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…


seed sowing

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.

walking in the dark

I’ve been feeling a bit rubbish the last couple of days, somewhere between feeling useless and not really cut out for normal living in today’s society. Maybe a bit frustrated as well? I don’t know, maybe we all feel like that from time to time.

Anyway, so last night I wasn’t in the best of form and had cracked open a box of stollen from LIDL and started munching through it and the next thing I knew I was walking into Belfast City centre up the Lisburn Road at 4.30am determined to make a music video for a song I had recorded last Christmas.

I just bunged all the photos I took in order (well except for the bits when I added them to the wrong places and can’t be bothered fixing), added the sound and saved. Total production cost, a coffee and early morning Fanta (it actually tastes OK before 7) and bus fare home.

economically inactive

I stumbled across the phrase ‘economically inactive’ for the first time, a phrase which pushed all the wrong buttons early on Monday morning and got me worked up.
It says a lot about something, I’m not sure what

‘The number of economically inactive people in the UK is measured by the Labour Force Survey (LFS) and consists of people aged 16 and over without a job who have not sought work in the last four weeks and/or are not available to start work in the next two weeks. The main economically inactive groups are students, people looking after family and home, long term sick and disabled, temporarily sick and disabled, retired people and discouraged workers.

I guess it winds me up because it is saying that if you don’t have a paid job and aren’t looking for one for whatever reason then you are not working. Or rather you are not working with a capital W, work that brings in a wage and contributes to the economy.

So if you are a looking after a sick relative or being a housewife with a few kids you are being inactive from an economic point of view, and that somehow is an undesirable state of affairs.

Perhaps I’ve just got a bee in my bonnet (my wife thought so!), but in my opinion this sort of terminology and thinking adds guilt and shame to people who should have no reason to feel as if they are not contributing to the economy (or THE ECONOMY) or being lazy.

If you are looking after a sick parent with dementia day in, day out for weeks on end you are working as much as the high flying businessman or doctor. We can’t let money or our wage define us, work is so much bigger than something we get paid to do

economic warfare

‘To begin with the real ground of the military crown, I think we must first inquire whether warfare is proper at all for Christians…
Shall it be held lawful to make an occupation of the sword, when the Lord proclaims that he who uses the sword shall perish by the sword?
And shall the son of peace take part in the battle when it does not become him even to sue at law?
And shall he apply the chain, and the prison, and the torture, and the punishment, who is not the avenger even of his own wrongs?
Shall he, forsooth, either keep watch-service for others more than for Christ, or shall he do it on the Lord’s day, when he does not even do it for Christ Himself?
And shall he keep guard before the temples which he has renounced?

And shall he take a meal where the apostle has forbidden him?
And shall he diligently protect by night those whom in the day-time he has put to flight by his exorcisms, leaning and resting on the spear the while with which Christ’s side was pierced?
Shall he carry a flag, too, hostile to Christ?
And shall he ask a watchword from the emperor who has already received one from God?
Shall he be disturbed in death by the trumpet of the trumpeter, who expects to be aroused by the angel’s trump?
And shall the Christian be burned according to camp rule, when he was not permitted to burn incense to an idol, when to him Christ remitted the punishment of fire? ‘
That was early church leader Tertullian writing in De Corona and just about the only bit I could just about understand. I was thinking about it as the word ‘competition’ crops up so much with regards to the economy. Often you hear it in  phrases like ‘We need more trained graduates to be competitive on the world market’  or how a factory might have to close its doors as it was no longer competitive on the world market.
People should seek re training if they are finding it hard to find employment. The reason is that it will give them a competitive edge over those other people seeking work. So you might have two equally capable people applying for a job but because one has spent money and applied themselves to doing a course they are deemed the more worthy and get the job.
Which is just another way of rewarding someone for being ‘stronger’ than another as he wasn’t lazy and applied himself more thoroughly that someone lazier.
 Those who aren’t as a strong will up their game and compete against their neighbour and suddenly everyone is a potential competitor and society will rise up and up like some type of super tower of Babel.

I used to read an essay called ‘Economy and Pleasure’ by Wendell Berry when I worked in my favourite DIY warehouse.

‘It is a fact that the destruction of life is a part of the daily business of economic competition as now practiced. If one person is willing to take another’s property or to accept another’s ruin as a normal result of economic enterprise, then he is willing to destroy that other person’s  life as it is and as it desire’s to be. ‘

This was the way of things. Basically at one level I was earning money but at the larger picture I was helping the large DIY warehouse try and destroy Woodies across the road or the other DIY shop’s in the area. The aim of game ultimately was to take market share from those other businesses and grow our market share. Or in other words to aim of the game was to win.

Perhaps it is a stretch but I always felt like a soldier in some type of warfare without guns or traditional weapons, but using a scanning gun instead. But the ultimate aim was the same, to grow and preserve the empire I was serving at the cost of the our enemies and to make more and more economic profit for the owners.

Maybe that’s a mad view of the world, and I know that it’s not simple. I know that many good people run fine businesses and make good decisions in difficult situations.   I admire people who have the balls to step out and take risks and wish I was more like that. Perhaps it’s a sign of my sinfulness that I’m lazy or something.
But it’s also my personal conscience I guess or something like that.