Saturday, 29 August 2009

Gardening and harvesting... and skype!

I had planned to catch up on some washing this morning (after spending most of the week at meetings) but overnight we had 11 mm of rain and there have been a few more showers this morning. I'll have to do it tomorrow because next week will be busy also. I'll light the big fire if I need to... to get the essentials dry.

I have been out picking vegetables. They keep producing whether I'm here or not...
And here they are....
  • 5lbs 10oz (about 2.5kg) of potatoes (two or three kinds)
  • a large bunch of coriander (you can never have too much coriander!)
  • a bunch of spring onions (I thinned a row of "real" onions... I suppose this is why they are called "spring onions."
  • four small leeks ( 9oz/250g)
  • 4 x 4 oz bunches of broccoli (total is 1lb/450g) and the bunches are the right size for us for a meal with other stuff.
  • a handful of broad beans.
  • and the chooks laid a total of six eggs (among 13 of them!)
I am trying to keep account of how much I am producing. It's good to know how much we actually need.

I am quite proud of my broad beans. It is very early in the season for these. (Climate change!) They aren't very large yet, but as I've commented before, they taste good.
The potatoes are interesting today. The big round white ones are bandicooted from the same place as before, and a couple of extras from right down the back yard. I think these are sebago because their parents came from the supermarket (they went green in the kitchen.)
The yellowish ones that are long and skinny are kipfler potatoes, though these don't look as wierd as the one in the picture. (I have had some like that though.) Their origin is variously attributed to either Austria or The Netherlands, though I don't know for sure. They are really nice tasting potatoes, though they don't produce as much as some other varieties.
Potatoes are the easiest carbohydrate to grow, and so I do grow quite a lot of them, and different potatoes are better for different purposes.
There are also a couple of roundish ones that aren't so white and I think that these are either nicola or spunta (two other varieties that I have had for a couple of years... some of my bandicooted ones originated as lost potatoes when I dug them all up during the summer.)
I like growing potatoes, and most of the houses where I've lived have ended up with a potato crop. They are a good vegetable for beginners too. This is because they are easy to plant, are forgiving of conditions, as long as they have a handful of "blood and bone" and enough water; and because digging up a nice big potato (or even a few small ones) that is/are easy to cook and good to eat is usually enough encouragement to continue with food gardening and venturing into a more varied diet. Potatoes are one vegetable that is so much nicer when fresh.
They are also one of the vegetables that are contaminated with pesticides and chemicals.
They are also less valuable nutritionally than they used to be.
In Canada, Andre Picard reported some years ago when discussing modern agricultural methods and human health....
"Take the potato, by far the most consumed food in Canada. The average spud has lost 100 per cent of its vitamin A, which is important for good eyesight; 57 per cent of its vitamin C and iron, a key component of healthy blood; and 28 per cent of its calcium, essential for building healthy bones and teeth. It also lost 50 per cent of its riboflavin and 18 per cent of its thiamine. Of the seven key nutrients measured, only niacin levels have increased."
Thomas F Pawlick, the Canadian author of "The End of Food" also referred to Picard's investigation, and added the extra information about the amount of pesticides and herbicides that are also contained (in increasing quantities) in our food. His point in looking at these two co-incident events is that, with increasing chemicals and the reduction in nutrients, how long before we cease to consider these materials to be food?
Thomas Pawlick, Author, The End of Food: How the Food Industry is Destroying Our Food Supply - And What We Can Do About It (Kingston, Ontario.)
A veteran newspaper and magazine journalist with more than 30 years experience in Canada and abroad, Thomas has taught at both Canadian and foregin universities and colleges. The End of Food exposes the cause of the food crisis--an industrial system of food production geared not toward producing nourishing food, but maximum profit for corporations. Thomas is currently on leave from his position as Associate Professor in the School of Journalism at the University of Regina. Following the book achieving best-seller status, the University cut his salary, cut his research funding, removed him from email lists, and removed all copies of his book from the shelves of the campus book store. Thomas Pawlick is currently restoring a small scale organic farm north of Kingston, Ontario with his son.(see Deconstructing Dinner, April 5th, 2007)
In fact, Pawlick advocates rejecting the current food production system that produces food for profit rather than nutrition. He is an investigative science journalist and an organic farmer.

And so, deciding what we'll have for dinner at night can be quite a decision and it all depends upon what is in the garden. Tonight's dinner will definitely include potatoes.
I will also be blanching some of the broccoli to freeze, ready for the summer when the heat might make the garden much less productive.

And now to Skype... here is my view of Ben and Charlotte last night. It took a while to get the system working, but what fun we had!

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