Tuesday, July 7, 2009

We Are All One


Once again I need to thank Kate of Hills and Plains Seedsavers for bringing this video to my attention.

It is self explanatory.....

Take just ten minutes out of your day, grab a coffee, and settle down and watch the video

I'm sure you will be moved.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Ian's Red Cherry Tomato,

I will be saving seeds this year from a cherry tomato plant that I have grown for the past couple of years.

I bought a few nice looking small red cherry tomato seedlings from some people who specialise in organic growing here about three years ago.  The sellers just said they were red and cherry....

I grew them on and they produced a nice crop of cherry tomatoes which proved to be sweet and tasty.

At the end of the season I saved a few of the tomatoes.... but didn't do anything other than wash and dry the seeds.  I cut the tomatoes open and washed the seeds out from the pulp.  Then I dried them in a paper coffee filter.  and put them away.

Last year I grew them again and again they produced a nice crop of bright red cherry tomatoes and again I saved seeds from the three plants I had.

Sadly, over last winter, something happened in my workshop and the envelope the seeds were stored in got wet.   I discovered this in about late January/early February of this year, when I found the seeds all stuck, in a mass, to the envelope.

Eventually, I decide to sow the lot and see what happened.  I simply scraped all the seeds off the paper onto a seed tray of sowing compound, watered it  and left them to it.

To my astonishment I got what must have been a couple of hundred seedlings.

I thinned them down and nurtured them.  I potted them on as they developed, pinching out a dozen tiny seedlings into a pot.  Later I split those pots into individual plants. I gave some of the pots of 12 away, I also gave away individual plants until,eventually, people were crossing the road when I approached for fear of being off loaded with another tomato seedling. 

I called them Ian's Red Cherry Tomato as I felt they had survived unfair stress and I owed them some recognition.

Now, some 6 months later I have about 20 plants fully grown in the garden, and today, I picked the first Ian's Red Cherry Tomato this year.  It was delicious.  They seem to be cropping better than ever this year.

I'm going to save seeds from these tomatoes and offer them under the Blogger's Seed Network.

If any one would like some seeds, please drop me a line at kitchengardeninfrance@gmail.com and I'll keep some for you.  I will be asking for a small contribution towards the postage costs.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

We all need to help our friends across the world


Monsanto is trying to introduce genetically modified eggplant seed into India. Here is a letter I received recently. Please read it and do what you can. This is NOT someone else's problem, it is the responsibility of every human on this planet, including you and me.

Dear friends and colleagues,

This letter is to request you to sign a petition to the Prime Minister of India, Manmohan Singh, seeking to ban the entry of GM foods and seeds into the country.

The Anti-GM Food campaign (www.indiagminfo.org) has been active  for a couple of years, and has thousands of farmers and urban consumers backing it in India. The protest recently got a reprieve when the newly appointed Union Minister for Environment and Forests, Mr. Jairam Ramesh, made a statement saying he would not allow the entry of GM foods into India. We now need international support to make sure that there is enough pressure on the goverment to take sane decisions regarding the future of our nation.

Many of you may be aware that Monsanto is ready for the release and commercial sale of  Bt Brinjal (eggplant) seeds in India. Eggplant is an an ironic choice of vegetable, since it is a well known fact that India has hundreds of local, native eggplant varieties, that continue to be cultivated even today, in fields and home gardens.

Earlier, the Indian government allowed  large scale field trials of Bt Brinjal without biosafety protocol being cleared. Some of you may also have seen Monsanto's  advertisements in leading newspapers and magazines in the US, about biotechnology saving the world, using Climate Change as a platform for their argument.

All you need to do is go to  www.iamnolabrat.com  and sign the petition. It will go directly to the Prime Minister's office (PMO). Every voice counts. This is a global concern we are talking about here, not just India.

