Self-Provisioning – the December 2018 report
December was a great month for berries in the Eco-Garden – we had raspberries, strawberries, blackcurrants, redcurrants and gooseberries. Alas, we did not have as many of the first four as usual, and nor did they ripen as early as usual, due to inclement weather in late November and early December. So our strawberry total was only 6.35 kg. Raspberries were 5.26 kg, blackcurrants 3 kg and redcurrants 1 kg. The gooseberries (made of sterner stuff) redeemed themselves with 11 kg.
All the strawberries were eaten fresh; around 2 kg of the raspberries were eaten fresh and the rest made into jam, frozen, or used to make raspberry muffins. Most of the blackcurrants were bottled and the rest made into jam, and most of the gooseberries were also bottled – bar the 1 kg that went into a gooseberry tart and a gooseberry fool. The redcurrants were made into jelly.
Picking berries took up about a quarter of the total garden work time expended by our household in December. Total garden work hours for the month were 59. This represented 27 hours by me and 24 hours by Martin on all kitchen garden and fruit orchard activities – sowing seeds, weeding, watering, planting summer vege plants, making compost and liquid fertilisers, preparing new planting beds, netting berries and picking them – and 8 hours by two friends who thinned the apple crop on ten trees.
In addition to the fruit self-provisioning, during December the vege garden produced 75% or more of our requirements for broadbeans, broccoli, cauliflower, Chinese cabbages, lettuce, potatoes, silverbeet, spring onions and zucchini. It produced 100% of our elderflower requirements, which were made into 5 litres of cordial, and lemons (50), which were also made into cordial, and used for dressings, flavourings, etc.
The total ‘pantry work’ hours for the household for December were 22 – 9 for Martin and 13 for me. As well as the fruit bottling plus jam, jelly and cordial making this included making two 1kg loaves of rye sourdough bread and one loaf of focaccia bread, 5 dozen muffins, 3 dozen Christmas mince pies and 2 batches of sesame crackers.
This breaks down to just over 1 hour per day each averaged over the month spent on self-provisioning activities – in the garden and in the kitchen. Where do we find the time??? Although neither of us is in paid employment we are both pretty busy with unpaid jobs we take seriously, like writing and house renovations, and most days we don’t have more than 2 hours per day to devote to self-provisioning activities. But we save a heck of a lot of time by paying no attention to the ‘attention merchants’ whose primary purpose is to keep Kiwis sitting on their bums, exercising nothing more than their fingers, and being consumers rather than producers. According to the latest statistics, in 2018 New Zealanders averaged nearly 3 hours per day watching television and nearly 2 hours per day looking at social media.
Me? I’d rather be gardening…