Friday, 18 September 2009

Friday... and pizza... and organic gardening.

Friday has often been pizza day here, and so it has been again this week,  this Friday, and the remains of the dough made anoher loaf of bread for the weekend.

This morning I went out to see how the garden was growing, as usual, and the most spectacular flowering in the yard was this Japanese broome bush.   I showed it the other day,  but it is in full bloom now.  Yellow is not my favourite colour,  but this is spectacular....

Below is the newest potato patch... I have shown it before,  but the plants are really going well now... most of them are up,  and they are all looking healthy.

I went to see the cabbage flowers again,  and it was doing well... but then I saw this kale plant about to flower also....

This is my favourite black kale (Tuscan kale) and it is flowering.  Even if some of them are cross pollinated and a bit suspect,  some will be black kale, for sure!!!  I never seem to get the hybrid plants that people threaten when you don't keep the parents sufficiently separated or at least covered...  but isn't this how wonderful new varieties appear?

Today I went to the shop to buy some butter (to make pastry for some pasties) and some coffee beans and matches... afterwards I went to look at the second hand shop in town.  I often look at their old bottles,  as I like to use them for still life paintings... subject matter.
I found two bottles (one Fauldings Eucalyptus oil bottle and an old ink bottle) and then I found an amazing book.  I haven't read it all yet,  but I find it exciting,  though a worry too.  It is called "The soil and Health."  It is by Sir Albert Howard , who has been considered the father of the organic movement.  He went to India to teach Indian farmers how to farm,  but learned more from them than he taught, apparently.

I have only begun to read the book,  but some interesting chapters are about the great depression of 1879,  the problem of increasing population, considered to be startling (having grown from nine hundred million during the eighteenth century to two thousand million at the beginning of the twentieth century) and in Chapter 10, about Soil Fertility and Human Health...  and I will quote....
"How does the produce of an impoverished soil affect the men and women who have to consume it?"
This book was published 62 years ago,  in the same year that I was born... 1947... and yet we are only now beginning to rediscover many of these ideas. The green revolution may not have been all that it was made out to be!
I will add several quotations presented at the beginning of the book...

"The civilised nations - Greece, Rome, England - have been sustained by the primitive forests which anciently rotted where they stood.  They survive as long as the soil is not exhausted." Thoreau.

"The staple foods may not cantain the same nutritive substances as in former times.... Chemical fertilisers, by increasing the abundance of the crops without replacing all the exhausted elements of the soil, have indirectly contributed to change the nutritive value of cereal grains and of vegetables....  Hygienists have not paid sufficient attention to the genesis of diseases.  Their studies of conditions of life and diet, and of their effects on the physiological and mental state of modern man, are superficial, incomplete and of too short duration.  They have, thus, contributed to the weakening of our body and our soul."  Alexis Carrel.

"The peservation of fertility is the first duty of all that live by the land....  There is only one rule of good husbandry - leave the land far better than you found it." George Henderson.

There are chapters entitled "The phosphate problem and its solution",  "The profit motive"  and "The utilisation of town wastes".... this might be interesting!

I will read the book.  I hope to find that there are not too many more "pearls of wisdom"  that we have ignored to our detriment.  My fear is that we could ignore them again!

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