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 not if but when we get a neoplasm, we decided it was time to start growing our own fruit and vegetables with no poisonous chemicals and use only natural fertilisers.
It has been a life-long journey, fascinated by Hippocrates' dictum of let your food be your medicine; is a life with drugs really possible? Yes, sirree, it certainly is; or at least almost nothing to please big pharma.
Our green gardens will of course all be quite different in many respects; they will reflect our own particular issues and needs to improve your well-being, and in fact our personalities. Some will be neat and tidy, others will have crooked rows and a continuing war against a profusion of weeds.
My own issue is 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, sorted out all my problems. Now visits to the toilet last no more than two or three minutes, and I am regular as clockwork. I cannot overemphasize what a relief it has been; literally life-changing.
A huge very scary rectal bleed was the final push. Now we have eggs Hilton for breakfast, a salad for lunch and always kale or broccoli, or some such, for supper.
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.
This everlasting kale plant is at least five years old; whilst the leaves are much smaller now it provides with fresh, organic greens every single day.
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 partially sighted, simply because of a
deficiency of two phytochemicals. Do you know what they are?
Enjoy your greens for your eyes' sake.
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 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 a plentiful supply of irrigation. The frustration in South Africa is borne out by the oft-heard cry, where is our water? Is it the state's job to supply it, 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 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 green 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.
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 starches 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 half a much lower glycemic index than those from cold storage.
The magnificent mealie is a staple for three months in the summer.
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.
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.
We do all the hard work; lucky enough not to have a gardener.
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