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Thursday, 18 October 2018

GUIDE TO CREATING YOUR OWN ORGANIC GARDEN 3

Are you aware there is difference in taste between foods grown with chemical inputs and those grown grown without chemical inputs? Do you know they have different nutritional and health values too? If you are serious about your health and healthy living, I think you need to be concerned about the source(s) of your food. If you are the type that have secretly or openly desired to take control of your health by taking control of your food source then this article is for you. This is the concluding part of the guide to growing your own healthy food. I will now outline the other steps towards creating your own organic garden: 
4. Choosing Plants 
Choose plants that will thrive in your environment. Knowledgeable seed sellers in the market or other vegetable gardeners can help you to ascertain which types of plants do particularly well in your area and which will fare badly. Don’t forget Guide 1 as you choose the plants to grow. 

You can start from seeds bought in a packet from or with seeds from the local market or from local gardeners in your area. Depending on the plant, the seeds may need to be started off in nursery before transplanting to the beds. Sow your seeds in rows to allow air to circulate in the soil which minimises fungus.
5. Tending to Them 
➧ Water – The optimum time to water your plants is early morning prior to sunrise, as the water will be available to the plants during the day when it is needed. However, this is not always possible especially for people who are not gardening full time. But it is a sacrifice you must make considering the purpose for which you are gardening in the first place. During the hot dry season, it is probably best to water in the early evening. This gives the plants enough time to dry out, but there is still the chance of overnight water uptake by the roots. But if you prefer to water in the morning during the hot dry season then start very early – before the sun is shining. Water your plants first thing in the morning for best results. The water won't immediately evaporate as the temperature should still be low. Avoid watering at night when it will be cold for the next few hours because the roots of the plants will be soaking overnight which can cause rot. 
Aim the flow of water at the soil rather than the plants to keep the soil damp so that the plant can soak it up through the roots. Test the dampness of the soil by sticking a finger into the earth to decide if they need to be watered. If your finger is damp below the second ring on your finger it means that the soil is still okay. Then leave watering until next time. 
➧ Weeding & Pest Control - When you garden organically there is no short way around weeding, it just has to be done. Keep on top of it by plucking out the whole weed as they appear. 
The best way to control pests in your garden naturally is by growing a range of different plants to encourage insects that feed on pests into your garden. Praying mantis are one such example, by planting flowers that they enjoy they will feed on the pests that would otherwise devour your vegetable. Welcoming birds into the garden will also help keep pesky bugs from wreaking havoc on your plants. 
Fertilising - Mulch can be added to the soil to ensure that it is nourished along with reducing the need for water and decreasing the ability of weeds to thrive. Mulch acts as a protective covering over the soil locking in nutrients yet preventing weeds from thriving. Wood chips, grass cuttings, and dead leaves will decompose over time nourishing the soil in addition to keeping weeds at bay. 
Do a thorough weeding before adding mulch to your bed and make sure you don't cover any new seedlings or they won't grow.
6. Harvesting 
When you are harvesting vegetables and picking your fruit take a few from each plant at a time rather than focusing on just one plant.

Keep an eye on them so that you can cut the vegetables or remove the fruits when they are ready to be plucked as the more you harvest from a plant the more it will produce. Use scissors to harvest those vegetables with strong stem to prevent damaging the stem.

Sunday, 23 September 2018

GUIDE TO CREATING YOUR OWN ORGANIC GARDEN 2

Have you secretly questioned the source of your food particularly fruits and veggies? Have you ever dreamed about tending your very own little veggie garden complete with wholesome food? In this article, I will share with you simple introduction to the practice. I will show you how to get started even if you don't have a vast wealth of gardening knowledge or a large expanse of land. As a matter of fact and from practical experience, I will share with you how you can start growing your own organic garden with or without land.



Why Garden Organically
There are good reasons why you should consider growing your own food. Knowing exactly where your food has come from is comforting, you can rest easy in the knowledge that you and your family are not ingesting pesticides in your vegetables. Buying vegetables grown without any chemical input can be expensive, especially when shopping for a family. By growing them yourself you not only reduce your food bill, but you also contribute to the well-being of the environment and tap into the great tradition of cultivating nourishing food from the earth. You can see the article “Growing Your Own Foods” http://organicplanetng.blogspot.com/2016/09/why-grow-your-own-foods.html for more information on the subject. Growing your own vegetables and herbs to use in the kitchen also gives you a great sense of achievement. From watching over your little plants to harvesting fresh and healthful vegetables at harvest time is both exciting and amazing. From personal experience, nothing is more peaceful than working with nature.

