All my summer crops are approaching harvest and something terrible has happened … we have run out of water. Yep, we literally have no water in the vegie garden tank.
Of course I knew this could happen. We regularly move water from tank to tank around our property to maximise water capture, and then transfer it to the areas of high demand, like the vegie garden and orchard, but we have always had a backup or spare tank in reserve. Sometimes it has felt like we’re the Kerrigan’s in The Castle, moving the Torana to get to the Monaro to get to the Falcon, and this is how we have always managed to get through. Move water from the shed to the garage to top up the vegies. But not this year.
Now we don’t live in the outback. We live on the Mornington Peninsula (not far from Melbourne). The opposite side of the road to us has all usual services like town water, but we do not, relying solely on our collection of tanks and rainfall for this precious resource. And this year, for the first year in 5 years, we have no water to spare. The house tank is frighteningly low, all other tanks have already been used to help the house and vegie garden make it through the summer, and the vegie garden tank has run dry.
Armfuls of green beans are drying on the bushes, tomatoes are stunted yet still trying to fruit, I have the best crop of corn I have ever grown, and my strawberries are shrivelling just as they were beginning to ripen. I can harvest and preserve a portion of the garden, but much has been so damaged by the scorching, relentless weather and lack of water, that the season would generally be considered a failure. But giving up seems unfathomable.
So what do I do? Do I buy water? Well it all comes down to a cost to value ratio: the cost of water versus the quality and volume of produce I can salvage and continue to grow. Because I rarely buy vegies, I have had to go out and price my crop. Of course it is not just the current crop … if I filled the tank, I would have ample water for the next crop too. Let’s go with organic, because that is how I grow my crops.
So this is the price of just some of the produce in the garden at the moment: Corn $ 3/ea, Capsicum $12/kg, Cucumber $10/kg, Beans $14/kg, Eggplant $4.50/ea, Silver beet $4.50/bunch, Spinach $20 p/kg, Spring onions $4/bunch, Zucchini $8/kg, Parsley $4.60/bunch, Basil $4.60, Tomatoes $12/kg, Carrots $6/kg, Potatoes $4/kg, Beetroot $4.50/bunch, My grandfather’s heritage rhubarb – Priceless. And the list goes on.
Now the cost of filling the water tank is around $340. It is only a phone call and a lump sum of cash away, but is it worth it?
What would you do?