Roots 'n' Shoots: January 2016

Saturday, 30 January 2016

Bay Laurel: How to Grow - Herb of the Month

Bay stats/requirements at a glance

Ease of Raising:
5/5 – Very Easy, plant and leave
Water:
4/5 – Daily
Sun:
5/5 – Full sun
Training:
1/5 – Minimal (3Ds: Dead, damaged and diseased)
Fertilise/Feeding:
1/5 – Minimal (at least during the growing season)
Time to Harvest:
1/5 – Immediate, yet slow growing
Frost Hardiness:
1/4 – Very tender (can’t cope with light frost), cold tolerant


Uses:
Culinary
Most Problematic Nemesis:
Scale, aphids
Container Plant:
Yes

Bay laurel
Laurus nobilis
Flora von Deutschland ├ľsterreich und der Schweiz
1885
Kurt Steuber Online Library

Quick intro

Bay laurel is a lovely upright tree of which its leaves constitute a major part of cooking. It is a staple in Mediterranean cooking and imparts it wonderful flavour to stews, soups, sauces and is a key ingredient in the classic bouquet garni. As a hardy tree it is easy to grow, although a bit slow to do so. As a bonus it can be planted in pots to restrict its growth in confined spaces or in small gardens so that it can be enjoyed by both gardeners and cooks alike!

History

Bay has been a prominent plant for culinary use in both the Mediterranean and Asia Minor where it has its origins. Its history is also steeped in symbolism and mythology. Romans crowned the victorious with a laurel wreath and to the Greeks it denoted honour and wisdom (hence the Nobel laureate awards). In Greek mythology the water nymph Daphne is transformed into a bay tree during her pursuit by love-struck Apollo.

Apollo and Daphne 1622 - 1625 by,
Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598 - 1680)

Science Stuff

Bay, Laurus nobilis, belongs to the avocado family Lauraceae, which also includes cinnamon. It contains of a volatile aromatic oil cineole, which is the same oil found in Eucalyptus (eucalyptol) and contributes to its distinct flavour.

Cineole (Eucalyptol)

Growing & Pruning Bay

Bay is very easy to grow once you have placed it in a sunny position with good draining soil and regular watering. It is cold tolerant but will become damaged due to frost, therefore some shelter or frost fleece is necessary in frost prone areas. It is a very slow grower so some patience is required in order to receive abundant leaves for regular cooking. It can become a very large tree in an open garden; up to 20 meters under special circumstances! 

It makes an exceptional pot specimen both for the smaller herb garden and as a handsome ornamental tree. Bay trees are very good for topiary designs, but as I mentioned they do grow slowly so shaping will be a several year project.

Other Tips

Pruning of the bay tree is hardly necessary unless you want a single stem or topiary specimen. I find that mine grows excruciatingly slow and hence I do not prune it at all.

Bay laurel leaves
Laurus nobilis

Aphids can infest new growth and scale might become a problem during the winter months. Both of the pest species I have discussed in their separate articles as well as developing environmental friendly homemade pest control for each. See my Pest Control page for more information.

Harvesting & Storing

Fresh bay leaves are preferable in cooking as the cineole oil, which is essential for flavour, completely evaporates from the dried leaves after a year of storage.

Bay laurel flowers
 Laurus nobilis
Leaves are hard and should be removed from the dish prior to serving. The essential oil present in the leaves and berries can be toxic in large doses as well as causing an allergic reaction to some when used externally.

Seed Saving & Propagation

I have never seen bay flowers personally as mine has never bloomed, but they do produce minimally scented, waxy pale yellow flowers in late spring. These are followed by single-seeded, dark green to black berries in autumn.

It is not common to propagate bay from seed as it takes anywhere from 5-12 months for the seeds to germinate. Other propagation techniques include semi-hardwood cuttings in summer from the current year’s growth as well as plant division in spring or autumn. 

My Bay

I purchased my bay tree in 2013 and it has been in the same pot and position ever since. It has grown very slowly at first but has gone through quite a grow spurt in the last year and here is another picture of it as of today (2016).

Bay laurel
Laurus nobilis
2013
Bay laurel
Laurus nobilis
2016










































Did my gardening advise work? Want to donate to Roots &Shoots?

