Month: September 2015

GMO or Non GMO – Which Is Better?

Genetically modified foods are not the answer. They produce higher yields at a cost of lower nutrients, even with chemical fertilizers because the soil is not looked after properly and many nutrients require the presence of soil microorganisms for uptake by plants. It’s like feeding someone only on vitamins and McDonalds – you get a fat malnourished person doesn’t matter how many vitamins you pop it’s not the same as getting them in their natural form.

Also (and this is biggest reason why GM is not the answer to the hunger problem) you can’t seed save with GM plants because their genes are too poor. So let’s say a farmer is poor he saves all his money and buys seed for planting. After the season he now has to spend his hard earned money getting more seed. If he could seed save he theoretically wouldn’t need to ever buy seed again and in fact his farm would grow EXPONENTIALLY. For example a small percentage of tomatoes can seed a whole crop for the season, and that percentage will grow with each season. It’s more complicated – you need to know how to seed save but it’s not impossible and it puts the control back in the hands of the farmers – not the large corporations. Instead of spending money on food aid poor countries need help with farming – give a man a fish you feed him for a day, teach him how to fish you feed him for the rest of his life, as the old saying goes.

We are losing natural genetic diversity in our food – we used to have hundreds of different apple varieties, different potatoes, different everything, but all these different foods are dying out and we are left with only a few varieties – where will it end? When our food is simply grown in labs and we are paying through our noses? Because you would think with all the genetic modification going on that we would have food coming out of our ears but we don’t. We need small scale farms surrounding cities and towns, and people growing food in their backyards. We need less parks and more policed community gardens where people can help themselves when they are hungry. We need seed banks, so that we can give seed to poor beginner farmers that want to start small.

I am all in favor of natural “genetic modification” ie natural selection and choosing plants with good genes for the next generation or cross breeding to create new varieties with the strength of both parent plants, this is more naturaland you can seed save with these plants if you are careful about cross pollination. Also, if you seed save you will get plants that are perfect for that soil and climate, improving in hardiness with each season, which can make them more drought resistant and not need so much input.

We don’t need solutions from the same corporations that helped create the problems in the first place…

Chickens Love Mint!

I planted some mint out in a corner by the kitchen door, because there was an empty shady spot just begging for a bit of green and mint is a wonderfully prolific grower. The next day I almost screamed – every single leaf on the plant had disappeared! I looked around at the suspects, which were either my chickens or my Jack Russell dog Gemmy (pronounced “Jemmy”) but I was pretty sure who it was. My dog loves eating anything but I have never known her to eat mint. I covered the mint with an orange crate to form a quick cage, and when it grew back within days I uncovered half of the mint plant and noticed the chickens stopping by on their rounds for a quick nibble. It doesn’t surprise me though, what with mint being used in herbal medicine to treat stomach aches and pains. The chickens must love something in that mint!

Growing Organic Oregano in the Highveld of South Africa

Oregano is probably most famous for being the herb used most on pizzas. It has a lovely smell that is quite strong, simply watering it is enough to release the scent. Oregano is a spreading herb, it grows tall and then sort of leans over and where it touches the ground it will make new roots and so it spreads. It needs a lot of water and the leaves will curl in a little when it is thirsty. It likes a sunny position – mine is in the sunniest spot in the garden – but because of the intense sun it does need to be watered almost every day during the hottest parts of summer.

Growing Organic Lavender In South Africa

Lavender is one of my favourite herbs to grow. I absolutely love the sweet-spicy scent and it grows well in our climate. It has a reputation for being drought tolerant but appreciates a good soak during the dryest periods of summer. It needs a lot of sun and is best bought as a plant because the seeds can be finicky but mainly because you will be impatient to begin enjoying your plant 🙂 It will reward you with masses of purple flowers that can be cut off and dried in cloth bags to be put into linen cupboards or among clothes. It keeps things smelling fresh, absorbs moisture and also deters fishmoths. Lavender bags can also be placed in pillows if falling asleep is difficult because the smell is very relaxing and is actually used in aromatherapy for this purpose.