Most mornings I sneak a look at the patch. The chook house is within the fenced veg 'compound' so I figure I may as well check for veg progress. This winter has been particularly harsh. We've had all the hardships you can imagine, weather wise that is. But on top of that I've been at war with bush rats and possums. Back in May I planted a heap of winter veg, I know I should have planted some things earlier to give them a kick start but time just didn't permit. I don't think it would have made much difference anyway. It seems these beasts have a grudge with me. Maybe they're the reincarnation of people I've pissed off in a previous life. What ever the case may be, they've decimated all of my peas, broccoli, mizuna, rocket, sorrel, onions and even a bunch of garlic. I've netted, set traps, baited you name it. But still they come.
I wouldn't mind so much of it was just an ornamental garden, but this is our tucker. This is our supermarket. So in order to try and slow the feasting rats, I've installed stronger netting and different traps. Maybe it's just a matter of me figuring out which is the most effective approach to move them away. Maybe this is just another challenge in life that will teach me another valuable lesson. I lay awake the other night contemplating. I realised I didn't even now exactly who my enemy was. If it was possums then I'd only be able to trap and release them somewhere far away from the patch. If it was rats, I wondered how smart they must be to have alluded my efforts for so long. I was being beaten by tiny mammalian brains. I'm frustrated beyond belief. The pests and the long winter have really got to me. And when I'm stuck down a hole and there's only one way to escape. That's dig my way out. That or build a poly tunnel.
Last Spring my hunting buddy Jack built a poly tunnel and he constantly tells me of how phenomenally productive it is, even in the depths of winter. Could this be my answer to a more secure growing method? Just hearing about Jack's supply of winter broccoli alone is enough to convince me it's a worthy venture. So I've put pen to paper, I'm crunching numbers and taking measurements. I'm horrible at this stage of a project. So much so that Kate reminded me to add 50% onto my final projected cost to accommodate for the Rohan idiot tax. My estimates always seem to end up under done and I inevitably spend more money than I initially projected. I'm good at some things, business and money are not my strong suites.
It's at this time of the year that I start writing my summer veg list, I decide what varieties I want to grow and how much. Over the years the list seems to have found some balance. I focus on growing lots of food that will get us through winter, and plenty of summer veg for us to enjoy over the peak period. I have to admit, as much as I love winter with its fire side evenings and wintery food, when it comes to veg growing, summer can't be beat for variety and productivity. We eat much less meat over summer, a few trout, some eel and the odd bucket of yabby. When the variety of food is so diverse, why eat tones of meat when there's delicious eggplant, zucchini, tomato to devour?
This summer though I reckon there maybe a slight exception on the meatless situation. I figure we might have a heap of porky treats to mix with the veg. Bacon and zucchini. Eggplant and chorizo. Pumpkin and Jamon. I love that I get so excited just thinking of the food we'll be eating. Food that I raised from seed, nurtured and cooked. I'd love for everyone to experience this. Lives would change, priorities and perspectives would change. The beauty of it is that it's available to all of us. It's just a matter of planting the seed.