In Permaculture practice often ‘Stacking Functions’ is something one hears from time-to-time, here is a very brief example of Stacking something to form more than one function or purpose …

Today I got hold of dried Cordyline Leaves and I can tell from past experience that once composted, you should get a very nice textured compost that has good structure (with the only downside being time of composting). The plan was only to chop them up and add them into my 4 compost bins but I also decided to place some in heavy duty bags such as re-used compost bags and let them to sit out of sight (perhaps behind a shed?) and compost down on their own, out of the way until needed.

Organic Compost from Cordyline Leaves

Organic Compost from Cordyline Leaves

The solution to try get them a bit of a kick start was to throw them into a bucket of water that has a handfull or so of Chicken Manure Pellets pre-mixed in and let to soak up for 24-48 hours.

Step two is merely throwing the amount of chopped and soaked leaves required to fill Half of the bag and further pack the other half of the bag with a dry bunch of the leaves to help soak up any excess moisture, then puncture some holes in the bag (so that worms can get in) and pack the bag away until needed.

Second Function =

now instead of just pouring out the leftover liquid from the bucket randomly into a bed somewhere or into a drain, you will make the effort to use it diluted as a plant feed in your garden as Chicken Manure is high in Nitrogen…

Another quick example is with plants, the Elaeagnus umbellata’ (Autumn Olive) is a shrub which is common in Permaculture Food Forest design guilds, the plant is deciduous (leaves fall in winter so can be used to provide shade in summer and allow light to penetrate in winter), it is a Nitrogen fixer, which means it is able to provide extra nitrogen naturally to any neighbouring plants thereby helping to support them in a symbiotic system, the final benefit is that it also provides a useful delicious berry in Summer  / Autumn.

Over the weekend I was blessed with quite a few Butterflies (I installed a Buddleia early this year) and saw a Lacewing which so far, I don’t recall seeing one in the last few years in either my garden or allotment …

I also got out and secured a second batch of Nettle Seeds (I started using these and foraging for them last year), they are great added in practically anything from smoothies to porridge, salads, soups etc etc! This year has been a little weird with the weather and so, they are ripening far too quickly and soon won’t be available so get out soon and get snipping! I’ve now got 3 seed tray bottoms full of Nettle seed stalks drying out on windowsills, I estimate that if you find good decent nettle seed, that a half shopping carrier bag to a full one will supply a small family with enough till next season.

Elderberries are already ripening everywhere I go, again, since it has been such a dry summer, I’ve observed that many of them have already rejected much of their fruit as a survival tactic, so only take what you need and don’t overdo it. I have a couple recipes for Elderberry so as usual, I would recommend you immediately freeze them when you get home as you may not have gotten enough on your first session to make something – also, they are far easier to remove from their flower stalks when frozen.

Elderberries do wonders for our immune systems, hence why nature gives them to us just at the end of summer towards the cold / hibernation / dormancy months …

I am a subscriber to an online Petition / activist group called Someofus.org, they send me a few emails per week of various online petitions regarding mostly, environmental issues worldwide.

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The following is copied text from one of these emails which I received last year sometime and I honestly forgot to share with you all, for that I apologise … however, although this information may be Gold, keep in mind that there is a lot of information out there pretty much proving that these chemicals are just not good at all for us and the environment …

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Petition Email sent from SomeOfUs.org

A federal judge in the United States recently ordered Monsanto to release 250 pages of internal documents, and what they revealed is practically criminal: Monsanto has known for 17 years that glyphosate, the main ingredient in its pesticide Roundup, could cause cancer.

And they launched a massive coverup to make sure we never found out.

The released documents — dubbed the “Monsanto papers” — show the agricultural giant has been manipulating research, colluding with a senior government official at the US Environmental Protection Agency, and providing bogus articles to government agencies — all to refute the fact that glyphosate is a carcinogen.

Monsanto has proven itself completely untrustworthy and an ongoing risk to public health. It should never be allowed to merge with Bayer — which would only make both companies more powerful and give them control over our food supply from seed to plate.

Here’s what happened: In 1999, Monsanto commissioned a researcher to study glyphosate and prove that it does not cause cancer. However, the scientist found just the opposite — that glyphosate had properties likely to be carcinogenic.

Rather than do the ethical thing and stop using glyphosate, Monsanto buried the study and began a massive campaign to “prove” that glyphosate did not cause cancer.

Internal corporate communications uncovered by the courts show that Monsanto conspired with an EPA deputy director to stop reviews of the effects of glyphosate by government agencies. The same EPA official also tipped off the company to a glyphosate report released by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, giving Monsanto the time it needed to build a public relations onslaught against the findings.

The agri-giant paid for their own studies defending glyphosate use, and then hired scientists to write articles for academic journals using the studies. These articles were then used by the EPA and the European Food Safety Authority to determine that Roundup was safe to use on food crops.

