Wednesday, 1 October 2014

A tale of two lemons

At first glance, you might think these were not both lemons: one definitely looks more like an orange. Having them both in the fruit bowl reminded me of a wee story about the importance of feeding plants.

A couple of years ago, we went to a biological farming course run by Arden Anderson. Among the many gems was the idea that all plants have the ability to produce oils/waxes, and that we can get them to do this by careful feeding.

It sounded slightly OTT to be honest. We tend to think of oil-producing plants as being special things, like avocados, sunflowers and jatropha. So the idea that you might get oils or waxes from just any old plant sounded a bit weird.

Then we remembered our back yard. We were living in Auckland at the time and had a big lemon tree which produced quite well but had recently started to really excel itself. Lynne had taken to dosing it with worm castings from the compost and the lemons had changed very noticeably. After slicing in half and squeezing your hand was covered in an oily wax.

If a lemon can be supercharged like this, perhaps Arden is right. Maybe we can also do it with other plants, including the pasture on which NZ's agriculture depends. I doubt that the industry standard fertiliser practices will get us there though.

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