With the impending Peak Oil crisis, so many things will change in the way we live. Foods that we currently take for granted here in Melbourne such as bananas and pineapples from Queensland, Basa fish from south east Asia, imported fruits and vegetables and indeed even foods we take for granted when they are out of season, like apples and oranges will no longer be available in the supermarkets, or at least not without the hefty price tag. The price increases will reflect the cost of storing the food or shipping it in from other climes, and at the moment with cheap fuels, this is still a price we are willing to pay. Imagine how much an apple may end up costing though if you wish to eat it in Spring. Apples are harvested in late Summer and Autumn. To eat an apple in Spring it has either come from other states where they are able to harvest at other times or they have been kept in cold storage. Cold storage requires electricity to maintain and hence the cost of this will reflect upon the apple. An individual apple may end up costing a few dollars rather than 50 to 90 cents per. Even looking at those prices I am surprised. Last time I bought an apple from the supermarket it was a lot less than that. That’s telling me loud and clear that fuel costs are already impacting on prices. 😦
And think about spices too. The spice trade had HUGE influence from times BC until well into modern times. In fact, it is still an important market today. Imagine with world without being able to sit down to a Thai feast or an India curry or even a Mexican meal. Many of the spices, such as cloves, cinnamon, ginger and even pepper are tropical plants so, unless you have a hot house they will not grow in Melbourne or surrounds. 😦
So in order to lose as little as possible, save as much money as possible and also just because I love the challenge I wanted to find out what foods I CAN grow locally. Firstly I had to find out what our zone was for planting. As best I can figure we will be moving to an area that is still considered the Temperate Zone however, I know it can get pretty cold and apparently even snow on occasion so I will temper that with a little caution regarding the frosts and consider some of the Cold Zone timing too. We can expect several frosts in Winter and early Spring so I will need to be careful when planting out seedling like tomatoes etc in case there is a late frost. It will however open up fruit tree opportunities where the tree requires a certain amount of hours under a certain temperature in order to set the fruit. As mentioned before, having a hot house will allow for growing many plants not able to be sustained in cooler areas and it will also be fantastic for starting seedlings and growing cuttings too. This won’t be an option this first season or 2 though so I will need to work around that. I also want to plant sufficient quantities to last us the entire year. I’ve planned out our veggie gardens to grow some hopefully sufficient year long quantities and I plan on building an earth bag cold storage cellar too if possible (more on that later) and I will blanch and freeze, bottle, can or cold store whatever we can. It will allow me to store apples, potatoes and other things to last us for longer hopefully as well as probably providing a good place to keep wine cellared at an even temperature.
Some of the other things I would like to grow are the legumes and pulses that can be stored dry or dried then canned. Our climate, when we move, should be amenable to growing them so I thought would combine both kids and growing my green thumbs with a little experimentation and garden preparation as well as a little frugality. I raided my pantry and pulled out some seeds last night. It included raiding the lentil soup mix. Using an egg carton, some cotton wool, 2 fascinated children and a water spray bottle we “planted” our seeds. We have 4 kidney beans, 4 cannelini beans, 4 chick peas, 4 red lentils, 4 brown lentils, 4 green lentils, 4 green peas and 4 yellow peas (these last 2 are split peas as are the red lentils so not expecting miracles there), a pinch of chia seeds, a pinch of linseeds and a pinch of quinoa too. Lets see what happens. I plan on taking more photos to keep an eye on the progress (if any).