And we only know about the coverup because of a lawsuit by people claiming they got cancer from using Roundup.

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I almost decided not to go to this year’s London Permaculture Festival, not sure why, maybe it was being a little bit tired and having some things to do which I hadn’t worked on yet (the festival was on Sunday 29th July). I  pulled myself out to go and still didn’t or never will regret it!

Funnily enough, London has had barely any rain for the last Two months at the very least and when the LPF event is on then the Rain came quite heavily the previous night, it might have been a little bit of a disappointment for the organisers as, if the weather was the usual 27- 30+ degree C weather I bet the turnout would have been quite heavy – at least now we can identify the true Permies in London, the ones not scared of mother Earth’s life..

Anyway, I’m now a proud 4 Year straight LPF Bum!

Partially one reason why I’m always excited to go is mainly the rare edible plants you can find for sale there which are perennial and are always great additions to any Food Forest of any size, this year’s availability was great and included species which I don’t recall being available in previous years (unless they were sold before I got there?).

London Permaculture Festival 2018 timetable

LPF 2018 Workshop Timetable

 

As usual the extensive workshops going on during the day are very educational and are all included in the door charge so you can go to as many workshops as you can physically attend between 11am and 5pm! I would like to have attended the Beekeeping workshop but since I did attend one in 2014 given by  ”the barefoot beekeeper” it wasn’t such a major loss … The ”How to grow LOTS of herbs and microgreens in a small space” event was very educational and was given by the same chap who did last year’s event which covered growing lots of vegetables and fruits in containers. I ended up my day attending the ”building with Strawbales” workshop which was also educational.

Various hand crafted goods, clothing and consumables such as soaps, health products etc. were on sale both inside the main hall as well as in the entrance car park – activist and awareness groups were educating visitors about various concerns etc.

Permanent Publications always have discounts going on and this time if you paid the £5 for the latest issue of Permaculture Magazine, they allowed you to pick any of the available back-issues on the table to take for free … I had subsequently just ran out of my cash budget a few minutes before when I bought a half year’s supply of hand made herb soap and couldn’t take advantage of that nice offer 😦

I did not have a camera at hand this time – however I did some good photographing of previous years: 201520162017

Crazy day (yesterday), 4am wake up, check outside (rain / wetness status) and prepare seed trays for final crops that are able to be sowed in July, go to work and finish an our later than normal … come home, eat and get busy in the kitchen!
So last night I made the Banana Loaf and followed it up with a few jars of home made Chutney, it’s been a good while since I made a Chutney and I only did it as I had more than a Kilogram of foraged red plums that were harvested before ripening, they are a bit too tart to enjoy as they are and I was running out of my last couple home made chutneys from previous years …

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For now, here is the Banana Loaf recipe, I might only share the Chutney recipe at a later date as it was also an experiment and I will need to age the Chutney for at least one month before I can do a taste test.

If you have never made a cake before, this is a great beginner recipe with only 5 ingredients!

Banana Loaf:

3x medium or 2x large very ripe bananas,

250g self raising flour,

120g Sugar,

2x Eggs,

125g Butter, cut into small pieces at room temp

1x Greased Cake Loaf Tin (I usually use a small amount of Olive Oil for the greasing)

Method:

Mash the bananas in a bowl with a fork or back of a spoon, now add the butter together with the sugar in a mixing bowl and mix.

Add one egg followed by 1-2 Tbsp of the flour, mix then add in the other egg and mix well.

Add in the mashed banana, mix again, followed by sieving in the remaining flour – mix again.

Fill your Loaf tin or smaller Cake tin,level it a bit and bake at 180 Degrees C. For 40 minutes.
After 40 min’s, place a sheet of Aluminium foil over the top, bring down to 150 Degrees C. And bake for a further 20 – 30 min’s.

Remove and check with a metal skewer or cutlery knife, stick it in and pull out fast, if a sticky substance shows then it is still a bit wet internally, cook for a further 7-10 min’s and check again, once your tool of choice comes out clean, then switch off and place somewhere to cool down for 10 mins before removing from the tin to cool down further.

The original recipe calls for a crazy 175g of Sugar! I have substantially reduced the amount of sugar needed and the result is a pleasant sweet loaf cake …

A week or o ago I made a Rhubarb and Custard Cake which was delish’, I hope to share this recipe with you soon as well, otherwise click on ”Recipes and Preserving” at the top of the page.

I know that this summer has been bad in terms of the ‘drought’ we are experiencing in England / Britain and this may be part of the cause of the issue discussed further but, it is human stubbornness that is the main culprit when it comes to environmental issues.

