Monday, December 29, 2008

Some things you may want to do

In gardening you don’t always need to have a garden to get the vegetables you need to put up for a season. Most of the time you can get fresh vegetables at stands along the road, provided they are in season, and most grocery stores will carry vegetables that are in season in other parts of the world. Which makes getting ready for any emergency a little bit easier?

Now what you need to do is canning which is my preferred method of preserving food for the winter. You can also freeze most vegetables but if power goes out in an emergency the food will thaw out and spoil. Using the canning process you can also preserve meats for about a year. Actually I look at it like this is enough food to last for one growing season and restock after the next growing season. So I try to finish up eating everything I canned from the last season.
Another way of preserving food is dehydrating. This removes the moisture from vegetables and meats preserving them for several months and the meat is a good source of protein.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Save Those Seeds

When saving seed, always harvest from the best. Choose disease-free plants with qualities you desire. Look for the most flavorful vegetables or beauitful flowers. Consider size, harvest time and other characteristics.Always harvest mature seed. For example, cucumber seeds at the eating stage are not ripe and will not germinate if saved. You must allow the fruit and seed to fully mature. Because seed set reduces the vigor of the plant and discourages further fruit production, wait untill near the end of the season to save fruit for seed.Seeds are mature or ripe when flowers are faded and dry or have puffy tops. Plants with pods, like beans, are ready when the pods are brown and dry. When seeds are ripe they usually turn from white to cream colored or light brown to dark brown. Collect the seed or fruits when most of the seed is ripe. Do not wait for everything to mature because you may lose most of the seed to birds or animals.Beans, peas, onions, carrots, corn, most flowers and herb seeds are prepared by a dry method. Allow the seed to mature and dry as long as possible on the plant. Complete the drying process by spreading on a screen in a single layer in a well-ventilated dry location. As the seed dries the chaff or pods can be removed or blown gently away. An alternative method for extremely small or lightweight seed is putting the dry seed heads into paper bags that will catch the seed as it falls out.Seed contained in fleshy fruits should be cleaned using the wet method. Tomatoes, melons, squash, cucumber and roses are prepared this way. Scoop the seed masses out of the fruit or lightly crush fruits. Put the seed mass and a small amount of warm water in a bucket or jar. Let the mix ferment for two to four days. Stir daily. The fermentation process kills viruses and separates the good seed from the bad seed and fruit pulp. After two to four days, the good viable seeds will sink to the bottom of the container while the pulp and bad seed float. Pour off the pulp, water, bad seed and mold. Spread the good seed on a screen or paper towel to dry.Seeds must be stored dry. Place in glass jar or envelopes. Make sure you label all the containers or packages with the seed type or variety, and date. Put in the freezer for two days to kill pests. Then store in a cool dry location like a refrigerator. Seed that molds was not completely dry before storage.Seed viability decreases over time. Parsley, onion, and sweet corn must be used the next year. Most seed should be used within three years.Seed saving is essential for maintaining unusual or heritage vegetables and flowers. It is a great way to propagate many native plants too.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Organic Gardening

Dear Organic Garden lover,
When I was a little boy I spent most school holidays with my grandparents. We lived many hours drive from them, so I was always excited to be going to stay for a week or two.

I have many warm memories of wandering around after my grandpa in the garden. He'd talk to me about this plant and that, showing me how to look after them, when to pick them and even how to store them. He'd let me plant seeds with him. And of course there was the feeding of the chooks (chickens) and collecting the 'googs' (googy eggs) as we'd call them.

My favourite part of the day was mid-morning when we'd ritually go pick our oranges. We'd bring them into grandpa's work shed, slice them and slurp away! They had a Valencia tree and a Navel, so there were oranges ready to pick almost all year round. Their home grown fruits and vegetables tasted so much better than what I was used to at home (my parents didn't really care much for gardening, so pretty much all of our food came from the supermarket).

It was those cherished times spent with my grandpa that gave me my love of gardening. But when I finally bought my own home, some years later and started to garden - well let's just say that I didn't have a green thumb. It was embarrassing! Surely there's a gardening gene passed on from generation to generation? Even if it skipped a generation that should have still worked out for me.

Several seasons in a row I started out with so much enthusiasm, only to watch my veggies start off OK, then become straggly and wither, or bolt straight to seed. What was I doing wrong???

When I think back now on those early years I can see clearly each and every mistake.... well it's the bleeding obvious ones that really stand out in my mind. My biggest problem was that my grandparents had both passed over by the time I had my own "garden".

And my parents didn't have a clue about gardening, so they were no help. Most of my friends grew up with the same dilemma as me - our parents just weren't gardeners.
So there was quite a bit of hit and miss in my first few years of organic gardening. I managed to have some things give me small yields, but many of my plants didn't thrive. The thing is, that I really loved the time I spent in the garden - especially the veggie garden. It was the one place where I could feel calm... to recharge and restore some sanity to my life.

I decided to get a serious amount of learning into my head, one way or another. I decided to educate myself so that I could get good at growing my own food.
I studied horticulture at TAFE, completing certificate III in Horticulture. Then I became the co-owner of an edible plants nursery for several years.

By this time I was growing enough vegetables to keep my family going over the main growing season. I was quite proud of myself - and still am. The thrill of saying "I grew that" about things we were eating - well I can tell you - it's joyful. Truly joyful!