YOUR GUIDE TO CREATING AN ORGANIC GARDEN
1. Decide What You Want From Your Garden
The first thing to do when planning an organic garden is to decide what you want from it. Consider the vegetables that you include most in your diet. Aim to source these from your garden in future. This plan will help avoid you planting a vast variety of veggies that you never eat. Stop reading this article now, get up, take a sheet of paper and write down the names of the vegetables that you include most in your diet. Perhaps there are some vegetables that your mother or grandmother used to prepare when you were younger which you like but find difficult to get now, include them in your list. You can get in touch with me to see if I can help you source for them.
2. Choose a Site for Your Garden
Observe the area or spot that you intend to use for a few days. Check the amount of sunlight it gets on a daily basis. Most vegetables require full sunlight, they need at least 5-6 hours of sunlight during the day. Check whether there are high winds in that part of the garden. High wind increases evapotranspiration, which is the loss of water by evaporation. If the rate at which crops lose water is much lower than the rate at which they get it, they become desiccated. However, light wind is good for crops because it increases the supply of carbon dioxide to them resulting in greater rate of photosynthesis. In choosing a site therefore, consider the wind speed. Also check if the soil drains well there. Soils that remain wet after rain is not ideal because damp soil lacks aeration and the root of vegetables need oxygen. The ideal soil is deep sandy loam. Lastly, in choosing a site for your garden, check if it is not an area that is composed of “fill dirt.” Such a place usually consists of rocks and debris, avoid it. On the other hand, if you do not have a site that has soil, I mean if what you have is a concrete floor or balcony, do not worry, I will get into the concept of “Container Gardening” in subsequent article.
Let me also suggest that you do a soil test to help you determine the quality of your soil. To begin, you will need good soil. If the soil you have is a poor one like the one I had at the beginning of my journey of Growing Your Own Food, you can whip it into shape before planting. I will share with you in another article tips on how to make your soil fertile and how to maintain it afterwards.
3. Prepare your Bed
Vegetable beds come in all shapes and sizes. Depending on the space available you can choose to plant directly into the earth in a designated space, create a raised bed or plant in containers or sacks if you do not have soil or of you have a concrete flooring in your compound.
If you are planting directly into the ground, then check your soil quality first. 

As a general rule of thumb, when moist the soil should hold its shape when you squeeze it in your fist, but should crumble when you poke it. If it doesn't crumble then it is too wet, or if it doesn't hold its shape at all then it is too dry. Dry soil can be enhanced with organic soil or compost but soil that is too wet highlights a drainage problem. In this case, try the soil in a different part of the garden. 

Measure out the bed to be at least 1.3 meters (4 feet) wide, by any convenient length depending on the space that you have. Put pegs round the four corners that you have measured. Then measure 0.65 meters (2 feet) from any of the pegs and erect another peg. This space is called furrow, which will serve as the walk way between your beds. Dig the soil in the furrow onto the bed on all side to a height of about 10 inches. Do not dig the bed directly to avoid disturbing the microorganisms in the soil and more importantly to avoid exposing weed seeds that may be present in the soil to sunlight, which will help them to germinate. Break up the large clumps of soil and remove any weeds, thorns or large stones. Let the edges of the bed be a little higher than the center in order to hold water during and after watering. Watch the bed after you have planted your seeds and pull out new weeds as they emerge, making sure to get the roots too. 
Watch out for the concluding part

