"Self-sufficiency does not mean 'going back' to the acceptance of a lower standard of living. On the contrary, it is the striving for a higher standard of living, for food that is organically grown and good, for the good life in pleasant surroundings... and for the satisfaction that comes from doing difficult and intricate jobs well and successfully." John Seymour ~ Self Sufficiency 2003

Saturday 19 August 2017

Adapting to what lies ahead...

In answering Sue's comment, I started going off on a climate change / global  warming tangent, which was a whole other post.  So, I cut myself short, and thought I would share in this posting exactly what was going on in my head as I replied to her then.

My main summer crops are tomatoes - which get eaten fresh, and get canned, dried and pureed for use in winter - and butternut / squash and pumpkin (to a lesser degree as we prefer the taste of butternut).  My main winter crop is peas, fava (broad) beans and swiss chard.  Onions / garlic get planted close to whatever else is growing and they seem to thrive all year round.

But, as I have three veggies beds, and I question whether I need all three?  I reckon it would be more effective to start planning for less water availability and therefore condense my veggie growing requirements down to two beds.  Even thpugh the mulch he;[s tremendously, I need to improve / decrease my water consumption, in order to be more water-wise and to save "wasting" water.

Yes, our local co-op, and supermarkets have a plethora of different seeds to encourage us to buy more, grow more and spend more.  But, I have been asking myself if this is wise?

Why do I plant up huge areas of vegetables - more than we can eat - and, if I'm honest, more than I can preserve - so I end up giving them - away albeit to our kids, which is one of the reasons I grow them anyway.  All I am doing is forcing myself to irrigate bigger and bigger areas.
Precious heirloom tomatoes - my summer garden is incomplete
 without them
The vegetable / fruit crops which are vital to me are:

tomatoes - heirloom rather than cocktail sized - and my most valuable crop
capsicum (red / yellow and piquante peppers)
sweet potatoes
pumpkin and butternut
rocket, herbs and chives  (I l-o-v-e rocket and often have more rocket than lettuce in the salad)

greens (and dark red) - beetroot
legumes - specifically peas and broad beans
onions and garlic

All year:
swiss chard 


granadilla (passion fruit)


All year:

I have discovered that trying to grow lettuce in summer is a no-no as it's far too hot here and they bolt in no time at all - even in my shade cloth veggie patch.  Ditto, I have been unsuccessful in growing cauliflower, cabbage and broccoli (the latter for which RMan is extremely thankful as he's not mad about "green trees"). I tried growing cabbage in my small hydroponic set up, and they didn't perform too well.  Actually, I can't say anything grew amazingly in it, so, I am converting that hydroponic option to strawberries this year.  Let's see how they do...?  So, I am definitely not bothering trying to grow any of these veg / salads again.
Peppers - three different kinds - with chopped swiss chard
and onion - ready to get added to a stir fry
A regional government representative unexpectedly dropped in a couple of years ago - they were doing a survey into what we ate / grew in our area.  They asked our casual labourer when last he had dark greens and orange vegetables.  He couldn't remember.  She said he must try and eat them as they contain vital nutrients required by his body.

But, I had never given that a thought, and that gave me a wake up call.  And from that moment on I ensure that he has both of those coloured veggies with his lunch every time he's here - roughly 1 - 2 a week.

But, I had never thought of that in our terms either.  And, it has guided me from then on.

Companion plants to tomatoes are carrots, onion, garlic (and strawberries) - so that is one summer bed filled.  Carrots are a two-fold veg - we love them smothered in honey butter, and, grated, in a coleslaw - or for the alpacas (and chickens) who love them even more than we do 😂  Two (or should that be three) birds sorted with one stone, so to speak.
Yum - homemade coleslaw
Beetroot, peas, broad beans and swiss chard (spinach) are their own companions and they also enjoy the company of onions and garlic.  That is another bed - and in winter only.

The pumpkin and butternut are all by themselves in the deep raised beds of composted alpaca poo.
Dehydrating heirloom tomatoes
And only sweet potatoes are the odd man out - so they'll get their own bed.  I leave them in the ground as our soil never freezes and it is the best way of storing them - and keeps them mouse nibble free.  As I need them, so I harvest exactly what I need.  And, what I haven't harvested, grows again the next season.

With this downsize plan, as we have irrigation on each of the three veggie patches, which we can isolate as required, this will be a breeze.

This makes a whole bunch of sense to me and will, hopefully, save on the watering - and the angst of a failed crop due to excessive summer temperatures.


  1. Sounds good to me. We only grow what we eat and eat as the vegetables are ready. Not much gets frozen apart from the sweetcorn which we harvest all in one go. It's pointless to grow more than we need. The only thing I give away are the cucumbers. I should only grow one plant instead of two as it's only me that eats them.

