Our green garden is just one family's journey to grow organic-food. It is a series of blogs printed in the local newspaper, the Witness, over a period of years.
Many years ago when told by a friend with a serious malignancy that her doctor said it is no longer if but when we will get a neoplasm, we decided it was time to start growing our own fruit and vegetables with no poisonous-chemicals and using only natural fertilisers.
It has been an epic-journey, fascinated by Hippocrates' dictum of let your food be your medicine; is a life largely without drugs really possible? Yes, sirree, it certainly is; much to big pharma's discontent.
This everlasting kale plant is at least five-years old; whilst the leaves are much smaller now it provides us with fresh, organic greens every single day.
Our green gardens will of course all be quite different in many respects; they will reflect our own particular issues and needs to improve our well-being, and in fact our personalities. Some will be neat and tidy, others will have crooked rows with a continuing war against a profusion of weeds.
Some will have serfs who do most of the physical-work; other gardeners do not mind cracked feet and broken finger nails and will do most of the weeding and barrowing of compost themselves.
My own issue was a seriously lazy colon. I still have strong recollections of enemas as a child and a life-long struggle with constipation and all its attendant difficulties. Yes, prunes helped, as did beetroot, two of my mainstays, but eventually it was the discovery that greens at least twice, and preferably three times a day, would sort out all my problems.
Now visits to the toilet last no more than two or three minute affairs, and I am regular as clockwork. I cannot overemphasize what a relief it has been; literally a life-changer.
A huge very scary rectal-bleed that lasted several weeks was the final push. Now we have Eggs
Hilton for breakfast, a salad for lunch and often kale or broccoli, or
some such, for supper. Completely over the top I hear you thinking, but a whole lot better than bad news after another battle with MoviPrep Sebastian Vettle's exhaust.
There were other unexpected benefits such as a visit to the optician. After a long examination, he remarked, "you eat a lot of greens, don't you?" I was astonished; how on earth did he know, just by looking in my eyes?
Eat your greens is a plea to those who wish to avoid two of the chief causes of blindness in old-age.
Make sure you get good honey is part of our strategy; that page is about the natural crystallisation process that occurs in supersaturated solutions.
Crystallised and creamed honey may look the same in the jar, but really they are quite different; the latter is lovely but could be adulterated with high-fructose corn syrup. No food company or bottler today is to be completely trusted; buyer beware.
Who will save the bees is an oft heard cry; one in four mouthfuls of our food is pollinated by them. It's up to each and every one of us to do our small bit for them; otherwise our grandchildren will starve.
Ask any gardener and they will tell you that greens that have been freshly-picked are vastly different to those harvested and sold several days later in the supermarket.
The chief causes of blindness are macular degeneration and glaucoma;
both are very difficult for the individual to detect until it is already
too late. It is estimated that 5 - 10 million Americans are needlessly
unable to see, and many more are partially-sighted, simply because of a
deficiency of two phytochemicals. Do you know what they are?
Enjoy your greens for your eyes' sake.
Actually it now appears that L-dopa is also important for our eyes; the only ready source from vegetables is by growing broad beans.
The chief cause of blindness in children is a vitamin A deficiency. This astonishing butternut harvest, rich in beta-carotene, would emphatically prevent it.
Compost heaps in late winter are most easily worked before the spring-rains when the humus is light and dry.
You cannot grow vegetables like these without irrigation. The frustration in South Africa is the grave shortage of water and electricity services.
It is borne out by the oft-heard cry, where is our water?
Is it the state's job to supply water, or should we be harvesting the rain and storing it in tanks and underground reservoirs that keep it icy-cold?
You will see many salads being advertised as free of lettuce, simply because folk abhor wilted and stale greens. Unfortunately they usually substitute it with a refined-starch like rice which is very fattening.
Little garden patches is our first blog showing a way to grow lettuce and other greens.
A plain salad can be a little boring; there is no better way to spice it up than with something like shallots. If you plant sprouting onions in your green garden you will never be disappointed.
