The joy of rain in the summer heat…

Some people live in places where it rain every day. They are so used to it, that the joy of rain might be lost…

On the other hand, we who live in dry places have the utmost experience of joy when the rain comes. Christmas Day was extremely hot and dry, and yesterday the rain came again.

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So I grabbed my trusty old Canon Powershot SX 150 iS and went to play in the rain…

Rain to us is a symbol of new life. And my vegetable garden really enjoyed the cooling down…

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Yes, I know, my tomatoes do not look like supermarket quality. But they are organically grown, with NO insecticides used at all… and they taste delicious!

Another new experience… Sweet chili sauce…

I am trying to grow some vegetables organically in my huge backyard. In some black planting bags I have a few chili plants. They are giving their fruit in abundance this year.

So I decided to try something new. I looked up a few recipes on Youtube, and found some that is not too difficult. That was last night at just before midnight. This morning, after swimming my 50 laps (1.25 km) I jumped in to start cooking my very own sweet chili sauce. Following this Aussie bloke’s advice- thanks mate!

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So here is the recipe- I don’t have any idea how to translate it into that other ounces and pounds and yards and inches business…

You need about 250 grams of chili. 2 Cloves of Garlic. And 1 2/3 cups of white vinegar.

You blend at first about 150 grams of chilis with 1 cup of vinegar and the garlic in your blender. Then after it is blended smoothly, add the rest of the chilis.

Now get a pot on high heat on your stove. Add the blended mixture, with another 2/3 cup of vinegar, and get it to boiling point. Add 1 1/3 cup of castor sugar, boil it all together nicely while stirring, till it is reduced by about a 1/3.

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Let it cool down, and pour it into some sterilized bottles. How do you sterilize bottles? You take it to the vet, and they will spay it…

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It is really a great feeling doing this for the very first time, and to know that the fruit comes out of your own garden, and is organically produced without any insecticides used…

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That doesn’t seem like much sweet chili sauce, but hey, one small step for man…

There is just one small niggling thought in the back of my mind, and if Jamie Oliver, or Nigella Lawson, or Marco Pierre White happens to pass by, please help with this question- exactly which brand of peppers/ chilis should be used in sweet chili sauce? Sweet bell peppers? (That is why I am not asking Gordon Ramsey- he might be 6 weeks older than me, but he will call me an idiot in the kitchen…)

Because I only have jalapeno’s at the moment… and my sweet chili sauce is burning like hell. I am going to market this sauce, let all my church members have a spoonful before church on Sunday, and then deliver a sermon on the fires of hell…

New Photo- 100 yards or less- Cee’s Fun Photo Challenge

http://ceenphotography.com/2014/01/28/cees-fun-foto-challenge-walk-100-steps-or-less-and-take-new-photos/

Cee asked us to walk 100 yards or less, and take a new photo. Maybe my photo will gross you out. But it is very interesting to me!

I have also started the practice of saving the earth by recycling our kitchen scraps through a worm bin, and using the vermicompost and vermitea in my small vegetable garden. And the results are great- I am getting to be more and more organic in my farming methods.

10 Yards from my computer is my worm bin. And here is the star attraction: A red wriggler worm (Eisenia fetida– one of thousands, but this one will do…

I bought them from Brigit Jackson over at aristonorganic

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His name is Willempie, ain’t he cute?  And he is helping to save the earth… 

Urban Farming is fun…

Today I had one of my best harvest days in my urban farm so far… I started out with the wish to lay fresh produce at my wife’s feet.

And today: we have more than enough for today’s needs- enough to start giving away, and that was what I dreamed about…

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Happiness is… producing your own food!

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Look at that baby marrow (zucchini/courgette!) We left it a little too long on the plant…

There were no poisons used on these veggies. The main fertilizer used was worm tea from my 4 worm bins. Not totally organic yet, but I am nearing that!

I am really looking forward to that sweetcorn tonight! Harvest day makes all the work from digging the soil, fertilizing, planting, watering and weeding for 3 months worthwhile.  And to give some friends something from my garden- priceless!

Meanwhile, in Sunny South Africa, we are having a little bit of a heat wave, with no rain. The heat and drought are really getting on my nerves. I would love a day of two of rain!  And my vegetable garden too, we are suffering!

And yes, I really love my South African Cricket Team Supporter Shirts, I do have quite a few!

 

 

The joy of my vegetable garden…

My work as a pastor in a large church is not always plain sailing… We deal with a lot of sadness and hurt in people’s lives. This morning I have to conduct the memorial service of a friend. It is going to be very difficult… When we are dealing with so much sadness and hurt of people, we also have to have something that reminds of joy and hope… Yes, pastors are supposed to find that in our faith. But sometimes it is just so good to see something physical growing.

