Dig for dignity

Bernie building a compost heap.

Dig for dignity because these days it has become incredibly difficult to get fresh nosh that's not been smothered in toxic pesticides. It will also lift us from the boredom of too little to do.

Living on the fruits of our labour brings both a dignity and an abundance that the dole can never provide. Whilst one can not expect to be entirely free and independent of the supermarket and farmers’ supply, we continue to “mik hoog."

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. You will be home and dry if you can add a sweet young mealie, peas and a few hens for their eggs to the above.

"An estimated 98-million more people experienced moderate to severe food insecurity in 2020 compared with the average across the 1980s and 90s up to 2010."

- Lancet Countdown

I’m deeply saddened by those in the Department of Welfare, 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 crusted 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[2]; 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 the hours 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 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; your familhy need never go hungry again.

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

A bucketful of peppadews.

The horrible hump

"The camel's hump is an ugly lump,

Which well you may see at the zoo;

But uglier yet is the hump we get

From having too little to do.

The cure for this ill is not to sit still,

Or frowst with a book by the fire;

But to take a large hoe and a shovel also

And dig till you gently perspire.

And then you will find that the sun and the wind,

And the Djinn of the garden too,

Have lifted the hump,

The horrible hump,

The hump that is black and blue."

- Rudyard Kipling

Dig for dignity

Dig for dignity and a mountain of nutritious, cheap food; it will also lift that horrible hump that settles on our shoulders periodically from having too little to do.

Broad beans from just two plants

At the end of the season, having reaped for several months, this is what I gathered yesterday from just two broad bean plants. Legumes save us from two great evils; being constantly hungry and having stunted children. They give us the satiety we need, the so-called subsequent meal effect, so we don't need to snack constantly; and the  protein the Little People must have. 

How to plant broad beans is essential in our opinion; they're awful when old and starchy. They are also the only source of dopamine, the happy hormone.

Broad beans and greens all from the garden.

Those enjoying this kind of food never become obese. It's only to be had by those willing to dig for dignity and the pot.

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Newsletter

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.

  • Refined maize meal and stunting
  • Should agriculture and industry get priority for water and electricity?
  • 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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Address:

56 Groenekloof Rd,

Hilton, KZN

South Africa

Website:

https://www.bernard-preston.com