Providence. An old fashioned word, and one of my favourites. It sums up the topic of my last year of blogging nicely, and gives tribute where I think tribute is due.
A noun defined as "the protective care of God or of nature as a spiritual power, or God or nature as providing such care" (Merriem Webster Dictionary), this word is increasingly out of favour. It's increasingly odd to give thanks for the sunshine that powers all life on our planet (as well as growth in my garden), rain that waters the crops, or a good harvest. Increasingly, progress and change in our Universe, from the growth of a harvest from a packet of seed, to the birth of a supernova, is merely attributed to inevitable changes in matter, with neither divine instigation nor guidance. I know providence is no longer a commonly used word, or even part of a commonly held world view, but for me, the providence I experience through my 40 m2 of dirt can be a frequent reminder of the benevolence of my creator, and the soil he gave me to work.
And these thoughts are perhaps the lens through which I consider the past year in my garden. The full cycle of winter, spring, summer and autumn has passed, and through it all, our little piece of Auckland urban soil has provided in abundance. Salad greens, tomatoes, beans, courgettes, peas, herbs, parsnips, carrots, yams, potatoes, rhubarb, kale, brocolli, tat soi, raspberries, boysenberries, mizuna, yacon, Jerusalem artichoke, peaches, apples, and many more. Every week, every month, every season. The garden has provided for us plentifully, and even at times provided meals for which no food was purchased. But even greater than the mere filling of stomachs, the garden genuinely enriches our lives. We are less removed from the planet that sustains us, and I hope, better stewards with what we have been entrusted. We willingly partake of sometimes forgotten cycles, consuming food that grew in yesterday's waste (if I may frame "composting" poetically), and collect seeds at the end of the season so that the source of the next crop is assured. And even though we are a household of five, we produce surplus to share with friends and neighbours.
The final months of the year-long cost-benefit analysis (June and July), brought the total for the year to $1320.97. That's an average of $25.40 a week, or $3.70 per day. And while it was a great exercise in documenting just how much food a backyard can produce, and what crops are the best in terms of dollars saved, ALL of the family are rather glad we can stop weighing every gram of every tomato or bean that comes in the door.
The summer peak is predictable - its the season of endless warmth, and, thanks to the garden hose, plenty of water. The lean months of August through to October are due in part to the shady nature of our garden in the winter - its just too cold and wet for even cold hardy crops such as brocolli to germinate and grow, and the autumn sown crops are coming to an end. If the garden had full sun, $50-$100 per month would easily be achievable. Because all of these crops were weighed and valued month by month, the next step is to work out which crops are the best value for area occupied, and which ones really dont justify their presence in small back-yard vegetable gardens. But that will be the topic of my next blog.
Thank you for reading so far - the annual cycle has ended, but my writings have not.