Hot, dry and windy

Colin Austin © Creative Commons,8th Jan 2020. This document is in the public domain for private use and can be republished in part or full but source must be acknowledged.

Bundaberg – hot, dry and windy

It’s abnormally hot, dry and windy up here in Bundaberg. It is always hot and dry in summer making it difficult to grow my favourite food plants, even in normal summers, but this year was out of the normal. Winter is incredibly productive but summer growing is a challenge.

This has forced me to look at ways of coping with these dry conditions developing what I call ‘tipping’ which looks to be an incredibly effective tool in the food for health campaign.

There is an even more pressing issue for me. Our daughter, Lina, who is a brilliant Chinese cook stayed with us for Christmas so I did some serious pigging out and put on 3Kg which I need to get rid of.

But this could be a much more wide spread problem than my expanding gut, if this hot and dry climate is to become more common, how are we, society that is, to grow our food?

So in this post I want to rethink Colin’s food for health concept considering it may be much more difficult to grow our food in summer.

Colin’s food for health concept

The concept is that everyone has an intelligent control system which regulates what and how much we want to eat and how much and where we store fat in our bodies.

No one really understand how this intelligent control system takes these decisions, but we know our gut biology plays a critical part in this decision making.

To make matters even more difficult everyone seems to have a different decision making system, some people are fat and others skinny regardless of what they eat, it changes throughout our life, babies are chubby, kids and young adults tend to be lean while in older life we get fatter and is changed dramatically with the sort of food we eat.

We are a long way from having the general laws of intelligent control which applies to everyone but it is relatively easy for any one person to get a handle on how their intelligent control system is working for them, by experimenting with what they eat and how this affects their hunger or food cravings.

Crude efforts to override this intelligent control system by simple calorie restriction are not effective in the long term – so we need to focus on changing our intelligent control system by changing our diet.

We know that the current ‘fat in the wrong places’ epidemic (diabetes, dementia and obesity) has only occurred in the last fifty years and there was no such epidemic when people were eating a diet rich in vegetables grown in nutrient rich, biologically active soil.

A key element of the ‘food for health’ concept is that we should revert to feeding our gut biology the type of food on which it evolved over millions of years.

The Gbiota bed system is a growing system in which nutrient rich biologically active tea is pulsed, on a flood and drain cycle, through the soil.

All those diets that rely on calorie restriction are just bit of a con for us piggies. The only way for me to loose weight is to feed my gut biology so I stop these food cravings – which means fresh veggies from my Gbiota beds.

Bundaberg is in the dry tropics and it does not get as hot as further South but we have these incredible hot, dry winds and the way it dries everything out in the garden is just unbelievable.

I am an engineer and they can be very dull and boring people just asking one question – does it work? Not should it work but does it work.

This is an important question for piggy me but there is a wide global question – can Gbiota beds helps us grow food as it gets hotter and drier?

The acid test – do Gbiota beds work when it get really hot?

I have been checking the soil moister levels in my beds and there has been plenty of water in the beds.

But some plants, typically the winter vegetables, like cabbages, cauliflower, broccoli etc. just cannot access enough water to offset the high level of evaporation.

Some of the seeds I planted just failed to germinate, other like Fenugreek germinated but as soon as the hot sun hit they just turned brown. Other plants like lettuce and red cabbages had what I call flash seeding. One day they are just seedlings and a couple of days of hot sun and they have either just turned old and hard or gone to seed.
But other plants, which have evolved in hot dry climates seems to thrive on these conditions when they have access to sufficient water.

This means that the varieties of plants grown nust be selected to suit these hot dry conditions and we just have to forget about growing the cool climate vegetables we are more used to eating – and generally taste better.

The power of tipping


But what it did teach me was the power of tipping. So what is tipping you may ask?

Well I do not want to use any toxic chemicals which means that insects are a real problems so I have to find ways of solving this and one way it tipping. So what is tipping?


