Swearing by Bio-foods
How would you feel if one day the government orders you to pay 5% more on your local veggies due to additional pesticides in them? Well, that might happen just in the same way the price of cigarettes keeps on rising without a single drop in the percentage of smokers. We are all swearing by Bio/organic foods and everyday a new debate is back on track on how we are going to do it.
To begin, let’s please stop accusing pesticides and fertilizers. We need them for the simple reason that we will end up like those desperate people during Nazis’ times, rummaging garbage to search for food. Oh! Hitler will be so happy. Pesticides are chemicals just like we, human beings, are chemicals. If I remove your million-dollar smile, your thousand rupees jeans and glam lipstick, then you are just carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen and some other ‘gen’. We need chemicals but not SYNTHETIC ones produced in lab. We need natural chemicals present in the food we eat, the soil, water…well everything present in the nature.
During World War II, U.S military used an abundance of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, especially DDT. DDT is the leader of the suicide squad as it was so powerful in controlling malaria and typhus during those dark times. People needed those artificial chemicals and antibiotics in livestock to feed a hungry growing nation at war. But today the war is over. We have a television, lots of frozen food in the fridge and McDonalds in every corner. Thus, those synthetic chemicals are now becoming highly toxic as they have a capacity of accumulating in the human body leading to the development of birth defects, miscarriages, destruction of the ozone layer and slowly but surely the development of cancers. It eventually became obvious that we should get back to our source, that is, natural methods of farming and cultivating giving rise to our so-called bio foods.
It is important to note that we do not possess any certification process such as Organic certification issued by FDA or Agriculture Biologique by the European Union, so we cannot certify our foods as bio in Mauritius. At least not for now, it may come in the future. Even if we are able to, we should look for people or companies having the financial means to invest in organic agriculture. The other option that we are left with for the time being is to create your own organic garden at your place. Yes, it is possible and it is pretty easy to plant a few veggies. Here are some basic steps on how to create your own organic garden:
1. Select a specific location
You should consider areas in your garden or even in your house where there is maximum sunlight availability. If ever you are opting for an outdoor space, do remember to protect the top of the garden from rainfall or strong winds by covering with a fabric.
2. Choosing the plants.
It will be clever if you choose plants that require less effort. For example, you can grow plants which are less prone to diseases and require less time-consuming chores such as potatoes and peas. You can equally select plants which serve multiple purposes for instance those which provide not only juicy fruits/veggies but will provide shade when you want to sit and enjoy your garden’s natural beauty.
3 3. Raised beds
Raised beds are large planting boxes which provide better air circulation, more protection and improved usage of water. They are also ideal options if your house has little available space.
4. Nourishing the plants
You should always bear in mind the key concept of organic farming, that is, No Waste and No Use of Synthetic Chemicals. Firstly, make your own compost bin in your garden. It is very easy and requires only the correct ratio of nitrogen to carbon. You can find further information online such as the compost mix calculator. Find a space to create that compost heap. You have to pile carbon (brown) material such as dried leaves, garden trimmings and clean soil (if you desire), then the nitrogen (green) material such as manure and kitchen scraps (veggie/fruit skins, eggshells) and grass clippings. Add some water to keep the compost moist to stimulate microbe action. Now wait for 2 months before use. You can create multiple compost heaps for later use.
5. Watering your besties
The best time to water your plants is in the early morning when the air is cool, there are no strong winds and water evaporation is low. I advise you to use rain barrels in your garden to collect rainfall as we will be making maximum use of rain water to avoid water wastage. However, use the rain water within a couple of days as rain barrels may be a habitat for dangerous bacteria.
6. Protecting the plants from pests
It will be wise to equally grow plants that feed on pests by the side such as borage, lavender or marigolds. Medicinal plants can be very useful as well such as mint, thyme, basil or lemongrass. Otherwise, you can pull the weeds by hands.
I’m definitely not an expert in organic farming but I do believe in its importance in our life. In ever you need more information on the matter; you can contact Vaneron Garden Centre in Trianon. They are highly interested people who will guide you appropriately.