Protein forms the building blocks of our bodies made up of more than twenty so-called amino acids; nine of them are essential. If we do not get them from our food we get a serious disease called kwashiorkor. It is a terminal condition of malnutrition.
All of them are found in meat so omnivores have no need for concern. However, vegans have to be very sure that they get an adequate supply of all of these essential amino-acids from legumes which are the main plant source of protein, to which we would add seeds and nuts.
Our homemade hummus with lemon pulp is a staple in our family; we enjoy it virtually every day with a fresh, green salad.
Midwinter lightning and hail also bring nitrogen for our plants; unless the destruction is great, the improvement in the greenery is almost immediate. The rain with dissolved nitrates is most welcome in the midst of the long dry-season.
How I look forward to broad-bean season; it means a great reduction in the tremor in my right hand. It's all about dopamine.
There is much controversy these days about how fat starches make us; it is partly true, but also completely false. How can that be? It's a half truth. It is the refined carbohydrates that make us obese and give us type-2 diabetes.
So I have no hesitation of recommending that you plant old potatoes, especially if they have gone soft, or are starting to sprout, in your green garden. New spuds are a treat and have a much lower glycemic-index than those from cold storage.
One of the end of winter chores is to get holes dug with plenty of compost and we like to stake our potatoes. Off the ground it is easier to heap them up, and they are easier to find once the haulm has died back. The chats will go in once the danger of frost is over.
These confessions of a waste-picker tell where the seed-potatoes came from.
The magnificent mealie is a staple for three-months in the summer, providing a whole grain and more nutritious starch. It's the refined carbs that do so much damage to our blood vessels.
The onion family is rich in three very important phytochemicals that researchers have shown help prevent disease and promote wellness; and they taste pretty darn good. Our climate here is not idea but we have had great success when we plant sprouting onions.
Fresh fruit all year round is one of the great blessings from our green garden. Obviously not be had in Chicago or Klimmen in the Netherlands where we lived for many years, but in the temperate climate of the Midlands of South Africa there are mulberries, avocados and citrus, and a dozen others to be enjoyed.
Serious hunger is a serious threat to many parts of the world since the pandemic; people are out of work. It will not be long before society is faced with the prospect of civil unrest on a scale not seen for a long time.
And despite many of the restrictions having been limited, the problem is getting worse not better. Even fewer buses carrying folk to work are running.
Our green garden supplies us with a pile of food; it is incredible just how much we are able to share with others. Can you imagine trying to eat 150 butternut, or thousands of peppadews?
Let's talk about hunger and not be ostriches and think it will not affect us. Today, even if all the supermarkets were to close, with some bartering with fellow gardeners and farmers, we would survive.
Just this week a third of a ton of non-GM maize will be arriving; our honey will be part of the trade. There should be enough unrefined starch for both us and the hens for a whole year, counting on another mealie crop next summer.
Spring time is a season of joy; it's a time to sow, waiting for Piet to return from Central Africa for the first mealies. A host of seeds from butternut and greens, to peppers and perhaps something new this year are just waiting for you to pop them into your green garden.
By summer you will have so much food to eat and share that it will astonish you.
Trees give to our green garden something immeasurable, but sacred; it's indefinable but you notice it the moment your enter a property that has none. We have two that are very old, a Liquid Amber and a Tulip; both are nearing one-hundred by my best reckoning.
And of course a great many smaller trees. Two years ago we made the decision to joint the carpet South Africa with Spekboom movement; this little gem is indigenous, and produces apparently a great abundance of nectar for the bees.
Our green garden is completely dependent on compost heaps and worm farms for fertiliser and rainwater harvesting for irrigation. I never realised until years later that our parents were teaching their children to fish, without our even knowing it.
Worm farms and the black plague takes us back to the importance of dealing with our garbage thoroughly.
We do all the hard work; lucky enough not to have a gardener.
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