Vege gardens – in an emergency
Iremember growing up on a quarter acre section in Elizabeth St, right next to the Standard Brewery. Two big vegetable gardens, a hen house with a run, a number of fruit trees and berry bushes, were sufficient to provide food for every meal. Then, food security was a priority. We needed to be as self sufficient as possible and have as much food available to last as long as need be. Things have certainly changed. Smaller sections and landscaping limit the space for vegetable gardens, meaning too many people depend on the supermarket for their day-to-day needs.
So, in the event of a a natural disaster there are people who will be vulnerable in regards to food security, only having sufficient supplies for a couple of days. Disasters happen without warning, but as they don’t happen much, many people don’t worry about it.
A vegetable garden in the ground, raised or in containers, along with stocks of non-perishable food such as canned food, preserves, flour, rice and pasta – should form part of any emergency supply and food security plan.
And a means of collecting and storing rainwater for yourself and your gardens.
You might also need to re-evaluate the area available for cultivation around your house. A recent email contained information about lawns and why they are a waste of time and money.
An extract says: ‘‘The real kicker is that the area we give over to lawns is often the best area we could have used to grow food. When we talk about lawns, we’re usually talking about the sunniest and flattest spots on the property.
‘‘And it’s wasted. Turf grass doesn’t feed a soul . . . birds . . . bees or butterflies. And certainly not your family.’’
He makes a good case for turning part of your back lawn into garden.
Raised metre-wide gardens made from sheets of roofing iron held together with painted 100 x 100 fence posts, can be placed on the lawn with the long side facing in a northerly direction.
Lay several sheets of cardboard at the bottom on top of the grass and proceed to fill with organic waste – (unsprayed) lawn clippings, prunings, old compost or potting mix, fallen leaves, untreated sawdust and the like.
Cover with another layer of cardboard and add chook or any other animal manure, finishing it off with purchased compost (because it’s weed free).
The top of the fill should be 20cm or more from the rim of the cladding.
The sun on the northern side heats the growing medium; the gap between the top of the cladding and the growing medium creates a micro-climate.
Wind passes over the garden and plants grow about three times faster than if they were planted out in the open.
Painting the wooden posts seals in the chemicals, and if they protrude above the garden wall can be used to stretch bird netting or crop cover over the plants to prevent bird, cat and insect damage. Hoops anchored in the soil can also be used to suspend crop cover over all types of low growing vegetables.
For taller growing plants such as corn and tomatoes, start them off under crop cover and then remove the cover so they can grow to full height.
Vegetables that can take a lot of room such as zucchini should be planted in 20-plus litre containers. Pumpkins and squash can be grown at one end of a raised plot and then trailed out from the garden. Dwarf beans will do well in a raised garden where climbing beans are best against a sunny fence.
Just make sure any raised garden is more than 1 metre away from the drip line of any tree, shrub or vine.
Trees will find that there is a wonderful source of food in the raised garden and send millions of fibrous feeder roots into the garden, ruining it.
An alternative if there is no room to raise a garden, is to use containers.
The more produce you can grow naturally, the healthier your family will be.
Raised gardens are easy to create and maintain and can help turn areas of lawn or waste space into highly productive plots with the added advantage of providing a civil defence backup.