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On the A.Vogel Farm

ANDREAS RYSER
HEAD OF CULTIVATION
ON THE A.VOGEL FARM
It snows a lot in Switzerland and the start of the year usually sees our gardens under snow or frost. Not much is happening – the insects, worms and other wildlife are either sleeping or have gone away. So have the people - you won’t see many working the gardens this time of year. With temperatures which can fall to below -10°C, it is better to stay indoors.

Some of the full-time workers take this chance to go into the mountains to ski. Being in the mountains is a national passion in Switzerland. Alfred Vogel was famously given a set of new skis in his 90s. Does every Swiss person know how to ski? Well we suppose not, although we can’t name one who doesn’t!

Those who are not skiing are busy planning. One of the most important tasks of the year is to plan and prepare for what to grow in our gardens. This work is complicated and time-consuming as we plan not only for the coming months, but also the next year. In order to have the best herbal products, we need to have the healthiest of plants. This starts by having healthy strong seeds and we achieve this by knowing our seeds. We don’t give each seed a name, but we know where they come from, when they have been produced and how – their family credentials are carefully documented. This is reason Alfred Vogel insisted that we produce our own seeds in Roggwil.

Even if you have the best family of seeds, some may have developed poorly compared to their brothers or sisters. These ‘weaker’ seeds may not germinate and if they do, may not develop into a healthy plant. Weaker seeds are lighter or smaller, and are removed using our specially designed ‘seed chromatogram’.

In this way, we are already working with the strongest and healthiest material, even before the plants have germinated.

Echinacea and St. John’s Wort seeds are sown first. These are amongst our most popular herbs and are also robust enough to be planted out earlier in the open ground way before their ‘warmer-blooded’ cousins from the Mediterranean. Seeds of sage, artichoke, spilanthes and other plants preferring a warmer climate are planted towards the end of March.

GLOBE ARTICHOKE

This odd-looking vegetable may be more your idea of a weapon than a foodstuff, but it has an honourable place in the Mediterranean diet, where it contributes its mite towards the beneficial effect of that regime.

Artichoke (Latin name Cynara) has a wonderfully invigorating effect on the liver. It helps that often-overworked organ process cholesterol properly, not picking up too much from food nor synthesising too much itself. Moreover, it ensures that the liver breaks down cholesterol efficiently, not leaving it lying around clogging up the arteries. Take note all those who wish to have squeaky clean arteries.

Additionally, those suffering from indigestion will often benefit from taking the bitter Artichoke before meals, as antipasto.

For those of us who don’t necessarily want to tackle the spiky protuberances that constitute the edible part of the Artichoke plan ourselves, it is available as a tincture.

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On the A.Vogel Farm