Growing your own veges way to harvest good life
How’s this for a backhanded compliment?
New Zealand has ‘‘a striking ability to deliver good life-quality outcomes despite lower incomes’’.
That’s from a report just published by the OECD club of developed countries.
You see, we score pretty highly in the OECD ‘‘Better Life’’ Index despite having relatively low incomes.
Great, I thought as I snipped off some spinach leaves from the bushes that grow so fast we are struggling to eat it fast enough, ‘‘poor but happy’’.
Not the stuff to warm the cockles of a money writer’s heart.
Funny thing is, if we are so poor, how come I know hardly anyone who bothers to grow anything?
There are few free lunches in this world but growing some of your own food comes pretty close.
I’m not old but when I was a kid everyone grew stuff and given the performance of my spinach and silverbeet I’m a bit bemused to be in such a minority. I grow veges for two reasons. The first is financial. We have a garden. Green things must be planted in that space and I simply can’t bear to pay the price for bags of spinach. Ditto silverbeet. Ditto fresh herbs. Ditto lemons. Ditto lettuce.
We grow rhubarb too and I know I’m sounding more like a little old lady than a finance guy but I have found homemade rhubarb, apple and cinnamon jam beats store jam on price and taste.
The savings aren’t huge, probably not even enough to pay the increase in my gas bill that Genesis Energy has just inflicted on me, and as yet I haven’t finished fooding up the garden.
Discussions are ongoing as to the placement of apple, mandarin and grapefruit trees and together I believe they will eventually make a meaningful dent in the fruit shop spend.
Other veges I grow for fun because I am not convinced I am saving money by doing it.
I make beetroot chutney because I like it. But it’d be more cost effective to buy the beetroot at Pak ’ n Save when it’s at its cheapest.
The same goes for the crops of broad beans and brussel sprouts that are coming along nicely right now.
Given my recent success in supplementing the weekly shop and stocking the chutney and jam shelves, I have started turning my mind to land that is not mine.
If we are as poor as the OECD says we are, it may be time to make our cities more food productive.
I have a friend who lives on a suburban street where the berms are a grapefruit orchard.
It looks great and there’s free grapefruit for everyone.
At a location I will not divulge, there’s a crab apple tree on a berm I intend to harvest when the time is right in an attempt to replicate my dear old gran’s crab apple jelly.
I don’t have a berm but I don’t see why I can’t adopt one and put in a tree and anyone who wants can pluck the fruit or nuts from it.
Maybe the council will tell me off for writing this, and tell me they only want us to mow the berms, not profit from them.
I would be inclined to ignore that in the hope the finance gods of the OECD might next year speak of New Zealand’s ‘‘increasingly striking ability to deliver good life-quality outcomes despite lower incomes’’.
Giving back: St Cuthbert’s College old girl Jade Leung is the national director of the not-for-profit tutoring service NCEA Campus.