I would like to mention here that India and the US  Bush administration had signed an agreement - the Indo-US Knowledge Initiative on Agriculture (KIA)  with a great emphasis on and large plans for transgenics,  using state of the art infrastructure in India as tools for  multi-national seed companies. It is interesting to note that Monsanto is one of the members of the KIA board, along with WalMart!

The Indian government  had also come up with a Biotechnology  Development Strategy (a policy framework) for the country with huge financial outlays for modern biotechnology, despite great opposition from hundreds of civil society groups at each stage  - right from the draft to the regional consultations.

I am sending this mail out to all of you whom I have met, or been in touch with on email or phone during my time in the US over the last four months. I have mentioned the Bt Brinjal campaign to many of you, and I feel confident that you will respond to this alert. Please also take a few minutes to send it out to your network so this gets wider publicity.

The campaign may also request you for future help, in case things reach a stage where phone-ins on designated dates are needed. We would deeply appreciate it if those of you who can do so, respond to this request as well. What seemed like a lost case then, has reached this stage with public pressure and participation, and with our collective effort, we may be able to get the government to take an appropriate decision. 

Many, many thanks in advance and all good luck with your own work.

Warm regards,

Sunita Rao

Sunita Rao
Adjunct  Fellow, Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE), Bangalore, India (www.atree.org)
Member, Kalpavriksh, Pune, India (www.kalpavriksh.org)
Founder Trustee, VANASTREE, Sirsi, India (www.vanastree.org)


Sunito Rao is a board member of Kitchen Gardeners International.   I thank Kate at Hills and Plains Seedsavers for bringing this to my attention.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

A Wander in the Orchard

IMG_0563 Last year the fruit harvest of my orchard was bad.
When I say bad, that is probably an understatement...


There was a late frost, a very late, very hard frost and I, along with almost everybody else in the vicinity, lost ALL my fruit
IMG_0566 With this in my mind, and aware that it was now July and we had not suffered a late bad frost again this year, I decided to go and take a look how things were


panning out.
It looks like it's going to be a bumper crop for some of the orchard standards.
IMG_0569 The Walnut trees are all laden with healthy looking fruit and I am looking forward to the usual battle I


wage with my red squirrel, where, every time a walnut cascades to the floor, Squirrel and I run to see who can bag it first.  Sadly Squirrel usually wins.
The top picture is of the fig tree.  I have a few
IMG_0570 figs.  I'm pleased because the fig tree is in the middle of a kind of restoration project and I did not expect any fruit at all.

The lemon tree grows in a pot as it gets too cold in mid winter for it.   I was delighted to note a tiny fruit on it the other day as I wandered.
IMG_0571 The fruits on the pear tree look the healthiest they have looked in the five years we have been here.


Maybe, the new tree I planted earlier this year has provided some extra stimulus and I'll get some usable fruit once again.
IMG_0572 Apples are one of my favourite orchard fruit and for many years, as a youngster living in England, I believed that orchards only grew apples.


Now, out of thirty trees in the orchard I only have 4 apple trees.  but my favourite is showing a very heavy crop again this year.  I inherited most of the fruit trees
IMG_0574 when I moved here and I really must put some effort into identifying the various varieties.


And finally my mirabelle.  I only have the one tree producing this delicious small yellow plum.  It is a rather late ripening variety and in my garden, it is usually ready to harvest in late August.


As well as the above , my orchard has cherry, peach and nectarine trees.    The cherries fruited well, and we ate substantial amounts before succumbing to the glut and freezing bagfuls.  The peach is new this year and is establishing itself but the current drought is not helping it.  I think the drought has also taken it's toll on the nectarine....a new tree last year but, I fear, neglected through oversight as my attention focused on all the new vegetable beds.   I shall give it some tlc and see if it recovers.

Of course, I have other fruit in the garden, grapes, melons, rhubarb, hazelnut, raspberry and redcurrant to name a few. but many of them are new and all are suffering from a lack of water.   Don't they know this part of the world is called   AQUA taine......