This season I have taken on the challenge to grow a vegetable garden again. Just now I have walked in my garden, to see what nature is doing there.  And it really is uplifting to see growth, and life. (Sometimes it is really difficult to see that in people’s lives…)

Here is what I enjoyed this morning…

A few years ago I tried to breed birds. That did not work out so good, and I sold all my cages but one. This large bird cage I now use as a tunnel to plant my tomatoes in- that the wild birds don’t get to eat all my crop! I am also trying cucumbers for the very first time ever… The first ones are now about an inch (2 1/2 cm) long, I still have no idea how fast they grow…

2013-12-19 07.44.38 2013-12-19 07.44.33Because I do have a big garden, I am also trying to get some pumpkins from my own garden. We only have a lot of pumpkin fly around here, that attacks the pumpkins when they are just forming…

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I am delighted with the growth of my zucchinis (baby marrows in South Africa) – this one got overlooked and is growing quite large, so I am thinking of letting him grow to see how big he will go, and maybe try and use his seed for the next season…

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One thing we South Africans love, is corn on the cob. We call them mealies…  What the Americans call wheat we call corn. And our “corn” is maize, or “mielies” in Afrikaans…

2013-12-19 07.45.58I also have my first apparently successful potato crop in, there are some beans, carrots, green peppers and aubergines growing…

I am not fully organic yet, the soil around here is very poor, and there are a lot of pests attacking the vegetables. For the poor soil I also am making a big compost heap- nothing organic goes to a landfill at my home.  I use no poisons, but still use a little bit of chemical fertilizer. That is until my earthworm farm picks up, and produces enough vermitea to go fully organic. I just have to find organic ways and means to combat the pests, something is eating my tomatoes… and it is not me…

And so, by telling you all these, I have relaxed a little and am in a little bit better state of mind to go to that funeral in 2 1/2 hours time…

Early morning in the garden

No, not naked in the Garden of Eden, we are not reading Genesis 1 and 2 this morning…  naughty you!

I can’t just work work work and blog blog blog… there must be time for something else as well- like riding my motorcycles…

But then, when I am working with human beings, and there is just no way to measure if I am reaching any worthwhile goals, I need something else to keep me inspired.

And I do have this huge garden at the back of the house. And we do have a borehole these days, with a wonderful supply of clean water. So, with the help of one of my church people who has an agricultural supply business, I am trying to revamp my vegetable garden. Not to be in business, but to provide fresh food for my family. To sometimes come into the house, and lay my produce gladly at my loved one’s feet, proud to say: I did this….

So every morning, in stead of going cycling, I go gardening…

And this is what this morning’s walkabout in the garden brought with:

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The pumpkin looks quite happy in it’s early days…

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I did not plant them, the clover is a weed around here, saying something of the ground’s ph that is too high… But they look happy too!

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We have a LOT of pests in the ground and a LOT of birds, so I grow my tomatoes in bags, inside an old huge bird cage…

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My first attempt at growing potatoes has broken through! The blue specs are bait for cutworm, which is a huge problem in this sandy soil…

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I did not know ants could be so neat in their homebuilding projects!

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In the tree above the vegetable garden is one of the most familiar sights in the Bushveld, the Kwêvoël or Grey Lourie- they are the protector of wildlife around here. If you go hunting, and are aiming at an animal, they have this warning cry that immediately sends the prey running… I have known some people to turn the hunting rifle on them in anger… (but not me, I promise… )

I really hope to be successful this time around, as the multitude of pests attacking vegetables around here can be quite heartbreaking… So watch this space- maybe there will be a photo of a pumpkin spared by the pumpkin fly, or a tomato spared by the rust, or a cob of sweat corn spared by the cutworm, or an aubergine spared by the birds… 🙂

That is why I am trying: I hope…

My new pets arrived today! Vermicomposting…

For a long while now I have been interested in the process of vermicomposting. Making compost with the help of earthworms.

I received a few from a friend a while back. But when I talked to Brigid at aristonorganics, she sent me another 5 litre tub of worms,  from the Cape yesterday. The Red Wriggler variety that is needed to do the job.And I just went to our Post Office and collected them. That was fast and speedy service- the worms travelled 1600 km in 24 hours!

And this is the start of my vermicomposting project:

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The first batch is in this Big Jim 100l container, with some holes drilled in the bottom to collect the vermi-tea. The next two crates are standing by, to go on top of this one, when the worms have settled and started their work.

And this is the view inside, look at all the happy campers…

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Why am I so interested in this earthworm project? I really want to grow my family’s own vegetables in our back yard. I want to reduce our own footprint on the environment, and reduce the amount of waste going into our landfill. I am also really interested in urban farming as a solution to hunger in Africa, and I want to learn a lot in the process of playing these games!

Thanks for the help, Brigid Jackson!