Urban self sufficiency is a myth.
We know this, right?
There are other phrases like 'self reliance' that help to diffuse the futility of my endeavours but really, the truth of the matter is that I will never produce more than a fraction of what my family consumes.
I am very lucky in that I have an allotment.
For those of you who hail from outside the UK (especially that someone who logs in regularly from Latvia....I would love to know who you are!) an allotment is a piece of land, rented from the local council, specifically for growing your own family's food.
This is mine.....
The dead grass on the left is someone else's allotment...the green grass on the right is the communal border....only the middle, cultivated section is mine.
Allotments hark back to the industrial revolution when masses of country folk were needed to move from rural areas to the cities in order to work the mills and factories. The laws that gave poor people the right to rent a small plot of arable land remain but sadly, many of the allocated spaces do not and there are often long waiting lists.
So, where was I?
I am lucky to have an allotment and a garden. My garden is about 24 feet x 48 feet.
All of this means that I have quite a lot of growing space by London standards, and I can keep a few hens and beehive (but don't tell the authorities because neither are allowed!)
Yet despite my good fortune, if I want tomato or cucumber on my summer salad I must go and buy them because try as I might, I cannot get one to ripen before September.
I don't have room to grow wheat for bread or to make pasta (we eat a LOT of pasta).
There is nowhere near here to fish or hunt (well, you can fish but you have to throw them back and I don't really see the point)
Yesterday, I composted all twenty cape gooseberry plants which were laden with small, green fruit too late ever to reach yellow gorgeousness.
And let's face it. London is just not the place to grow a mango.
I'm not sure life is worth living without the odd perfectly ripe mango!
We are self sufficient in eggs......but only in the summer months!
This is entirely my own fault.
We choose our hens
according to how pretty
they are, how friendly
and how much damage
they do while free ranging.
So we've ended
up with a flock of fancy
bantams instead of
year round layer
We're self sufficient in courgettes and winter squash. Impressive huh? Except that we never ate them before I grew them....and I only grew them because they were easy! Then, halfway through my first season and peering out from beneath a courgette mountain, I realised I needed a way to persuade my kids to eat the blimmin' things and so set about learning ways to cook them.
Perhaps this is the answer!
Should we alter our diet to reflect what we can grow?
I've successfully reconditioned my children to think that summer isn't summer without courgette fritters.
Broad bean hoummus and runner bean falafels (so long as no-one knew that's what they were) went down a storm.
Maybe I should convince myself that cucumber and tomatoes are no good in salad....and should only be pickled or canned for winter....nah! it's never gonna work.
I'm always going need the supermarket!