What is Tipping?

Well we have shoots where you just strike the seeds and eat the shoots directly and the energy come from the seeds, next you have baby greens where we let the plant mature to the stage where it is starting to take food from the soil so is a bit more efficient.

Tipping is the next stage on when – you let the plant mature until it has established what I call mother leaves. These are the plant equivalent of permanent solar panels and provide the plant with on ongoing energy. You don’t harvest these – or even worry too much if the insects and caterpillars are eating them – these are the plants power supply which enable the plant to keep on sending out young tender shoots or tips.

These would be perfect prey for the insect so the trick is to go out every few days and cut off the tips before the insects get them.

A bit labour intensive and if you were to try and sell them in a supermarket you would have to put them in the bird food section – because that is just what they look like.

Many plants seem well suited to tipping and I have not as yet fully investigated but Alfalfa is the obvious one, Basil seems to work well, as do the Spinaches particularly Egyptian Spinach, which seems resistant to everything and out grows the weeds – pity it is so bitter. Okra and Buckwheat seems to grow well and linseed (which is an important source of omega 3) and lentils less so.

Tipping is highly cost (or labour) effective – you just let the plants grow and every few days sneak out and get a meal – at least a meal for you gut biota who unfortunately have very different taste requirements than we do.

Now we could just take the view that we are feeding our gut biota for health reasons to this is really medicine so we should not worry if it is not master cuisine, just push it down and put on a false smile.

But I like my food to taste good – so what can be done about this.

Making them taste better

To date the bulk of my tips have been from Alfalfa, spinach, Kangkong, and similar tough growers. But to make the taste a bit better I have been incorporating some herbs like Basil which are equally fast growers.

A dietitian may recommend that you just eat these raw with no processing as this way the chewing gives maximum absorption and there is no degradation from processing. I am sure that technically they are correct but my experience is that you need to feed your guts virtually every day and the thought of munching away every morning for the rest of my life on what looks like chicken food does not exactly turn me on.

Maybe I should just toughen myself up but I learned in school that the tough guys end up with more blood noses so I look for a more appetising way of feeding my gut biota.

I find that making them into a stir fry with a mix of other tasty food is a pretty good solution but I don’t want to have a fried breakfast every day.

So I make myself a smoothy, despite the theoretical objection that the blending action is destroying the texture. I put a good amount of fruit in with the vegetables (about 50/50) which makes a really tasty morning drink, particularly if a put in a bit of spices like Turmeric or Coriander. I just do minimal blending.

I never worry about the sugar load from the fruit as the vegetables act as sugar blockers.
Maybe not ideal but I make myself enough for bout three days just to save me time.
So I start my day with a mug of this everyday.

Does it work?

The acid test for any engineer is not the theory but does it work? I can only speak for myself as just because it works for me does not mean that it will work for everyone. I think it probably will but this is just one of those things you have to test for yourself.

This is not one of those scams that seem to have saturated the internet with some special pill from an unknown plant from the Amazon of Himalayas which just dissolved the fat away without effort. That is just clever marketing to improve some clever clogs bank balance.

But what I can say is that it has definitely curbed my food cravings. Calorie restrictive diets just don’t work for me but I have found that intermittent fasting is effective.

But I much prefer to rely on my intelligent control system to tell me what and when to eat and I can certainly say that after my mug of green smoothy every morning I just don’t feel like eating a big dinner at night.

But not feeling hungry is a bit subjective so I have been checking my weight since my Christmas pig out and I have got half of the weight gain off.

But we will be celebrating Chinese new year in a few weeks with Lina the amazing Chinese cook, then after that my eightieth birthday in China – which will be a monster pig out so I have plenty of high quality testing coming up.

But the key is that because of my morning green smoothy I have my food cravings under control so I am sure that I will reverse the inevitable weight gain spikes.

All I can recommend is that you carry out this empirical green smoothy test on yourself.