To-day I start a series of articles on the art of living small.
This is definitely an art. It calls for a mind shift from consumption to production. To paraphrase Bill Mollison: if just 10% of us grow food in our own gardens, the world changes.
Gardening is but one part of the Living Small equation. Following on from this starting point, housing, clothing, IT, transport and a host other areas fill the mind. For to-day I will stick with gardening. Gardening in small way provides it own challenges.
For the past eight months my own 4 foot diameter garden has been supplying us with a myriad of produce. I will expand it this Spring to an area 5 times the size. The smallness of this original garden is instructive.
I planted it out with sweet corn, zucchini, lettuce, butter beans, rocket and bok choy. I used to live in a much colder climate. There we only had one chance to grow summer vegetables. Where I am now provided many surprises. Some were welcome, some were not. The speed of growth and harvest was one of the welcome surprises. As was being able to re-plant and rotate crops about such a small area. Maintaining constant ground cover being easily achieved.
White fly were most unwelcome. I’d never seen them before. I diagnosed the first evidence of their infestation as a nitrogen deficiency. Correcting for this created more lush growth, attracting more white fly. Once the problem was identified very little helped. They only attacked the beans, zucchini and some self-sown tomatoes. I took what we could from these and composted the rest in an attempt to break any breeding cycles.
Next Spring I will companion plant with marigolds and nasturtium to deter them. More reading might find other solutions.
During this Autumn and Winter I have been growing beetroot, more bok choy, silverbeet, mizuna, lettuce, rocket, broccoli, cauliflower and snow peas. I have discovered the cabbage moth caterpillar. I just pick them off. Up to 15 per leaf per day!
What have I learned? It is possible to provide a large proportion of salad needs and a smaller proportion of cooking vegetables from such a small space. Additionally I have learned much about the local climate and the garden micro climate. I will be planting more of the smaller, quicker maturing types to keep the supply more constant. My other half has discovered how much longer food will stay fresh in the fridge if it only travels 15 feet to the kitchen and not half way across the continent.
From the observations and discussions with neighbours, I will not be surprised to see more little circles of food springing up across the area next Spring.