What’s in the garden?
Bush beans, climbing beans, snake beans, guava, pecan nuts, choko, carrots, eggplant, tomato, cucumber, lettuce, rocket. Kilos of veggies every day at the moment.
Unfortunately, the nursery with it’s 75% block out netting, was so dark that the seedlings would shoot up toward the light and have long stems that then fell over. So all seedlings have been moved to the green house so that they are protected from bugs and rodents but they get a lot more light.
These seedlings were planted on 19 March and they are all winter crops. There are broccoli, peas, beetroot, beans, spring onions, rocket and lettuce. In two weeks, I’ll plant the next batch. Sequential planting has many advantages. Firstly, the crop doesn’t all ripen at one time. Secondly, if you get lots of insects in one patch, you can plant the next lot in a different spot.
The mung bean story: When mung beans are ready to harvest, the pods dry out and turn black, so every morning we’ve been harvesting the black pods and shelling them into jars. In my desire to be a successful mung bean grower, I researched conventional farming methods in Australia as there is a lot of information available on the internet. I was disturbed to find out that mung bean crops (like almost all grains and pulses) are sprayed with glyphosate once they start to ripen. The glyphosate weakens the plant, so that it puts all it’s energy into ripening the seed all at once. The ripened seed pods can then be easily harvested with machinery. How ridiculous, I thought, using round up on a mung bean crop, not even to kill the competing weeds, but to kill the plant itself, and then it ends up on our tables in our salads! Most people who eat mung beans are health conscious and I think they would be horrified by that little fact.
So, I was all annoyed about the use of glyphosate in mung bean growing as I trotted down to the mung bean on Monday morning. Shock, horror! Through the night, all of the ripe mung beans had being consumed by some kind of critter-maybe a rat. Anyway, ever since that night every single mung bean pod is eaten every night and we haven’t harvested a single one. Oh the irony…
We don’t want to eat veggies that have been farmed with the use of chemicals. That’s why, fifteen years ago, we decided to move to the Northern Rivers and try to take control of producing our own food. Growing our own fruit and veggies has so many advantages other than just the freshness of eating directly from the garden. We can produce meals that have not been contaminated by pesticide, herbicide, insecticide, fungicide, bleach or any of thousands of other chemicals (and poisons) that are used in food processing and storage. Other benefits are: no food miles (therefore a smaller carbon footprint), improving the land (respecting mother earth) rather than depleting it, and the knowledge that our meat is ethically produced. Our animals are healthy and happy and able to express their natural behaviours whilst living in humane conditions right up until the day that they become part of the food chain. (Although the pigs might argue that there’s a bit too much mud in their pen at the moment. They love mud, but there is such thing as too much of a good thing.)
People everywhere are doing amazing things to live a more sustainable lifestyle. City dwellers are buying organic, ethically grown meat and veggies, growing their own herbs in pots, buying whole animals rather than just the best cuts, eating whole plants (ie not throwing the beetroot leaves and stems but incorporating them into the meal), and doing things like pickling and preserving seasonal fruits and vegetables. I have a lot of admiration for busy people everywhere, with so much pressure on them, who care enough to find out where their food comes from and how it has been produced.
What’s on the menu?
Most nights we eat vegetarian meals. If I’m cooking, I fry veggies in a mix of Indian spices then I add some stock and goat yogurt to make a sauce. Etienne makes ratatouille with eggplant, zucchini, capsicum and beans. Once or twice a week we have a meat meal. The cuts are pretty big so we make a roast with vegetables and rosemary from the garden.
Activities of the week
Things are busy at the moment so I’m only doing yoga once a week. I’ve also stopped volunteering on Tuesdays at the Lismore Regional Art Gallery for various reasons that I won’t get into due to feelings being hurt.
Like most people, I sometimes feel a desire to buy something, anything really, just to feel the pleasure of a good purchase. I haven’t felt too deprived so far this year as it’s only been three months of financial dieting. But I do miss op shopping for a nice preloved outfit or some such bargain. So, when Faith posted a message on Facebook mentioning a clothes swap, I was excited. I ended up hosting it on our veranda on Good Friday. Thirteen women came with an awesome range of clothes and a beautiful, gentle energy. There were sooooo many clothes and they were really good quality so we spent hours trying things on and oohing and aahing at each others. Lots of laughter and lovely compliments were shared and enjoyed by all.
Before the clothes swap, I cleaned out my wardrobe and said to myself that I would get rid of everything I didn’t wear and I would only take one new item back. This way I was decluttering my wardrobe. HOWEVER, I ended up with more clothes than I started with (including two new winter coats!)
We had a run of parties/gatherings/dinners over the long weekend, during which we chatted, laughed, ate and drank with people we love and admire. Just delightful. I embarrassed myself though, because I was among the first in line for the meal and the dessert at every party. I can’t seem to help myself. It’s as though my stomach bacteria have a control panel that they use to direct me to where ever the food is. Although we eat fabulous food at home, as you can imagine, when you are eating from the garden, it can be tad repetitive. Over the long weekend we tasted treats such as spicy, garlicky dips, mouthwatering tandoori, delicious pesto/aioli potato salad, all sorts of amazing curries, marinated meats, and a simple tasty jumbalaya. Phew! I don’t know if I’ve ever appreciated my sense of taste as much as I do this year.
Recently, different people have said to me that I look good, or healthy or happy. I’m so grateful for the compliment, but it makes me think that I must have looked like shit before! So, for anyone out there that is thinking that self-sufficiency is some kind of endurance test, I can safely say that isn’t the case. We are fit, healthy and relaxed, a great combination for wellbeing!
Easter weekend – we’ve never been big celebrators of Christian holidays but when I was buying my mobile phone recharge at Aldi, I suddenly remembered it was almost Easter so I bought two blocks of vegan dark chocolate for Izzy. I also bought two blocks of vegan dark chocolate to use for cooking, with the intention of making chocolate coated pecans and macadamia nuts for Etienne and me. Over the weekend, we were too busy to make the choc-coated nuts so we just ate the chocolate.
Our beautiful old grey horse is getting thin. BTW, all white horses are called greys. Like 75% of greys over fifteen years old, she has many external and internal tumours. When we bought her she was sixteen years old and looked like a unicorn without a horn, the most beautiful horse I’d ever seen. But, although she looked really healthy, she had quite a few tumours around her tail. The equine vet explained to us that the tumours were benign and not painful but they would continue to grow throughout her life. She’s twenty-four years old now and despite the green paddock and the stock feed we give her, she is pretty thin.