BioSwirskii

The Edible Quote


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Awake, thou wintry earth –
Fling off thy sadness!
Fair vernal flowers, laugh forth
Your ancient gladness!
~Thomas Blackburn, “An Easter Hymn”

BioSwirskii

Book Review: Seed to Seed


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Seed to Seed by Barbara Ashworth is probably the best reference work available for the seed saver. This is a book that I regularly reference for any information that I need with regards to seed saving, pollination habits and minimum stand sizes to ensure that Livingseeds.co.za always provides the best seed to you, our clients.

If you are in any way serious about heirloom or open pollinated seeds, this is the book to buy. Jam packed full of information (somewhat technical but still very readable) that will allow you to confidently save your own seed from year to year. It is filled with handy advice on isolating plants, making day cages and hand pollination of every vegetable variety on the market.

This book would suit any vegetable gardener that has the remotest interest in being able to keep individual vegetable strains pure, and has been written specifically for the heirloom and open pollinated seed saver. I have spoken to many seed savers locally and internationally and this is the book that they always reference when looking for information pertinent to a crop that they are working with.

Probably the best information that we as South Africans can use is in understanding how the various plants are pollinated and what steps can be taken in preventing cross pollination of similar vegetable groups. Modern South African vegetable gardeners have almost lost the art of seed saving and this book would be your first natural step in re-learning lost techniques.

The book is primarily aimed at the US market and growing conditions, however that is only a small portion of the information available. The balance of the information covers over 160 different vegetables and Seed to Seed is a reference work second to none and well deserves its place on your gardening shelf.

BioSwirskii

Book Review: The Garden Guardian’s guide to environmentally-responsible garden care


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This is one of those books that every natural gardener needs to get. It’s the refreshing breath of insightful knowledge that one needs when looking at how to naturally control pests and diseases in your garden.

Johan Gerber’s Garden Guardians is now well ensconced on my gardening bookshelf for me to use and learn from. I am particularly thankful for the very impressive collection of full colour photos that this book contains. I have found it quite useful to look and identify  the symptoms in the photo’s and then cross reference this to the treatments listed earlier in the book. The photo’s are clear, and cover almost every aspect of plant health that one may possibly encounter in our growing conditions. This is a book that is well worth the space in your library and will become the reference that you will turn to when you are puzzled by that strange rot or gogga that is destroying your precious plants. By using this book you will be able to identify and decide on a course of action to halt the damage without resorting to detrimental chemicals in your garden.

The chapters on Natures little helpers was for me the best part of the book as it introduces one to insects and organisms that most people overlook and has given me a re-awakened appreciation for my gogga’s. Gardening is not just about the plants in your garden, and Johan’s book highlights this to the conscientious gardener like no other.

Something that has been lacking for gardeners is easy (and impartial) access to information on the various chemicals that are all too easily available to the gardener, and specifically what their actions are on the general environment. Too often I hear of people being incorrectly advised on chemicals to use in their gardens, in this book you will have a quick and handy chemical reference that you can turn to with simple and succinct explanations on each of these chemicals.

The only complaint that I could possibly raise, is that diatomaceous earth with only but a passing mention has not been covered in this book. The only reason that I can think of is that it’s a relatively newcomer in South African gardening circles, however I’m sure that this will be better covered in updated editions.  We have had some wonderful results with DE and will soon be offering it on our site.

If you are looking at growing any food crop (actually any garden plant, as they are all covered in this book) without resorting to detrimental chemicals, this is the book that you will need to have on your shelf.

BioSwirskii

Book Review: Animal Vegetable Miracle


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Have you ever wondered what it would take to live entirely off the land? It’s not as easy as one thinks, in this insightful book Barbara Kingsolver and her family decided to take a year and become true Locavores for that year. (Locavore = People who only eat products raised or grown in a set distance, typically 100-200 Km radius) This is an entertaining book that follows this family from spring to spring and takes you through the first asparagus of the season all the way through to a zucchini glut and back again. Her husband and oldest daughter also have their say with informative and frank discussions on self-sustainability and other essential issues. One of the things that really struck me was her being listed as one of the 100 most dangerous authors in America, mainly because she was advocating the need for people to understand where their food came from.

I read this book twice, back to back, I enjoyed it so much. I found it very instructional and found myself drawn deeply into her world. Primarily I think because I could understand exactly what she was trying to achieve, as it’s very similar to my families own ideals.

In addition, we often use some of the recipes in this book, specifically the 30 min Mozzarella recipe, which is a firm favourite with our pizzas.

Is it a worth while book? Simply yes. It will appeal to almost every person that has the remotes interest in food and more specifically it will bring about an awareness and understanding of what is sitting on your plate.

BioSwirskii

Book Review : “The” Encyclopedia of Country Living


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This book is a tomb, a reference work of note and well worth every cent that you will pay for it. Running to well over 900 pages this book covers almost every aspect of living off your land. From buying land, planning a veggie garden, planting an orchard, raising and using livestock their by-products and even home birthing. The book is filled with everyday recipes under each topic and has a friendly personal writing style that quickly sets you at ease. The explanations are in simple language and in many instances are referenced with personal anecdotes.

Just after receiving our copy, my wife Nicola was paging through it, she happened upon this passage and had to sit down she was laughing so much.

“Catching a Goat

How do you deal with a goat that jumped the fence and is happily munching your neighbour’s roses and does not want to be caught?

1) Try the grain-shaken-in-a-can-bit. Turn the grain so he can see it.

2) If he’s leery, walk past him carrying the grain but completely ignoring him. Go pick up some curious object beyond him and examine it. Then put down the object and walk back past the goat, still carrying the grain, and still carefully ignoring it. Whistle if you can. The goat will be overcome with curiosity and follow you. Slow down. At a point of closest approach dive for legs or horns, whichever you think you have the better chance of grabbing. I love horned goats because in desperation I can usually catch them by those handles. Then yell for help.

3) If that didn’t work, rope him and put him up for sale.

4) If you can’t rope him, shoot him and make goat sausage. (recipe and methods on pages 628-633)”

In this style the whole book is filled with good advice, humour and practical ‘real-world-useful’ information. In our house we refer to The Encyclopaedia of Country Living as “The Book” and when an unusual question comes up, like how do you make sausage casings? It’s the first place we turn to. If you live on a plot or farm, and even if you are a homemaker and desire to do things yourself you will find this book a worthwhile asset to your bookshelf.

BioSwirskii

The Edible Quote


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If organic farming is the natural way, shouldn’t organic produce just be called “produce” and make the pesticide-laden stuff take the burden of an adjective?

~Ymber Delecto

BioSwirskii

The Edible Quote


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Food, one assumes, provides nourishment; but Americans eat it fully aware that small amounts of poison have been added to improve its appearance and delay its putrefaction.
~  John Cage

BioSwirskii

The Edible Quote


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“Any scientist who tells you they know that GMOs are safe and not to worry about it, is either ignorant of the history of science or is deliberately lying. Nobody knows what the long-term effect will be.”

~ Geneticist, David Suzuki, giving the 2008 Commonwealth Lecture in London

BioSwirskii

The Edible Quote


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It’s spring fever.  That is what the name of it is.  And when you’ve got it, you want – oh, you don’t quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!

~Mark Twain

BioSwirskii

The Edible Quote


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You know, when you get your first asparagus, or your first acorn squash, or your first really good tomato of the season, those are the moments that define the cook’s year. I get more excited by that than anything else.
~Mario Batali