On tough times

Basil seedlingsWe’ve all read the headlines, watched the business channel, listened to the radio reports for nearly twelve months and all we have heard is lines like “unprecedented downturn in the economy”, “economy set for biggest losses since great depression” Blah Blah Blah…

For those of us who have not been made redundant due to the slow down, how is it really affecting our lives and the choices we make every day?

For myself there have been a number of changes to my lifestyle as a cost saving exercise rather than a distinct need to reduce overheads. Things such as brewing my own beer, increasing the amount of veggies I grow in the garden, buying seeds or seedlings for the garden rather than more mature plants and frequenting Garage Sales.

The classifieds in our local news paper have had a distinct increase in the number of garage sales, a couple of our friends usually come along and we go for a tour. A lot of the time we come home with nothing of great interest, but every now and then a sale may have gardening gear for sale. My collection so far is a set of iron wall mounted plant baskets, four large glazed pots with plants, 5 small bird of paradise plants, a wine rack and a couple of palms. To buy these new at a retail outlet would have cost me a couple of times the prices I paid for them, but the real value is in spending quality time with our friends without spending a fortune.

As for other choices the Home Brew is going along fantastic. Since dusting off the kit a three months back I’ve only purchased a six pack of beer, saving me around $50 odd a fortnight in packaged beer. Not only is it a large cost saving measure, the beer tastes great and I love experimenting with different recipes and techniques to get to find that ellusive perfect brew!

For Christmas I got given a membership to the Diggers Gardening Club. Diggers send out a magazine / catalog 5 times a year which gives me something to read and access to club discount heirloom seeds for the garden. Most times the club price is around 20% cheaper than retail prices for seeds, live plants come at varying discounts. A bonus to the subscription is the 8 free packets of seeds that each member gets each year. Heirloom seeds provide far more variety and interest than the stock standard hybrid varieties at supermarkets.

When you buy seedlings in punnets from the garden center, it gives you four or six relatively healthy little plants which will make an instant impact on your garden. But when thinking about the economics of it all, the $3 you spend on the seedlings could have bought you a packet of seeds that gives you the opportunity to grow 50 plants. In simple terms the seedlings cost $0.50 each where seedlings grown at your house will cost less than $0.05 each.
No doubt that there is some effort involved in doing so, but two important traits of a gardener is patience and perseverance.

My most revcent purchase has been the Aquaponics kit, while there was fairly significant outlay in cost to buy, my aim is to reduce the amount of reliance we have on the supermarket for our vegetable supply. At present we spend around $40 per week on “fresh” vegetables that have been kept in cold store for three months. Growing high use vegetables such as lettuce, tomato and herbs along with high cost items such as capsicum, zucchini, chili and spinach should save us around $30 per week and also give us better quality. The aim of the Aquaponics is to improve the success rate of my plants than I have had in the dirt garden, as in the past they have been mutilated by pests and disease. An added bonus is the fish that will be grown for table eating, and my wife does not eat fish, so they are all mine!

I am really interested in what people have to contribute to this topic, I know that Daniel over at SmallKitchenGarden has some great information in regards to successful tomato gardens.

Introducing the Family

Since the birth of this blog there have been some mentions of my family, so here they all are (except my wife, she’s shy… that’s what she says anyway…)

Maggie, or Margret when she’s in trouble, is a three year old cat. Not sure what kind of genetic line she comes from, but she is wonderfully affectionate to me, does not like many other people. Maggie is most famous for her funny face when she yawns and terrorising the neighborhood dogs.

abbyAbby, the long member of the family. We picked Abby up from the pound when she was about 12 weeks old. She was so small that she would fit between my hand and my elbow, today she measures a mere one meter long (3.2 foot). Sausage as she is more affectionately known loves hunting lizards and chasing pigeons. She has a very big bark, and possibly a big bite for the person who dares to break into our house.

taylahTaylah is my big girl. Having always had a German Shepherd Dog in the house when I was growing up, I heard about the puppies that Taylah’s breeders had and fell in love (who can’t love a GSD puppy?). Tay has had some runs in the show ring, coming out with Best of Breed in a number of shows. She loves to eat bones, chase balls, wrestle with Sausage and lick and nuzzle at Angus.

hyphenHyphen is a foster cat, she was on death row as her owner was going overseas. Being 16 and diabetic is not much of a selling point. After two months at our house she recovered from her diabetes (cats can do that), and became much more affectionate. Her owners have now stopped traveling and are getting ready for her arrival in New Zealand. Hyphen will be remembered for running through the paint roller tray and running and sliding across the polished floor boards.

angusWho has never dreamed of having a Tiger or a Leopard for a pet? As owning exotic animals such as this is not legal in Australia, we have opted for the next best thing, a Bengal Cat. Angus has only been with us for two days at time of writing, but already he has Taylah under his spell (she loves cats and thinks he is her puppy).

There is the run down on the family. Everyone likes to garden in their own way, Tay & Sausage dig holes while the cats like to hunt and lounge in the sun.