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This month in the garden - 2021

April in the Garden

April can be a very changeable month – one minute it feels like summer has arrived and then its back to winter the next. Even though much of the overwintered veg will be coming to an end, don’t be too eager to plant your summer veg all at once. A sudden cold spell can be disastrous for tender summer plants like tomatoes and beans. Save some plants to put in a little later. They will catch up. Peas and broad beans will be abundant now. Continue picking them every day or three to prolong the harvest. Prepare poles for tomatoes and climbing beans and direct sow carrots, parsnips, parsley, radish, chickpeas and sunflowers. Later in the month you can plant corn, peanuts, okra and all kinds of beans - French, yard long, soya and runners - but not habas. A monthly sowing of beans from now till July will guarantee a continuous harvest until October.

The weeds will be rife by now so keep up with the weeding and put all that valuable organic matter into your compost bin to create loads of rich compost. Give the comfrey a haircut and add that to the compost to give it a boost.

Tax dodging philanthropist Bill Gates tells us in his new book “How to avoid a climate disaster” that cows fart too much and cause global warming so we should all be moving away from animal agriculture towards lab grown meat. He just happens to be a major investor in at least two new synthetic meat start-up companies, Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat. He makes the 1973 Charlton Heston film Soylent Green look more like science prediction than science fiction. Now the largest owner of farmland in the United States, he is also promoting new technology dependent farming packages to Africa’s poorest farmers through his non-profit GatesAg One.

Bill has fundamentally misinterpreted the relationship between small farmers and their animals. Animals are an integral part of small scale farming, providing the nutrition the soil needs to grow crops, while at the same time helping to tend the land. Sheep and goats graze, keeping weeds under control, they eat tree-prunings, which would otherwise be burned, chickens can be tractored to prepare the ground for planting and eat the grubs of orchard pests. Donkeys and mules carry heavy loads, and horses and oxen pull the plough. All the while the animals provide their manure as a free source of nutrition for the soil and keep the cycle of fertility going without the need for expensive synthetic chemicals. Then there are the added benefits of milk and eggs, and sometimes meat, although to a small farmer an animal has far more value alive than dead.

Humans are part of the natural order. We are part of the cycle of life and death. There is a lot wrong with modern industrial agriculture, whether it be for the production of meat or grains or vegetables or fruit. Do the solutions we need really lie in isolating us from our animals, from the land, our seeds and our means to produce our own food? Is more technology really the answer? Do we really need to be saved by self appointed billionaire leaders? Does Bill Gates really know anything about farming? More importantly does he really understand what it means to be a part of the natural cycles that have allowed humans to live in harmony with their animals for centuries.

THE REVOLUTION IS IN THE GARDEN

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