Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Changing Season (part 3)

The picture this week is of one of my beetroot's that I planted from seedling last year which I have kept going during the winter period. As you can see the plant has begun to bolt (preparing to flower), which it will do every year from now on. If you have more than one of them in your garden you can selectively breed the strongest, healthiest ones together so as to improve your own seed stock.

I don't think we are going to get rain till late September early October this year and that is not going to be good for the farmers. So don’t forget to water your plants regularly.

A plant begins to bolt when the temperature rises rapidly, it is a survival feature that plants have, to ensure that the species survives. This beetroot has lived a happy life, it was fed only with comfrey tea every two weeks during last summer season and now I am feeding it with bat guano tea every two weeks. I started last week and this is the growth of the last week and a bit, and it has sent out two flower stalks. Another one of mine has twelve flower stalks, I think it is a very happy plant. Next year this will produce a lot more flower stems and flowers per stem. Do not try save a sick plants for seeds, as whatever their problem is, will be transferred to your new plants.

Breading plants to improve size, shape, flavour, texture, colour and growth speed has been done for thousands of years from the over three thousand edible plants out there. Our taste buds and palates have determined what we now see as the “norm”. Humans have used selective breeding to get plants to be like they are now, even the seeds are being bred out, or the seeds are not very productive to “protect the breeders” copyright.

Genetically Modified (GM) crops are exactly like that, and the problem with this is when nature does its thing, the cross breeding between indigenous crops and GM crops results in a catastrophe. The seeds that the small old style farmer plants next season will not perform correctly and this will result in reduced harvests and eventual crop failure. Because someone is greedy, everyone else will suffer, that is not a happy business relationship. It is just amazing how many businesses run with this kind of mission.

Applying mulch will assist you in three ways. The first is it will break down and make the soil more fertile. Two, it will shelter the ground and protect it from the sun, which prevents moisture loss. Three, it prevents weeds from germinating which is very useful if you are the type of person that does not enjoy the back breaking task of pulling weeds. Since I don't expect any rain any time soon, I have been applying aged wood chips. Your plants will be much healthier if you protect your soil.

You will find a lot more information on soil health in my Soil Health workshop from my Grow Your Own Food course.