Dig for dignity

Dig for dignity because these days it has become incredibly difficult to get fresh nosh that's not been smothered in toxic pesticides.

Living on the fruits of our labour brings both a dignity and an abundance that the dole can never provide. Whilst one can never expect to be entirely free and independent of the supermarket and farmers’ supply, we continue to “mik hoog."

Bernie building a compost heap.

And in truth there is no limit to how high you can reach. Our green garden continues, week in and out, to provide many times in excess of the R350 basic income monthly-grant. Moreover it is highly nutritious and tasty food.

The profoundly satisfying taste of fruit freshly-picked from the garden, greens, and beans just harvested is without equal; then you’ll begin to understand why TV and social media have such a small hold on us. Add to that a sweet young mealie, peas and a few hens and you are home and dry.

I’m deeply saddened by those in the Department of Health, and others distributing food parcels who still think that refined mealiemeal can provide the nutrients found in “corn on the cob.” It has a taste to die for and does little to raise our blood glucose, irrefutably fingered in many serious diseases, including Covid-19.

There are times when I will admit that I wonder if we are quite mad. Just digging out 600 dead mealie-stalks in the last few weeks can only be described as a labour of love; it’s hard work. This wet autumn I have learned that compared to previous years it is much easier than left until when the ground has become hard and dry.

Dried mealie stalks for composting.

Those dried out stalks of course form the foundation of our many compost heaps that demand a dry to wet ratio of about 2:1. We dither between using autumn leaves to add to that pile, or as a mulch between the winter veggie plants; the rainy season will soon be over.

One compost heap will be reserved for the giant butternut and pumpkins that our garden is renowned for; our own seed will be planted in spring. The others provide the humus that will be spread in late winter before they are sodden and difficult to move after the rains have started. No expensive inorganic fertilisers are needed in our green garden; plentiful wood ash from the little woodstove is the alternative to lime.

Monster butternut squash.

Planting many different coloured fruits and vegetables is high on our agenda; the strong research that seven or more of such enjoyed each day will reduce the all-cause of death by 35% has made a huge impression on us. We would rather spend our time digging for dignity than consulting doctors; and the undertaker long before our time.

Maize stalk borers, according to Pannar, consume about ten percent of the crop in South Africa. The larvae hibernate over winter in the stubble and especially down by the roots. Whacking each stalk on a brick or some such, removes the soil and exposes many of the pests; a retinue of hens following me have a field day.

We encourage them to scratch in the compost heaps too, their droppings adding nitrogen and promoting aerobic respiration.

In days of old, a labourer was given a tin of toxic insecticide to shake into the end of each cob; today it’s more sophisticated I suppose. Either way, I can do without that stuff in my food. We harvest the mealies in the normal way, breaking off the end if it is infected by stalk-borer and again the hens squabble hilariously over the delicacies; little is lost to the pest.

Eighty years ago the people of Great Britain were starving; the war had cut off their supply routes and there was little imported food to be had. “Dig for Victory” became the slogan of the day, and they started in earnest. Low and behold, it soon became apparent they could supply most of their needs.

If the world is wearying, and Facebook ceases to satisfy, try digging for dignity. You too can harvest a mountain of food from your own green garden; you need never go hungry.

Whether it’s for hunger, or dignity, or simply the joy of growing your own delicious, fresh food, is it perhaps time for you to start digging too? I recommend it; highly.

A bucketful of peppadews.

Dig for dignity

Dig for dignity and a mountain of nutritious, cheap food.

Broad beans and greens all from the garden.

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Our newsletter is entitled "create a cyan zone" at your home, preserving both yourself, the family and friends, and Mother Earth for future generations. We promise not to spam you with daily emails promoting various products. You may get an occasional nudge to buy one of my books!

Here are the back issues.

  • Nature is calling
  • Mill your own flour
  • Bake your own sourdough bread
  • Microplastics from our water
  • Alternative types of water storage
  • Wear your clothes out
  • Comfort foods
  • Create a bee-friendly environment
  • 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
  • Create a cyan zone at your home

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56 Groenekloof Rd,

Hilton, KZN

South Africa