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Gardening Tips for May 2017

It is the time to plant:

– Angelica seeds
– Broad Beans seeds
– Beetroot seedlings
– Cabbage seedlings
– Carrots seeds
– Cauliflower seeds
– Celery seeds
– Chinese Cabbage seedlings
– Chives seeds
– Collard seedlings
– Dill seedlings
– Horseradish seeds
– Kale seedlings
– Lettuce seeds
– Mint seeds
– Mizuna seeds
– Mustard green seeds
– Onion seeds
– Oregano seedlings
– Parsley seeds
– Peas
– Potato seeds
– Radish seeds
– Rocket seeds
– Spring Onion seedlings
– Swedes/Rutabagas seeds
– Sweet marjoram seedlings
– Swiss Chard seedlings
– Thyme seeds
– Turnip seeds
– Watermelons

Support peas with twigs, branches or twine and give a light side dressing or liquid fertiliser.

Not Crazy about using Bone Meal or Blood Meal?

There are various alternatives to enrich your soil with phosphorus.

Make your own compost: This is the cheapest and easiest way to feed your plants and it’s a great way to recycle kitchen scraps.

Alfalfa Meal, Flax Seed Meal, Cotton Seed Meal and Soy Meal are all packed with nitrogen.

Kelp extract – It’s packed with micronutrients. (You may want to double-check the ingredients before you buy as some companies mix this up with other products like fish.)

Green manures/nitrogen-fixing plants – Wheat, oats, rye, vetch, or clover are fast growing plants and can be grown and worked into the soil before planting your seeds/seedlings. These crops can absorb nutrients that would otherwise be leached, and these nutrients are then returned to the soil when the crop is tilled under.

Epsom salts : An excellent source of magnesium,  it encourages green foliage.

Seaweed – Fresh, liquid or meal , it has lots of potassium and other trace elements.

Beneficial Microorganisms – Beneficial microorganisms work harmoniously with plants to increase nutrient availability in the soil, root formation and insect resistance.

Vermiculture or Vermicastings – Worm castings increase soil fertility and structure.

Mulching suppresses weeds and creates an excellent environment for worms. It also feeds the soil as it breaks down.

Compost teas are nitrogen rich.

Organic Planting Recipe

When planting anything from annuals to trees, you can use this recipe made in a bucket.
Briefly dip the roots of each plant into it, or spray it onto the root ball.
Mix the first 3 ingredients in one pail and after dipping the plant, rub the fungi onto the roots separately.
Amounts will change depending on the product you buy. Make sure you get products allowed in organic gardening and follow the instructions on the label.

Water – 3.8 liters
Sea Minerals – 5 Tbsp
Liquid seaweed – 5 Tbsp
Endo/Ectomycorrhizal Fungi – 5 ml per plant

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Recycling Grey Water

 

With the drought heavily upon us in the Western Cape, alternative water sources are becoming more important than ever. Grey water is water collected after showering, bathing,  using basins, and washing dishes or clothes. (It does not include water from the toilet, which is called black water.)

If you grow your own food, this grey water could be used to water your fruit trees and vegetables.

Growing veggies using household grey water simply makes sense. It saves water in the long run and, with a bit of knowledge about composting, crop rotation, rainwater collection and other gardening topics, you could be well on your way to becoming self-sustainable. Apart from saving money, you’ll also avoid supporting monocrop farming which destroys arable landand and places a heavy burden on water resources.

Grey water contains nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus, and plants can produce a higher yield if grey water is substituted for normal municipal water. Soapy water can also repel pests like aphids.

It is important to remember to use biodegradable products as many cleaning products can damage or kill your plants. Aside from containing harmful chemicals that can harm humans, animals and plants, many cleaning products on the shelves of supermarkets have also been tested on animals.  It makes sense to diversify our shopping habits and look into more sustainable solutions in the way we live our lives on a daily basis.

There are companies that install grey water systems and these can cost anything from R2 000 to R10 000. We have found that the most affordable and easiest option is to purchase a WaterWarrior for + – R110.  This is a fitting which connects your drain outlet pipe to a 25mm hosepipe.  You can then let the water run straight into your garden. Most drain outlet pipes are 50mm or 40mm in diameter. The WaterWarrior connects to a 50mm drain outlet pipe. However, a 40mm connector ring can be purchased for 40mm outlet pipes.

