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  • : The blog of Frank Beswick. It deals with my interests in religious, philosophical spiritual matters and horticulture/self-reliance
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April 20 2011 4 20 /04 /April /2011 15:22

The article shows how to establish and run an organic vegetable garden by showing how organic gardeners feed the soil, avoid pesticide use and rotate planting.

"Feed the soil and the soil feeds the plants." This is the principle of the organic movement. Organic growers believe that the soil is a living reality to be cultivated. They feed it with manure, compost and leaf mould to replace nutrients lost by extracting crops and to maintain humus, the natural glue that holds soil together, retaining nutrients and water. Compost your weeds, as doing this replaces nutrients when it is added to the soil, so get a compost bin. Only after they have fed the soil will organic growers add fertilisers. Ensure that you put this soil nourishment in to balance what you take out in vegetables.

Do not use pesticides, because organic growers realize that pesticides kill not only harmful insects, but helpful ones as well, such as ladybirds, which attack aphids [e.g. greenfly.] Instead try natural methods, such as encouraging hedgehogs and insect-eating birds. You can do this by providing a pile of twigs and leaves for the hedgehogs and nesting boxes for blue tits, which attack insects. Never use non-organic slug pellets, because they cause hedgehogs to die in agony when they eat slugs. Instead use special organic pellets that simply gum up the slugs' digestion, but are not poisonous. You may use Bordeaux mixture against potato blight and other organically permitted herbicides. Net your cabbages against birds, as wood pigeons are very greedy.

Ensure that you have a good crop rotation. There are various rotation systems. The simplest uses four beds: potatoes, onions and leeks, legumes [peas and beans] and brassicas, such as cabbage. You might have others for salads, strawberries and carrots. You rotate the beds year by year, so potatoes are followed by cabbages, which are followed by onions and so on. There may be a separate section for perennials, such as fruit bushes. It can be a good idea to grow strawberries in containers to ensure that they do not spread. Many gardeners grow mint in pots because it spreads so wildly. Raspberries do the same, so you have to pluck up spare shoots that spring up away from the beds.

Always seek advice from experts, if you find a problem, and always be ready to find out more.

1 The rock garden with pergola. | Source | Author Zipity11 | Date 20
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Published by Frank Beswick - in Agriculture
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April 18 2011 2 18 /04 /April /2011 19:19

The origins of the modern festival of Christmas

Midwinter is not a pleasant time. It is cold and dark, especially as you go further north, so people needed to boost their spirits as the shortest day approached. Across Europe a great midwinter Pagan festival developed to cheer them up. The people of the North called it Yule. The Romans called it Saturnalia.

At Yule the Saxons and Norsemen countered the cold and dark of the northern winter with a huge feast where they ate roast pig cooked over the Yule log, which was dragged in from the woods to burn on the hearth. They drank mead and ale and kissed under the mistletoe [or more] All this was to emotionally strengthen them for the last half of the grim winter period until the first signs of spring. In the meantime the Romans had their own celebration, Saturnalia, and being Roman, they celebrated with rowdy, randy revels. This is where the Church came in. The priests were unhappy at the behaviour during the feast, so decided to make it Christian it by setting Jesus' birth on Saturnalia day, the 25th December, to encourage people to celebrate more religiously. Linked to this was the belief that a Pagan deity, Mithras, a rival to the Christian God, was supposed to have been born on 25th December, so the Church could muscle in on Mithras' celebrations as well.

The strategy worked to some extent, and the name Christmas [Christ's mass] developed, but the Pagan aspect never went away. The Yule log is remembered, even though it is now chocolate. Kissing under the mistletoe, a memory of Pagan fertility rites, still happens. The Christmas tree was an old German Pagan symbol that was brought to Britain by Prince Albert. Its evergreen status was a sign of everlasting life in the cycle of rebirth. Massive feasting is still the norm.

In fact, nowadays we have the remnants of the Pagan festivals, with a superficial [for some people] Christian religious belief/mythos covering it. Old festivals never die, they merely evolve with the times

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Published by Frank Beswick - in History
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