Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Ahead of myself

I'm always getting ahead of myself with this slow living caper.  What a great phrase!  'Ahead of myself.'  It's not possible to be in front of where you are standing yet this is exactly what I keep doing to myself.

I am so determined to be living a life where I use hardly any energy and produce little waste, that I keep introducing new ways of doing things before I am organised.  All the things I have introduced are fantastic but I don't always go about things in a rational manner.

For example, I don't want to buy commercial seedlings in a wasteful, singleuse plastic punnet so I raise all my seedlings from seed.  But I don't have a clue what I'm doing!!!

I get them to germinate okay but then from germination through to transplanting them in the garden, not much happens.  I keep watering and I feed them seaweed solution or weed tea but..... that bit I'm always waiting for never happens.  You know.  The bit where they flourish?!
 This year in desperation I even tried a new method.  I thought I was clever because by putting them straight into the soil with bricks around them for warmth and a glass window over the top, they could get the nutrition they needed from the soil.  It was a disaster!  Hardly anything germinated and the seeds that did show their heads were gobbled up by grubs of some sort!
So each year, when the weather is warming up and the wind is drying the soil, I place sickly little seedlings into my yummy composted soil and hope.....

I don't have this problem in autumn and winter.  It's the spring veggies I can't master.  But why, oh why can't I forgo my principles and buy plants from the garden centre; healthy, big plants that will stand half a chance of becoming established.  I think I need to back up a bit.  There's no point trying to live from our garden when I'm just a learner.
 It's the same in the house.  I refuse to buy certain things from the shops.  Often that's not because I've found a replacement.  We just do without.  It doesn't bother me much.  I'm happy to eat simply and it doesn't bother me if we don't have a balanced meal every night.  I figure we're healthy enough due to the good meals we cook most of the time.  I also think the food we don't eat keeps us healthy.  We don't eat a lot in the way of highly processed, pre-prepared food with lots of preservatives.
So in the name of not buying packaged, well travelled, unethical food, I will eat some cheese, a couple of olives, a boiled egg and be satisfied.  I know that on a good day I'll be eating a free range chook from a farm that is reputable and I will have home grown veggies on my plate.  I know the kids will graze from the garden in pea season and eat strawberries and raspberries from the bush.  Possibly my 'making do' attitude makes us appreciate the good things in life even more.  We wait with great anticipation for many of the seasonal foods.  Right now the kids are going nuts over organic stonefruit from the farmer's market and apricots from my parent's tree.  Soon we will be enjoying tomatoes that we haven't tasted since last March or April.  The full flavours that have just been a delightful distant memory hit our tastebuds and even the aromas seem to be stronger and more delicious than we remembered.  We're enjoying homemade ginger beer (recipe to come soon) now that the weather is heating up.  I don't really bother with it through winter but when then days get to 30c and higher we love drinking ginger beer, lemonade, fizzy rhubarb and lemon cordial.
The only down side with our method of providing food comes when we entertain or need to take food places.  If I've had to cook food for a meal and something for dessert I don't always have time left for making nibbly treats.  Again, it doesn't bother us waiting until it's meal time but we're used to this way of living.  For others who may be used to grazing in little portions often, it becomes a habit and they actually feel uncomfortable if they don't have pre-lunch nibbles.  I know this from an occasion recently where my guests knew me well enough to start complaining and raiding my cupboards looking for food.  Lol!
So again, I think I need to take a step back and not be such a purist when it comes to entertaining or packing food for a day out.  It would be okay if I cut a corner or two and bought *gasp* olives from the supermarket or a packet of biscuits until I learn how to grow veggies better, preserve food for easy grabbing and figure out some standby recipes for those emergency moments.  As long as I make sure these concessions I'm allowing myself don't stop me moving forward.  I must keep finding new and better ways until I can be satisfied that I am treading lightly on this planet.   Until I believe I am using a tiny amount of energy and producing no waste in my efforts to raise a healthy and happy family.


Lynda D said...

Well said and i agree. Im am such a little way on my journey of being more self sufficient that i make mistakes all the time. I also make this journey with others in tow that dont follow my ideology and so i must accommodate them. I often look at my shopping and see the contrast of my food and theirs and feel frustrated. I cant force them to do anything, it must be their choice. I also am frustrated with growing from seed. Yes, unfortunately most of my success comes from purchased seedlings but i keep trying.

Linda said...

It must be hard when others in your home aren't on the same page Lynda. And I'll be purchasing seedlings next summer. After all, it's better than not having my own veggies. I'll keep trying with seeds too though. Good on you for following your ideology!

Busy mum of 3 said...

I have difficulty growing things from seed too Linda, and I consider myself to be a bit of a green thumb, so I don't know what's going on there. I did have success planting directly into the ground with an heirloom variety of tomato this year, called Amish Paste. No fruit yet but the plants are growing.

Could you buy in punnets, then wash them and return them to be reused??

JohnandJean said...

Hi Linda, If I understood correctly you planted seeds in the newspaper punnets, they germinated and then sat there not growing very large? We had that same problem with punnets we sowed. The solution was to transplant them early into larger punnets/pots or the ground. The roots in our punnets became well advanced but the foliage did not take off like in the shop bought seedlings. Not sure why but early potting up fixed the problem. Handle the seedlings by the leaves not the stem. I'm not keen on using the newspaper punnet as it seems to put an artificial barrier between the soil and the seedling retarding growth until the newspaper breaks down. I prefer to remove it before planting in the ground. There is also the problem of the chemical dye in the ink which may effect root development until it breaks down a bit. Keep trying and don't give up. Remember the permaculture guideline "Observe and Interact"

Tracey said...

Sitting here with a silly grin on my face because I could have written exactly that post about our life. I'm also trying to take a tiny step back and remember that I'm not superwoman. I even managed to buy a few packets of savoury biscuits to keep out of the normal pantry for possible guests over the Christmas season. I figure I can grab them at shirt notice and seve (rather than people getting hungry or me racing around trying to make some!!)

Linda said...

Busy mum, thanks for the info but we can't plant straight into the ground in Victoria or the plants won't establish quickly enough. Late frosts are a killer!

John and Jean, thank you so much! I think this could be the answer. You described the story just right. Good roots, no growth just when I'd decided to give up and buy seedlings next year, you've saved the day! I'm going to try again.

Tracey, yep. It's hard to do it all! But I do so want to be superwoman! Maybe one day.....