Things you will need to divert an outlet pipe to the garden:
  • WaterWarrior (and a connecting ring if you have 40mm outlet pipes)
  • Plumbing tape
  • 25mm garden hose or irrigation pipe
  • Clamp

For more instructions on how they are installed, you can watch this video

Important things to remember with grey water:
  • Use grey water within 24 hours. Pathogens can develop if it is stored too long
  • Use biodegradable, environmentally friendly cleaning products
  • Don’t use fabric softener, half a cup of vinegar is the best substitute .
  • Oily water is not good for soil so rinsing pots and pans in a little hot water first is  beneficial
  • Don’t use water from washing nappies or clothes soiled by faeces
  • Don’t use grey water if anyone in the house is suffering from an infectious disease

 

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Our Packaging is inspired by Lauren Singer

 

Our packaging policy is inspired by Lauren Singer. We find her zero waste lifestyle truly inspirational and although we can’t ship products without packaging, we do use compostable containers. We’ve also adopted the old milk bottle system – using jars that you can bring back for refills.

I came across Lauren’s story a couple of years ago and some of you may have watched her TED Talk or read about her before.  The jar she is holding in the picture contains all the trash she produced in three years. Crazy, don’t you think? It seems impossible, but here she is, saying it’s doable. Small changes in the right direction make for an excellent start.  Lauren is an environmental studies graduate from New York University and former sustainability manager at the New York City Department of Environmental Protection.

She has also inspired us to develop our own range of house brand cleaning products that are biodegradable and make grey water suitable for watering your plants. This includes washing powder, hard soap, liquid soap and dishwashing liquid, to mention a few. These products are still in the process of being listed on our website, but if you would like to place an order, you can email us at aimee@unicorncafe.co.za, and we’ll get on it right away.

We also stock FreshBags – durable, lightweight, reusable bags that you can use to pack and weigh loose fruit and veg at the supermarket.  They’re a great alternative to the single-use plastic bags found in the fruit and veg sections of most everyday grocery stores.

 

 

NEW STOCK: FreshBags (approximately 26cm x 24cm) are made from a lightweight nylon mesh.

You can use them for weighing loose fruits and vegetables at the grocery store, and they are fully reusable. Did you know that the bags on a roll in the fruit and veg section of regular grocery stores are usually  not recycled in this area? They are far more likely to end up in a landfill. Unfortunately, there is no giant vacuum that can suck our garbage into an alternate dimension, but you can order your FreshBags from aimee@unicorncafe.co.za for R60 each.

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Country Garden Ham

 

RECIPE BELOW BY THE GENTLE CHEF – (With kind permission)

Generously flavored with hickory smoke, brown sugar and warm spice, country garden ham is reminiscent of a natural uncured ham and can be served hot or cold. The ham can be finished with a savory tamari-black pepper glaze or a sweet and spicy brown sugar-mustard glaze included with the recipe, however any sweet, spicy or savory glaze can be used as desired. Spicy brown or Dijon mustard is the ideal condiment for enhancing the flavor of the sliced ham. This recipe yields about 1.1kgs

Ingredients

Aromatic Brine Ingredients

  •  2 and ¼ cup (540 ml) water
  • 3 T light brown sugar
  • 2 T mild vegetable oil
  • 2 T nutritional yeast flakes
  • 2 T red miso paste*
  • 2 T liquid hickory smoke
  • 2 and ¼ tsp fine sea salt or kosher salt
  • 1 T whole cloves
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp ground white pepper

Dry Ingredients

  • 2 cups (300 g) vital wheat gluten
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 T onion powder
  • 1 T garlic powder

Pan-Browning Ingredient

  • 2 T non-dairy butter or margarine

Additional Item Needed

  • 18-inch wide heavy-duty aluminum foil

*If you cannot obtain red miso paste, substitute with 1 tablespoon tamari, soy sauce or Bragg Liquid Aminos™ and 1 tablespoon tomato paste, although this will alter the finished flavor to a degree.

Optional Tamari-Black Pepper Glaze Ingredients

  • 2 T tamari, soy sauce or Bragg Liquid Aminos™
  • coarse ground smoked black pepper or coarse ground black pepper, to taste

Optional Brown Sugar-Mustard Glaze Ingredients

  • 2 T dark brown sugar
  • 1 T prepared Dijon or spicy mustard
  • 1 tsp tamari, soy sauce or Bragg Liquid Aminos™
  • 1 tsp liquid hickory smoke

