Camellia in our Spring Garden
The challenges we are facing with global warming, peak oil, flu epidemics, collapsing stock markets, and mounting stress appear insurmountable. These are all complex problems. Is there any way to build immunity and to survive these diseases of our contemporary world and the illness threatening our planet?
After 2 years of exhaustive research I’ve come to only one solution for all of the above – slow down and reduce consumption.
And so I’ve “stopped work” and not written for almost a week. It is Spring and it’s time to start anew – time to enjoy the garden and to plant for the future.
I’ve switched off the computer (saving carbon emissions), taken walks and collected wood for the fire (reducing gas consumption), cooked delicious meals with our winter produce, drunk delicious tea made out of a mixture of our own dried lemon balm, lemon verbena and lemon grass and even read an extremely inspiring book (instead of the computer screen).
Most importantly I’ve slowed down and reduced consumption of just about everything except pure clean food, clean fresh air and uncontaminated water. In this country we’re still blessed with these – the most valuable commodities on this earth. As Joan Dye Gussow points out in her book, why would we choose to eat food imported from other countries when we know their air and water are more heavily polluted and contaminated than our own?
It is so easy and enjoyable to grow food … even something as simple as the basil I have sitting on a sunny table inside. Soon, with Spring on the march, the patch of broadbeans, growing where my front lawn once was, will be forming juicy young pods and I’ll cook them up with a cream and sage sauce over gnocchi, or in a beautiful Greek dish that combines fresh artichoke hearts, broadbeans and peas with herbs.
I’ve created new garden beds this week and planted raspberry canes and strawberries, although I just read in Jackie French’s book that perhaps it is bad to plant strawberries and raspberries together. May have to move the strawberries next week.
I’ve put in 3 golden mustard seedlings that I found at the Grower’s Market. Having never seen these before I’m intrigued and have planted them near my giant red mustard. Found this leaf identification chart on the Stone Age Organics site …
where I also found these very cute photos of carrots. Can’t wait to plant my own carrot seeds – then I’ll just have to wait and “see what comes up!”
I’ve discovered that it’s only when I slow down that I can change “time is money” thinking to “time is life” thinking. Take waste, for example.
We had a huge trailer load of rose clippings that Ian insisted we take to the tip. Doing this seemed to be the quickest and easiest solution and it seemed hard to justify spending a couple of hours cutting up rose clippings when “time is money”. I decided, however, that I would make the effort to chop them all up into small pieces and am soaking them in a large tub of water. I’ll put them at the bottom of a quick compost I’m going to cook next week. It only took half an hour longer than it would have taken to go to the tip and we saved on fuel as well as gaining nutrients for our compost. Now my time will help build soil, which in turn will help build life … “time is life!”.
While on the subject of waste, I’ve always felt dreadful about throwing orange skins into the bin and sending them into the landfill but they’re not great in compost and I’ve been too busy to think of what else to do with them. Now I’m laying them out to dry and using them in the fire where they create excellent fuel. Apparently you can also use them if you’re making a quick compost of the kind I’m trying next week.
Spring is also the time to divide plants to increase yield down the track. I’ve divided one rhubarb into four plants and the young Greencorps team building the food garden at the school came over and took sections and cuttings of some of my herbs like thyme, chives, rosemary and sage.
I’ve also been ecstatic about my red cabbage and brussel sprouts so have planted four new red cabbage plants.
Have repeatedly enjoyed these recipes over the last few weeks.
Brussel Sprouts with Walnuts
Simply halve sprouts and cook gently in butter, adding salt and walnuts just before
serving. Do not overcook
Fry onion and garlic in butter and oil. Add chopped bacon if you’re not a vegetarian, as well as two peeled and sliced green apples and the shredded red cabbage. Add approximately half a cup of red wine, some salt, pepper and a dash of sugar and a little vinegar if desired. Cook gently until all soft and apples are well cooked.
Getting back to the problem of my huge gas bill, I’ve also been looking at closing in a verandah to create a heat trap …. trying to create a passive solar environment.
On the political front I’ve attended our Blackheath Climate Action Now monthly meeting. We’ve decided to focus on getting the bike trail linking Mountains Villages closer to a reality. I’m also taking a breather from regular politics until the election is called (garden more important at the moment!) and focussing more on making a video of solutions to climate change … not without a political bent! … and even the pollies are all going to online videos now. Have been filming every day …. mainly the garden!
Grape Hyacinth, alpine strawberries and forget-me-nots