Food Future

From sitting back and looking at the state of things in the world, I am coming to the opinion that the future of food is going to be tied up in the hands of corporations. And if you look back on the history of corporations, you find that they have no soul or heart. Their only reason for existence is profit.

At the same time we find that politics is for the wealthy. No matter which side of politics, if you don’t have wealth and contacts, you are not going to get onto the first rung, which is being elected. It also appears that lobbying and political connections are the way for corporations to prevent smaller players from entering the realm they are trying to control. That realm is food.

Fortunately, because there is a minority of humans that are usually contrarian by nature, they always go opposite to the general consensus. Wherever the majority follow the leader, these contrarians do their utmost to do the opposite. Usually until the mainstream thinking changes direction and agrees with the contrarian point of view.

A perfect example of a contrarian is this Australian Story, Hope Springs

Hopefully, the contrarians can keep our future food safe, being produced locally and free from too much corporation involvement. Though the future is looking bleak with land disappearing from private ownership into corporation ownership. And these days we are seeing that countries are acting like corportations and acquiring land overseas to ensure their future food sources.

What is it about corporations and governments that seems to make them lose their heart and soul?

The Bright Side of Our Food Future.

All of us have been to farmers markets. Some of us have been involved with Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) For those that haven’t it is usually a small farmer who invites members of the community to visit the farm, see the type of produce they grow and subscribe to a delivery service of mixed fruit and vegetables. The consumer gets to interact personally with the grower of the food. In many cases they can be involved with the growing if they wish.

The benefits for the grower is that they get a better price that through the wholesale markets and it helps them plant their growing season knowing that the produce is pre-sold.

For the consumer, they know where their food comes from and how the farmer grows it. They also can see the way the farmer treats the land, whether he or she has an affinity with the land, is aware of the benefits of not using chemicals, grows organically or conventionally.

Is this leading somewhere? you may ask.

At the moment this is just my thoughts being put on the screen. It helps me clarify my thinking and question it. Also in the back of my mind is the question …   If not now, when?  Meaning if we all sit on our arse and just watch what is happening the outcome will be worse than we can imagine. So this is a contribution to making people more aware and to start thinking about life and their future being guided by corporations. How long can you live without food? What about water? Corporations and countries are already investing in controlling the water supplies throughout the world. Other corporations are completely ignoring it and willfully polluting it.

Adani and Their Unlimited Water Extraction License

If you are in Australia, you will have heard about the Adani coal mine in Central Queensland and the opposition to its construction. What you may not have heard is the approval they have for unlimited extraction of water from our greatest resource, the Great Artesian Basin. In my opinion, that approval is worth more than the whole development of their coal mine and whatever resources they pillage and use in polluting the atmosphere. Time will tell on that prognostication.

There are interesting things happening apart from the doom and gloom of thinking about the future of corporations and our food supply. Enough with the negative crap. Here’s a snippet of positive.

I started a page that will give you information and updates about a good news project a community of people are working on. It is called Kilkivan Community Farm. In a nutshell, the project is about protecting prime agricultural land for our future farmers and keeping it affordable. Shane Joyce kicked this off and is gathering a team of like minded individuals to help him make it happen. You can help too, without even contributing money, by visiting the youtube channel for Kilkivan Community Farm and subscribing and liking a video. Those actions help the youtube channel gain traction and the videos being presented more on searches.

How To Grow Turmeric

How To Grow Turmeric

It has taken me a couple of years learning how to grow turmeric. It probably took me this long because I didn’t bother finding anything about how it grows or the best way to grow it. So if you are thinking of growing turmeric for its health benefits here are a couple of tips to help you on your way.

How to Grow Turmeric Tip No 1.

Turmeric SproutingIn the image you can see knobs of turmeric that have been sitting in a container on the bench or in a bucket in the laundry. You can see them all sprouting. So my first tip is wait for the turmeric to sprout before planting.

You can still eat the turmeric, just break off the green shoots and use it the way you always do. Must admit I have difficulty breaking off the green shoots. It’s the same when I need to thin seedlings. Always hard to throw them away.

