This weekend marks many things for me. It is a big weekend. For one we’ll be holding a party… we’re celebrating the fact that we will own the ‘Home Block’ here on this land with no mortgages… all paid for by settlers who are coming to live here over the next year and by a few friends and supporters. That is huge for us and for the Koanga Institute after 5 years of it being really difficult and very stressful keeping the Institute going, and seeds alive. … I can’t say how much I appreciate all those of you who have helped us on this journey and who have watched from afar and sent in good vibes and emails etc etc. There are lot of us working for the good and the connections becoming stronger and stronger, I really feel that…. that is what makes the ‘web of life’.
Bob and I will also be celebrating 1 year of not buying any significant food at a supermarket. Bob and I and every body who has eaten meals cooked by me, have had food from this land only plus salt and olive oil, and a few spices.. cinnamon mainly, as well as apples from our local organic growers, whose wonderful produce we are lucky to have so close.. Actually, believe it or not it has been easy mostly. I can’t imagine ever going back to buying food, we should have done it years ago, we really could have. It’s an addiction or a habit or both once you have your own fruit, vege, milk and meat and eggs. There’s not much else needed.
I have put more of a focus in my garden on things like dried beans and peas.. which I’m enjoying more and more as I learn how to prepare them in ways my body likes! My favourite dried beans are Dalmatian Peans.. I think they are my favourite green beans too, they are what are called ‘sugar’ or ‘frost ‘ beans because they require along season and give most of their crop at the end of the season once it cools down. Check the website for more info on these, they are well worth a try. German Sugar beans are similar, as are Norridgewok Peans also available through Koanga. My favourite peas are those that are eaten as dry peas, eg Capucjyners and Dalmatian peas Whero peas and Blue peas. Now that we know we can actually grow these peas up Broad beans stalks and mixed in with oats being grown as a seed or carbon crop we’ll grow as many as we can simply by under planting other crops. I’m also a huge fan of Flaxseed (Essene) and Hulless barley. We grow these two crops every year and enjoy them more and more. So the set of seed crops we grow and relish is getting linger Austrian Hulless pumpkin seeds, Essebe Flax seed, Hulless barley, dry peas, dried beans. If you go here to the Weston Price Foundation website they have an excellent article with all the science on how long and at what temperature we need to soak our grains in order to remove the phytates.. very interesting!
The part that has been a challenge for me is that I was too busy to do a good job of the garden last Autumn and we have a very narrow range of vegetables this winter, on top of that it has been a very cold winter here, and on top of that the soils we are growing our food in are badly demineralized and it is a journey to sort that. We’re doing really well however with all of those things on top of each other right now, I’m not feeling as though I’m getting all the nutrition I need. I’m very aware that this is an issue we all need to be aware of when closing circles and eating more and more locally. It is easily possible we can miss out on key minerals or phytonutrients because they are not in our local soils, or plants. Indigenous people understood that, and ensured they maintained their health by not only following the principles set out by Weston Price Foundation but often also by trading critical highly sought after food items such as seaweed and fish for inland people’s. I’m going to buy karengo until I can source a local supplier as well as fish from a local fisherman for a while and see how I feel. SO…. This is the month to get planting. I’m putting in Essene Flaxseed, Hulless Barley (could be oats ), Broad beans underplanted with Whero peas, and Capucyjners, I’m planting our amazing Pukekohe Long Keeper onion seeds now as well as California Red.
Those of you in warmer climates will be able to plant far more (Moon calendar newly edited and updated!!). I think I’ll leave my early potatoes a little longer so I don’t have so much effort keeping them covered from frost .. but they will need to go in over the next 6 weeks.
In my forest garden I’m planting a few more support species trees, including a patch of basket willows so I can do a lot more weaving next winter, along with a couple of Cornus species which coppice to produce outstandingly bright coloured weaving material. another crab apple.. we love to eat them as well as make vinegar from them…we’ve chopped and dropped all the tagsaste, and planted our seabuckthorn, and it’s feeling pretty full/ Maybe room for a few more shade loving species as we discover them. Our Forest Garden Data base free to all on our website has recently been updated if you’re interested. Our chickens are laying flat out, and my perennial vege bed is al fed and mulched ready for the Spring flush of Purple asparagus, Purple Globe artichokes, and seakale… three of my very favourite vegetables.. that happen to be super nutritious as well as perennials!!!
I’m learning more all the time about Biochar and we make a big effort to turn our bones and all waste paper and cardboard and corn husks etc into char to add to our compost and animal feed. https://www.koanga.org.nz/once-in-a-blue-moon/Check out this amazing research article sent to us by Tim Barker… there is a life time of ideas here!!!!!
So as for all gardeners this past year has come to an end, the new season is here, and we have another opportunity to put into practice what we are constantly learning…. That is the gift of Life… I give thanks for that!