Wednesday, 1 August 2018

GUIDE TO CREATING YOUR OWN URBAN ORGANIC GARDEN


What if you stop relying on other people including food manufacturing companies for all your food supplies?
What if you stop living in fear of what was in your food – all the secret toxins, pesticides, herbicides, growth hormones, GMOs etc.? What if instead of these suppliers you could get most of your vegetables, some fruits and a little more from your backyard? What if you can save some money from growing your own food and cut down on what you spend on drugs as a result ill-health that arise from consuming foods grown with chemicals? 
I strongly believe that many people want to be growing their own food. The rate at which many people went back to the once forsaken neighbourhood gardens in the last two years or thereabout in Nigeria is proof of this. Moreover, many people now want to know what is in their food and maybe more importantly what’s not. This is coming as a result of the alarming rise in terminal diseases all over the place. Diseases that were once associated with old age are now very common among young and middle age people. But if you didn’t grow up knowing how to raise your own food or if you don’t have anybody to teach you it can be really hard knowing where to start, what is feasible, what the best practices are, how to make it work with what you have where you are right now and how to create the time to do it particularly if you are the busy type. That’s why I decided to do these series. 
Hopefully I will be able to encourage you to take advantage of the opportunities that I will be presenting to begin a journey in which you can take control of what constitutes your diet and what you put in the plate for your family. Have you ever dreamed about tending your very own little urban garden complete with wholesome food? Have you ever dreamed about playing an active role in ensuring healthy food supply for your family as opposed to chemical contaminated food supplies? Have you ever dreamed of playing an active role in proactive health whereby you prevent your body from illness via your diet as opposed to reactive health whereby you allow your body to come down with illness because you refuse to take control of your diet and then you start looking for cure? Have you ever desired to cut down on your food expenses but do not know how? 
In these series, I’ll be guiding you practically on how to create an urban food garden or forest as the case may be. I have done it. My dream was to be self-sufficient in terms of food production. Although I’m not totally there I can tell you that I have come a long way. Today, I grow all the vegetables my family eats and really, I grow a few.
 

I grow spices that we use in the kitchen to replace the MSGs we once consumed. I grow herbs for daily detoxification. I raise my own chickens and I raise my own fish. I also grow some fruits because I firmly believe that every house must have at least one fruit tree. By the way, I do all of these on a plot of land. I use every available space I find to grow food. Now it’s your turn to take control of your diet and ultimately your health and that of your family. 

Monday, 16 July 2018

A CASE FOR THE SOIL



The rains are here again – the time of the year when most small holder farmers go to serious work, at least in this part of the world (Sub-Saharan Africa) where many farmers practice rain-fed farming. For many, it is a time of joy because of the refreshing that rain brings and the harvests that are expected in not many months from now.
But for me and those who really care about food security and sustainability of agriculture’s most important resource – the soil, the rains bring mixed feelings – joy and sadness at the same time. Joy because of the promise of abundance that it holds and sadness because it is that period of the year when the soil is mostly maltreated and abused.

The soil is farmers’ most important resource and the world’s hope for continuous food supply. Unfortunately the soil is often taken for granted – treated like dirt – and for the most part, by the very people whose sustenance depends directly on it.


Each passing minute the soil is assaulted, suffocated, contaminated, exploited, poisoned, mistreated and depleted by people. 


In addition, chemical agricultural inputs manufacturers also encourage farmers to abuse the soil  
assuring them of higher yields and higher returns on investments if they would just use this product or that product to fertilise the soil, kill pests or suppress weeds. 
Whether we realize it or not, by our choices today we are stealing the future from the unborn generation. What happens if we keep having extreme rain, unusually strong winds, and our farms are unable to keep up with our food needs because our soils can no longer hold nutrients due to the destructive effects of chemicals?


My case for the soil is to encourage us to begin to:
1. Take proactive steps towards eliminating the toxins we add to the soil because they will end up in our bodies thereby increasing the risks of contracting terminal diseases
2. Take proactive steps towards preserving and conserving soil biodiversity – big word eh? – I’ll break it down for you in a subsequent post
3. Take proactive steps towards recycling wastes rather than just dumping them on the soil
4. Take proactive steps towards feeding the SOIL, not the plant. I hope you read that. Most of modern farming practices are tailored towards feeding the plant at the expense of the soil and they are not sustainable.

Saturday, 22 October 2016

ORGANIC IS LIFE!