Growing Turmeric in a sub-tropical Zone

Turmeric is a like weed in Brisbane. It will grow anywhere. It loves the heat and the rain. My garden is a raised bed so the turmeric never gets wet feet, but because I have a drip system throughout my garden it also gets watered well. Raised beds can dry out a lot quicker than a normal garden as raising it above ground level gives more surface area for the water to evaporate from. Especially in the dry weather from May to November.

When I peel the turmeric to put in my meusli, I throw all the peelings and little knobs I break off into the bin I have for scraps to go to the compost pile. I was quite amazed to see turmeric shooting up from various areas in the garden that I had re-composted. I pulled them out and found that they were growing from practically nothing. It was the peels and small knobs that were sprouting.

How to Grow Turmeric Tip No 2.

Turmeric in Little PotsDon’t be kind to it. See the turmeric in the small pots. I harvested the turmeric in about June. Then broke off some knobs and looked after it every day until December when it finally decided it was time to sprout. What a waste of effort. All I had to do was throw some pieces in a container in the shed and wait for them to sprout.

Once they sprout, then place them in the ground. How hard is that.

How to Grow Turmeric Tip No 3.

Turmeric From FridgeDon’t store turmeric in the fridge. It turns bitter. I thought I was being really smart. I reckoned I had enough turmeric to get me through from the time I dug it up, I started in April by pinching some from one of the clumps. I kept doing this until June and then dug all of the rest up.

I had about thirty kilos of turmeric and thought that this would last me until April until I could start bandicooting the next season crop. When it started to shoot in late November, I decided to gather up about four kilos that hadn’t started shooting, wrap in newspaper and store it in the crisper in the fridge.

Turmeric in Your Muesli

Turmeric in MuesliThe picture shows the orange turmeric in the meusli. It is home made meusli with oats, sultanas, a couple of varieties of nuts and home made yoghurt. Does it make me feel any better. Not sure about that. I’ve grown to like the taste of it in my breakfast though.

And I have never been as regular. So I reckon something’s working. It could be any of the variables though, the oats, turmeric or the yoghurt.

Yoghurt and Muesli

Home Made Youghurt

The yoghurt you see on top of the muesli is home made. If you missed the home page, there is a video there showing you how to make your own yoghurt. It is simple and costs just over a dollar per litre. The biggest cost is the milk.

How to Grow Turmeric Tip No 4.

Turmeric Part HarvestYou don’t need green thumbs. It’s a weed. Turmeric will grow anywhere in a sub-tropical to tropical environment. It might need some TLC in colder climates, but from what I have seen of its growing capabilities it will still give you a crop over the summer. There are many uses for turmeric, look them up on the net. But if you would like to try it for health benefits, have a go it will surprise you and repay you.

This is from one of three wheelbarrow loads harvested.

 

Moringa Oleifera The Answer To World Hunger?

Moringa Oleifera The Answer To World Hunger?

My moringa oleifera cutting came from Rob Bob’s Backyard Farm & Aquaponics. I happened to meet RobBob just before Christmas. If you don’t know RobBob, he’s a bit of a YouTube legend and a good bloke as well.

He was good enough to let me have a cutting from a moringa oleifera tree that he was growing in a root pouch in the backyard.

Growing Moringa Oleifera From Seed

Many years ago I purchased some Moringa seeds from an overseas organization that, from memory was trying to eliminate world hunger by growing moringas. They were determined that the moringa was capabale of achieving their aim.

I was never able to sprout any of the seeds, but I’m thinking that trying to strike a few cuttings should lead to a good result. Here’s hoping as I would like to see what comes of this little experiment.

Moringa Oleifera Cuttings

The picture to the right was taken on 19 December 2017 just after I had cut up the branch RobBob had de-limbed for me with a great little Pocket Boy pruning saw. The link will show you other uses for the saw.

I read that you should dry the cuttings for a few days before planting. That was after I had planted them. Like most of the information on the internet, you have to try it yourself before you believe it. So I decided to leave them in and see what happened. The image at the top of the post was taken on 11 January 2018 and you can see that one of the sticks has sprouted leaves.

Another two of the sticks have also sprouted. One has done it from the bottom and another one from the top. It looks like these are bursting with life and want to grow anywhere in a sub-tropical environment.

