Episode 293. Quick Wins and Long Term Results

This is The ChangeUnderground for the 4th of April 2022.

I’m your host, Jon Moore

Decarbonise the Air, Recarbonise the Soil!

Given all the who-ha going on in the world at present and the fact we are on a seasonal change or just through it depending upon your location, I thought a look at quick return veggies and herbs would be useful. I’ll then follow that with a few longer term foods. Every major economic recession since 1970 has been preceded by a jump in energy costs. Some bigger than others but they highlighted structural problems within economies and made them worse. 

Given the last three years of environmental disasters ~ floods, fires and droughts ~ the pandemic, the Russian invasion and spike in energy prices all highlighting supply chain issues in the trading systems of the world, I think it prudent to follow my grandparents’ or maybe your great grandparents’ example and shorten those supply lines for at least some of our food. 

The suggestions I’ll lay out in a few moments might require a change of diet but if that’s the case, these foods will be of benefit, I suggest. 

If we start with a one metre by one metre, this can be scaled quickly as the season passes. That’s about 10 square feet in the old money.

In the Northern Hemisphere the shorter material will be planted on the southern side of the garden and vice versa in the Southern Hemisphere. See the garden as a square and divide it into 5 twenty centimetre wide strips running east to west. This gives us a space to work with.

My suggestion would be to go for leafy vegetables. Mostly green but with some colour variation. 

Starting from the side closest to the sun I plant the following”

  1. Basil
  2. Cress (Not watercress)
  3. Lettuce
  4. Silverbeet
  5. Peas/beans

The basil, cress and lettuce will be ready to start picking first. More from the cress less from the others. The Cress could be cut in 10 cm swathes across the garden over a ten day period before returning to the first cut.

The lettuce are picked from the outside leaves and allowed to continue to grow. I’ve had lettuce last 8 months with this harvest method. The basil would be ready for light picking from about the fourth week and the picking could become increasingly heavy as the plants grow.

Silverbeet takes a little bit of time to get going but once underway can be picked for at least 18 months. I usually have something else in mind for the space by the end of 18 months but I don’t see why this couldn’t be pushed farther.

The peas/beans would depend upon taste and time of year. They tend to be a little bit longer in the growing but are a pick and pick again option. The more you pick, the more they flower and reproduce.

Having set one of these gardens on their way, a second, third and socon would not be difficult. 

For a longer term, longer than it takes to start harvesting cress, I’d find somewhere to plant spuds. If you’re going into winter this might not be a goer but something to plan for. I’ve been led to believe through my reading that 5 square metres will produce enough spuds for one person for a year. By adding some dairy, butter, milk or cheese then all dietary requirements can be met with this diet. That may be a bit extreme but who knows what’s ahead of us?

Additionally we could think about animal products on a small scale. Two ideas come to mind: Poultry and rabbits. Poultry would provide eggs and manure and meat, rabbits just manure and meat. If you’re not up for the meat part, I’d go for poultry. Bantams are probably the go. If you’re more focussed on meat, then rabbits would be indicated. These are personal choices and I wouldn’t judge anyone on those. Do what works for you.

While all this growing is going on, rosemary, sage and thyme cuttings could be started in pots or garden edges to provide variety and micronutrients and, above all else, flavour.

The options are only limited by your imagination.

I’ll call stumps on this episode here. I’m into day 2 of 7 days of isolation following a diagnosis with that cheeky little virus that’s wrecked so much destruction over the last couple of years and I’m sure my voice is betraying that fact.

Decarbonise the air, recarbonise the soil!

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Thank you all for listening and I’ll be back next week.

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