Down on the Farm

Now that the growing season is well under way, Kate’s family and I have been planting a range of seeds down on the ‘farm’ and we look forward to a cornucopia of beautiful veggies a few weeks from now. Actually, that’s about as likely to happen as the HK government saying the third runway is going to be stopped because it’s going to be a white elephant in an oil-constrained future. Our expertise in farming is what you might call modest. I’m quite used to planting seeds and finding that absolutely nothing springs up, except weeds, of course. For Kate, this is a new experience, but I’m sure she’ll get used to it. I’ve moved beyond this level now, and have developed a real skill in growing pumpkins and cucumbers that grow to about six inches before being attacked by melon flies which turn them into an orange mush. Fortunately, there are new skills to be learned every season, and over the last few months I’ve done rather well at failing to recognise when my sweet potatoes are ready to be dug up. I’ve had some potatoes as big as Mike Tyson’s fist, but not quite as hard: in fact, riddled with holes, soft and crumbly. Not good for eating. Contrary to expectations, my aubergines have been exemplary this year – I must have harvested at least one a week for the last six weeks or so. I’m not sure what I did right there. I’ve also had a constant supply of habanero peppers in my square foot garden, of which I must have allowed three or four hundred to rot, while I’ve eaten about six. A lesson to be learned here for all would-be gardeners – plant what you like to eat.

Never mind! I’ve recently rented more farmland, and have hired a Nepalese farmer to work on it – Bhola – and he’s doing a splendid job. He’s also been building a shed in the corner of our ‘farm’, which is so good I’m seriously thinking of moving into it for good. The waves of four-foot grasses that have been threatening to break over our heads he has also taken care of, as well as digging over a couple of beds for herb seeds, and preparing a ridge for ginger to be grown on. In other words, he’s taken a week to do what I’ve spent about four years not doing, although I have thought about it rather a lot. Has this whirlwind of productive activity left Kate and I feeling downhearted? You bet it has! If you want to measure your worth against another member of the species, choose a real drongo who doesn’t know his arse from his elbow. It’ll make you feel good.

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About transitionsl

I've been an English teacher for the best part of 30 years, teaching in England, Tanzania, Brunei, Australia and Hong Kong. I've always been interested in nature and environmental issues, but it was the discovery of Peak Oil about five years ago that galvanised me into trying to help my local community to prepare for what will be a dramatically different world to the one many of us have been used to. I've been helping to run a transition group, following the guidelines created by Rob Hopkins's Transition Movement in the UK. This blog is an attempt to engage in discussion with a wider group of people in Hong Kong on the ways to transition from our current oil dependency to a state of fossil-free local resilience.
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