Tuesday, July 31, 2012


A couple of yeas ago I had my college research students read an essay that presented the idea of sustainability. I didn't really understand the concept myself until I googled it. (love google). Essentially in my own mind it means the ability of a community to create an environment that can perpetuate a self reliance and thus continue on. So what does sustainability mean to you?

Gardening might be the first step in beginning to create sustainability in our homes. Here, the garden is beginning to yield a satisfying bounty.

Above: beautiful broccoli. Probably should have been picked a day or two earlier, but look at this tight,  huge head as compared to the one below. The top plant came from a garden center. The one below we started from seed. In all fairness, the ones we started from seed matured, formed a nice head, then bolted while we were camping last week-end. I'll harvest the side shoots.

These potatoes vines came up all on their. We just didn't get around to planting potatoes this year, but guess what? Some potatoes must have been left in the ground when we dug them last fall.  We have a very small crop of potatoes this year growing all on their own. So can I claim that my garden is edging its way to its own sustainability?

Passing on family reicpes might be another way to reach some level of sustainability. My mom made the best coleslaw. I think her secret was adding a bit of sugar to the dressing, but I never knew how she made her dressing, so I make up my own. This the prettiest cabbage thus far.

Not only is the head perfect, but so are the outer leaves. Some of the other cabbages aren't as pretty. I've seen those little white cabbage butterflies flitting around. Laying eggs.

Cabbage worm.  He looks fat and healthy.

So tonight I carried in a pan full of fresh vegetables: zucchinis, a few potatoes, the first tomato, two huge heads of broccoli, foot long cucumbers, yummy sweet onions, a head of cabbage. The hens gave up a few eggs--they live in the garden, so eggs count, don't they? And one cabbage worm. Not bad for an evening's trip to the garden that started to see if the lime green zinnia had bloomed yet.

Here she is. I am so excited.  

 Next year I told the head gardener that I want a row dedicated to zinnias, one for glads, and one for sunflowers. I didn't plant any sunflowers this year. Next year big ones. Huge ones. Lots.

Don't you just love going to the grocery store and passing up buying potatoes--that are usually green under the skin and Martha Stewart says not to buy them if they are green, but sometimes what choice do we have--go without?  Passing on a buck 89 tomatoes or onions shipped in from god knows where. Or eggs. Eggs that may be as old as 90 days. eeeek.  I chuckle as I navigate my shopping cart right past the eggs.  I even allow myself to gloat a bit. 

Some are closer to sustainability than we are here at the Garden Spot.  Were I younger with children at home, we might do more given that we have a small acreage--raise our own beef (could do that now, but we'd only end up making a pet out of the steer and couldn't sent it to slaughter); we could get a milk cow. My husband grew up on a dairy and knows exactly where milk comes from. He met a new neighbor who'd love to have fresh milk for her 5 children. Sure we could buy a cow jointly. She cold milk it. She grew up on a dairy too. Then we talked about all it takes to keep cow.  That won't be happening. We could get a couple of sheep and shear them and spin wool and knit sweaters and socks. I don't spin. I don't know how to knit.  I do relish the idea of being self reliant and love the fresh, clean, chemical free vegetables that our garden yields, but total sustainability just isn't going to be my goal, but I certainly do applaud those who are practicing a self sufficient life style, especially those raising their children to be self sufficient, self reliant, independent, and headed toward sustainability. 

 I hope you have great week. I need to buy a freezer.


  1. Before we retired and my son took over the dairy farm, we used to kill a beef animal for the freezer and I always had pleanty of fruit and vegs in the freezer. I also had homemade jam from the fruit in the orchard and hedges and we had hom,emade bread sometimes when I made it (didn't have bread machines) I used to enjoy eating a meal that we had grown! Joan

  2. I admire all your veggies! And your eggs!
    Good job, Ann!
    Next year, I'd like to grow some potatoes and I'm getting more dirt so I can have a huge zinnia crop like I had ten years ago.

  3. I always think it's such a trade off, the convenience of the grocery store means that people could work full time at a job in the city. If you had to come home and do everything yourself, could you do that? Would you have the energy to work the farm after a full day at work?

    But if you could sustain yourself on the land, and some people do manage to do it, would you be able to do it on a more affordable small lot, or a few acres? Would you need to work outside the farm if you couldn't afford the price of the land, [it's unbelievably expensive up here] how much would you need to live on? We are realizing just how many "farmers" have to work outside of the farm part time or full time just to keep the farm around here, many work more then one job. And those are family farms that have gone through the generations...sigh.

    At this point being able to harvest the bounty that you got the other night does give you the option of bypassing those sad potatoes, and expensive tasteless tomatoes. It's a good feeling, to walk on by....love the amazing variety you have harvested, and each little pesticide free veg makes you healthier.

    Jen @ Muddy Boot Dreams

  4. Great post Ann - lovely to see your days harvest - I didn't realise you were such a good veggie grower. Well done you.

  5. Hi Ann, your harvest is great looking! I think you are on the way to sustainability! Do you look at the blog called Simply Self Sufficiency? Google it:
    this girl grows everything, butchers hogs, makes wine, raises quail, etc. Very interesting stuff!

  6. What great veg Ann, what a lovely meal they will make.
    Mary Stewart is quite right, the green in potatoes is a poison called solamine, and it can make you very unwell. Always cut off any green on potatoes to safeguard against upsets.
    Rose H

  7. I luv you momma! I love your thoughts and ideas and photos.

  8. Wow, great looking veg! So rewarding! And hopefully very tasty!