Three Moringa Oleifera Cuttings Have Struck

I just went out today 2nd Feb 18 and took these piccies. You can see two of the larger cuttings in with the watermelons have taken quite well and are growing at a rate of knots. The larger cutting of the two (middle image) has sprouted mainly from the base. The first one to sprout (left image) is going really well and is now pushing branches from the base as well as the top. The cutting among the pineapples only recently sprouted.

Health Benefits of Moringa Oleifera

If you would like to learn a little bit more about moringa then I think this is the website I found about fifteen years ago when I purchased some seeds. It looks a bit more professional that it did back then. http://moringatrees.org/

There are some amazing claims about the health benefits of moringa. The list below is from https://miracletrees.org/

  • Moringa tree possesses unique nutritional qualities that hold promise to millions of impoverished communities around the world those lack in many nutritional supplements such as protein, minerals, and vitamins.
  • Moringa Tree leaves are an excellent source of protein that can be rarely found in any other herbs and green leafy vegetables. 100 g of fresh raw Moringa Tree leaves provide 9.8 g of protein or about 17.5{cd07be7979728a86b172d4c3c193ee8254293b2598ced4c874c66a7b3dbba444} of daily-required levels. Dry, powdered Moringa oleifera indeed are a much-concentrated source of many quality amino acids.
  • Fresh Moringa Tree pods and seeds are a good source of oleic acid, a health-benefiting monounsaturated fat. Moringa tree as high-quality oilseed crop can be grown alternatively to improve nutrition levels of populations in many drought-prone regions of Africa and Asia.
  • Fresh Moringa Tree leaves and growing tips of Moringa are the richest source of vitamin A. 100 g of Moringa oleifera fresh leaves 7564 IU or 252{cd07be7979728a86b172d4c3c193ee8254293b2598ced4c874c66a7b3dbba444} of daily-required levels. Vitamin A is one of the fat-soluble anti-oxidant offering several benefits, including mucus membrane repair, maintenance of skin integrity, vision, and immunity.
  • Fresh Moringa Tree pods and leaves are excellent sources of vitamin-C. 100 g of Moringa Tree pods contain 145 µg or 235{cd07be7979728a86b172d4c3c193ee8254293b2598ced4c874c66a7b3dbba444} of daily-required levels of vitamin C. 100 g of greens provide 51.7 µg or 86{cd07be7979728a86b172d4c3c193ee8254293b2598ced4c874c66a7b3dbba444} of daily-recommended intake values of this vitamin. Research studies have shown that consumption of fruits/vegetables rich in vitamin C helps the body develop immunity against infectious agents, and scavenge harmful oxygen-free radicals from the body.
  • The Moringa tree greens as well as pods also contain good amounts of many vital B-complex vitamins such as folates,vitamin-B6 (pyridoxine), thiamin (vitamin B-1), riboflavin, pantothenic acid, and niacin. Much of these vitamin functions as co-enzymes in carbohydrate, protein, and fat metabolism.
  • Furthermore, Moringa tree leaves are one of the fine sources of minerals like calcium, iron, copper, manganese,zinc, selenium, and magnesium. Iron alleviates anemia. Calcium is required for bone strengthening. Zinc plays a vital role in hair-growth, spermatogenesis, and skin health.

Smashed Avocado – Grow Your Own

Smashed Avocado – Grow Your Own

Is there anything better than smashed avocado fresh off your own tree? Looking out my computer area window and all I see is an old palm that has seen better days with a china mushroom at the base of it. Time to do something about making it a better view. And what better way than with a fruit tree.

Seeing as I like avocado but don’t like paying $2.50 to $3.50 for them, what better way to use the front yard than plant an avo. The other reason for doing it was that about three months ago I had bought a couple of avos and decided to have a go at making the seeds sprout by suspending them in a jar of water.

Sprout Your Own Smashed Avocado

If you want to have a go at sprouting your own avocado seed in water, do the following

  • Wash the seed from an avocado
  • Stick three toothpicks in it with the pointy end up like in the picture above.
  • Place it on a window sill where it will get sunshine and wait a couple of months for the root to appear at the bottom.
  • Wait another couple of months for the top to appear.

Make sure you keep the bottom of the seed in water at all times. A lot of sites recommend that you change the water every five days. I changed it three times in four months and didn’t have a problem. If it starts going green give it a clean and more fresh water.