But you don't have to spend all the time it took me, effort and money to learn how to become a successful organic gardener. The combination of my love for growing (and eating) organic food, along with my experience with plants led me to create the...

" Organic Food Gardening Beginner's Manual "

Monday, December 1, 2008

Worlds Best Compost

As a child our family were almost self sufficient in fruit and vegetables and I was brought up growing and harvesting all kinds of stuff. I swore when I left home that I would never ever touch a spade or pick another bean for the rest of my life. I'm sure you've had similar feelings about something too.
Well I was wrong! Just as soon as I was living in a house that actually had some land around it and not concrete ( funny how nature wants to break down rock and man just wants to make more!). The fingers got itchy seeing that soil go to waste. So I started a small vegetable plot and got growing again.
I grew "organically" just like my parents used to mostly, although they did use a few poisons when pests got out of hand. I made the usual type of compost from kitchen scraps and weeds and all the other stuff you get when gardening. When I went to the beach surfing I grabbed the odd bag of seaweed to chuck in too. Seaweeds' got every mineral and trace element in it.
The compost was what I now call the "untidy heap". Just a pile of random stuff turned from time to time with the fork. I hated turning that muck. I tried a bin too and man do those make some vile stuff. Anyway I fed the soil with my "compost" and got ok results. The bugs and snails got half and I got the rest.
I didn't want to use poisons of any kind because it just didn't feel right to dump that toxic stuff on to something I was going eat!
I Had That Weird Feeling That There MUST be Something Better..........
I read up on all kinds of organic gardening and used some of the tips I found and did a little better. But not much mind you!
But then in one of those strange moments in life when you're not where you normally "are" (I was sick and so at home watching daytime TV). I saw a farming program that featured a guy named Alex Podolinsky and instantly I got that BFO (blinding flash of the obvious) and knew that this was what I had been looking for.
Have you ever met someone that has such confidence in what they are about that you know instantly they are not full of BS? I phoned the TV station and got his details and wrote a letter right there and then even in my miserable state. When the answer came I was amazed. In writing that was almost unreadable to me because it "danced" like a Van Gough painting was "Phone 9897 18xx" and beneath this was the rubber stamped name of Alexei de Podolinsky. Many years later I learned that Alex was in fact old Ukrainian nobility, whose family fled Russia during the revolution. It also turned out that this particular farming program had the most calls to the station of ANY program up until that time and was swamped with letters.
What I Learned Next Has Radically Changed My Life and Others in Such a Powerful Way..
To my total amazement I found out that almost ALL plants grown by man today are being force fed into sickness and us along with them.
And that as it turns out is why we have all the plant and pest problems we do. These plants are sick and surprise surprise, old mother Nature wants to be rid of them!
How many root systems does a plant have?
Now imagine how you would feel to have a garden that was healthy and glowing with life. Where the plants hardly ever got any pest problems. Where the food you harvested fresh tasted better than almost any food you ever tasted before? (the worlds best chefs seek out food grown this way because it makes them famous!) Madonna's personal chef had it flown in wherever they were on tour.
Can you pick up a handful of your soil and breathe in the rich sweet aroma? Or does it smell a little unpleasant, like fertilizer or probably not at all? Sick soil equals sick plants.
Would you love it when your plants just leap out of the soil with the vitality of an Olympic athlete in peak competition readiness?
What about having soil so friable and structured that you can dig it with your bare hands? Would you love that too?
Well all these wonderful garden of Eden like qualities you can have from understanding that the plant has TWO root systems if given the chance in a natural growing environment.
One for feeding when the Sun shines and one for drinking almost pure soil water 24/7.
For healthy pest free, fantastic tasting plants, you must NOT feed plants through the soil water as 99.99% of our "experts" tell us. (this mentality supports the huge fertilizer and chemical giants wreaking havoc on our planet)
Plants must be fed naturally through humus of the plants free choice in the soil.
Now you might say, yeah I've heard of humus, is that all you're on about?
OK, can I ask you this? Where do you get humus from? Not just piddly amounts that may come from the bottom of your current compost or the smear of it on top of the soil under forest litter. I mean cubic yards of the stuff. Natures ultimate plant health food in never before quality and quantity right there for you in your own garden!
You see the slimy black goop in the bottom of your airless compost bin is NOT humus.
The fibrous mulch you turn out of your compost tumbler is NOT humus.
You can get a little humus under the right conditions from the ad hoc pile of garden debris but ..
True Humus is a Colloid
Did I hear a mutter of: "What the bleep is a colloid?"
Simply put, a colloid is a structurally bound suspension of a solid and a liquid . The solid is held in the liquid but its "not wet" to touch. Butter and jello (jelly) are two very good examples of colloids.
Humus colloid is up to 75% water and the plant food is NOT soluble in the soil water due to the unique living structure of colloidal humus. Plant roots however can get what they want, when they want.
So imagine an entire heap of pure colloidal humus made WITHOUT turning, WITHOUT a compost bin, WITHOUT a tumbler and without odor problems? Does your compost look like the picture at the top.
Would that be OK for you? Having your own ultimate plant health food there for the taking?

If your compost doesn't look like the rubbery putty in the photo you're just wasting your time and effort when probably with less effort you could have true colloidal humus instead.

So if you've been wasting your time, money and materials and even health trying to boost your garden health up till now, then let me show you how you can create the holy grail of plant nutrition right at home and with less time, effort and money than you've outlaid up till now. You should give this
a try.