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Wally Richards
Wally Richardshttp://www.gardenews.co.nz
Wally Richards has been a gardening columnist for over 30 years. Check his websites - for gardening news and tips visit www.gardenews.co.nz. For mail order products visit www.0800466464.co.nz. Wally also has a gardening problem help line on 0800 466 464.

Gardening with Wally Richards: Food

A renowned or maybe infamous statesman, Henry Kissinger is known for, amongst many other things, his quotes one of which is:

‘Who controls the food supply controls the people; who controls the energy can control whole continents; who controls money can control the world.’

If you have been keeping up with what has been happening we see on mainstream media a energy crisis in Europe with rising costs of fuel, we hear of the implementation of proposed Cash Less Society and food is not as abundant as previously due to shipping and supply chains.

An example: I have for several months now being trying to ship a container of Neem Granules and Powder from India. My Shipping agents, Toll Global could not find a ship to transport it.

I was able to get my supplier in India to find a German shipping line that would take a container which after all this time will hopefully land in NZ in March.

I was told that most shipping lines do not want to come to Australia or NZ because they are made to sit off shore for a long periods of time waiting for permission to come in and disembark their cargo.

In the meantime using up fuel and paying their sailors wages for doing nothing.

Now we see fertilisers including urea are either not been exported by China, Russia or from some other suppliers and what is being imported now takes months instead of weeks to get here.

On TV news we see that this is causing a problem for our truckers.

(An automotive grade of urea will be injected into the vehicles’ exhaust stream to “scrub” nitrogen oxide (NOx) from the diesel exhaust. NOx, a major air pollutant, contributes to smog, which causes asthma and respiratory and heart diseases.)

Now here is the country’s food problem in a nutshell.

Commercial NZ growers of our vegetables have been using chemical fertilisers for many years and in doing so have killed the soil life in their soils.

This makes the soil void of microbes, beneficial fungi and no earth worms.

To grow crops in dead soil is a bit like hydroponics, you keep feeding the plants chemical nutrients to make them grow (NPK fertilisers).

The plants are not only forced to grow but to also grow quickly which means they do not obtain the nutritional quality plants obtain when grown naturally without being forced.

The vegetables thus grown are stressed and weak which makes them targets for every pest and disease under the sun.

To ensure that the vegetables look perfect on the supermarket shelves they need constant spraying of poisonous chemicals to prevent damage from diseases and pests.

This not only ensures that the soil life is continuously suppressed but also means you are eating produce that is chemically saturated and has little nutritional value or taste.

Food growers in NZ have a problem then, if they cant get loads of chemical fertilisers to grow their produce you will not see much fresh vegetables on the shelves.

What fertiliser is obtained will be up to 300% more expensive and that has to be paid for by you the consumer along with all the other costs involved in living, taking great price hikes.

Any imported food stuffs will also greatly increase in price due to shipping costs as well as manufacturing cost increases.

Here is your problem in regards to food security, we are now in the middle of February only 4 months till the shortest day.

Every day now till then, there is shorter day light hours.

Plants need sun light to grow, the less hours of sun light the less growth.

Ideally hardy crops such as cabbages need to be planted in summer to mature in winter.

That means the best time to plant your winter crops was in December and January.

It is not too late to plant seedlings in February and even into March but that is it as any planted after that will only slowly grow in less day light hours and later in spring when the hours of light increase they will go to seed.

Give you an example I can plant Drunken Woman lettuce (My favorite) now as purchased seedlings and they will be ready to harvest outer leaves in about a month to 6 weeks.

But if I plant the same in say May they will hardly grow and in August go to seed.

A waste of time other than used for the chickens to eat or dug under as a green crop to enhance the soil life.

So you need to plant seedlings now for your winter use.

They will grow during the diminishing light hours and reach near maturity going into winter when the growth is very slow but the cold temperatures keeps the crop in Natures Refrigerator till you want to harvest for use.

Produce that you have ready now you need to harvest, freeze, pickle, dehydrate, bottle and store for the coming months.

Our grandparents knew this and they had larders full of preserved food and gardens full of mature greens to harvest fresh.

My mum used to say, ‘Better Safe than Sorry’.

If you have been using a lot of chemical fertilisers and watering your vegetable garden with chlorinated tap water then you really need to restore the soil life.

Here is a remedy plan I saw on the Internet:

From Dead Dirt to Healthy Soil in 7 Simple Steps

  • Stop using NPK fertilizers. Nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium (NPK) fertilizers are commonly used for trees, shrubs, and grass.
  • Stop using herbicides and chlorinated tap water.
  • Leave the leaves.
  • Be mindful of disturbing the soil.
  • Use wood chips.
  • Use compost.
  • Use animal manures.

Happy Gardening.

Bit extra

Guy Hatchard: A Wake Up Call for our Politicians

I saw on Social media that a number of Police Officers attending the Wellington peaceful demonstrations have resigned from the force.

Dont know the truth of it but I am sure none of the police enrolled to their profession to harm fellow citizens in fact it is the reverse, to protect and defend.

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