OCA, A SOUTH AMERICAN TUBER TO BE TRIED OUT

Yesterday during a visit to our local Garden Centre to pick up some more seeds, I came across an interesting tuber, it is called Oca (Oxalis tuberosa).  I had never heard of it before and asked the shopkeeper for some information on it, she recommended it, and of course I could not resist bringing some of these tubers home to try it out this growing season. The leaves are apparently like a large Clover leaf (which I like), the flowers are yellow. I Googled it and found some more information on this vegetable, it was used and originated in S.America and used by the Incas. Growing these tubers will be something new to me and I have been looking up some advice because, of course, I want a successful crop. Apparently you plant them in individual little pots until large enough to plant out during the summer, then if you have a small garden like me, you could put them in place of the beans or other summer crops when they are finished.  Later the first frost will or might kill off the foliage but it apparently does not matter because the tubers are said to grow another good bit for the following couple of weeks, after which you harvest them. No doubt I will double check my facts before I take any risks with my precious seed-tubers. They are said to be an excellent source of carbohydrates, phosphorus and iron, as well as providing essential amino acids that promote the health and proper function of muscles, organs, nails, hair, skin and more. An exciting new addition to grow, and also to cook.  Learnt that they grow well in a slightly acidic soil, without the addition of seaweed or other fertilizer, so in fairly poor soil I guess, and that they need at least 6 hours of sunshine a day.

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Other seeds I bought are Sacred Basil, or Tulsi which I am very excited to start using in the cooking, and a dark leafed Kale which will see us through next winter.  Also bought 3 more Jerusalem Artichokes tubers for planting soon, only just learnt that they like a fairly dry soil, that is why my last planting did not work out well, soil too wet!

I bought a little Hypericum perforatum or St.John’s wort plant, never grew it before but it is supposed to be good for tea, though if one is on medicine it has a lot of contra-indications, but I am growing it mainly for it’s perforated leafs.  I put the leafs into oil, leave it in the sun for a few weeks, the oil turns pink, and it is said to be good for nerve pain.  As I have no tunnel or glasshouse I have seed trays in what you could call half a conservatory, and along windowsills, so the house is a bit untidy now but it’s great to see seeds coming up and they should be ready to plant out when the time comes.

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PLANTING PRIMROSES AND A DOLLS PICNIC

Today I was on granny duty and two of my grandchildren came and we all had a great time. Ruben helped me with planting out primroses which he really loved doing, the whole room, and himself were covered with earth, but so what! Then it was time for Alice to collect all my old vintage dolls and give them a picnic, Ruben was also enthusiastic about this, they played for a long while at this, after which we all went to the garden centre to pick up more seeds and enjoy playing with the dogs there. Then it was time to read, and read, my voice is not great after all this, hoarse as hell! But did not quite finish Roald Dahl’s ‘George’s marvellous medicine’. At around six o’clock I drove them both home again. Though I am wrecked, we did have a very special day.
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GRANDMOTHER ONCE MORE

And this morning it happened, my daughter gave birth to her fifth child. After a long night of labour a beautiful little girl was born. Willow will be her name. They are both doing well and one by one the other children are being introduced to this little one. Tomorrow I will see my new grandchild and I am surely looking forward to that. My blog will have to take second place for a while as I will be on granny duty 🙂
What a nice way to start a new season, spring time when everything is renewed is an ideal time to be born, having everything to look forward to, the lovely scent of flowers, the sprouting and growth of new vegetables in the garden, the trees getting their fresh green summer foliage, birds singing early in the morning, sun shining till after six o’clock before it goes down and takes the light with it.
It sure is a good day today.
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WHAT A DIFFERENCE SOME PLANNING MAKES

This was my garden before I started with the raised beds, the reason why I actually decided on raised beds was that because of all the trees the soil was difficult, full of roots and sunken. My garden sloops down towards the S.W. the soil was drying out too quickly too. But my garden was wild as I did not have time to work in it, I loved it’s wildness and thought that it was beautiful, but then I decided, that is when I retired, to grow vegetables organically (of course), and it is only last year then that I decided I would look at permaculture and go that way.

