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…
I’ve had a thing for lazy beds over the years (and the types of spades that people would have used to dig them) so today I thought I would give it a go in the garden, or rather a sort of rough version to suit what I need in the garden.
I’m making the path between the ridges pretty wide so I can fit my wheelbarrow and go up to the imaginary compost heap. I also made the ridges 1m across as I want to make them into vegetable beds after the potatoes have broken the soil up a bit.
Anyway, this is my version. First I marked out two long beds (5x1m, 4x1m) and tried to orientate them facing towards the south (i.e. walking down the path in the middle means I walk to the south)
Next I covered the area with some old rotted compost from the far corner of the garden (or at least I hope it is well rotted compost)Ideally I’d bring up some seaweed from down the road and cover it with that.
The ground was pretty hard and it was hard to get a spade in so I used a hammer an axe to cut out ‘segments’ of about 6in x 12 in. The side of the segments that go along the blue rope aren’t cut as the idea (apparently) is to use that as a hinge and flick the sods over. I think this is probably an area when the old spades would have been useful. For instance if I had enough leverage and could cut the sods 12in x 12in and flick it over it would leave less gaps for weeds or grass to grow through.
Flick the sods over on both sides.
I would have finished the ridge yesterday before dark except that I started wondered about the variety of early potatoes that I was about to put in. What about blight? Will they be ready just as we’re going on holidays? Should I pick a different variety? Should I plant main crop instead?
The other thing is that I’ve been told that you should plant your potatoes on St Patrick’s Day and harvest them on the 12th July, which I like as an Irish man. So maybe I’ll wait to Monday before finishing the lazy beds and spend the next couple of days watching rugby and hanging out with friends, making crepes, drawing.
We’re still getting our vegetable box delivered each week but somewhere over the Christmas holidays someone in the house (probably me) bought a 10kg bag of potatoes that has lead to a back log of spuds that need eaten.
I am trying to redeem my relationship with potatoes which means learning to appreciate the hassle of having to wash or peel them and empty them into the compost heap and finding recipes that are a bit more exciting that boiling them or don’t involve adding buckets of butter.
Also recipes that don’t involve using an oven to bake them would be good as that adds extra carbon to the air.
So I gave this recipe for potato and garlic cake, (La Crique) a go and it was tasty in my opinion.
Basically grate 1kg of peeled potatoes.
Beat two eggs with pepper, salt and a garlic clove bashed with some salt.
Mix them all together (I took the clove out as I don’t like discovering a lump of garlic when I don’t expect it).
Heat a frying pan, add 4tbsp of olive oil, spread the mixture over and gently cook for 15mins shaking every so often to stop it sticking.
Turn over when crisp at the bottom and cook for 5
The recipe is in my favourite cook book, European Peasant Cookery by Elizabeth Luard.
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.
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?
I love having a little heap of compost in a corner of the garden. This morning I went out and threw some vegetable peelings on, turned the heap inside out and breathed in sweet warm composting air. It brought me back to the 90’s when there was a F_____ family mushroom growing business and bags of prepared compost would arrive on a lorry in bags which I’d smell. That same smell 20 yrs later.
There was a moment this morning when I just looked at my compost heap and felt content with the world. That doesn’t happen that often so I wanted to note it down. What is it about the compost heap that made me feel so content?
Well it is a sign that death and decay isn’t necessarily the end. There is life in decay as well. The rotting vegetables will decay and in a few months I will put it back into the soil to help grow new vegetables.Tomorrow’s fresh green lettuce and leeks will be nurtured by today’s rotting vegetables and grass. There is the promise of resurrection and new life in death and decay. A moment of contentment.
Walking through Castle Garden’s in Lisburn on Thursday I was suddenly struck by something. The lack of garden in Castle Garden.
The gardens are basically a lawn with a few young trees against the wall.
Well, the lower tiers of it are. I am not sure of the history of the gardens, or who looks after them but it seems like something of a wasted opportunity .
Something like this would be cool. Then you have it as an educational centre for schools and community groups etc.