People insist on Buxus (Box hedge /tree) in their gardens but now the Box tree Caterpillar is a serious pest in the UK and other parts of Europe, as usual people turn to the RHS for advice and they themselves don’t even tell us that our chemical treatments Will kill other beneficial insects such as Ladybirds, Bees, Lacewigs etc etc.

The solution is simple, Stop Trying To Fight what may become a permanent problem!! Simply get rid of the Buxus and replace it with similar shrubs ie: ‘Ilex crenata‘ being one I would say is the go-to replacement.

Also, write to and pressure the RHS to take more time out and inform their members about the environmental damages which the chemicals they seem to promote – actually cause.

One great way to control Aphid in your garden or vegetable patch is to encourage Ladybirds, there are a couple methods and probably the best guaranteed one is to find trees / plants which aphid go for in serious numbers, Linden ‘Tilia cordata’ or Lime tree as it is wrongly known as is a great example, they get covered in Aphid every yea and subsequently attract ladybirds, you can collect ladybirds and their pupae into small bottles to spread around your garden or you could order them online! Another method is to research which umbellifer wild flowers are native locally and plant a mixture of them, umbellifers are plants which have flat clusters of small flowers which are often umbrella shaped, these usually attract aphid and result in Ladybird and hoverflies coming in to look for food! Often ants fight off the ladybirds, one method to distract the ants is to have a sugar water source nearby …

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Organic Pest Control by Encouraging Nature – Permaculture Allotment

Keep in mind, only release ladybirds in the evening and it helps to spray your plants with water as this will dissuade them from leaving right away however, if you place them in the day by hand directly onto a plant covered in Aphid, they usually start chomping immediately.

Store them in their bottle (with breathing holes and some leaves / twigs inside) inside the fridge if you cannot get them in place the same day …

The above photo is of two newly ‘hatched’ ladybirds hence why they are only orange at this stage, going back to my allotment the next day I saw the plant already had at least 50% less aphid just within 24 hours!

Today I had a short watering and planting session and can confirm that companion planting potatoes around a french bean tipi delivers good foliage and healthy plant results! If I remember, I will do my best to weigh the resulting potato harvest – Beans are natural Nitrogen Fixers and they help feed nearby plants in a symbiotic relationship (The potatoes will deliver a ground cover and reduce moisture loss).

Further, small frogs are leaving the pond and again I harvested 1 large and 3 smaller Courgettes (Zucchini) from only two dwarf bushes! I am on a mission this year to be sure to keep harvesting them when small to see how much yield I can get from those two plants, I have germinated two others to be able to possibly pickle their yield for winter use. The dry weather is actually a welcome! I have had far less slug and snail damage this year when compared to previous years …

Over the last decade or so, you could consider me to be one of those people who have become more and more aware of the collusion between Governments, Media, Corporations and Banks – I used to think all was dandy and the western world was a pinnacle of what would be considered ”right” and how civilization should be.

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John Perkins

One book I would point readers to read and be able to overstand what I overstand and become more aware of day by day, would be ”Confessions of an Economic Hitman – by John Perkins” – the latest book is actually called ”The New Confessions of an Economic Hitman”. In this book you quickly become aware of this collusion, mainly between American Corporations which are actually NSA offshoots and the IMF / Wold Bank etc.

Today I was about to go to the WordPress general page and saw a news snippet from two days ago about an Ex US Military General joining the ranks of the board of directors of the company which owns Wordpess, further in, the article states the following: ”This is the latest in several recent executive hires for Automattic, including former New York Times executive Kinsey Wilson joining as president of WordPress.com in March 2018.” < so here we have a mainstream corporate media executive getting involved in the top management of a very popular alternative media blog host which claims that it covers at least 30% of the Internet, this should be ringing alarms bells in most people, most people are unfortunately too busy to take note or even care …

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John Perkins Quote

In John Perkins’ Non-Fiction book, there is a passage where he mentions how Robert ”Strange” McNamara went from being President of Ford motor company, to Secretary of Defence in the US Military under J.F. Kennedy – straight into presidency at the World Bank! Need I point out the obvious ? Is this normal in the main ”Western World” powers? I find information like this can often be seen as normal even here in the UK, hardly anyone bats an eye …

Do yourself a favour, get hold of the book, even if you need to buy a second hand one online.

Here in the UK we have a brand of non-animal meat substitute called Quorn, they do a Vegan range other than their normal vegetarian meat substitute products. It is made from Mycoprotein which according to my research is made from a fungi called ‘fusarium venenatum’, once the fermentation process has finished, it can either be Vegan by seasoning and mixing with Potato Protein or just Vegetarian by mixing with free range egg. Quorn is used as the meat substitute in this recipe, however please note, I am not a Vegan and, as I couldn’t get hold of the Vegan Minced ”Beef” from my regular shop, I used the egg based one – there are also other brands of Meat Free alternatives out there, the market is growing …

 

 

I have started using Non-Meat alternatives mainly because of the fact that most farm animals in the UK and Europe have been fed with GMO feed for many years despite the general opposition to GMO ”technology”, the other alternative if you can afford it is to buy only Organic Meat products.

