28 October 2008

That Good Ol' Inundation Time

That time of year. The Inundation -- not so much the water, though happily the dams and soil are looking much improved from the good rains we've had so far this month -- but the inundation of work in the garden. It's been keeping me pretty busy, I can tell you. I've managed to dig one new bed, bringing the total to 14, and with a little luck I may even get another one dug. Be aware that "digging a bed" for me means heavy composting and double-digging in a heavy clay soil to prepare a deep-bed, so it's a significant investment of energy. And then some people wonder when I am quite... pointed... about visitors to the veggie garden not treading on the beds, but sticking to the paths.  There's also been a lot of rehab work on paths and existing beds, after their 9-month neglect while I worked on a programming contract.

All the plants are terribly slow this year. Spring has been cold, windy and wet, and it's only really in the last week or two that most plants have shown real signs of waking-up. This year's Spring Disaster (isn't there always one?) has been seedling-mix. Usually I use my own compost for seed trays, but it tends to be a bit dense, retaining water a lot, and thus restricting oxygen to the plant roots and slowing plant development. So this year, feeling flush from the effects of the Sojourn In The Desert1, I splashed out on "professional" seedling mix. What a lot of rubbish. It fails to hold water in any adequate way. It forms a lovely cement-like crust over the top, and just generally is worse than my own compost. Chillis planted into it have still failed to show-up. Chillis planted a month later in my own mix are looking much better. Sadly I risked a number of varieties of Chillis, Tomatoes and Lettuces where my seed-stocks were at their end, and I've now lost those lines. Grrrrrrr... That'll be the last time I buy that rubbish. Rather focus on finding ways to lighten-up my own seed mix.

On the bright side, both the Globe Artichokes and the Jerusalem Artichokes are doing really well, as are a bunch of relocated Tomato volunteers. Squashes and Cukes not so good -- too much cold for them -- but we'll keep trying. Beans (for drying) are doing well, though I still lack a really good Pinto bean, and am struggling to source a decent (large-size) Butter Bean. I like Beans.

I've become a lot more focussed on trying to get real staple crops going, so there's been much more work on the simple stuff -- Beans, Potatoes. Leafy crops are all very tasty, vitaminicious and the like, but what we monkeys really want are Carbohydrates. (Bananas are filling the gap, but there's a limit...) As soon as I get all the right factors in the right place at the right time, I'll be burning the rank grass off the top fields and putting them under grains and oilcrops. Fire is frightening stuff, though, no matter how powerful a tool for clearing land! Between the money-world "disasters"2, the increasingly obvious climate changes, and the ever-pressing oil prices my thinking is that anybody who grows food is going to do OK over the next few years!

[1] The Programming Contract. It may only have been 9 months, but there were times when it felt like 40 years...

[2] I find it difficult to take that whole catastrophe too seriously. I mean, really, it's all too "We deluded ourselves into believing that Some Crap was a real value and... It all turned out to be Crap!" No sympathy, me. Of course its had the inevitable effect3 on our Developing Nation Crap Currency, which means that the veggie-breeding book I want (Carol Deppe's book) was R260, but is now R330!

[3] Of course we shouldn't neglect the effect of the Idiot Who Would Be KingPresident and his fuckwit minions...4

[4] OK, OK! I know I made a promise to myself that this blog wouldn't cross into politics, but really... we're in for a Kakistocracy5 worse than the US'ians have suffered these last 8 years.

[5] The word "Kak" is a common South African term for "shit". It actually derives from the Greek word "kakistos", meaning "the worst".

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