Preparing the Aromatic Brine

In a saucepan, bring the water to a brief boil and then remove from the heat. Add the remaining aromatic brine ingredients and stir until the sugar, yeast, miso and salt dissolves. Let the mixture cool to near room temperature (the mixture must cool before proceeding; do not add hot brine to the dry ingredients!)
Meanwhile, thoroughly mix together the dry ingredients in large mixing bowl; set aside.
Preparing the Dough Warning! It is very important to use only heavy-duty aluminum foil for this recipe. Regular foil is not sturdy enough and can easily rupture from steam pressure which builds up inside the sealed package.
Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C.
Strain the aromatic brine through a fine sieve into the dry ingredients in the mixing bowl and discard the strained solids (straining will remove any whole and undissolved seasoning sediment).
Combine thoroughly with a silicone spatula to develop the gluten. Let the dough rest 10 minutes to allow the dry ingredients to absorb as much liquid as possible.
Tear off a sheet of foil (about 18-inches) and place it on your work surface. Place the dough directly on top.
Form the dough into a round mass. The dough will be soft and have a tendency to spread out but try to keep it as compact as you can. Now, lift the edge of the foil over the dough and begin rolling into a cylinder, pinching the ends closed simultaneously while rolling. The goal is to create a thick, compact, cylindrical package. This may take practice, so be patient. Twist the ends tightly to seal, being careful not to tear the foil. Bend the twisted ends in half to lock them tight.
Wrap with an additional large sheet of foil and twist the ends tightly to completely seal the package. If the foil tears at any point while twisting the ends, rewrap in a third sheet of foil. Place directly on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 2 hours.
Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature. Never attempt to open the package while it is hot or steam burns can result. Refrigerate the ham in the foil wrapper for a minimum of 8 hours before finishing, or for a maximum of 1 week. This will firm and enhance the texture. The ham can also be frozen for up to 3 months.

Finishing the Ham

Tamari-Pepper Glaze Option

Let the wrapped ham come to room temperature for about 1 hour before finishing. Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C.
In a skillet, lightly brown the ham on all sides in 2 tablespoons of non-dairy butter or margarine over medium heat. Add the tamari and continue to glaze the ham until nicely browned and then season with black pepper to taste. Transfer the ham to a baking dish, cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board or serving platter for slicing.

Brown Sugar-Mustard Glaze Option

Let the wrapped ham come to room temperature for about 1 hour before finishing. Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C.
Mix together the glaze ingredients in a small dish until the sugar dissolves; set aside.
In a skillet, brown the ham on all sides in 2 tablespoons of non-dairy butter or margarine over medium heat. Transfer the ham to baking dish and brush to coat evenly with the glaze. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board or serving platter for slicing. Holiday seitan ham is delicious served hot, cold or room temperature. Thick ham slices are ideal for pan-grilling too.

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Unicorn Cafe May 2017 Update

 

Finally! I’m writing the Unicorn Cafe’s first blog I think the best way to start, is by introducing ourselves. We are a company that values ethics over profits and, as far as possible,  endeavours to stock the goods you’re looking for.  Alternatively, we’ll strive to fulfil your special requests for those rare items that you can’t find on the shelves of other businesses.

In terms of business size and our future plans, we’re still a seedling. We have an online store where we sell things like smoked v-salmon pieces, vital wheat gluten flour, liquid smoke, portobello mushroom biltong, and T-Shirts promoting environmental well-being.

We have just unpacked olive, coconut, walnut and canola oil. Our biodegradable hard soap has finished curing and is ready for sale.

We’re also very pleased to announce that we’ve discovered a chocolate supplier who deals directly with cocoa farms and produces chocolate here in Cape Town.

We’ll keep you up to speed as our stock list grows!

We take our packaging pretty seriously. Whenever possible, we buy in bulk and custom-package our goods  according to weight in eco-friendly, compostable packaging. We think the plastic lying around the planet and in the seas is gross, and we really don’t want to be a part of that.

We also don’t want to be associated with companies where ethics are compromised. For instance, we want nothing to do with businesses where children are forced by companies or their own families to carry bags of cocoa beans and work long, strenuous hours. We also won’t supply products associated with virgin deforestation and the loss of habitat for forest animals. We ask ourselves if a product is harmful to the earth or whether any species will suffer as a result of its manufacture, production or distribution. We believe companies that effectively promote the destruction of the environment through their product sales shouldn’t be allowed to avail those items to consumers.

We feel that one of the best ways we can contribute to the earth’s well-being, is to make the right speciality products available at one location, and save you the trouble (and fuel!) that goes with travelling from shop to shop searching for scarce items.

Our plan is to grow so that we can plant ourselves, so to speak, in a nice big space and give you a proper Unicorn Cafe experience. This means you will be able to visit and shop in a creative cafe and enjoy an intellectual and educational environment that supports building knowledge, community and culture.

Unicorn Cafe is starting to hold spaces in temporary spots to host special activities. We have set a date for our first morning meditation on the 8th of May. You can check out our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/unicorncafe42/  for more upcoming events and specials.

We don’t want to blindly follow normal business practices; we are innovative and believe in empowering communities and making cultural animation fun and accessible. In short: we have some tricks up our sleeves for when we open up shop, so watch this space!