Archive | August, 2013

A quote for Sunday.

25 Aug

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Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.                                                                                                                                              John F. Kennedy.

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How many Planet’s do you need?

21 Aug

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Apparently yesterday was Earth Overshoot Day, the day when humanity exhausts Nature’s budget for the year. From this day forward, the Planet will be operating under an ecological deficit, using more resources than the Planet  can produce and emitting more carbon dioxide than the Planet can filter out.

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Originally developed by the New Economics Foundation…who I admit I’d never heard of…Earth Overshoot Day has been falling by a few days earlier each year…an indication of ever-increasing patterns of consumption. In 1993 Earth Overshoot Day fell on October 21st. In 2003, it fell on September 22nd.

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For us to continue consuming resources as we are 1.5 Earth’s are needed. The US, China and Qatar are among the worst offenders. If everyone lived like your typical suburban American it would take four Earth’s to support the population. To live a lifestyle like the residents of Qatar 6.5 Earth’s would be required.

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If you go to the site where I got all this info http://www.earthday.org/blog/2013/08/20/earth-overshoot-day-2013 you can calculate your ecological footprint.  I was shocked to find that even though we don’t eat meat or fish…recycle all that we can…grow a lot of our own veg…it would still take 2 planets per year for us to continue as we are. The questions were obviously set for the typical American lifestyle as there was no option for solid fuel heating…no option for alternative energy systems…no option for buying from charity shops or farmer’s markets.  So I don’t really buy the 2 Planets result but still it provided food for thought. I’m sure we could all do more in our everyday lives to ease the pressure on our Planet.  Food for thought indeed…

Go on… do the survey…I dare you.

As Autumn berries ripen…

16 Aug

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As the berries on the Guelder Rose and other trees and shrubs redden we have a growing awareness of Autumn in the air. I can’t really explain it but it’s tangible that we are between seasons. It’s the slight chill in the air morning and evening, the ripening of seeds and berries, the drawing in of the evenings, the need to light a fire at night once again. Yes…Summer is slipping from our grasp…reluctant as we are to let her go…it is beyond our control.

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Here in Lurgan work has been continuing on the house. The new solid fuel stove which will provide hot water and heat the radiators is fitted. Actually all the plumbing is done…finished last Thursday…we lit the stove on that day to check that everything was working ok. Apart from one airlock everything was fine. It will be lovely on cold Winter days to have this cranking out the heat. Nice as the Rayburn was we didn’t want to have an oil cooker. Not for us.

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New windows bring extra light into the north side of the house. This one looks out onto the pond.

As I work away finishing things off ready for painting I listen to the radio. Such turmoil in the world…over 400 people killed in Egypt…car bombs in Iraq…robberies and killings here in Ireland. Test fracking going on in southern England. Sometimes I despair of what’s going on on our Planet.  Gmo’s infiltrating our food supply. Where will it all end. I read the other day that Monsanto only serves organic food in it’s worker’s cafes. Confidence in your products? They still have to come outside and breathe the polluted air they and their like have created.  Maybe I’ll turn that radio off…some music instead I think.

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In the garden there is still lots of colour. I love Fuschias…apparently there are over 2 thousand varieties…so easy to propagate too. Just take a hardwood cutting in Autumn and leave in the polytunnel or coldframe to overwinter…viola!…a new plant next Spring.

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Lots of Shasta Daisies too. They have been somewhat  battered by the heavy rains. These will have to be divided over Winter as they have formed into a huge clump.

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Purple Sprouting Broccoli and Kale are well established now. The kale will be used over Winter and the PSB will be a welcome vegetable next Spring.

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Leeks are also coming on nicely.  These beds are very fertile as they were made using soil from the old chicken run.

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In the polytunnel we now have lots of crops. Courgettes…salad crops…Beetroot…Beans and lots of  Basil and other herbs means we have something from the garden for nearly every meal.

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We’re really pleased with how crops have done as the polytunnel was only erected June 9th. Of course the polytunnel is sited where the chicken run was so plenty of manure incorporated into the soil here.  I just can’t imagine not having a polytunnel or not growing vegetables or flowers.  It’s a huge part of my life going out there and getting my hands in the soil. Eating something I’ve  grown just fills me with a sense of achievement. No high powered job for me…this will do fine.

Monsanto vs. Mother Earth.

10 Aug

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A few nights ago I watched a documentary on TG4…Ireland’s Irish language channel…about the effect Monsanto has had on agriculture in India.  I had read something of this but this programme really spelled out just how evil this company is and has been in it’s attempt to murder India’s agriculture. The main GM crops grown in India are cotton and rice.  Cotton is a very important crop for Indian’s farmers. Actually most of the world’s cotton comes from India. The farmers were promised higher yields and better quality cotton. However…the seed are much more expensive than indigenious varieties and they will not perform without copious amounts of extra pesticides and extra water. Farmers were not told this at the beginning. They end up in a spiral of debt from which they can not escape. Gm cotton growers have 80% more debt. Many thousands of farmers have committed suicide leaving their families in dire straits.

