Allotment: nine-square with carrots, beans, celeriac, squash, courgettes and leeks. June 2016
There is a lot of weather going round at the moment, physically and metaphysically. Since I’m talking about squares, forgive the play on words, though the round in my first sentence ought really to be around. Poetic licence. There is a deal of unpredictability, highs followed quickly by lows of pressures; peaks and troughs. I’m having to do a lot of running for shelter.
I like the concept of round weather. Suns are round. There are cycles; these are round. And around. Being out-of-doors, dependent on weather, round or otherwise, reveals, reminds, how much we occupants of the human form are dependent on weather for our food and general well-being. And fertile ground. Unlike the wild creatures, however, we have created a society that has distanced us from the fundamental significance of weather and the importance of fertile earth.
Allotment: 16-square with sweetcorn, squash, courgettes, and mangetout, June 2016
We’ve constructed all these squares – houses, factories, churches even, over the top of the soil on which we were meant to grow food. And we continue to do this at the proverbial alarming rate and let’s not forget all the felling of trees – for meat production – lumping great squares of them, ignoring wilfully that we need trees to produce our oxygen. Food production – I’m talking grains and veggies – is being squeezed into ever-dwindling spaces, resulting in a flood of biblical proportions of fast-food factory farming industries. The earth in these dwindling spaces becoming stressed and exhausted, we stir-in (there’s another round) artificial fertilisers and then plant artificial fast-food seeds which we shower with anti-pest poisons, which infiltrate the plants and the plants in their turn, poison us human form inhabitants.
Farmers have become little more than employees of big agricultural monopolies, as they are contractually obliged to use the seed given to them by the companies. They are not to collect seed for future use (and are fined heavily if they are caught doing so). Eventually, the breakdown of natural diversity has resulted in the breakdown of resistance to pests and diseases and then further resulted in resistance to the pesticides developed to control these. And so we are poisoning ourselves for nothing. To solve the problem of diminishing food supplies, we develop GM foods, further imbalancing nature’s cycles (another round). And we navigate through our square lives blind deaf and dumb to our destruction of the planet by default and thus the very stuff we have to have for our very existence.
Allotment: Pumpkin: Turk’s Head Turban, June 2016
So there I was, a couple of days ago, pondering all this gloomy stuff while weeding out a little square of fertile earth in which I’m growing food sans any poisons. My square is miniscule in proportion to the size of the planet. I’ve divided this square further into nine squares and each has a different veggie growing in it. In one square there are five celeriac; the middle square has a square raised bed on top in which I’m growing carrots (the additional height and central position is to protect the carrots from the pesky carrot fly – they are low-flying pests – and I seem to have succeeded as the carrots are flourishing) and in the other squares I’m growing courgettes, squash (pumpkin) of different kinds, leeks and aubergines. It’s kind-of my root vegetable square.
I have an identical big square adjacent, in which I’m growing several different varieties of potato, beetroot and radishes. Between the two squares there’s a metal arch over which I’m growing French beans (blue, purple and yellow ones). I’ve two other squares, in which I’m growing sweetcorn and more courgettes and pumpkins; and mangetout peas. Elsewhere are squares in which I’m cultivating asparagus, Jerusalem artichokes, salad veggies, onions and shallots, cabbages of several varieties and shapes, kale, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, spinach, marrow, cucumber and more beans and on my square veranda-turned-greenhouse there are half a dozen tomato plants, from cherry to beef and everything in-between.
Each square has some kind of blossom to attract bees so they help pollination, and also to help the bees recover from the viral and other diseases that are killing them off globally. Here’s an extract from a February 2016 article in the journal Science, via the web site Take Part.
“The transportation of European honeybees that pollinate a third of the food supply is driving a deadly disease infecting beehives around the world, according to a study published Thursday in the journal Science.
“What we can say in our research is that the spread of this deadly virus across continents would not have been possible without the human-aided transmission of the European honeybee,” said Lena Wilfert, the study’s lead author and an evolutionary geneticist at the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom.
The disease is called deformed wing virus, and it’s just one of a number of culprits impacting the health of pollinators. Researchers have also linked parasitic mites, viruses, bacteria, fungal diseases, and intensifying pesticide use to the overall decline in bee populations worldwide.”