The Day after the Marrow II

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Well I came back from my holidays to 16.5kg of marrow and they’re still coming thick and fast. What to do with this courgette nightmare?Perhaps one plant will be enough next year.

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keeping tabs

I’m trying to keep a note on how much I’m managing to grow in the garden. So far we’ve got:-

1 kg shallots  (€4.90)
2 kg onions   (€4.50)
~25 (small) garlic (19.35)
34 tbsps coriander leaf (€5 ?)
2kg broad beans (€12.12),  200g broad bean tips
1.78 kg oriental greens (€14)
0.1g rocket (€2)
0.340 kg broccoli raab (think I forgot to record another cut) (€5)
2.75 kg beetroot leaf (€22)
5.35 kg beetroot  (€11.77)
1.7 kg chard (€13.6)
1.3 kg turnip tops (€10)
0.600 kg  leaf lettuce (far more) ( at least €14.70)
2.06kg perpetual spinach (€16)
7.7 kg potatoes (€19.25)
200g chinese broccoli
1.37 kg peas (€5)
2.75g carrots (€7.67)
0.170g asparagus kale (forgot another cutting) (€4)

There are some vegetables like the oriental greens, turnip tops, beetroot etc that I can’t find a price for. Basically if I treat them like perpetual spinach I have a rough guestimate of having to spend about €200 to buy organically what I’ve managed to grow in the garden.

Which of course is a lie because I had to buy the seeds, and slug pellets, and other bits and bobs.

If you want to confirm that our economic system is indeed bonkers and disproportionally rewards unreality while devaluing things that actually matter then you should keep a vegetable patch or just try growing a few onions.

The vegetable that is the easiest to grow, the one that grows the quickest.and  is the least work is the one that will cost you the most in the supermarket. H has been nibbling away at the lettuce and I haven’t been keeping a record of it because it seems to insubstantial compared to vegetables that matter like onions or ones that where a lot of work like the peas. My embarrassing rocket yield was actually worth €2.

Yet my onion patch which would provide a true essential of the kitchen,  which has tied the land up for months, and attracted weeds like a big weed magnet then had to be weeded, which seemed so important is actually dirt cheap.I thought that with the amount invested in growing them that they would be something. It was just about the price of buying the packet of onion sets.  Same with the peas. Grow your peas in the right way treating the world with respect, drive in wooden stakes to keep them propped up, harvest them, shell them and freeze them. Work out how much land would be needed to provide you with those 450g bags of peas you pick up in the supermarket without thinking. Wonder how it all works…

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seed sowing

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The weather lovely, the wind not too blowy, a morning for planting seeds in the garden.
So far I’ve planted chervil, land cress, leeks, stir fry greens, comfrey, courgettes and Chinese broccoli. I’ve got modules ready for some kale and lettuce and other seed packets/
I’ve been reading the instructions but now I’m ignoring the instructions and just planting seeds willy-nilly as it just feels right to be putting them in the soil today in any way.

I thought that planting my own vegetables and herbs might save money. But seeds, modules, cloches, wood for raised beds adds up and you wonder if it might not be cheaper to just buy them at the supermarket. Then there is the weeding (already!), and the snail holes and the watering. My soil seems so dry and now that I’ve actually started planting stuff it also seems poor.

Is it worth my while planting vegetables?

Putting kale seeds into modules quickly goes to thoughts about work and the economy and how bags of peas can only cost £1.19. How much fertiliser is being blitzed into the soil in fields in unknown locations to make the economics work?
The more I do stuff in the garden the more the economy doesn’t make sense. Machines might make farm productivity greater but how many men and women have they put out of work? Stuff doesn’t add up.
I could spend weeks planting vegetables and working hard but the price of cauliflowers or carrots tells me that my work isn’t worthwhile. That is if the value of our work is measured in euros or salaries. Which is a lie because the value of our work doesn’t lie in the valuation of Mammon. Or at least it shouldn’t.

And we pay too little for our food and too much for frivolities and trinkets.
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lazy beds pt b

lazy beds pt b

Well, I didn’t quite manage to get my potatoes in on St Patrick’s Day, but the next morning I threw them into the lazy bed 1ft apart and shoveled loose soil from the path on top.