Do you like your present state of health? If yes, what can you do to maintain it? If no, what can you do to get it to where it was before now? Many people are frustrated in their journey to reclaim their health. And so they are asking the question: “Is it possible to turn the clock back and go to the point in my life where I wasn’t sick?”
It could be 5 years ago or 10 years ago, that point where the body hasn’t broken down yet. The answer is YES!
HOW DO YOU DO THAT?
Keep your body cells at their normal level. The basic unit of human life is the cell. The entire human body is a bundle of cells. The body that God created for us is a phenomenal one that has the power to heal itself if its cells are kept at their normal levels.
WHAT NORMAL CELLS ARE EXPECTED TO DO
Normal cells perform great functions essential to maintaining good health.
Normal cells must be able to take in nutrition. Normal cells must be able to eliminate waste and toxins. Normal cells must defend themselves from unfriendly intruders like bacteria, fungi, viruses and free radicals.
Normal cells must repair the damage done by these intruders i.e. heal themselves. Normal cells must work together as a team communicating with other cells to achieve optimal organ and immune system function. When cells fail to achieve ANY or ALL of these functions, a disorder occurs, which if not corrected properly and timely will lead to cell damage.
WHAT DO CELLS FEED ON?
The answer to this question is the key to a healthy life. Cells must get the right nutrition for them to perform normally. When cells perform normally they will naturally do the things highlighted above. If cells perform all these functions then you can be sure of good health. So what do cells feed on?
The food of cells is known as nutrients. Nutrients are naturally occurring bio-chemicals essential for cell formation and cell health.
Doctors have known for years that in order to maintain optimum health, we need at least 90 nutrients. These nutrients include a minimum of 59 minerals, 16 vitamins, 12 amino acids and 3 essential fatty acids. Since our bodies don’t produce these, we must get them from our diet. Diet refers to our nutritional food intake.
The BIG question however is...
WHAT CONSTITUTES OUR DIET IN THE LAST 60 YEARS?
Our diet in the last 60 years is a combination of the following: refined sugar and sweeteners, refined flour, carbonated sodas and fruit juices, homogenized dairy products, pasteurized foods, hydrogenated oils or trans-fat, chlorinated water. For the purpose of space I have put them under those broad categories. I encourage you to look them up in your search engine so as to gain a knowledge of the particular foods under each category.
Are these naturally occurring foods? No they are not.
Naturally occurring foods are those that have not been altered by man through the addition of pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics, growth hormone, genetically altered material, or chemical food additives. Another name for naturally occurring foods is organic food.  
WHAT IS IT ABOUT ORGANIC FOODS?
Natural foods or organic foods supply “life-giving energy.” When food is chemically altered, or genetically altered, or highly processed, or contains chemical additives the "life-giving energy" of the food is dramatically altered. When the "life-giving energy" of food is radically altered by chemical additives, processing, or genetic engineering, consuming and eating that food actually causes the body to go out of balance and CAUSES disease to develop.
So what do we eat and drink? Well, ideally you should eat all-natural things, fruits and vegetables, and get them organic. You may not be able to get all these natural foods from the food markets or grocery stores so I suggest you look for organic food growers and markets or start growing your own food – organic, free of any additives.
Organic lifestyle I must confess is a journey and we all should try our best to start and continue the journey no matter how challenging it may seem. By that we will save ourselves and our planet at large a whole lot of “unnecessary” troubles. Let me conclude with this: As we go through everything that we put in our mouth, whatever we eat and whatever we drink, let’s always ask ourselves: “Is it as nature intended?”

Organic is life, embrace life!

DISCLAIMER
The author says, I am not a doctor; I have no medical training; I am not a health-care practitioner; I am not prescribing medical treatment; I am not treating any medical condition; I do not treat patients; and I am not making any attempt in this blog to prescribe, diagnose, or treat any illness, or treat any patient. I present all this information simply for educational purposes only.
You and only you are responsible for your health. You must do what is right for you while consulting with a licensed health-care practitioner.

Sunday, 2 October 2016

WHAT IS YOUR DESIRE: LONG LIFE OR HEALTHY LIFE?

What is your desire: long life or healthy life? That question may sound ridiculous and I know most if not everybody reading this article would answer “both” to the question. All of us desire to both live long and live healthy. However, based on personal observation of people and their attitude to health and healthy lifestyle, their supreme desire is just to live long and not live healthy. Why did I say that? I said that for two reasons.
First, the way many of us live, we consciously or unconsciously throw caution to the wind when it comes to our diet and lifestyle – the two most important ingredients of healthy living. It is not until we sense or actually have a health challenge that we begin to reconsider what we feed our body,
how we feed our body and the manner in which we live our lives on a day to day basis.
Secondly, in the midst of health challenge, our major pre-occupation is not how to regain vibrant health and maintain it but how not to die. The fear of death is one of the reasons why many of us comply strictly with the prescriptions given to us by the doctors and not the fear of losing our health again. I said that because we habitually retreat to our “old” and “normal” lifestyle the moment our health challenge is under control. The Ebola virus outbreak of 2014 in our country Nigeria is a typical example of what I’ve just said.
How many organizations, institutions (including hospitals and clinics), families and individuals still engage in regular hand washing – the simplest, easiest and cheapest way to stop the contamination and spread of bacteria? Let’s ask ourselves, “How many of the people who have been diagnosed and treated for diabetes have completely done away with carbonated drinks and processed fruit juices? How many of the people who have been diagnosed for early signs of osteoporosis or arthritis have abandoned their sedentary lifestyles
to engage in conscious regular movements of their bones and joints via simple exercise such as walking? How many people after visiting the hospital and taken medications for bacterial infection resulting in diarrhea, syphilis or cholera have resolved to maintain cleanliness and good personal hygiene? How many people have reduced their salt intake or taken steps to find alternative to food seasonings containing monosodium glutamate (MSG)
after being treated for or have shown signs of a cardiovascular (hypertensive) disease?” The list goes on and on. How many of us who now enjoy some form of relief from a particular health challenge is doing anything serious in terms of our diet and lifestyle to keep that health challenge away permanently?
My point is this, it’s not the number of years in our lives that counts but the quality of life in those years. Who wants to live to seventy years if he can’t recognize his closest family members because of dementia? Who looks forward to eighty years suffering severe joint or back pain because of arthritis?
We often misplace the priority when it comes to evaluating our approach to healthcare: we put long life before healthy life. Come to think of it, it seems most people dying nowadays do not die of old age anymore. What do you think is killing people the most nowadays? You know the answer as well as I do: ill health.

