BioSwirskii

The Edible Quote


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“Neither a state nor a bank ever have had unrestricted power of issuing paper money without abusing that power”

~ David Ricardo

BioSwirskii

What’s in our Garden


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Wow! This time of the year we are normally fighting off frost every morning and are looking at our last veggies with pity as we watch them die off with the winter cold. With this strange weather and an extended autumn, I’m still picking tomatoes out of the garden, our peppers have come into their own (I thought we would not make it with some of them) and we have harvested about 15 bags of mixed peppers yesterday that will soon become next years chillie sauce for our family and friends.

Our corn is also going to make it as it looks like frost will only be coming from the end of next week. So be prepared!

We will have everything up on the shop within the next week so if you are holding off for the final listings they will all be up by Friday the 28th. Those of you that are still planting on the highveld, onions are now the last crop for you to be putting in. If you are blessed to live elsewhere then peruse your favorite planting guide and make your own assumptions for whats best in your area.

I have a feeling that when the cold comes this year it’s going to hit hard, so make sure you tender trees have been properly covered to avoid the killing frosts.

BioSwirskii

The Edible Quote


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“As the state grows, one’s sense of self-ownership is destroyed, liberty is traded for ‘security’, the human spirit diminishes, and the citizenry increasingly thinks and behaves like dependent children”.

~ Eric Englund

BioSwirskii

The Edible Quote


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“Everyone who enjoys thinks that the principal thing to the tree is the fruit, but in point of fact the principal thing to it is the seed. — Herein lies the difference between them that create and them that enjoy.”

~ Friedrich Nietzsche

BioSwirskii

What’s in our Garden


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Not much has been happening recently, all of our winter stuff is now in and we are just waiting on crops to ripen so that we can harvest. I have started getting some of the new tomatoes off the plants and we will have these up by mid April latest.

I picked my first Pubescens chillie today and I’m very pleased. This would have been the second year with a poor harvest, but the cooler weather recently really helped the plant to set fruit. We won’t have many of these seeds available this year but I’ll make sure that some does get onto the site. As this rare gem needs to be spread around.

I’m continually amazed at the response that our plants give to applications of vermicompost, for those of you that don’t have a wormbin. Get one, you will not be sorry! When we transplant now, each seedling gets a handful of vermicompost around its base, and the growth is almost visible.

We continue to add seeds, to our site and the beans are coming in thick and fast. Most of the corn will be up by the week-end and there are a few odds and ends that are busy drying. We have had some cool wet weather so it’s taking a tad longer than normal.

Our next big drying and packing session will be for all the peppers, but we are still a few weeks away there so if you are a chillie-holic “hold onto ýer britches” there are some real cool peppers coming up shortly.

BioSwirskii

The Edible Quote


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Save a match and buy a farm.

~ Frank Oswald Adair Freeman ( 1922-1995)

BioSwirskii

The War on Heirlooms


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Being in the Heirloom and Open Pollinated seed industry is for me one of the best vocations, I love the fact that I get to grow and eat many varieties of vegetables that most people never get to hear of, let alone taste. The sheer beauty of some of our heirloom vegetables is astounding, and we get to eat them.

It’s a privilege for me to be able to supply the widest range of heirloom and open pollinated vegetables in South Africa and it’s an honor to receive new varieties every week from other gardeners throughout the country. Many of whom want no recognition, just the knowledge that the precious variety that they have will be carried forward for future generations.

We have been picking and packing beans and corn over the last two weeks and you will soon see some exciting new varieties on the site. Every time I start to shell a new bean variety the pleasure I get from watching the beautiful seeds drop into the bowl is immense. I have a weak spot for beans and we in South Africa are limited to a few varieties on our shelves, most grown in China and imported at a huge carbon cost to the planet. Livingseeds is fortunate to have close to 20 bean varieties this year and a few more coming again next year.

So what’s the point of this post? Well simply there is a war on people planting and growing Open Pollinated and Heirloom vegetables, this war is being fought openly and with considerable cunning by the large GM houses, all under the guise of social development and “sustainability” for rural small holders and subsistence farmers.

In the past, rural farmers used to save seed every year. They would take the seed that looked the best and this seed was kept back every year and planted. What happened was unique heirloom varieties were created that were specifically adapted to their own environments. The variety was resistant to their local pest and disease loads and the farmers had a unique treasure in what they planted every year. These varieties were landraces or heirlooms and they were all, most importantly, Open Pollinated. This simply meant that every year they could save and plant seed at no cost to themselves… every single year.

Now, what is being done is simple, but disastrously effective. The large GM houses will approach the local agricultural department and offer to supply free seed to rural farmers, this seed is invariably of hybrid or GM origin. The seed is distributed to the local farmers with promises of higher yields, less insecticide and of course it’s “free”.  These rural farmers knowing no better, plant the seed and either plant their own seed stock or eat the “old” seed stock as they have “new and better” seed to use.

