State of the Homestead: Gardening

Gardening.  I’m going to let the big back bed (700sf) go back wild after this year’s crops are out…well, I’ll plant some perennializing compost crops back there, but mostly I’m giving up keeping the weeds out of that area. I have doubled the size of the “storage garden” and will try to stay on top of that by planting dutch white clover around the edges and mowing or mulching around the beds. That means next year’s annual vegetable space will be about 850 sf. Issues:

  • The greenhouse has been a joy this spring. Though I am ever so slightly tired of kale, having not had an off season for kale in over a year.
  • Spices. You saw my post on weird indoor plants, right? They’re doing well, and I’ve added a pot of spearmint.
  • We have no inclination toward livestock at this point in time, no matter how cute all your goats and chickens are!
  • I still struggle with how much is “enough” garden space. Some part of me still thinks we need to raise all our own food. But right now, I probably give away as much as we eat, even though I know 850 sf is not enough food for 2 people to live on. I’m not entirely sure what we do eat, to tell you the truth.

So the issue is what Sharon Astyk refers to as the “eat the food” step. My energy for dealing with food more or less ends when I’m done tending the garden. I really don’t feel like cooking it once I’ve been staring at it in the ground for a couple hours. So what to do? Grow less? Cook more? I dunno. What I love about gardening is the figuring-out. How many calories can I grow this year? Can I grow okra? What are podding radishes like? Can I plant peas in such a way that we have a steady supply all summer? Once I figure out the answers to those questions, I tend to lose interest. Having to grow a complete balanced diet every year sounds like a drag to me.

So I tell you what. If you love to cook – doesn’t have to be fancy, in fact better if it’s not – I’ll keep you stocked with produce if you’ll return one or two meals’ worth of prepped dinners to me each week. Hell, I’ll throw in some grass-fed pork or beef, if it means some of it comes back to me ready to eat!



  1. June 13, 2010 at 5:28 pm

    Wow! I don’t know what to say. Part of me thinks I’m just a freak for enjoying the cooking and eating. Part of me thinks you just haven’t found the right dishes to make eating the food easy. (Be bim bap, risotto, pasta?) Part of me thinks I’d take that deal in a heartbeat if I lived near you. The other part of me knows I’d want to grow my own even if I did.

    • Emily said,

      June 14, 2010 at 8:38 am

      Believe me, I know how to cook. Good stuff, easy stuff, in-season stuff…I just don’t wanna. Perhaps because I tend to do all my gardening at once…by the time I weed, mulch, plant, and harvest, I don’t feel like then washing and cooking.

      I also hate repetitive tasks. Once I’ve figured something out, I rarely feel like doing it again. Cooking has to be done every day, and either it’s the same-old, same-old, or I have to find or invent a new recipe. Which is fun, but takes energy.

  2. Charles Tutt said,

    June 13, 2010 at 8:26 pm

    I sure hope to discover that we live near enough to each other for me to take you up on your offer!

    I grow a lot of my own vegetables, fruit and berries too but I also enjoy cooking and eating the bounty. That’s why they call me “The Well Fed Gardener.” 🙂

    I’m experimenting with more crop-intensive and less labor-intensive growing methods this year. I may get around to posting pictures and articles about it on my website some day. 🙂

    • Emily said,

      June 14, 2010 at 8:39 am

      I think my gardening practice are not very labor-intensive, really. I hear stories of people who are in their gardens for 4-6 hours a day. I honestly think I spend no more than 3 hours a week in my garden.

      Five years ago, I would’ve told you I love cooking. Now, I think it’s more boring than fun…

  3. Jennifer said,

    June 14, 2010 at 5:48 am

    If I were in the area, I would totally take you up on that, Emily!

    But I do understand. Now that more of my time goes into growing this year, I find I don’t have the energy or inclination to cook or preserve quite like I used to — and that’s a problem for me. Still haven’t figured out the balance yet…

    • Emily said,

      June 14, 2010 at 8:40 am

      If you figure out the balance, let me know!!

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