Amazon eGift Card
bobBucks Voucher















Click on the image above to donate via a bobBucks Voucher or an Amazon eGift Card to theshroom780@gmail.com Thanx! I really appreciate it! Every little bit makes a difference, even as little as $5 or R10 :)

______________________________________________________________________________

Please share with fellow gardening enthusiasts via the various sharing buttons at the end of posts/pages! Else you can vote for posts through the Google reactions bar at the end of articles. To stay up to date I have provided several reader and social networking platforms with which to subscribe: TwitterPinterestRSS Feed Reader or Email/Follow directly using the Blog Followers widget on the left hand side toolbar. Thank you for reading and please feel free to ask if questions arise - I appreciate comments and ideas too! ­čść
_________________________________________________________________________________

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Drought Angels SA: Farmers in Distress, Boere in Nood & Water Shortage SA


South Africa is suffering from a potentially crippling drought brought on by the worst El Nino in decades. Many farmers and villages do not have enough water due to poor planning of infrastructure, lack of proper water management & lack of  water-wise use/education.

Several groups have started water and feed supply projects to assist drought stricken farmers and towns. Boere in Nood/Farmers in Distress are arranging the donation and transport of feed for livestock whereas Water Shortage SA are organising water dotations (both drinking water designated "DW" for consumption and tank water "TW" for general use) to towns in the Free State, Northern Cape, Kwazulu-Natal and Eastern Cape provinces. Clean plastic bottles can be filled with water and dropped off at various towns in South Africa, please see the Water Shortage SA facebook page for updates. Please assist with the initiatives! Together we might bring relief and alleviate the worst of the drought!

The following links will give your more information of drop-off places for water (Water Shortages SA) as well as information regarding donations and assistance

Drought Angels SA can be contacted at the following links:

Boere in Nood/Farmers in Distress: Facebook Page, Twitter & Email 

National donations to First National Bank ccount number 625 229 860 43, branch code 250 655
International donations to PayPal account nc.schoombee@gmail.com

Aliwal North Assistance: Contact Deon Smit @ 083 455 2166


Water Shortage SA: Information regarding drop-off towns, see there facebook page


Agri-SA also has a setup a Drought Aid @ http://www.droogterampfonds.co.za/, which includes an SMS payment system as well (Ref 3).



Help has already flooded in from Canada, United States, Nederlands and Australia; an R 100 000 donation has been made by a woman from Dubia to the Farmers in Distress initiative! (See Ref 2)


Reference: 


1) KarooSpace Article @ South Africa's Drought Angels Step Up by Julienne du Toit & Chris Marais

2) News 24 Article @ Aid for drought-stricken farmers from far and wide by Jeanette Chabalala

3) eNCA Article @ AfriForum lauches drought support campaign by Africa News Agency

______________________________________________________________________________

Please share with fellow gardening enthusiasts via the various sharing buttons at the end of posts/pages! Else you can vote for posts through the Google reactions bar at the end of articles. To stay up to date I have provided several reader and social networking platforms with which to subscribe: TwitterPinterestRSS Feed Reader or Email/Follow directly using the Blog Followers or Follow Your Way widget on the left hand side toolbar. Thank you for reading and please feel free to ask if questions arise - I appreciate comments and ideas too! J
_________________________________________________________________________________

Friday, 1 January 2016

New Year Post: International Year Events 2016 & Garden Update



The first day of the new year has arrived once more and so we take a look at what the UN has dedicated the year to as well as updates from my garden(s)! Perhaps I'll even inspire additions to the new year's resolutions lists (i.e Eat/Grow more Pulses! LOL!)

International year of Pulses (2016)

This year is the international year of Pulses following on the sustainable agriculture theme from last years' international year of soils. The bunch at the FAO and associates have really embraced social media and have made loads of promotional stuff for me to share with you guys! So to start off, let me give you a summary infographic to get your mouth watering :)




For the last 2-3 years both me and my mom have slowly started to eat less red meat and then less meat all together, which could be a bit difficult at times as you do need some protein in your diet. We started experimenting with some Indian vegetarian dishes that introduced us to the amazing world of beans and other edible legumes. The only thing I associated with edible legumes previously were those awful red kidney sauce beans that my dad eats on his toast - yuck! Now, thought, I eat a lot more beans and chickpeas - the canned ones quickly rinsed under the water (you need to shop for brands to get those that preserve the best flavour). The canned pulses makes for super easy lunches and I must profess that Cannellini (navy) beans my favorite! Also - all the rinse water can go to the vegetable garden so nothing is wasted! Awesome!

