It occurred to me recently that when I go food shopping, I’m not buying much now; just a bit of meat and a few groceries, so I decided to make a list of all the food plants I’m growing at present and was more than a little surprised at the result.
I put a piece of scrap paper on the kitchen bench and every time I thought of something, wrote it down as I passed. I soon filled that scrap and started a second. When that was filled, I thought I’d reached the end of the process…..until I went for a walk around the garden and realised what I’d missed!
I should stress that not all these foods are present at any one time or in huge quantities and some things, like seed crops, or annual vegetables, I may not grow every year. Of course the fruit trees are perennials and so are there all the time, as are most of the herbs. Many of the herbs are dried so that I have them even when they might die back in winter, and I dry, freeze or bottle whatever I can to extend its season.
I try to eat what’s there and not buy things out of season. For instance, I never buy french beans or tomatoes (thick-skinned and tasteless at any time), out of season.
So here’s the full list. Species marked with * are those that have been recently planted and aren’t bearing yet.
Most are planted in multiples, e.g. I have 6 apricots—all but one grown from seed, and over a dozen feijoas—also from seed. To save space, I usually plant a group of 3 fruit trees close together—this aids cross-pollination and fruit set.
Alpine Strawberry—these are poked in wherever there’s a space
*Japanese Raisin Tree
Beans—broad & french
These are mostly winter crops. I’m eating these almost every meal at the moment.
Leaf Amaranth (summer crop)
Lemon Verbena (really a large shrub, but used as a herb)
Note: I don’t grow onions; leeks are easier and need less room
Parsnip (not overly successful with this I’m afraid, but I’ll keep trying)
Edible native species
Dianella longifolia—Pale Flax Lily (edible purple berries)
Austromyrtus dulcis—Midgin Berry (edible berries)
Tasmannia lanceolata—Mountain Pepper (peppery, spicy leaves—dried, pulverised and used as a pepper substitute)
Mentha diemenica—native mint (used as herbal tea)
Warrigal Greens—aka New Zealand Spinach
*Gevuina avellana—Avellano or Chilean Hazelut
I don’t buy tea (I use a variety of herbs for herbal tea) and I make my own bread (although I do have to buy the flour and yeast).
I also have a source of fuelwood and 18,000 litres of stored potable water, but I’m still nowhere near total self-sufficiency (no sources of meat). Eggs come from the free-range egg farm at the end of our street and one day I will get some chickens of my own, which will mean some meat (if I can bear to kill them), but on the whole I’m pretty pleased with what I’ve achieved. It’s a really good feeling to wander down the back each evening and pick something for dinner.
Oh, and I almost forgot about the mushrooms!