I use Bolognese sauce not only as a nice family dinner but also ensure to bulk it up a lot so that I can freeze perhaps 2 or maybe 3 takeaway containers full of the lef-tovers for future last-minute quick dinners or for work lunch (In a food flask).

Another option if you don’t have a lot left over, is to chop up the pasta and mix it into the remaining sauce, you can throw this into a container in the fridge and can use it as a toasted sandwich filling the next day!

Ingredients:

  • Pack of Vegan or Vegetarian ”Beef” (Usually 300g),
  • Spagetti or Fuscilli etc,
  • Peas,
  • 1 or half of an Aubergine (Egg plant / Brinjal),
  • 2-3 Tbsp Lentils (Any colour),
  • 3 Tbsp Bulgar Wheat (Optional, but helps to bulk it up),
  • Chopped Onion,
  • Tin of Organic Chopped Tomatoes,
  • Bottle of Organic Passata (Not entirely necessary but makes it nicer),
  • 1 – 2 Tbsp Tomato Puree,
  • Salt, Pepper and Italian herbs such as Basil, Oregano and Rosemary
  • Nettle Seeds (Optional – these need to be foraged, they are already available Now due to the weird season we have had this year – June 2018)
  • Optional – if needed, you may find this recipe to be quite sharp / sour, if so you might need to sweeten it a little bit, I recommend using ketchup instead of sugar

Method:

  1. Throw in some Olive Oil into a decent sized Medium – Large pot, heat up and add in your Meat or Substitute, cook for a few minutes then take out and place in a temporary bowl,
  2. add a cup or slightly more of water into the same pot and cook the Lentils and Bulgar Wheat, you can sprinkle in the nettle seeds if using any, cook for 10 or so minutes, then scoop out into the same bowl as the Meat or Substitute – it does not matter if there is any water remaining,
  3. Add more Olive Oil and fry the Chopped Onion and Chopped Aubergine (Brinjal / Eggplant), cook until the Aubergine is lightly brown but mostly soft throughout – you can add in some salt here if you like, perhaps some spices like Paprica,
  4. Add in the Passata and tin of Chopped Tomatoes, as well as the tomato puree, you can throw in some stock too at this point (Beef stock for non-vegan and Vegetable stock for everyone else) – Creating liquid stock from store-bought product is quite easy, I will post soon on this subject,
  5. Once all is mixed in, throw in your herbs and add the bowl of ”Meat / Substitute” and Lentils / Wheat, mix all in and let simmer for 30 mins to an hour – in the meantime you can heat a pot of water to cook your chosen pasta in.
  6. For further bulking up, you can also throw in some Grated Carrot (Don’t use more than half a carrot), chopped celery, Courgette (Zucchini) etc! Try not to skip the Aubergine, they really do add a great taste to this recipe!
  7. Serve and Enjoy!
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Vegan Spaghetti Bolognese

For all of my recipes including Vegan, Cakes, cough / cold medicines, jams & Jelly, Chutneys, Soups, Pies, Smoothies, Cider and Vinegar, Wine and CompotesClick Here.

This really is a very delicious soup and people who don’t like broccoli much will usually say it’s actually quite nice!!

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Organic Vegan Broccoli Soup

  • 3-4  Heads of Broccoli – chopped (or 1 per person being served),
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil,
  • Big pot of Boiling Water (enough to cover the Broccoli),
  • Salt ‘n Pepper to taste

Bring the pot of water to boiling point, throw in the Broccoli and let go to boil again, add in some salt (skip the salt if you are going to use the excess ”stock” as liquid plant feed). Once boiling, time 3.5 – 4 minutes then switch off. It’s best to let it cool down a bit before throwing the broccoli chunks into the blender, blend some with about half a cup of the remaining water and keep blending / adding water little by little – DON’T add too much in one go! Just keep going until you have a nice smooth consistency, once you are happy then throw in the olive oil and blend again with your salt and pepper. Serve with some nice Crusty Soup bread – I like to do a large batch and freeze a couple servings to take to work in the coming months…

With the price of Organic produce going lower and lower, there’s no excuse anymore in not having at least a part-healthy diet! Yes, a head of Organic broccoli is about a third smaller than non-organic, but it’s the nutrient content and health benefits we are looking at, not the size (bulk) – FACT: Chemically treated produce has less nutrient value and ARE subsequently, bad for your health!!!

For further Vegan recipes that also have non-vegan options, check out:

Mushroom Soup and Berry / Fruit Smoothies