The water had been filtered through a Brita jug, that may have helped. The most important thing is to ensure that you top up the water so the seed is always submerged at least half way in water.

No Pampering Here

Seeing as the avo was starting to look like a tree, I decided to plant it. A lot of the sites recommend potting the plant and looking after it for a number of months before planting out. I decided that if it is going to become a good tree it needs a rough start. No pampering here.

I did make one concession. I decided that it would be best for the tree to be planted in the late afternoon and seeing as it was raining this arfternoon, no time like the present to get the job done.

I removed the turf, forked the ground to break it up a bit and placed some cardboardover the area. Worms love cardboard. If you place some on the ground and put some weight on it to keep it there and keep it moist worms will turn up in droves. I think they like the glue.

Ready For Planting

I placed the cardboard and emptied a wheelbarrow load of compost on top. Planted the seedling and watered it in to ensure that there was plenty of water around the root system. I will water it often in the first couple of months until it gets established.

I can imagine that it will get a fair bit of transplant shock going from a root system in water to being in soil. The compost is pretty moist though and has bulk worms in it, so I am hoping that is enough to help the avocado survive.

I will keep a keen eye on it and let you know how things progress

Smashed Avocado Update

This little seedling had a pretty hard start. After spending nearly four months suspended in water on a window sill it was transplanted to outside. No acclimitisation in between, straight from one extreme to the other. 

It was out of the fat and into the fire for this seedling because we had three or four days of quite windy weather and it was getting blown all over the  place. Hence the wind break.

I got out the old pole donger and knocked a couple of stakes into the ground and stapled some of the leftover insect screening from the wicking bed to the posts and solved the problem.

It seems to have worked although the leaves are a bit raggedy anne. There are new leaves and they seem to be growing larger.

The first week I was watering twice a day. I’m now back to once a day in the evening. Looks like there might be an avocado in the front yard

Smashed Avocado – Update 25January 2018

The first time I wrote about growing an avocado from a pip was 9 December 2017. I added to the post ten days later showing how it was going. This is just a couple more photos after roughly another month.

It has been pretty hot and dry here in Brisbane, it being the wet season and all. Still plenty of humidity. The watering for the avacado is now usually once a day, but sometimes it is left for a couple of days. It seems to be going well but I thought that the leaves would be a bit greener. Every now and then brown spots will appear on the leaves and sometimes the whole leaf will go brown and drop off. At other times part of the leaf will brown off then stop browning. Not sure if is me causing it by splashing or it is the weather. Time will tell.

But the good thing is that it is still pushing out more leaves and growing in height.

Cover Crops

Cover Crops

Cover crops are one of the easiest ways to build up your soil, protect it from the sub-tropical winter dry weather and early Spring heat. They also attract worms and soil microbes and they can be chopped in to add organic matter as well as having a root system that as it dies and decays creates a porous soil. As the root system decays it is consumed by the microbes leaving highways for nutrients, moisture and oxygen to penetrate the soil.

 Easy Cover Crops

You would be excused for thinking that growing cover crops in the home garden is too complicated to bother with. Plus it is another expense. When you look up cover crops at seed suppliers they have all these different seeds mixed together and there are cover crops for winter and summer.

Prices for the seeds to cover 10 to 30 square metres average around $12. In the long run that is not a large expense because of the benefits cover crops give you. Not only do they add structure to the soil, but they also attract nitrogen fixing bacteria that take up residence in their roots. Here’s a post about the symbiotic relationship between legume roots and soil bacteria.

 

Mung Beans an Alternative Cover Crop

The easiest cover crop I have ever grown is Mung Beans. Nearly all beans are legumes and they attract certain microbes to their roots because they exude a substance that the microbes can’t resist. This exudate is food for the microbes and they multiply exponentially and in turn convert nitrogen into food that the plant grows fat on.

You will quite often see your beans take off when the tipping point is reached. This is where the microbe population has built up enough so that there is food in abundance for the bean plants to feed on and if your beans were racehorses, you would say they’ve grown an extra leg.

 

Where Do You Get It?

So where do you get these amazing Mung Bean seeds. Why at the Asian grocery of course. If you have ever eaten Chinese sweets with a green paste in it, you have been eating green been or Mung Bean. When it comes to eating anything that moves, swims or grows the Chineses are masters of preparing it into an edible delight. Anyone that can make jellyfish a gourmet dish has to know what they are doing.

