Monday, March 30, 2009

Cabbages and Kings!

So. We have joined the ranks of home gardeners everywhere.
On Sunday past, in the glorious Autumnal sunshine of the Melbourne suburbs, we finally did it. Grabbed a hoe and hit the ground running. That's right. We planted a vegie patch. 
Now I can hear what's going through your mind- 'way-to-go... Autumn, such a great time to get planting- doofus you just missed the
 Summer ripeness of tomato's'. 
And I have to say I hear you. I was sadly disappointed to have to scratch a long litany or very pretty looking tomato's from my nursery list, but what can I say, when the mood strikes and your better half is up for some clod turning, you gotta get while the goings good. 

All this means is a little tweak to what you propose to plant and a certain amount of seedling-love in a sunny box before you plant the rows of happy little vegetables.
So, we chose the sunny patch of yard (where every drought stricken shrub of summer was D.E.A.D), ripped it all up, measured it all out and made the pilgrimage to Bunnings- purely for the 'technical bits'n'pieces' like edging, you understand. The seed purchases were reserved for a beautiful drive to Heronswood House, the home of the seed-savers Diggers Club of 
Australia. Ain't no way that my home grown organic vegies are gonna be from GM Monsanto 'engineered to die' seeds. 
You see, I have a bee in my bonnet (appropriate for the gardening, I know) about the seeds that are engineered to need replanting from new seeds the following season, and not the seeds that you collect from your own hard won crop. That's right, they are bred so that if you try to grow seeds collected from your own crop, if they grow at all, they produce a sad shadow of your original crop. They are designed to fail in a second sowing. It makes me sad. These seeds that are engineered to die, making us dependent on the seed companies.  
So there we were, now members of the Diggers Club, with packets of heirloom seeds (rescued seeds from crops that have fallen out of production- if you want to know why, then check out the post from February 10). Oh the excitement, the joy, the potential to propagate! 

Home again, home again and back to the soil prep.
But long story short, here we are. Boxes of seeds sprouting on the window ledge in the sun. Direct sow seeds happily in the ground. I am now officially in a countdown to being able to eat my own vegetables and I plan to detail the adventure to see how easy it really is to cut down on my impact on the environment with my food production. For our Winter harvest we have; purple Dutch peas (I'll earn me clogs yet!), broad beans, carrots, radish, broccoli, red cabbage, kohlrabi, rainbow silver-beet, corriander, parsley and basil.
Oh what a joy to see what happens. I am so excited that I have been dreaming of multicoloured soups of silver-beet! Perhaps this is a sign that I need to get out more.
But it's bigger than just switching to the garden rather than the supermarkets- we already get our vegies from the local growers markets and we will continue to do so. The next step in our 'footprint reduction' journey is now a matter of water. Our little vegie patch is thirsty- and I actually mean that. The poor, abused and drought besieged soil soaked up every last drop (once we got it going in at all, rolled right off the top it did) -and that hardly even cracked the surface. It's going to take a lot of buckets from the shower and the sink to make sure that we are doing our best to 1.) keep our vegies alive, 2.) meet the watering restrictions in place in our 'hood' and 3.) manage to get a crop at all.

It's a bigger commitment than we anticipated (see my muscles rippling from the chain-gang of bathroom water saving- my shower this morning saw me surrounded by buckets). 
But when all is said and done, and my new little haven of vegetable bliss looks so promising, I think we might be up to the challenge. 

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