It’s nearly January…the time of diets, more time indoors and planning. For me, January has always been a time to plan the garden, order seeds and move the jigsaw around, just a little, so as to squeeze a little more into the shrinking space of the garden. This year is no exception, if somewhat vague…I know what I need and want to grow, but there will be a matter of a large lawn to content with first…and even that brings about decision making, do I take the fast lane and just pop a series of regimented raised beds on the top of the grass, so growing can start immediately? Or do I take the crawler lane and design the space over a period of time, so I can grow herbs alongside vegetables and flowers for the bees. It might seem like a no brainier but changing our lifestyle will need me to ‘grow to eat’ this year…so more thinking…my thoughts wander to books on the shelf and there is a common theme – self sufficiency.
The Polytunnel Book by Joyce Russell & Self Sufficiency- A Practical Guide for Modern Living by Liz Wright are amongst my favourites. I have had these books for years, influenced by the very popular programme – The Good Life. There has always been a part of me that dreamed of living like Tom and Barbara- green knitted jumpers, jams and pickles in every available cupboard. Wine made out of every vegetable on the plot and chickens providing daily warm eggs ..wonderful dreamy entertainment.
At some point I have done all of the above, well perhaps not make wine from vegetables. This year we used the grapes from our vine to make 8 bottles of wine. The vine came from a garden centre about 8 years ago and was being sold off because it was, let’s say, an interesting specimen: tiny little stick, shriveled up in a black pot. Each year it has grown and for the last few years produced some wonderful grapes…perhaps I need to leave the new owners a recipe for white wine?
We are lucky, (that’s myself and Jezz, my partner in crime), because we have just enough private pension coming in to pay the monthly utility bills, but that’s where it stops…so my planning looks towards feeding and clothing two adults and 5 dogs.
Ok, dreaming aside, I am not that naive, not sure the dogs will take to becoming veggies overnight and the car won’t really run on chip fat….but I really believe there are ways to be more in control of my life. With less time working for an employer, who in reality only provided me with money to pay the supermarket bills…I am beginning to think there must be alternative ways of living: to grow, to make to sell or even bartering. I don’t believe anymore in a system where I have to work for a regular monthly wage, or that my hard work should line the pockets of share holders. I want to be my own share holder…if I work hard I want the dividends: a good crop of sprouts or enough fruit to fill a pantry with jam.
Rose tinted glasses? I don’t think so…in fact for the first time in a long time I have 20-20 vision. Of course, we can’t live off the land, even Tom and Barbara couldn’t achieve an off the gird existence. But I can contribute to our diet with fresh fruit and vegetables, freeze surplus for winter months and make endless pickles, chutneys and jams. I can sell home grown flowers through Moondance Flowers…I just need to get those annuals in the ground!
I know it’s going to be incredibly hard to achieve, dependent on so many factors, but I also know I am not afraid to step back into the muddy waters of the education system briefly to pay for more expensive items that need replacing, like a boiler. Simple – clock on click off. Perhaps its something about getting older and not wanting to play other people’s tunes…but somehow I think not…my life has to be more than being a number on a payroll sheet of a faceless boss.
So that’s where I am this week, I am beginning to find the control I needed over my life, so back to planning flower beds and see what the new year brings…if you could live anyway you wanted, how would you live it?