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Of course these are terminator technology seeds so new seed must be purchased every year. Monsanto has bought up many of the Indian seed companies so there is little option left if farmers wish to return to using native seeds. Often the seed packets remain the same except for the little Monsanto logo in the bottom corner. A distinct disadvantage as most of the farmers are illiterate.

The remnants of these crops go on to do further damage to the farmers animals. The straw left over from rice and cotton is fed to animals. There have been many animal deaths after eating this GM straw. It is thought the animals can’t digest this food and it kills the bacteria in the rumen.

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Rice production has also been contaminated by GM seeds. In a country that boasted over 30,000 varieties of rice it is now reduced to around 150 varieties.  Golden Rice was supposed to be the new magic crop that provided Vitamin A which is deficient in the Indian diet. What the growers were not told was that 9kg of rice would have to be eaten daily to get your daily allowance of the vitamin.

There is however some fightback. Vandana Shiva the renowned environmentalist has set up Navdanya…a network of seed keepers and organic growers spread across 17  Indian states.

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Here in Europe we also need to be on our guard. Monsanto have been saying that they are going to withdraw from selling GM seeds in Europe….however….and this is very worrying…Monsanto are now using loopholes in European law to seek patents on common fruits and veg that exist naturally in Nature. It seems Monsanto is no longer content with with manipulating, patenting and selling it’s own GM seeds… it has as it’s goal the ownership of every plant in existence.   Please inform yourself and join over 2 million others in signing this petition:                                                  http://www.avaaz.org/en/monsanto_vs_mother_earth_nm/?bigwYcb&v=26065

Sadly here in Ireland we are not GM free either. GM potatoes are being trailed in Carlow this year and all non-organic animal feeds have a percentage of GM maize…this is not stated on the labels in the supermarket.  Make no mistake every country on the Planet is under assault from this powerful corporation. Sadly our governments are working with them.  In America this is blatantly obvious. The Deputy Commissioner of the FDA…Michael Taylor…is a former vice president of Monsanto. Does’nt seem right to me!!

What can we do? We can let the supermarkets know we do not want produce that has GM residues. Ask them about GM labelling.  Grow as much as we can ourselves from organic seeds. Save the seeds of crops that do well…they will be acclimatised to your area.

Be vigilant…the assault on Mother Earth is ongoing…we must do what we can to help her.

I need a macro lens…

8 Aug

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Lots of Butterflies about yesterday. This is only about the 4th Peacock I’ve seen though. Lots of Butterflies and Bumble Bees loving the Hemp Argimony at the moment. Soon these beauties will be seeking places to hibernate for the Winter. I really must get a camera with a macro lens…I must…I must. Oh well…Christmas is coming!

As the night’s begin to draw in…

7 Aug

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After almost a week away it’s great to be back working in the garden again. I do love to get away but getting back home is the best. I had a lovely time down in Tipperary where I attended a family wedding. It was a lovely day out and the food at the County Arms Hotel in Birr was just amazing. Imagine my surprise to be handed a totally veggie menu. We stayed overnight in the hotel and the whole experience was really great. A highly recommended hotel in my view.

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It’s amazing how much growth occurred in the time I was away. Suddenly there’s lots of veg and salads. Beans are ready for picking and the Basil seems to have trebled in size.

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Courgettes are coming thick and fast now.

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My fave thing about having a polytunnel is growing our own salads. I just could not bear to eat those sad looking presentations from the supermarket. I’m quite pleased with this lot as the polytunnel is only up a short time. Summer Purslane, cut and come again Lettuces, rocket and Basil make for a lovely salad mix. With a nice dressing…a salad for me…is the basis of any good meal.

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Flowers in the polytunnel too. This strange looking plant is Cock’s Comb Amaranth. It was a gift from my friend Saffron who has a fondness for rare and unusual plants.

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The seeds are forming along the edge of the comb. Will certainly try and save seed from this beauty.

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In the garden one always has to be thinking ahead to the next season. August is a good time to plant winter salad crops as they will be well established by the time the colder weather comes. Of course day length is also a big factor in plant growth and already the nights have started to draw in a little. The Purple Sprouting Broccoli has come on well outside…this is a plant that does’nt need to be indoors…this will be very useful in the ” hungry gap”  next March and April. One of my fave vegetables.

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There is a real feel of Autumn in the air and of course seeds are setting everywhere. This Cotoneaster will be red before too long. Good picking for the birds when the weather gets colder. Hopefully that will not be for a while yet.

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A pic for Sunday.

4 Aug

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