Archive | 9:25 am

Mulch, mulch, glorious mulch

13 Apr

Since we’re coming up to winter, I’ve decided that the most useful thing I can do for my garden-to-be (apart from plan it) is to get mulching. From what I understand of permaculture so far, mulching is a method of preparing the soil that doesn’t require any digging, and has lots of benefits. Not requiring any digging sounds like a benefit to me! But it also “improves nutrient and water retention in the soil, encourages favorable soil microbial activity and worms, and suppresses weed growth” 1. And the plants grow with ‘vigor’. Vigor sounds good! Given my poor track record of sustaining gardens for more than a month, I’d like to give this garden a good head start at least.

According to Wikipedia, this is what I need to do:

  1. The area of interest is flattened by trimming down undesirable and/or invasive plant species such as weeds and grasses.
  2. The soil is analyzed and its pH is adjusted (if needed). [Note to self: figure out how to analyse the soil pH.]
  3. The soil is moisturized (if needed) to facilitate the activity of decomposers.
  4. [Add in some manure.]
  5. The soil is then covered with a thin layer of slowly-decomposing material (known as the weed barrier), typically cardboard. This suppresses the weeds by blocking sunlight, adds nutrients to the soil as weed matter quickly decays beneath the barrier, and increases the mechanical stability of the growing medium.
  6. A layer (around 10 cm thick) of weed-free soil rich in nutrients is added.
  7. A layer (at most 15 cm thick) of weed-free, woody and leafy matter. Theoretically, the soil is now ready to receive the desirable plant seeds.

But first, I need to plan where and what I’m going to do with my garden.

A sampling of raw

13 Apr

Here are some pictures of some of the yummy raw things I have been making lately.

I don’t intend to be 100% raw; partly for social reasons, and partly because I don’t believe everything needs to be raw. It makes sense for fruit, veges, nuts and some grains to be raw, and to eat a lot of them, but I plan to eat eggs and cheese, cook my chickpeas and kidney beans, and roast the occasional potato. I may even have some chicken, but I’ve never been a big meat eater anyway so I doubt I will eat red meat. I would say I’m about 80% raw in general. Today I have been 100% raw.

This was the first raw meal we had. I sneaked in some boiled eggs. It was divine. It had surprise ingredients like fresh grated ginger.

This is a raw corn chowder. Pretty good, although I used a little too much olive oil.

I was rather proud of these raw oatmeal raisin cookies. Whizzed em up and stuck em in the dehydrator. You wouldnt guess they were raw. Delish!

Raw pizza. OK, the cheese isnt raw, but the base is made of sprouted buckwheat and carrot, whizzed and dehydrated, the tomato paste is raw, and the avocado was perfectly ripe and delicious.

These are raw walnut and mushroom 'burgers' with cauliflower 'couscous'. It was quite yummy - even my non-raw brother thought so!

I have been surprised at how full I feel after a raw meal. I don’t need as much on my plate as I used to, which strikes me as odd, as starchy carbohydrates always seemed more filling than veges. But I have been making my meals smaller and smaller over the last couple of weeks. I do find I get peckish more often though, it just takes less to satisfy me. So I tend to snack on nuts or fruit throughout the day, and have small meals.

Another thing that’s surprised me is how quick my cravings for unhealthy food went away. I guess it’s true: when your body is getting what it needs, it doesn’t crave approximations.

I swear I’m not a dieter

13 Apr

I have always maintained that diets are a waste of time and food is for enjoying. I’ve never been into fast food and I always have veges with my dinner, but I have felt for a while that I really ought to stop denying the fact that I could have a healthier lifestyle. It’s so easy to just stick with the same old patterns.

I heard about this raw food thing, and thought ‘ no way!’. Why would I give up fettucine carbonara, roast chicken, pastries etc? Sure it’s good to eat more fruit and vegetables, but that’s a bit extreme. My Mum has been increasing her raw diet, but she has a lot of salads and green smoothies, and that just doesn’t appeal to me. Then I saw some pictures a friend posted on Facebook of her raw vegan Christmas feast. The food looked delicious, the recipes sounded easy, and the seed was planted.

The reason I could contemplate the raw food diet is because I have always preferred my vegetables raw, and I love nuts. Even when I was a kid Mum would make two separate lots of veges – raw for me, cooked for her and my brother. But even so, the thought of all the delicious food I’d miss out on was too much. I love cheese, and potatoes, and eggy bread, and sausage rolls (I know, I know). I am so not the type.

Then I read the book ‘Raw Family’ in which the son got diabetes at about the same age as I did. His mother learnt that it wasn’t diabetes that causes eyesight loss and kidney damage, but the insulin used to treat it. I never knew this, and quite frankly, it freaked me out. Living with the spectre of ill health is not an easy thing. They made the huge lifestyle shift to eating 100% raw, and he has never had to take insulin.

With the equally scary spectre of Peak Oil looming, I know that I am particularly vulnerable. If I didn’t have access to insulin, I would die within a week. I finally felt that something needed to be done; I needed to grasp at any possibility to heal or manage my diabetes without synthetic genetically engineered medications which are heavily subsidised and reliant on oil and a stable infrastructure to get them to my fridge.

So I decided to give the ‘raw thing’ a go. When I told a friend a few days ago it felt strange to say a ‘raw food diet’, because to me diets are motivated by weight loss and are a short term thing. This feels like a lifestyle overhaul, and it’s for health reasons. I was worried that I would crave cooked food but to my surprise, I haven’t. I usually find it near impossible to walk past a bakery, but the other day it was as uninteresting to me as a shoe shop. (I’m not really into retail therapy.)

The results were almost instant. Within a couple of days my insulin intake was drastically reduced. Usually I take 30 – 60 units of my short acting novorapid per day, and now I’m taking 10 – 18. I’m still having my usual 32 units per day of long acting.

And as for the energy thing? Last weekend I climbed Mt Kaukau with my husband and baby (he was carrying the baby) and I was fine! Quite a different story to climbing Mt Iron (which is not much of a mountain really) on our honeymoon 2+ years ago and bawling my eyes out halfway up. I want to be more ‘fine’ when I’m doing physical work. I’m sick of not having quite-enough-energy to really live life to the fullest. I’m also sick of letting my diabetes and asthma have so much say in my life.

I feel better already, and it’s been less than two weeks.