It was about this time last year that I really got stuck into building my first real garden project, more or less ever. I remember helping my father in the garden at home. That was back in the post-war days of the late 40’s and into the fifties when food was scarce in UK and most people would supplement what they could buy with home grown produce. How times have changed. My gardening experience, with mostly reluctant participation if I remember, lasted up until my mid-teens. It was never very ‘cool’ to do that sort of thing in the years that followed, and that was pretty much it for me as far as gardening went, until one year ago.
So, what kick-started my new interest in gardening?
I can’t remember exactly when, but it must have been around the time of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) in 2008 or within a few years prior to that, when the effects of climate change began to become more widely known. In that period I became aware of various possible futures for mankind, many of which were not very comforting. I had first been made aware that something was going to radically change how we live and interact with our world at some stage, and most likely in the early part of this century, when back in 1972 I read the book ‘The Limits to Growth’. This book was ridiculed by many when first published but has more recently become a common theme behind much of the thinking about what we know of how future years will unroll, mainly because of the accuracy of its predictions to date about the times we are presently living in. These thoughts were also taken into consideration in my decision to migrate from United Kingdom to Australia in the early eighties of last century.
With that background knowledge, after the turn of the century I began to become interested in how to personally prepare in order to have the best possible chance to survive what was likely to ensue. I began to read Survivalist literature and websites but quickly decided that these were associated with people that I would not feel comfortable in teaming up with but that they would be better left alone in their own crazy little world. I came across (I tend to use that phrase quite a lot because my studies and research are not very self-directed, which is also, some might say, how my whole life has proceeded so far. I have always believed, rightly or wrongly, that because my intentions are pure, in the sense of not being harmful, the universe or whatever you want to call it will bring to me the information and the breaks that I need in life as long as I make the effort to willingly but consciously accept the opportunities and openings that present themselves. That is a great philosophy, for me at least.) …as I said, I came across… a book titled ‘Move Up In The World: Reverse Your Thinking’ by Simon Beer, which at the time was available as a web download. The book was stated to be a guide to the psychological changes that would be necessary to survive when current systems collapsed. I can’t say that I was overly impressed with the overall flow of much of the content which seemed quite laboured and repetitive, but it did leave me with one piece of advice from among the good practical parts of the book, for which I am grateful. Incidentally, I think the book has since devolved into merely a much more concise article on an Australian survivalist website run by the author, which by the way does contain some really good information and references if you are just beginning to think along these lines. Sadly I think the author went off on some strange religious bent, which is probably why his book never progressed further. Sad, because there is so much good stuff hidden in there.
The advice that I took on board from that book was to learn Permaculture as an aid to survival (was this another example of my previously mentioned philosophy in action?) and so the next year, 2010, I enrolled myself in a Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) course. I consider myself fortunate to have been able to make that investment in my future. Obtaining my PDC also coincided with my decision to retire early, well… after normal retirement age but before my usefulness as a very well paid IT Specialist expired. I had become ethically disillusioned with the whole corporate/consumerist way of life and wanted out.
Since then I have documented my move to the country and the work that I put into my first real garden last year. I feel that I should also unearth for this post, a presentation that I made last year about how my garden was initially constructed, in the hope that the information may be of benefit to someone else.
I actually did much more than is shown in those pictures and in recent weeks I have been preparing the garden for this years growing, extending it in size. I will take more pictures and post them soon. While I planted mostly annuals last year, some vegetables like Spinach, Kale and Celery have remained over winter, supplementing my diet along with a surprising result from a single Yacón plant. Other than this I didn’t do any further growing of winter crops but I have in recent weeks planted some potatoes in special grow-bags and also in the Hugelkultur that I made last Autumn, not primarily for potatoes but at least it is in use until further decisions are made.
I have also had pleasing success in raising plants from seed this year in my cold frame and it is time for me to plant some of them out or at least put them in single pots until after the frost season. Not a single seed germinated or made it past the slugs’n’snails in there last year. There are also eleven new strawberry plants in there being brought on from bare root stock. While I produced quite a number of fruit last year from four plants, hopefully with these extra ones there will be enough harvest for both the birds and me this year.