I’ve been fascinated by the idea of growing my own food for a few years now. I’ve read so many gardening and self-sufficiencey books that I have a whole box of them somewhere. The reason I live on acreage away from the city is mostly because of a desire to be able to grow more of my own food.
But growing your own food isn’t easy!
I have a good start really. I have access to running water, and an irrigated area for my fruit trees. We get lots of mulberries and lemons, a dozen or so oranges and mandarins, and the odd apple. Not enough to survive on. (Though the mulberries come close for a few weeks a year.)
I’ve built raised garden beds with power tools, close to my tap, and covered with netting. We have an abundance of strawberries this year, more silverbeet than I can eat. I have potatoes in, but no idea if I’ll get any, I didn’t last year, who knows why. Tried to plant peas, but something ate all the seeds before they came up. Birds probably.
We have 4 chooks and a rooster, but only a couple of the chooks are still laying. We keep the others around because we’re fond of them (even though they dig up my garden!) And, of course, they’re a free source of fertaliser. Chooks are probably our most effective food producing experiment. We almost never have to buy eggs, but we do still buy food for the chooks, so price wise, it works out about even. If you’ve never tasted a real free range egg though (not the ones you buy in a supermarket, but from a backyard chook), you don’t know what you’re missing!
In reality though, it’s lucky I’m not relying on my gardening to feed myself! I have the space, theoretically, do to so, but time and experience are my downfall. Growing your own food takes time. Fruit trees have to be pruned, watered, and protected from pests. Fruit has to be picked, and if there’s more than you can eat, preserved. Gardens have to be planted, weeded, trimmed, replanted, harvested, fertilized, and also protected from bugs (and chooks).
While I like the idea of being able to produce even a large amount of my own food, it’s not likely to happen. That store down the road is just so much easier. But still, I continue to plant and water things because something in me just loves to try.
Unlike me, the characters in my novel, Reckless Rescue, don’t have that option. There’s no store down the street, across the town, or anywhere on the planet. Everything they eat they have to grow themselves, and in addition they need to grow enough food to have some to preserve for the winter and for seed for the following year.
I’m glad I don’t have that sort of pressure.