I’ve started another longer bed and hope to get two more the same length done by the end of March.
That’s if the wind and rain don’t keep discouraging me from going out to the garden. It’s not so much the feel of the wind, more the noise. The way it blusters, then dies down and changes direction drives me a little crazy.
For the new bed I cut the sods a little longer (maybe 60cm instead of 30cm)  and flicked them over.

Better to have gardened and lost than to have never gardened before

I spent hours today digging out two stubborn, rickety old bush stumps to free up space for vegetable beds and basically because I didn’t like them. It was a good day for it. Not too cold or not too warm. Not too windy but a nice little breeze.
Working in the garden can go either of two ways for me.

1 I enjoy it
2 I get frustrated.

Digging in this garden makes me a little sad. It could be a great garden, I imagine corners filled in with kale and sunflowers, our picnic table painted and friends around for a picnic (I have to imagine friends as well because I don’t have any friends here yet) I imagine onions drying out or frames with French beans. I think of blackcurrant bushes and perpetual spinach.

What makes me sad is that I know it is not my garden and that by the time it will be getting into the swing of things our time here will be up. Being a joint congregation with the Methodist church means that you might only be here 7yrs or extended to 10yrs or a little more.
7yrs seems like a long time, but it’s nothing if I plant an apple tree now. By the time it would be producing more than a few apples we will have to move on.
Then there is the emotional attachment to the ground you have worked.
Just like some artists find it hard to part with their paintings, something unique that they have made I’ll find it hard to part with a garden I’ve help create.
Of course no one knows what the next 10mins will bring never mind the next 10yrs. Still, it does make me a little melancholic and sad pulling up stumps and moving soil, wondering where I should put the apple trees.
Better to have gardened and lost than to have never gardened before?
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Fantasy Raised Bed League – leaf celery, coriander, mixed salad leaves

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I’ve decided on three more things to grow next year that I reckon will be more than useful additions to the fantasy raised bed league

1 Mixed Salad Leaves

I was up at ALDI shopping there and noticed a packet of these selling for €1.49. We could easily use one of those a week . If we did buy a packet of mixed leaves each week that would work out at €77.48 a year. Over the course of 7 years that would be €542. So its worthwhile growing mixed salad.

2 Leaf Celery

I’d like leaf celery in my team as apparently it’s much easier to grow than normal celery and I get fed with recipes that only need one or two stalks of celery and leave you with most of the head of celery to use up.

Maybe this would be alright if celery was something that I particularly enjoyed eating but it’s not one of my favourite vegetables.
I reckon I’d use celery every 3 weeks or so, but could use it more if it was there. A celery type thing going on somewhere would be worth at least €15.42 a year.

3 Coriander

I could probably make use of coriander every week, usually in a curry or a soup. But it just doesn’t keep well so although I often need it I often don’t have it. My own supply would be a nice addition to the Fantasy Raised Bed Team and would save me about €38.74 a year.

So that is flat leaf parsley, coriander, mixed salad leaves and leaf celery in the team for next seasons raised beds. They won’t take up much space either (a few sq. metres?) and I reckon they could be worth about €170 a year.  What comes next though?

Fantasy Raised Bed League

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I’ve been slowly slowly filling my raised beds up with soil. While I’ve been doing that I’ve also been wondering ‘I wonder what I should put in here when the spring comes?’. In a way it reminded me of playing Fantasy Football League so I decided to pick a Fantasy Raised Bed Team.

The first name that I’d have down on my team sheet would be flat leaf parsley. I have some growing at the moment and use it all the time, at least once a week.

Buying one of those plastic herb boxes at my local supermarket would set me back €1.49 and I could do with buying a box of it every 2 weeks and then throwing out the rest. But the truth is that if I didn’t grow it I probably wouldn’t buy it as I would treat it as a non essential.
So by growing some I provide something that might otherwise cost  €38.74 per year, and if we lived here for 7 yrs that would be €271. Plus I would have cut down on plastic packaging.
It also won’t take up much space, so that is why it’s the first name on my team sheet.

1 Flat Leaf Parsley