A few months down the line, the traditional varieties and the GM seed stock now start to blossom and shed pollen. What happens is that this new GM seed stock starts to infect the old varieties and thereby wipe-out an entire history and genetic resource that can never be recovered.

Mission accomplished by the GM seed houses, and the farmer is now trapped into planting hybrid and GM seed. They may try to save the seed, but the problem is it’s too late! The damage has already been done.

On Monsanto’s website is a very chilling article that at first glance is the picture of social responsibility, but reading between the lines and sometimes even blatantly it states that it wants to get rid of Open Pollinated seed. In a world were GM seed houses have control of all seed varieties and where they can literally prevent someone from planting seed. Where does that leave the average smallholder, farmer or gardener? If you want to feed your family or make a living you will need to bow to the giant seed corporations and pay their taxes.

BioSwirskii

What’s in our Garden


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Summer is now really drawing to a close and I’m watching my tomatoes in the bottom garden so that we can start processing, we have a few that are getting there but just not fast enough for my liking.

One can feel the winter chill in the evening and with the loss of light we know it’s just around the corner. We still have quite a number of seeds to process and it’s a hectic time for us, as we lift, dry, sort and pack seed for the site. I recon we will have everything up by the end of April with just a few varieties that will be added in over winter.

It’s a race against the seasons now as the last seeds of carrots, beetroot, spinach and peas, are going in, we also planted out the last of our brassica’s as well so with all the cabbages, cauliflower and broccoli and kale etc, it’s going to be a windy winter in our house.

We have had our first 3 lambs of the season (1 ewe and 2 rams) and we expect another 7 or 8 to come through in the next month. Lacy, our milk cow is pregnant again and we are now loosing milk production as she nears the time to dry-up. But that’s great as early morning winter milking never excited me anyway.

BioSwirskii

The Edible Quote


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Regarding the general Seminis [Monsanto’s vegetable Division] business in Africa, the main project is the hybridisation program where Monsanto is actively working in all areas to convert growers from growing open pollinated varieties to hybrid varieties.

~ Monsanto Website

BioSwirskii

The Strange Case of the Organic Jekyll and Hyde


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When one uses the term “Organic” with reference to food consumed by the general populace, it tends to conjure up warm fuzzy feelings about good farming practices and people up to their elbows in compost and earthworms. The truth is however slightly different.

It’s taken me a while to write this post as I’ve been struggling with how I’d like to present the argument and at the same time be rational and fair to all of the truly organic players in the market. I have a particular bug-bear with the term “organic”, as I feel that it’s been overused and prostituted for the benefit of corporate interests and skillful swindlers at some accreditation agencies. I’d also like to preface my discussion below with a clause that I make no claim to be an expert, this is my opinion and I’d like it to be seen as such.

Broadly speaking there are two kinds of organic growing going on in the world. The first is the warm fuzzy kind, where gardeners, growers and farmers are actively looking at ways to improve the soil health, nutrient and organic content within their soil. They make tons of compost every year, practice no-till, and generally care more for their soil than they do for the actual plants that they are growing in it. Truly organic farmers are actually soil farmers, with a vegetable byproduct. This is what organic farming should be all about, where the soil gets a chance to provide the nutrients, sustenance and protection to the plant that it was originally designed to do. Once one gets to this stage you will be amazed at the response you get from the seeds and plants that live in your soil.

I’m going to use my own property as an example and explain what we do, as this in my mind is exactly what should be happening if someone would like to make an organic claim on their property or their produce.

When opening a new piece of ground for planting we will either use black plastic over well watered ground, this is to exclude light from the grass that is growing there and thus kill it, or we will just remove the existing grass, form beds and plant straight into the soil.

Once the plants have “gotten away” we will start to add compost / vermicompost on top of the beds and allow the soil organisms to take the nutrients into the soil. Typically we will apply a top dressing like this 2-3 times a year. Once a crop has been harvested we will either leave the remains of the crop in the bed allowing it to break-down naturally, or it will be lifted and put onto the compost heap. Our compost is made with the chimney method and we find it the best way to get plenty of compost quickly.

There are NO other supplements that we add to our plants or soil.

When I say no other supplements I mean NO other supplements, not an organic fertilizer, nor an organic pesticide nothing, not even homemade remedies…. nada, squat, zilch!!! The soil looks after the plants and in-turn we get great produce.

Now, it will take about 3 years using the above process to get soil to a point where it has a great nutrient and “gogga” population that will allow the plants to react favorably when they come under attack or stress from external sources (insects/disease etc). Just remember that you will never have a plant population that is always 100% pest/disease free, even if you use chemicals and toxins to “help” the plant. The minute one adds a chemical (whether organically certified or not) to the plant or soil you are detrimentally affecting the soils health, as well as the macro and micro organisms that make up the soils ecology. We sometimes loose an entire crop to some kind of failure, be it caused by weather, insects, disease or even simply poor conditions for that crop. That is one of the things that as a truly organic grower you will need to learn to accept.