Here are some more in-depth infographics on the health and sustianable farming benefits of legumes!



Lastly some recipes! Also I would suggest getting your hands on some Indian recipe books - they make lovely legume stews and an assorment of other not-just-green-salad vegetarian dishes! Now eat your beans and your peas!!!




You can grow your own legumes in the veg garden and as a bonus they help to build up the soil when dug back in as compost. Check out my posts concerning how to grow them as well as soil management using legumes:

How to grow Peas

Natural Biofertilizers: The Edible Legumes

Sustainable, Productive & Economical Vegetable Gardening
            Part 1: Vegetables Worth Growing
            Part 2: Conservation Agriculture
            Part 3: Integrated Organic Gardening
            Part 4: Vegetable Garden Planting Guide & Management

References:

For more information, promotional stuff, recipes and in-depth studies on the socioeconomic benefits of legumes, please see the following websites:

http://www.fao.org/pulses-2016/en/

http://iyp2016.org/

http://americanpulsecrops.org/blog

http://theabsquarters.com/pulses.php


Garden Update



The vegetable garden isn't doing so great this year due to the terrible heat, high solar irradiation and very low rainfall. The El Nino is at its peak; it is the worst since 1982 for South Africa and the plants, insects and chickens are feeling it. There are so few insects in the veg garden, but in comparison, the rest of the yard has even less. So much so that the chickens aren't getting their full quota of bugs. This leads to thin egg shells, as the insect carapaces are the main source of egg calcium and we have had to supplement their diet with extra. Also when the occasional heat wave strikes (our highest was 39oC, 102oF), the chickens stop laying all together. The harvests are a month behind their usual schedule and they are minimal (at about 30% I should wager).

Fortunately we still have a harvest thanks to our monster 10 000 L rainwater tank at the main garden and the 5 000 L at the pumpkin patch - yet the rain has been minimal and at one point the 10 000 L was down to 3 000 L. I was just about having heart palpitations as I thought that we might not make it and my garden would cease to exist! Anyways, the worst of the El Nino ain't letting up until after the winter and we are expected to have hot & dry conditions for another two years. I have a feeling that the winter garden would have to be carrots and beets seeing that last year it was too warm already for peas, beans, cauliflowers and broccoli!

One good thing at least is that the next season should be better on all accounts (heat, rain and harvest) than this year and I am looking forward to a vegetable garden that isn’t already run-down by December. See pictures below: the garden looks like it should in April instead of all green and happy it looks fairly beat up and just about choking!!! Last year's picture is at the bottom for comparison!

Main Vegetable Garden December 2015 (New Year Post 2016)
Main Vegetable Garden December 2014 (New Year Post 2015)


Previous related posts:

Want to see what it looked like last year (2014)? See: New Year Post 2015 & Garden Updates

Want to see what it looked like in 2013? See: New Year Post & Garden Updates 2014

Want to see what it looked like originally? See: About: This Blog


______________________________________________________________________________

Please share with fellow gardening enthusiasts via the various sharing buttons at the end of posts/pages! Else you can vote for posts through the Google reactions bar at the end of articles. To stay up to date I have provided several reader and social networking platforms with which to subscribe: TwitterPinterestRSS Feed Reader or Email/Follow directly using the Blog Followers or Follow Your Way widget on the left hand side toolbar. Thank you for reading and please feel free to ask if questions arise - I appreciate comments and ideas too! J
_________________________________________________________________________________

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Did my gardening advise work? Want to donate to Roots 'n' Shoots? Any amount:

Alternative Donation Option

Alternative Donation Option
Click on the image above to donate via an Amazon eGift Card or bobBucks Voucher to theshroom780@gmail.com Thanx! I really appreciate it! Every little bit makes a difference, even as little as $5 or R10 :)

Let your friends know!