Sunday, January 10, 2010

Cook that Cabbage

Cabbage is known as Brassica oleracea. Brassica are leaf crops, and are known as “heavy feeders”, which means they require a lot of soil nutrients to grow well.

Rearing cabbage

Cabbage seeds are small black and round, which are best sown in trays and transplanted when about 8-10cm tall.
One cabbage needs a lot of space to grow really well. Cutworm tend to chop the seedlings down so it is advisable to plant extra seedlings, which can be thinned out later, when the plants are established.
Most important is preparing the soil right. Cabbage likes a neutral soil, so adding a little agricultural lime to the soil a month before planting is a good practice. Lots of compost, a good mulch and liquid manure will help too. Use Lucerne or clover as a pre-planting crop to build up the nitrogen availability.
You can put an empty toilet paper spool around the base of the cabbage seedling to protect it.

Planting with companions

Plant your onions and leeks beside the edges of the bed, along with herbs and flowers like rosemary, thyme, sage, marigold and peppermint. You will find that these strong smelling plants keep pests away. Cabbage likes to be mixed in the beds with beetroots, lettuce, potato, spinach and cauliflower.
Cabbages thrive in the company of Clover, Celery and Chamomile Dandelion is effective as a trap crop, which means that it will draw the aphids away from your cabbage seedlings.

Cabbage generally does not tolerate the company of the following plants: Carrot, Climbing beans, Garlic, Hyssop, Rue, Strawberry and Tomato

Keeping all these things in mind will lead to successfully grown cabbage.

Health benefits

Cabbage is known as an effective poultice. Warmed cabbage leaves placed over the breasts of newly lactating mothers, help to release the milk.

Cooking cabbage

Try this delicious recipe from Berea Agricultural Group in Lesotho with your freshly grown brassica.

Cabbage Stir-Fry

Chopped Onion
Chopped Cabbage
2 sliced Bananas
Paprika (to taste)
1 clove Garlic
Salt and pepper.
Grated ginger (optional)

Fry the Onion, add the Cabbage, and fry it lightly, stirring it all the time. When it softens slightly, add the Banana and fry some more. Add the Paprika, Garlic, Ginger and Salt and Pepper. Eat and enjoy.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

a host of things to do with bamboo

Bamboo’s botanical name

Phyllostachys aureosulcata is a plant with edible shoots. More commonly called Yellowgroove Bamboo.
Phyllostchys is just one of the various forms of bamboo known to the world.
There are over 1250 species of bamboo.
Bamboo generally grows from fifteen to twenty metres tall, with the largest of the species reaching up to forty metres.
Growth occurs in a three to four month period, but it takes the crop four to five years to mature.

Useful bamboo

Bamboo is a useful hedging plant,
If you decide to grow it in your garden, be sure to use a clumping variety. Bamboo is used for construction, containers and food.
Bamboo stabilizes the soil where it is eroded and acts as a fast growing windbreak.
It is fire resistant and is used to create firebreaks.
Urban wastewater is purified using bamboo.
Phyllostachys is used for fences, bridges, walking sticks, furniture, housing, toys, medicine, musical instruments, paper and scaffolding.
In China one of the uses for bamboo is to make chopsticks.
India and China have the largest bamboo forests in the world.

Culinary and medicinal uses of bamboo

The Chinese first discovered the culinary uses of bamboo shoots in about 202BCE during the Han dynasty.
The young shoots of the culm are edible when harvested just before emerging from the soil.
The shoots are harvested in the morning, in spring or autumn, depending on the species.
A special tool is used to cut off the culms about twenty centimetres below the surface.
The outer sheaths are hard and fibrous just like artichokes.
The shoots must be boiled, sautéed or roasted.
Afterwards the outer casing must be removed to expose the succulent heart of the bamboo shoot.
They can be added to different dishes as a vegetable, or eaten cold in a salad.
Bamboo shoots, called zhu sun in Chinese are used in stirfries.
The shoots can be pickled.
The sap of the young stalks is tapped during the rainy season to make a sweet wine, which is known as ulanzi.
The leaves of some species are used to make a liquor.
Black Bamboo is the type of bamboo used in Chinese medicine.
Bamboo Juice is referred to as bamboo sap. Fresh cut bamboo with outer surface removed is cut) and heated to release the sap from the ends of the pieces. The sap has a light yellow color.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine bamboo is used to treat acute feverish diseases, cough and loss of consciousness.

For more information about this incredible plant, check, and many more.