Our #1 secret for growing extraordinary hemp
Most hemp is grown today as a monoculture cash crop, which really doesn't take the impact of this farming method on the environment into consideration. It's a broken system of unnatural agriculture that depletes the soil. Even hemp that is technically grown organically is most likely mulched with plastic and has had pesticides approved for organic farming applied. It's still not a sustainable practice, and is in no way ecologically sound, in our opinion.
We only use sustainable growing practices that actually improve the soil,
promote a flourishing ecosystem, and benefit helpful pollinators
Have you ever heard of the Three Sisters...corn, beans, and squash? These plants were grown together by Native Americans because they were mutually beneficial; the corn provides support for the beans, the beans add nitrogen to the soil, and the large leaves of the squash act as a living mulch to shade the soil, preventing water loss and keeping weeds at bay.
Besides keeping our grow small, using permaculture practices such as collecting rainwater, mulching with straw instead of plastic, fertilizing naturally with manure, forgoing the use of pesticides, and giving lots of love and attention to our plants...we rely heavily on companion planting, similar to the Three Sisters.
Companion planting is a gardening system where you strategically place different plants together that act symbiotically (here is a handy chart to help you get started in your own garden), and then harness this synergy to improve plant health and production. A few benefits of using this system include; improves the soil, enriches environment health, and is a natural method of pest control.
Planting your crops this way is safe, beautiful, and environmentally-friendly.
We use several plants for companions to our hemp, including marigolds, nasturtiums, sunflowers, and my favorite...basil. Honestly, our whole garden is one giant multicrop since our hemp is interplanted with tomatoes, squashes, beans, okra, and everything else.
But, we'll just delve into a few today.
I relish having a garden full of cheerful sunflowers,
not only because they are charming and make me happy, but their deep taproots break up the soil layers and bring beneficial bacteria, fungi and microbes resulting in a healthier soil biology.
They attract pollinators to the garden and lure the 'bad' insects away from the hemp plants while the seeds left on the stalks in the fall provide a bounty for the wild birds.
They are known as one of the best companion plants for hemp, and we enjoy having many on our little farm.
Nasturtium flowers and leaves are delicious added to salads, and they, too, beguile harmful bugs to them and away from the hemp plants. If you plant several at the base of the hemp, they can act as a living mulch, creating a beautiful weed barrier.
But, my absolute favorite companion for our hemp is basil!
Gosh, I love basil...fresh, chopped basil sprinkled over a log of goat cheese that's been drizzled in olive oil and balsamic glaze is one of the glories of summer eating.
It's wonderful having hundreds of basil plants!
As a companion, it's pungent aroma deters many pests, while enticing grasshoppers to chomp on its leaves rather than the hemp plants.
But, the biggest impact and
our #1 secret is this;
basil promotes terpene production in hemp!
Terpenes are the essential oils of the hemp plants, and these terpenes act synergistically to make hemp oil more effective. Using basil as our #1 companion plant means we are growing more powerful and effective hemp, plus we get to enjoy LOTS of pesto all year long...that's a total win/win!
Having so much basil means I've streamlined my pesto production...very little measuring, minimal ingredients, and leaving stems and flowers intact. And you know what? It's delicious...every batch. So, I thought you might find this method helpful.
I call it
You will need a good blender or food processor.
First, let's talk about ingredients. Traditional pesto is made with pricey pine nuts and parmesan cheese, but they aren't needed, and I don't use either.
Instant Pesto requires only fresh basil (rinsed and dried...no need to remove stems and flowers), olive oil, and a little salt. Really...it can be that simple. Optional ingredients are nuts, pepper, and garlic. I prefer walnuts, but pretty much any kind of nuts will do, as you'll see. For garlic, I love fresh cloves, but if I'm short on time, dried works. My husband Jacek loves lots of pepper in or on everything, so I include it.
Fill your blender/food processor with basil. No measuring!
Add approximately 1 tsp of salt per 4 cups of fresh basil to the blender. If using pepper, add about half as much pepper as salt.
I add about a Tb of granulated garlic per 4 cups of basil, but go with what you like.
Toss in a handful or two of nuts. In this batch I just used what I had on hand, which was almonds and pecans.
Fill the blender or food processor about 1/4 to 1/3 full of olive oil, and blend!
Et voila...Instant Pesto!!
If you won't be enjoying all of your Instant Pesto right away, store it in ziplok bags in the freezer for later use.
Now you can enjoy fresh pesto whenever the mood strikes...three cheers for Instant Pesto!!