Monday, January 31st, 2011
The worst case of flooding to hit Australia in 50 years has devastated much of the economy including its production of coal, wheat and sugar, as well as much of the crop market along the East Coast. Economists are estimating the damage will cost the nation 13 $billion this year alone, but the long term effects could be far more severe-especially where the country's food supply is concerned.

The floods have decimated farms throughout Queensland leaving a trail of damage of Biblical proportions. Whole areas have been literally wahed away, causing massive erosion problems and loss of soil. Commercial stocks of water melons, potatoes, zucchini, onions, cauliflower, broccoli, bell peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, and chilies have all been blighted, with the potential to grow other fruit and vegetables for the seasons ahead looking to be in serious jeopardy. Everyday produce is already in short supply especially with the local rail and road networks in ruins, and facing years of reconstruction.

Farmers in the Lockyer Valley, one of the nation's most fertile areas, are bracing themselves for months without income as they clear the debris on their land and wait for the water to subside before they can begin re-planting. One pumpkin grower was just about to begin picking when the floods struck and ripped through his acreage costing him $100,000.

Other farmers are estimating it could be as long as 12 months before they start to see any income from their produce. And then there is the question of topsoil erosion with farmers facing a 25% loss of capacity due to soil quality depletion.

Meanwhile, supermarket giants Coles and Woolworths who control 45% of Australia's fruit and vegetable sales are facing a different economic dilemma: do they stock their shelves with 'ugly fruit' from native suppliers or import produce from other countries? In an effort to keep their shelves stocked Coles has already been selling produce with rain water blemishes to support Australian growers through the crisis...but the question is how long will consumers buy imperfect goods and at higher than normal prices compared to the prices of cheap imports?

And now there is another twist in the ongoing saga of fresh produce. Many home gardeners are finding it difficult to source many of their favorite vegetable seedlings that enable them to grow their own food. Those who have managed to establish a vegetalbe garden are now finding the vegetable seedling bench depleted when they visit their local retail garden centre.

Horticulturists and Authors Sharon and Andrew Cooper, owners of Forest Blooms Nursery, located on the Sunshine Coast Hinterland are seeing first hand the devastation caused by the floods and the flow on effect it's having on production nurseries. 'We have had seedling shortages already, and major nurseries are also experiencing similar problems so soon too," says Sharon. 'If we want to sell plants every week we need to plant seedlings every week, thats how the production cycle works'. But the impact of the flooding up and down the Eastern Seaboard has seen many production nurseries unable to receive their regular orders of planting stock, and the continual heavy rain has caused disease problems also.

One solution offered by Sharon is if you can't find your choice of vegetable seedlings is to grow your own from seed. 'It only takes a very short time to establish your own seedlings ready for your vegetable garden and the savings are beneficial also" says Sharon. Vegetable seeds can be purchased locally or online and there is usually well kept stocks of may varieties.

If you want to know more about growing your own vegetables from seed or seedlings please visit Lots of free downloadable information for the wannabe home gardener is available.

Contact Profile

Vegetable Gardening

Forest Blooms Wholesale nursery is a production nursery and major supplier to Bunnings Warehouse. Andrew and Sharon Cooper are also authors of The Superfood Gardener, a book about growing vegetables for health.
Sharon Cooper
P: 07 5476 4014
M: 0412 632 723


vegetables, floods, food, health, supermarkets



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