    1. Mum - I don't grow cucumber, nor green peppers as they both make me "burp" uncomfortably. S'funny though, red, yellow and orage peppers are fine ;)

      Yeah, I don't have space in my freezer for veggies, so any excess either gets canned or dehydrated.

  2. I have already planned my new house garden. lol Forget decorating, the garden beds are going in first. I have garlic etc to put in as soon as we can get it in the ground. I will have to put it in the fridge for a week first to make it split as the neighbours there said theirs never splits into cloves and I asked if it freezes at all there and they said no we are too close to the sea.

    I am hoping to have excess, so I can do an honesty stand and sell the surplus, the money going to cancer research. It will get a lot of foot fall in front of the housee by tourists and locals. I would normally give it away, but my goal next year is to up charity giving and I came up with this with my sister and father. I wont have so much problem as you with watering. Its Cornwall, it falls out the sky all the time. The neighbour said they water their garden once a week in real summer and that is so tomatoes dont split and lettuce die. Sounds good to me. Anything that doesnt go I will dehydrate and add to soup in the winter. I love soup with lots of lettuce in it!

    Hope you are well.

    1. Sol - That's a lovely idea. we're at the end of our road (cul-de-sac) so a honesty stand wouldn't work. Have you already found your new place? Info / pics please... :D

    2. we are waiting on exchange dates and the dates to move. There are problems with the first person in the chain. We will know tomorrow if they are throwing their toys out of the pram or if they are going to get on with the date everyone else is saying.

    3. Sol - You have such a strange way of selling houses in the UK. I just can't get my head around it lol

      Here, a house is offered for sale, and offer is made which is either accepted or rejected. If accepted, time (normally 2 weeks) is given to raise finance, and all being well the sale proceeds. If finance is not granted, then the house is put up for sale again. Occupation - that is either on transfer of the property, or on a date specified in the offer to purchase.

      Really seems a much simpler option than what you guys go through...

  3. Great post. This is exactly the kind of thoughtful planning we need to be doing here. Every year I end up with way too much produce, meaning I've spent a lot of time and resources (including water) unnecessarily. And stressing the land, which would rather be left alone. We're consolidating and reducing the amount of land we use, but as your post reminds me, there is more to be done. We don't have the same severe water and temperature issues you have (at least not yet!) but the issues are the same. Good luck with your new plan and thanks for sharing the details.

    1. Bill - I think the wide choice of vegetables available to grow is not favourable to this planet. Restricting what I plant to only what we actually consume, and not in commercial farmer quantities either, is the better solution for the long term water availability on this planet. Water will be the root of all evil in years ahead for mankind is multiplying to a point that this planet and it's available resources will not be able to cope / provide in sufficient quantities - and that is without us polluting it either...

  4. Hi Dani-a quick Pop-in to see how you've been. This is a great post (as always!) and something I have been thinking about as well.....but for a different reason. I despise watering and also live in an extremely dry place with sand posing as soil. My problem is my shoulders are getting so bad that it is painful for me to carry watering cans. I deep mulch with straw and leaves, but there is still that once or twice a week that I must haul water to my beds. I was only recently commenting to hubby that it seemed to me that fewer beds, but BETTER TENDED, seem to produce as much food as many beds NOT well tended. I have been cramming more in per bed...and it seems to be working well....and saving my shoulders as well. I love to see that someone else is having those same thoughts. Less IS more, it seems.
    Though we will never (hopefully?) be as dry as your climate, there have been several times I'm scraping the bottoms of my rain collection tanks and it's scary. Oh, I could use the hose, but I'm adamant about using only rainwater and adjusting the garden to that source. It may come to that at some point and like you, I am trying to prepare myself for the inevitable. Unlike our delusional president , I can SEE there IS a change in our climate.
    Best of luck in all your gardening endeavors. I'm always happy for the chance to exchange or garner ideas and new ways of thinking.
    Can't tell you how much I've missed blogging and hope to get back into it soon.
    Happy Harvesting

    1. Sue - I'm so sorry my dear - I'm at my wits end. I have added your e-mail address to gmail, but still your comments go to spam folder and it then takes me a while to pick up your comment. :(

      Have you thought of running a hose pipe from your rain water tank - that way you wouldn't have to carry watering cans / buckets?

      Yeah - your president gets my back up too. He's focussed on short term popularity ? bending over backwards for the oil guys as opposed to long term benefit for the whole country...

      Would love it if you blogged again. Most of the blogs I have followed over the years have gone silent too.


Thank you for taking the time to comment - it makes my day and removes the "loneliness' of sitting at my screen blogging supposedly to myself ;) I try and reply as quickly as possible so please forgive me if sometimes my response is delayed.