by Wally Richards
WAKE UP CALL
Our heartfelt sympathy to all those that have suffered from the adverse weather events of recent.
It is already past the time that we needed to future-proof ourselves and homes against adverse events be it weather, earthquakes or volcanoes.
A comment I saw this week was: ‘Our Government giving away taxpayer money to the Paris climate aid fund — $1.3 billion over next 4 years. Utter stupidity, spend this on NZ Infrastructure and recovery.’
A comment from a South Island group was ‘11.5 million dollars from the government for storm relief is AN INSULT…. They gave much more to Ukraine [$43 million —Eds] …SHAME on THEM…’
I see ’12/08/2022 Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson said New Zealand had provided more than $33m in direct funding towards supporting Ukraine.’ It’s nice to help people in other countries but there is an old saying, ‘Charity begins at home.’ The meaning is ‘You should take care of your family and other people who live close to you before helping people who are living further away or in another country.’
The extensive damage to commercial food crops should be a wake up call for all of us.
Unfortunately we see the same overseas that major food growing areas in places such as Australia and California have been severely affected by either droughts or flooding.
Combine this with what is happening in Ukraine/Russia with grain and fertiliser exports then you don’t need a crystal ball to see the millions of people worldwide that already have food shortages and are starving — which is only getting worse by the day.
Crop losses from Pukekohe and Hawkes Bay is going to impact us this coming winter. Already we see fresh produce is several times more expensive than this time last year. About $5.00 for a lettuce, $9.00 for a Cauliflower and $9.00 for a kilo of tomatoes.
People on a tight budget can’t afford those prices which means their health will suffer.
It is February and still not too late to get a winter garden going for when prices of produce such as a cabbage may no longer be $5.00 but well over $10 a head.
So time to reduce the size of your lawns, plant some vegetables into flower gardens, grab some containers and compost and get growing before it is too late.
If you want to convert a part of your lawn to vegetable growing then mow the chosen area (a sunny area is best by far) as short as possible (called scalping).
Around the lawn edge of this area dig a small trench about half a spade depth. The soil and grass from this trench can be stacked some where for future use.
The trench will assist with drainage and as a mowing strip between the vegetable garden and the existing lawn. Place the lawn clippings caught in the catcher over the scalped area. (Extra food for your vegetables crops)
Now cover the scalped lawn area that has the lawn clippings with a layer of cardboard or alternatively several layers of news paper. You can find cardboard from recycling places, super markets etc.
Sprinkle any animal manure you can get hold of or blood & bone with sheep manure pellets.
A sprinkling of Wallys BioPhos and Wally Ocean solids will complete the nutrient requirements.
Then over this place a layer of purchased compost which I prefer Daltons as it does not container green waste and thus herbicide problems.
This layer need only be about 5cm thick, just deep enough to plant seeds or seedlings in.
I suggest winter varieties of broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, lettuce, leeks, silverbeet, spring onions and spinach plant now as seedlings.
Sow seeds of carrots, parsnips, celery, pak chou, Kohi Rabi, onions, radish, Swede and broad beans.
Any of the above you don’t normally eat, then don’t bother growing them or only grow a few to try them.
If there’s one that you eat a lot of, then plant a good number of them.
There is no point at this time of the year to grow for succession as later plantings will not fair well with shorter daylight hours and likely go to seed in the spring.
There is one more product you need and that is Wallys Magic Botanic Liquid (MBL) which you will mix up with water and spray your seedlings weekly and your sown seeds before they are covered with compost.
When your seeds germinate spray their foliage also with MBL.
Your biggest decision will be how much lawn do you want to mow in the future as the bigger the area converted into growing vegetables will be invaluable to your wallet and health. If you have a lot of lawn area then you could make a number of vegetable plots each about a metre wide with a strip of lawn inbetween each as a walk way.
One word of caution is try to keep your vegetable plots away from trees or larger shrubs as they will rob the nutrients from the beds. It will be OK for this season but likely not good for the next season.
For those with no lawns but having areas of concrete or cobbles then low raised gardens work a treat.
See Trade Tested for the likes of Raised Garden Bed 120cm x 120cm x 41cm Irons and only $89.00
I have several of these which are strong and durable hot dip galvanised steel construction and just ordered another two. Forget using wood — it is expensive.
Best place on a concrete pad if there are trees or shrubs around.
You fill them about half full of compost and the other goodies as explained previously.
When a crop is harvested then your apply more goodies and cover with fresh compost and plant again.
Money well spent on getting new or existing vegetable plants going will be a big saving when you are struggling to be able to buy supermarket produce.
The health benefits to you and your family are enormous.
The catchword these days is ‘Food Security’; having a good supply of fresh vegetables, the surplus frozen or pickled along with ample non-perishable foods in store for a tough time.
Problems ring me at 0800 466464
Web site www.gardenews.co.nz