Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Hollyhock and Vine

Hollyhock & Vine sounds like a cross-street rendezvous in an L.A noir, in fact its a happy accident of planting on the allotment. The ancient vine I found strangled by hogweed and nettles ten years ago is now cascading over my shed in beautiful contrast to the reds and pinks of the hollyhock's beside it. The vine's tenderest and shiniest leaves make excellent dolmas.

This year circumstance and inclination mean the allotment is teetering on the brink of barely controlled chaos. I planted rye and clover as a green manure and inspired by Masanobu Fukuoka's book, The One Straw Revolution I am trying to garden in a more natural way, using weeds and grass as a mulch to condition and nourish the soil and letting nature set the tone. So far its been a lot less work and everything seems to be cropping well. I've been busy visiting yoghurt makers in Herefordshire, cheesemakers in Bermondsey, beekeepers in Kings Cross and catching fish (and throwing up) in the Channel. All of which means that the attentive but less involved style of gardening described by Fukuoka suits me fine..

Here are few of his words:

"I grow vegetables in a "semi-wild" way, making use of a vacant lot, riverbank or open wasteland, my idea is just to toss out the seeds and let the vegetables grow up with the weeds. I grow my vegetables on the mountainside in the spaces between the citrus trees."
Here are his four principles of natural farming:


1. NO CULTIVATION

2. NO CHEMICAL FERTILISER OR PREPARED COMPOST

3.NO WEEDING BY TILLAGE OR HERBICIDES

4.NO DEPENDANCE ON CHEMICALS

If you haven't read the book, do, its a brilliant mix of philosophy and commonsense with a little low key Buddhism thrown in too. Its ostensibly about rice farming but it also makes the case for a more natural, organic approach to food, better than I've ever heard it done before. If you need converting or just have never got the point of why organic is so important, buy it now. For me it took organic food out of the luxury goods aisle and right into the heart of our relationship with the earth. Despite all this it is far from preachy and guaranteed to make you feel better.










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