Let me ask you again, “What is your desire: long life or healthy life?” I hope this piece of information will help you refocus your priority when it comes to healthcare. Always remember that it’s much easier to maintain health than it is to try to regain it after it has been lost.

Monday, 26 September 2016

WHY GROW YOUR OWN FOODS?

In September, 2014 my wife, on her way from work bought and brought home some groceries including this “fresh looking” vegetable called bologi (solaneceo biafrae). It is known as “worowo” in south west Nigeria. I love this vegetable because of its nutritional value and natural scent. But about four hours after dinner that fateful day all of us including my then 3 years old son started purging seriously. I felt for my boy and my wife because she did not know that what she brought home as food was actually contaminated and the young lad was seriously affected. My wife didn’t plan to poison us but it happened that we ended up eating something that had food poison. We had to throw away the whole pot of soup. But that experience was a “blessing” in disguise because it marked the beginning of our journey into urban gardening. I thank God I’m alive to share this experience.

In my last post, I promised to discuss how to get started in the urban gardening journey in my next post. But I think it is important you know “why” you need to go on the journey before you even take the first step. So I’ve decided to share with you in this post “WHY GROW YOUR OWN FOOD?” In other words, why do you need to get involved in urban gardening? Aside the horrible experience I just described, the following are some other reasons I decided to embark on the journey two years ago. I’m sharing them perhaps they may motivate you to start the journey too. And whether you start the journey or not these reasons are like laws – they cannot be broken!
REASON NO. 1: Better-Quality Food Safer Foods
Now I go to bed with peace of mind every night knowing that my family has not consumed contaminated foods or genetically modified foods that will harm their health someday. I take responsibility for my health and family’s and the environment by growing my foods organically and this gives me a sense of relief. Now I confidently share my garden produce with friends, family and neighbours knowing that their health cannot be compromised by what I give them. My family eat better quality and safe foods particularly fruits and veggies whenever we want to and in whatever quantity we want and we are not under the pressure of cost simply because we grow them in our compund. If it were to be a time such as this when the economy of our nation is in recession, we may have thought twice about throwing that whole pot of soup away. Perhaps we would have considered it wise to remove the already poisoned meat for another soup. I believe people can and should eat healthy and safe food that cost less. This is one of the goals of Grow Your Own food project. 
REASON NO.2: Better-Tasting Foods
Most foods particularly fruits and vegetables sold in fruit markets and supermarkets are grown with inorganic substances for the purpose of profit. These foods are harmful to health and the environment and do not taste good. Urban gardening enables urban dwellers to grow and enjoy better tasting foods.
REASON NO.3: Save Money on Food Bills

From personal experience, a family of 5 living in urban area spends a minimum of N800 (about $3) on vegetables weekly in wet seasons and a minimum of N1200 ($4) in dry seasons and these do not include the cost of fruits. When fruits are included the cost goes to about N1500 ($5) in season and N2000 ($7) during off season.
This high cost expended on fruits and vegetables alone accounts for the reason why many urban families lack nutritional vitamins and minerals in their diets which amounts to spending more on health bills due to ill health arising from the deficiency of these vital nutrients. With urban gardening, your family saves money on food and you are healthier because you grow what supplies some of the daily required amounts of vitamins, minerals and essential amino acids that your body and your family’s requires for optimum health.