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Now there is a lot more light in the garden as we cut down some branches of the trees.  There are five trees in my 300 square meter garden.  I am very happy with the raised beds some of which I still let wild plants grow in whenever they want and where they want, I just guide them along a bit.  There is much more to learn and to apply, time will tell, a huge part of permaculture is watching your garden, observing and seeing what comes to grow where etc.  It’s all very rewarding, seeds have been put down, and tonight I am attending a meeting of the local GIY group, about the community garden, there will also be a seed swapping, it should be interesting.  So off I go.

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MAURITIUS JOURNEY PART 2

The beauty of the island of Mauritius, experienced some years ago when I went to visit a friend of mine from over there, and I was warmly welcomed by all his family and relatives. Situated on the less touristy South side of the island, It was a very interesting journey, with an introduction also to Mauritian foods, cooking, flora and fauna, and golden sand beaches where the women would dance to very cool music.  Very friendly and lively people, many are from Indian descent.   I was and am still very impressed.  I took so many photos some of which I am revisiting these days.

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Fruit tree Mauritius

Some fruit tree, not sure what exactly it is called.

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At the village of Chamarel, the coloured Earths, this natural phenomenon is due to decomposed basalt gullies.  The hot and humid climate helps in the decomposition of the (volcanic rock) basalt into clay.  As a result of total hydrolysis (chemical breakdown of minerals by water, leaving a large composition of iron and aluminium which constitute a ferralitic soil.  the iron sesquioxydes have a red and anthracite colour, whereas the aluminium sesquioxydes have a blue or purplish colour.  It is a most beautiful sight to behold.

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VENUS TONIGHT

Venus in the sky towards the West tonight was so bright and beautiful, just waiting to be enjoyed.
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“If the stars should appear one night in a thousand years, how would men believe and adore; and preserve for many generations the remembrance of the city of God which had been shown! But every night come out these envoys of beauty, and light the universe with their admonishing smile.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson, ‘Nature and Selected Essays’

 

SAGE GARLAND

Today I decided that it was time to cut down my very large Sage plant so that the young shoots could start to grow and produce more harvest for the coming season. I gathered it all inside and started to divide it in branches that I wanted to dry for use to burn as cleansers around the room after the winter, and lots of the leaves to use as tea and make a tincture or use in various other ways, like cooking. I would use a leaf of Sage to put in the pan if ever I fry something, but I also use it in soups and in other meals. According to a variety of sources, and one of them is my Herbal course; http://www.herbmentor.com there is a wide variety that Sage can be used for. In the medieval times it used to be said, I quote; “why should a man die while sage grows in his garden?”. Yes, Sage has many medicinal qualities, it is an astringent herb and has antiseptic qualities.  Among other things It is believed that as an herbal steam it can help to decongest the sinuses and loosen congestion in the lungs.

Anyway, I was sitting with all this Sage for a long time, plucking the leaves and cleaning it ready for drying, it was a satisfactory job to do today, the scent of the Sage hit my nostrils and that was pleasant, it reminded me of being in Portugal last year and how the herbal scents would be so strong and lovely there, of course the sun would bring the scents out.
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So now the branches are hanging up to dry.

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These are the leaves for tea, use in cooking or gargles and other uses.

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The garland of Sage is making this room feel rather nice, it is all part of living rural, and of using the bit of garden to grown our own produce including herbs.  So satisfying, interesting, and wonderful.

ANTICS OF THE FEMALE CHAFINCH

This morning I spotted these birds at the peanut feeder, and I could not be sure if it were female Chaffinches or some other bird, there were four of them on the feeder, and they were fierce in trying to outdo each other getting peanuts. To the left there is a Sparrow that is for sure. I took a few photos to try and identify these birds positively but have not managed to do so, the closed I got to it was a Chaffinch, so it probably is.
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Female Chaffinch waiting to go on to the feeder.

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SEEDS WILL SPROUT

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“Plants are nature’s alchemists, expert at transforming water, soil and sunlight into an array of precious substances, many of them beyond the ability of human beings to conceive, much less manufacture.”
Michael Pollan,