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Archive for October, 2009

1133022_strong_shootIf you don’t have small kids in need of home-made “binoculars”, it’s probably a long time since you’ve attempted to devise a recycle-friendly use for toilet roll inserts. Well here’s one: they make ultra-cheap, biodegradable seedling holders. And best of all, they’ll keep cutworms and other garden lurgies at bay during your plants’ most vulnerable period. Here’s how. (more…)

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brusslerseedlingsWhether you’ve got a lot of space to work with or you’re simply hoping for a few tomatoes in containers, it can be hard to know where to start with your vegetable garden. Just deciding what to grow can pose a challenge for some, but the best advice anyone could give you is, happily, simple: Grow mainly what you like to eat.

Courgettes are easy to grow – as legends of neighbours of grow-your-owners hiding from yet another delivery of them can attest – but if you’re not that keen, having kilos of the beggars at your disposal is a waste of time. Keep things interesting by growing at least one thing that’s “exotic”/you’ve never tried and best of all, ignore the people who tell you to keep it simple and don’t grow too many different things: variety is half the fun of it. Some canny inter-cropping will see you getting more out of the same space too. Once you know what you want, it’s time to hit the seed or seedlings. Here’s how to go about it… (more…)

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tomatoesbushI saw this article on commercially grown tomatoes in today’s Sydney Morning Herald. It’s interesting to see how the demands of supermarkets have almost completely eroded taste on the fresh produce front over the years. As a student, I used to work for a medium-scale tomato producer in Ireland. In order to be able to sell to the local branches of a large supermarket chain, he was forced to have his produce delivered to the head office warehouses 200kms away. Once delivered there, it was driven back to the city in question – less than 10kms away from his glass houses…

Obviously, growing your own in a small space won’t keep you in tomatoes all year round, but every time I harvest my own crop I think of the sheer stupidity that all too often overrides everything else in the way we produce and consume our fresh food.

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Get Involved: World Food Day.

Today is World Food Day and this year’s theme is “Achieving Food Security in Times of Crisis.” According to the United Nations, almost one-sixth of humanity is going hungry. To find out more about what you might be able to do to help, check out the Web site.

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GROWING YOUR OWN POTATOES IN BAGS

spuds1For me, pretty much any vegetable you grow passes the taste test in some way – you’re never going to get fresher. But there’s something really special about your own potatoes, especially in South Africa where the range in the shops is so limited. No vegetable patch is complete without a few spuds – you don’t need much space and to prove it, here is my guide to growing your own potatoes in discarded coffee sacks (or refuse bags, or even stacks of old tyres). (more…)

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762916_fennelsPerhaps the most underrated vegetable of all (unless you’re Italian), fennel has a wonderful aniseed flavour that’s quite up-front when eaten raw but melts into a subtle sweetness if slow-cooked, allowing it to caramelize. Best of all, it’s extremely easy to grow, looks absolutely stunning in your garden (especially if you plant the bronze-coloured variety) and if you’re living in South Africa, you can grow it pretty much all year round. (more…)

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1158631_valid_salad_4Not a vegetable, no. But who doesn’t love cheese and wouldn’t you like to make your own? Locally, books on the topic cost a fortune, so it was really nice to stumble across this cheese-making for beginners site online. Maybe they should have called it “cheese making for dummies” because it really does take the scary bits out of it.  Nice bit of Lebneh or Neufchatel with all those lovely tomatoes and salad greens you’re growing?

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