Monday, October 15, 2007

The environment and Aldi

Apparently it's Blog Action Day today. I just found out five minutes ago. I feel compelled to take part, in case people who know about B.A.D read what I was going to write about and think I'm an ignorant pig for not writing about the planet and putting it first.

Growing a veggie garden in the middle of a drought is a pain. I wish I'd started years ago, when you could water every day if you wanted... hell, you could switch a sprinkler on, get into your bathers and run giggling through the water.... how easy would that have been? (By the way, the picture is not an exotic vegetable I'm growing. It's just a random one from the holiday.)

Water restrictions where I live (Melbourne, Australia) are the biggest pain. I live in an odd numbered house, so I can only water my garden on two days a week, those being Wednesday and Sunday. The evens have a different two days. You can only water in the morning up until 10am (I think), and the hose has to be one of those trigger nozzle ones, so not a drop is wasted. Our dams are only about 30% full (give or take a couple of percentage points), and this is in the middle of Spring, when usually we get LOTS of rain. So the situation looks pretty dire. In the country they're even worse off.... in some places they can't water outside AT ALL, so the choice is either shower with buckets, trudge out and hand water, or let the garden die.

We've been doing the bucketing off and on, but do you know how heavy a bucket of water is? And I don't have time in the mornings when we have our showers to get everyone organised AND trundle in and out to the garden with ten buckets of water. But if the drought gets worse I'm going to have to. My front garden has been left to the elements.... whatever survives survives. It's looking surprisingly good. By good luck, most of the plants I put in seem to be drought tolerant. They weren't selected for that seven or eight years ago... but it's worked out pretty well so far. It's the veggies in the back I worry about.

At the moment I'm growing potatoes, pumpkin, leeks, onions, lettuce, silver beet, spinach, rainbow chard, and a few brussels sprouts and cauliflowers that were put in too late and are probably going to go straight to seed. This is the second year I've tackled growing our own food. It's fantastic... the taste! the crunchiness! the unchemicalliness! There's nothing like seeing your son devour a home grown cucumber in one sitting that is as big as your arm. But the drought is a big fat pain.

Global warming? I don't know. What I do know is I want some rain water tanks and some bloody big storms to fill them....

Now that my bloggish civic duty is done.... (hopefully a few photos of Thai plants and a whinge about water counts),

we finally did the big Aldi shop yesterday. Whoopee! I'm stating here for the record that I adore Aldi. I like to take the whole family, because if the boys help we get in and out of there in a little over an hour. If I'm by myself it takes forever. We went in yesterday, and got two trolleys. Brennan drove one, and Jordan had the other. We filled those suckers to the brim. I bought 18 packets of bacon/ham bits, 20 tubs of margarine, a case of spaghetti (Only 49c a tin, so I don't mind if the boys use this sometimes as an after school snack), 20 packs of pasta, enough mince to make 16 meals @ 500g a meal, 8 kgs of rice, 8 tubes of toothpaste, 3 packets of dishwasher tablets, 10 packets of skim milk powder.... etc etc. You get the picture. When I go to Aldi I buy BULK!

I save a lot of money on my food bills by doing this. Two massive trolley loads, with things piled under the trolley as well as in it so high that Brennan could barely see over the top cost me $618.

The first time I shopped like this it took 8 weeks before I had to go back to Aldi again. In the meantime I had to pop into my local supermarket a few times to top up on fresh items and things Aldi don't sell, but my visits there dramatically decreased and so did my spending. The next time was twelve weeks between shops, and for interest's sake I kept a record of everything I spent on food. My weekly food bill (including wine, pet food, toiletries.... everything) averaged out to $118/week. Before I did this my food bills were anywhere from $160 - $240, depending on whether I bought meat. I was flabbergasted. (Never has my flabber been more gasted!!)

This time around, what with the holiday and all, I've pushed it back to 15 weeks. I haven't done the figures yet, but in any case I know that I'm saving heaps. I love having my pantry, fridge and freezer full. I feel like Ma Ingalls with all my preparations done for winter. (Actually, she would've had to bucket to water her veggie garden, so I should stop complaining....)

The kids are pleased. Now that there's 10 kilos of self raising flour in the house, they'll get cakes to eat after school again. Just got to make them first....

1 comment:

lightening said...

I am so totally jealous of those who shop at Aldi!!!! :-(

Yes, the drought is a big fat pain! :-( I'm so glad we put in a recycled water system here when we built. Otherwise we would have NO garden now. I'm still trying to work out how my vegie garden is going to work over the summer (they don't recommend recycled water on vegies). This will be my first summer attempting to grow vegies (and we don't have a lot of rainwater on hand).

Speaking of vegie gardens. My hands smell like shallots because I just went out and picked a couple of stems and broke them up to put in with the corned beef. There is a LOT of satisfaction with being able to pop out to the garden and pick what you need isn't there?