led up to that remarkable event. It is a novel of course.
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