Grow­ing your own veges way to har­vest good life

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS -

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’’.

Photo: KARINA ABADIA

Giv­ing back: St Cuthbert’s Col­lege old girl Jade Le­ung is the national di­rec­tor of the not-for-profit tu­tor­ing ser­vice NCEA Cam­pus.

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