Cheap as Chips.

Not only will Mung Beans improve your soil and make the following crop grow like you’ve never seen before, they are as cheap as chips. A one kilo bag, like the one pictured above is $4.50 and if you are don’t put them on as thickly as I have in the top photo you will easily get forty to fifty sqmtrs of coverage.

Sprout Like Crazy.

Just add water and these beans sprout in about two days and are up like the ones in the top picture in a couple more days.

 

Innoculant.

Usually, when you buy legumes from a seed supplier, they supply an innoculant to go with the seeds. This is actually a small amount of the rhizobia bacteria pertinent to the type of bean. You make a paste of it and mix the beans in it before planting so that the bacteria is in the soil when the beans start producing food for them.

Don’t worry about not having the innoculant. In most cases in Australia it is already there in the soil. Maybe not in a great quantity and it will take some time to multiply to help you beans grow, but that is not really important. You are growing your crop as a ground cover not for the greatest quantity of beans. You will still get beans, but you may also be growing something else while the cover crop is growing.

Grow Something With the Beans.

There are two reasons for growing the Mung Beans. The first is as a cover crop and the second is as a companion plant to the ginger and turmeric that is planted underneath and waiting for the soil to warm up to send up shoots. I don’t worry that the Mung Beans will be disturbed by the rhizomes below.

What I am looking for is the Mung Beans to attract the bacteria that will create a nitrogen in a plant available form. And as the rhizomes crowd out the Mung Beans they will die and the foliage and root system will decay into the soil. What a bonus. And all this for just a couple of dollars. You can’t buy fertilizers for two dollars that will do all that.

That’s a Wrap

I could go on for a lot longer about the benefits of cover crops but the thing to take from this is they work, and it is easy. And they are cheap. If you get sick of Mung Beans, try Soy Beans or Adzuki Beans.

thanks for reading      cheers  Olman

Seeds Or Seedlings

Seeds Or Seedlings

Is it better to use seeds or seedlings? If you haven’t planned in advance the decision is easy to make, get some seedlings. But if you have planned your calendar for raising seedlings and planting out, there are still times when it is better and more cost effective to purchase a punnet of seedlings than a packet of seeds.

Onion Seeds or Seedlings?

When it comes to finicky seeds like onions it is worth considering buying a punnet for about three dollars. In the punnet I just purchased there were about twenty five seedlings in each of the six compartments. So approximately one hundred and fifty seedlings.

Compare that with buying a packet of seeds, which will cost you about the same and you will probably get about five hundred to a thousand seeds.  No comparison at first glance.

But you are not going to plant a thousand seeds and you will need to keep the seeds until next season and if you can find them you will have seeds that will have a lower germination rate than last year.

Not to mention how awkward it is to plant small seeds at the right depth. And if you mix them with sand so they spread better you will still have to thin them out and in places plant some more seeds or transplant the thinnings.

A much easier way to plant these type of seeds is to buy a punnet and separate them for transplanting.

Separate The Seedlings

It is quite easy to separate the seedlings. Just squeeze the base of a section of the punnet and then pull out all of the seedlings together.

Soak the mass of seedlings in some water and then tease them apart gently.

Some parts of the roots may come off, but this won’t hurt them as long as they still have some roots. They will recover when replanted.

 

Planting the Seedlings

Planting out is simple. Just push a stick into the soil and make a fairly big opening. If the soil falls in on itself, wet it down thoroughly before starting. Make about a dozen holes at a time and drop your seedlings in.

When you are trying to guide the roots into the hole widening the top of the hole will help. If you have to, just guide the roots down with your finger.

Use the hose to water in each seedling. The sides of the hole will collapse in securing your seedling and making sure that soil is in contact with the roots and there are no air pockets. It will also help push the roots down the hole.

All Finished

So that didn’t take long. About two hours from go to whoa and that included bed preparation and watering it thoroughly before making the holes.

I guess another alternative is seed tape. Which is probably a discussion for another time after I have had a go at making my own seed tape for carrots. I have never had real succes with carrots. I have got some in at the moment that were planted from seed but they are a bit patchy.

Feel free to add a comment or share a novel idea.

All the best    Olman

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