Saturday, 26 July 2014

Long term planning

Anyone who grows their own produce knows that sometimes one has to be very patient. Very, very patient.

Well, this particular garden project started back in April 2010.

Growing lemons.  And growing them from pips.

I never knew that anyone could grow lemon trees from lemon pips until my sister-in-law showed me a heavily laden lemon tree in their garden which she says she grew from a lemon pip harvested from our town house lemon tree.

I had to give it a go, and ended up planting 30 small lemon trees which I had managed to grow from pips.

It has been a long wait.  With plenty of whoolly fruit fly infestations.  And many sleepless nights wondering if the trees we had planted were getting enough water, especially as they were all on their own - this was still when we were living in town, and only came out to our smallholding every 4 - 6 weeks.
Aaaaah!  What is this.
Finally, after 4 long years - a lemon bud has
appeared on one of my lemon trees:)
But, finally, a month ago I was rewarded.

The first sign that there was life appeared in the form of a small bud.
The instant reward of a lemon flower is it's
incredible smell
Talk about excitement.  I was beside myself!!  When the first flower opened I was beside myself.  In going to fetch RMan to come and see I think I cleared the distance from the lemon orchard and the house in 30 seconds.  Whooping excitedly all the way LOL
The perfection of the little lemon which has sprouted from that flower makes me want to weep.
The buds sometimes try to conceal themselves
but my eager eye managed to find them
I pity those who have never felt the sense of achievement which can be obtained from growing something yourself from what would normally be thrown into the rubbish or onto the compost heap.  There is nothing, absolutely nothing, which compares - no expensive must-have-latest-version gadget, no fancy house in the "right" neighbourhood, no material possession you could purchase, no job promotion.  Nothing.

It is such a simple joy.  And such a simple achievement.  And so immensely rewarding.

All it took was care - and patience.
An ambitious cutting
growing buds before it
has produced a single leaf
When I gave the lemon tress a pruning at the end of last summer I shoved the cuttings into some growth hormone, and placed each one into a pot of soil.  This eager little cutting in the photo above decided that it wanted to produce flowers before it had grown a single leaf!!!  Naturally, the flowers didn't last, but at least the sign of life and the promise is there... :)

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Inglorius fruit and vegetables

RMan aping the eggplant LOL
Those of us who grow our own fruit and vegetables know that we don't harvest perfect specimens every time.  But - the shape of the fruit or vegetable does not affect the nutritive value, and, apart from the short  space of time between it growing on the plant and being harvested, and landing up either as juice or a meal portion, is, normally very brief.

I have never bothered what the produce looks like.  In fact the more absurd they look, the more I love picking them - like the aubergine at the top of this posting that gave me the thumbs up :)
So, the carrots on the left are not as appetising
to look at - but, does that make them any less
nutritious?  They are not dried out and wilted,
merely malformed.
But, it has never occurred to me that those odd-looking, non-perfect fruit and vegetables are not acceptable to shops.  That, in fact, the farmer cannot send them to market...
... and, how do I know?
The deformed carrot - advocating peace :)
Because I was sent the following link.
Check it out :)
Personally, if there was a supermarket / greengrocer here that had sold produce like that when I still had to buy mine, I would've had no hesitation in purchasing from them.
Hats off to Inter Marche - for seeing the bigger picture.
The Ugly Clementine
I never gave that it a thought, but now that I do, I can see that every fruit and veggie available in the shops has to look "perfect".  How ridiculous - when so many people are starving worldwide.
They are certainly stepping up to the plate - with or without the pun - and committing themselves 100% to the 2014 European Year against food waste.  I hope they get all, and more, of the support from their customers that they deserve.

Mankind really is taking perfection too far.

Which begs the question.  Can we afford to be that picky about what our fruit and vegetables look like...?

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Out of town

Yesterday was RMan's birthday.  Yup, it's on the same day as Mr Nelson Mandela's :)

So we sort of took the day off.

