Jennifer’s Garden Diary November 2011

Now that the clocks have gone back the days seem very short and dark comes quickly,even if the weather is good there is very little gardening time.  I have always felt that we need more light now not less! It maybe that there is less to do, but gardeners can always find something.  Today being fine and dry I put in a row of Aquadulce broad beans. The seeds are quite expensive and I am hoping they will do well through the winter and wondering how many commercial frozen broad beans I could buy for the price?  Of course I think they would not be as nutritious or give me pleasure, the “feel good factor”.  Same as knitting for my grandchildren: for the price of wool I could probably buy four cardigans made by overworked and underpaid women in a distant country. Is a garment knitted with love more valuable? Is a vegetable grown with pleasure in my own garden somehow better?  Of course I think they are, or I would not knit or garden, but I find there are dilemmas.

In my local super market there are green Beans from Kenya, Sugar snap peas from Peru and baby Corn from India, all countries where people are hungry— and think of the food miles. What is going on here? I have heard people say that we are giving employment to developing countries indeed I was sent an article last week from Time magazine called “Africa Blossoms” exploring small farmers becoming business men. I quote from it “We sold our land for a few cents and now we are laborers on it. It has been a disaster” We have taken the land to grow for us, and as we import flowers and vegetables we are importing their fertility and water and as new land is being cultivated, decreasing the area where Africa still supports its indigenous flora and fauna.  Could labourers wages ever compensate?  Perhaps in the dilemma of what vegetables and fruit to buy we should consider lovely fresh cabbages, cauliflowers, celery, parsnips and carrots and apples grown in Ireland?  Which also brings me back to our own gardens. Food from there being  fresh, full of vitamins and  “feel good factor” with no food miles. Now is the time to be planning, going through our seed boxes, reading, deciding what to grow, using one of our most important garden tools, our brains!