Now let’s get to the other side of “organic farming/gardening”. This is where conventional farming practices are used, but instead of conventional fertilizers, chemicals and toxins to produce the crop, the farmer uses “organically certified” fertilizers, chemicals and toxins. There’s minimal emphasis by the farmer with regards to his soil health nor is there an emphasis on increasing the organic content of his soil. People something is wrong here when a person can still put chemicals onto plants/soil (yeah I know they are organic chemicals) and then claim that they are organic. This is generally what you buy in the stores as organic produce. It may be certified organic but there is a good chance that it never followed the “natural” principles of organic farming.

One cannot rip the soil up with a plow, throw on some organic fertilizer to give nutrients to the plants and then expect that the plants must fend for themselves. It’s the soil that does most of the work, it’s the soil that releases nutrients for the plants to take up, and it’s the soil that is literally the immune system of your vegetable garden. Once you tamper with the soils health you tamper with the health of the plant, and in-turn you tamper with the nutrient content and quality of the food that is harvested from this soil.

I’d like to leave you with this question. How is your next organic purchase grown? It may be time to start asking for organic produce that is really grown organically.

When one uses the term “Organic” with reference to food consumed by the general populace, it tends to conjure up warm fuzzy feelings about good farming practices and people up to their elbows in compost and earthworms. The truth is however slightly different.

It’s taken me a while to write this post as I’ve been struggling with how I’d like to present the argument and at the same time be rational and fair to all of the truly organic players in the market. I have a particular bug-bear with the term “organic”, as I feel that it’s been overused and prostituted for the benefit of corporate interests and skillful swindlers at some accreditation agencies. I’d also like to preface my discussion below with a clause that I make no claim to be an expert, this is my opinion and I’d like it to be seen as such.

Broadly speaking there are two kinds of organic growing going on in the world. The first is the warm fuzzy kind, where gardeners, growers and farmers are actively looking at ways to improve the soil health, nutrient and organic content within their soil. They make tons of compost every year, practice no-till, and generally care more for their soil than they do for the actual plants that they are growing in it. Truly organic farmers are actually soil farmers, with a vegetable byproduct. This is what organic farming should be all about, where the soil gets a chance to provide the nutrients, sustenance and protection to the plant that it was originally designed to do. Once one gets to this stage you will be amazed at the response you get from the seeds and plants that live in your soil.

I’m going to use my own property as an example and explain what we do, as this in my mind is exactly what should be happening if someone would like to make an organic claim on their property or their produce.

When opening a new piece of ground for planting we will either use black plastic over well watered ground, this is to exclude light from the grass that is growing there and thus kill it, or we will just remove the existing grass, form beds and plant straight into the soil.

Once the plants have “gotten away” we will start to add compost / vermicompost on top of the beds and allow the soil organisms to take the nutrients into the soil. Typically we will apply a top dressing like this 2-3 times a year. Once a crop has been harvested we will either leave the remains of the crop in the bed allowing it to break-down naturally, or it will be lifted and put onto the compost heap. Our compost is made with the chimney method and we find it the best way to get plenty of compost quickly.

There are NO other supplements that we add to our plants or soil.

When I say no other supplements I mean NO other supplements, not an organic fertilizer, nor an organic pesticide nothing, not even homemade remedies…. nada, squat, zilch!!! The soil looks after the plants and in-turn we get great produce.

Now, it will take about 3 years using the above process to get soil to a point where it has a great nutrient and “gogga” population that will allow the plants to react favorably when they come under attack or stress from external sources (insects/disease etc). Just remember that you will never have a plant population that is always 100% pest/disease free, even if you use chemicals and toxins to “help” the plant. The minute one adds a chemical (whether organically certified or not) to the plant or soil you are detrimentally affecting the soils health, as well as the macro and micro organisms that make up the soils ecology. We sometimes loose an entire crop to some kind of failure, be it caused by weather, insects, disease or even simply poor conditions for that crop. That is one of the things that as a truly organic grower you will need to learn to accept.

Now let’s get to the other side of “organic farming/gardening”. This is where conventional farming practices are used, but instead of conventional fertilizers, chemicals and toxins to produce the crop, the farmer uses “organically certified” fertilizers, chemicals and toxins. There’s minimal emphasis by the farmer with regards to his soil health nor is there an emphasis on increasing the organic content of his soil. People something is wrong here when a person can still put chemicals onto plants/soil (yeah I know they are organic chemicals) and then claim that they are organic. This is generally what you buy in the stores as organic produce. It may be certified organic but there is a good chance that it never followed the “natural” principles of organic farming.

One cannot rip the soil up with a plow, throw on some organic fertilizer to give nutrients to the plants and then expect that the plants must fend for themselves. It’s the soil that does most of the work, it’s the soil that releases nutrients for the plants to take up, and it’s the soil that is literally the immune system of your vegetable garden. Once you tamper with the soils health you tamper with the health of the plant, and in-turn you tamper with the nutrient content and quality of the food that is harvested from this soil.

I’d like to leave you with this question. How is your next organic purchase grown? It may be time to start asking for organic produce that is really grown organically.