We decided to travel through to Mossel Bay - approximately 170kms away - for the day. There was a highly recommended restaurant there which serves a carvery and, apparently, it is pretty reasonably priced.  It is also situated within a casino complex - and RMan does like a flutter once a year or so. Seeing as he hadn't visited a casino in over 4 years, he was long overdue. LOL

Unfortunately, RSon was unable to join us for the weekend, so we organised to meet up with Natasha, Wayne, Mike and baby H at the venue.

After tending to all the animals - both the four and two footed - we set off. The road to Mossel Bay is fantastic - in a very good condition and very scenic. Passing hundreds of aloes lining the roads in one area, which then became a road surrounded with beautiful, artistic wild grasses.  

Finally arriving at Garden Route Casino, we first went to fill our stomachs.  We had booked for 7 people and only ended up being 5½ (the half being HJG in her own chair.)  But, the restaurant had given us a table large enough for 7. A really beautiful table - and once which was a feature in the restaurant.

Around the table they had a privacy "wall" of chains - similar to bathroom plug chain - which was suspended from the ceiling in a very simple curatain track. Above the centre of the table was a light which mimicked the effect.

My camera is on it's way out, and was battling to focus - but this is what the light looked like:
A simple gear type plate, with "bobble"
type chain of different lengths
creating the light fixture.
The effect created by the light on the ceiling added to the overall look of the table.
A close up of the ceiling fitting.
Plus you can see the centre "gear"
through the chain - it is the support
for the hanging chain 
As we still haven't got any light fittings in any of the bedrooms - just the bare bulb hanging down from the ceiling - and although this type of fixture will date pretty easily, it has given me an idea...

Lets see if it will work.  If it does I'll post a pic or two...

It was getting late-ish by the time we left the restaurant, and, with a 1¾ hour return trip ahead of us, plus Natasha, Mike and baby HJG excluded from the casino, and animals to feed at the end of the trip, RMan's visit to the casino was brief.  But lucrative :)

We have been here for 2 year and 19 days - and this was our first foray along the N2 to the east.  More than time to do a little exploring.

It was a lovely day all round - our eyes are full of the natural beauty of the area, RMan filled up in the carvery (so he had his meat fill for the week), we were together with family, and RMan had some fun.

It was a perfect day - even the weather played ball :)

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Getting the people back to working the land...

... wherever that is.

I've had a rant or two over the past couple of months. My apologies - I just get dejected now and then, and have to vent some steam.

Now for some good news :)

Worldwide there is an evident trend of people moving from rural areas to towns in search of a "better" life on the "streets of gold".  This is resulting in vast swathes of underfed, unemployed, restless and discontented people living in squalid conditions on the fringes of society, feeling hard done by and resentful.  Given the conditions they are living in, who can blame them?

And this situation is further exacerbated not only by the lack of home grown produce being put on their respective tables, but also by the loss of knowledge of the land which used to be shared within families - being passed down generation to generation - and visibly demonstrated on their homelands.

I have been extremely concerned that once this knowledge is no longer freely and widely circulated, what hope is there for mankind?  The loss of traditions, the loss of know-how and the loss of satisfaction in growing their own crops / tending their herds of animals would be devastating to man.

Thankfully, someone has seen a bigger picture.  Someone has had the energy. And someone has had the impetus.

He is Reverend John Thomas.

And his story can be found here or here.
Growing hydroponic vegetables outside Cape Town
I have heard people say, "Oh yes, I'd love to grow my produce hydroponically, but I can't afford the system / the water situation isn't right / or a thousand and one one reasons why they can't.  I can almost guarantee that the system they are using on the link above is a simple system - it may not be automatic, and it wont have all the bells and whistles, and it may mean that they manually have to turn on a switch / tap 2 or 3 times a day.  But who said that hydroponically grown vegetables can only be watered automatically????

What these people - the mentors and the students - are doing is inspirational.

Given that I heard the other night that if some major world-wide catastrophe hit this planet, we would only have food reserves for 1 Billion people for 1 month.  Therefore, getting young able bodied people away from the falsely bright city lights, the streets which can be incredibly uncomfortable, cold and unfriendly, and the fruitless search for work which is in short supply world-wide, and back onto the land producing their own food would certainly assist them in fending for themselves, if, and when, the need should arise.