Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Economics, gardens and luck.

I has always seemed impossible to me that anything could go on increasing by any particular percentage indefinitely, so when I found out that "economists" (whoever they are) said that the gross national product for any particular country had to increase by a percentage,  preferable 4% or so, annually.  This is exponential growth that is not sustainable, ever.  I could never work out how exactly this system would fail,  but it seems that peak oil just might be the first stumbling block.

That brings me to large scale monoculture and industrial food production.  All of this depends upon oil, even to produce the fertiliser and pesticides that are needed for the peculiarly bred plants that we have become dependent upon.  It just can't go on for very much longer.  The increased cost of oil that was around in 2007 and is now rapidly returning has caused a huge reduction in the amount of fertiliser that farmers have bought this year,  according to the Potash Co of Saskatchewan.  There is an expectation that there will be a consequent reduction in crop volume this year and since the stockpiles held by a number of countries have run down over the last two years, the cost of food should rise considerably this year...  it's just supply and demand really.

So back to the garden.  I am producing much more of winter vegetables than we can eat.  I will be freezing some from now on.  The freezer was my big investment this year.  The reason for my increased winter producton is that the last two summers have been too hot to grow much at all.  I will have a lot more shaded area in the summer of 09/10, but the prospect of a large increase in costs means that it's prudent to try all options.

The other change in this year's growing is to plant potatoes in the autumn.  According to the books that I read,  in my climate one should plant potatoes in the spring, but if I do, it is very likely that the weather will be too hot too soon and I won't have enough water for them... very low production.  Last winter the few potatoes that I missed in digging them produced heaps.
As I have commented previously, the "food group" that is hardest to supply from a garden is carbohydrate... starchy vegetables and grains.  Potatoes seem to produce the most calories for the least effort and they do best here in the winter,  so I'll try both options (winter and summer) this year.  It would be good to be able to supply even more of our needs from the back yard.  I will also have some grain in the old aviary (where the birds can't steal it) and it will be interesting to see how much I can grow.

I am very lucky here.  Organic grains are grown in the area, and there's a mill in the next town (Tarlee, 15km away) that produces "Four Leaf" products.   

There is a farmer's market (I added that link a few days ago) in Angaston (20km away, in the other direction) and I can find amazing fresh vegetables, grass fed local meat and all kinds of fancy special foods...  you can find the links on the market website.

How lucky are we here at kapunda garden!   It's a very different life from that that I'd imagined years ago,  but just wonderful.  As Chris would say LG!

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