My Garden ~ a Kiwi's take on life

"I wandered lonely as a cloud That floats on high o'er vales and hills," William Wordsworth

My Garden ~ soil health

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Tonight I read an article Farms of the Future in my February 2007 copy of
New Zealand Lifestyle Block. In it, research by a Dr Anderson found “food nutrient levels in the developed world are deteriorating.”  The article quoted him urging farmers to “step off the treadmill of agricultural chemicals and onto a path of managing soils, crops and animals in a profitable and sustainable way.”
I also believe there is a link between the health of the food we eat and our own health. This article sparked childhood memories I have of the way my father practised farming (in the future 40 years ago, perhaps!).
In a previous blog, I described how my late father was a farmer a man who cared for the soil. The high level of soil fertility (of the farm) was a result of applications of liquid seaweed and dragging a chain harrow to spread the animal manure over the paddocks. This was in an era when neighbouring farmers were applying fertiliser such as superphosphate to promote pasture growth. He grazed fewer dairy cows yet achieved similar profitable milk production figures to other farmers in the district. Less stress on the animals – they did not have to compete for blades of grass. Each year, a different paddock would be cultivated, sown in turnips as a winter feed crop before being re-grassed – no agricultural chemicals used. Not like the current focus of intensive practices to achieve high returns from farms. Animals and soil are respectively dosed and dusted with agricultural supplements and chemicals that indirectly enter our systems and affect our health. Dad cared for the soil which in turn grew healthy plant life and in turn, healthy animals. It was the same for the vegetables he grew – no sprays. He worked hard, but he in tune with nature and understood how to nurture the soil that provided for our needs.  It is my practice to rotate crops and to build the levels of humus in the soil without chemical interventions. I’ll sow a nitrogen-fixing crop in a bare plot with the intention of composting the green crop later on in spring to prepare the soil for planting summer vegetables. It is do-able on a small lifestyle block to improve the health of the soil and of the food we eat.

Author: Jenny

A few years ago when I began blogging, I was in awe of the creative, the witty, the informative, the insightful posts by writers on WordPress. I was challenged by my son to write, to set up a blog, to expand my garden diary scribblings. Never did I think from scratching and grubbing in my garden dirt would sprout words of reflection, thoughts about life lived as I know it. My garden is where I lose myself, or as Himself likes to tell others, I lose either my coffee mug or wine glass. Well at least I do put them on a gatepost so they are easily found. Always, there's something to write or chat about life lived as I know it. I have a certain sense of amazement that my blogging community is expanding. In a previous life, I once was a teacher. A four-walled classroom is an artificial construct. When thirty or so teenagers with diverse learning needs filled the space, the more I listened, the more I observed my students, the more I learned. They had stories to tell, to write of things that interested them. Luckily for me we embarked on amazing journeys of discovery and learned together. Some say a lifestyle block is a no-lifestyle block. We like being able to grow seasonal food, to enjoy fresh air and open space. Himself and I thought we had retired, about to define this older stage of our life together, but family commitments continue. And so it another phase of discovery happens as I share this place with Himself, son and grandsons and a menagerie of living creatures who rule the roost.

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