I'd rather buy (local) food than grow it...

Last winter, no doubt inspired by reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, I thought I'd try my hand at growing more of our own food this summer. I was full of delusions dreams and plans, armed with my gardening gloves and (don't laugh) spreadsheets and grid paper. What can I say, I like to organize. 

By mid-May I was already stressed about the garden. There just wasn't enough time to enjoy summer the way we want and grow a lot of food. Ok, grow even a week's worth of food. At that time, for the sake of my sanity and family togetherness, I let go of my expectations for homegrown greatness. We did manage to get in all the seeds and seedlings, some a little late, but the plans for the raised bed needed to wait.

The summer progressed and the vegetable garden, except for tending the tomatoes and squishing Japanese beetles, was self sufficient. Before the 2 weeks of rain that flooded the beginning of August, we finally finished the raised bed.

A couple weeks ago I planted late summer greens and broccoli. My plan sans spreadsheets, is to cover the bed with poly when it starts to freeze at night and hopefully harvest it October or November. Who knows - it's an experiment.

Another experiment was growing our own drying beans. I wanted to know how many pounds of dried beans our garden would grow. Turns out not much, maybe 3 pounds. Now consider this, our family goes through 25 lbs of dried beans a month. So in essence we labored and used precious yard space, for barely 4 days worth of beans. Ridiculous.

Makes me wonder how much land is needed to grow a year's worth of beans for our family - a city block?? Whatever it is I'm sure it's still less than the amount of land needed to grow a cow.

Was it worth it?

From a time and economics perspective absolutely not. But this is a home not a business (thank God), we don't make every decision based on productivity. Heck, if we did we'd never have kids. Some things you do (crazy things like devoting most of your garden space to growing 3 lbs of dried beans) simply to enhance the quality of your life.

Even so, for that kind of yield I won't grow beans next year but I'm already a bit melancholy about what I'll miss. A Labor Day harvest... late summer sun warming my back... the incessant ssschirpp of a lovesick cricket... the satisfying release as I tugged each plant from the ground... the rattling rhythm of the beans in their withered pods... the crunch of dried bean leaves beneath my palm... milky white and red splotched beans (that I grew!) looking oh so pretty in a jar.

Economics and efficiency aside, growing your own food is simply lovely.

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  • mrussell

    mrussell on Sept. 4, 2008, 11:35 p.m.

    For all of it's inefficiency (economically speaking of course), i find that the garden, when time permits to properly tend it, lends to one other more important yield - solace! Therapy, quiet time, dirty hands, the joy of life (in it's most edible and tasty form) - all of these are the veggies that i love harvesting the most. Food for the soul, food for life!


    • damien

      damien on Sept. 6, 2008, 11:11 a.m.

      I can truly appreciate fresh, organically grown vegetables from the garden. On the other hand, I find gardening to be a lot of work and it kind of drains me. For me, therapy and solace is found in wild places like the mountains!


  • Cindy

    Cindy on Sept. 5, 2008, 12:35 p.m.

    My mom used to harvest her kale even after the snow was on the ground. The snow protected it. This was down in York, Maine. No kale in Costa Rica....I miss it!


  • Dad

    Dad on Sept. 5, 2008, 8:02 p.m.

    Hey this is the first time that I have accessed your blog! I am impressed, I know mom is always checking "it out" and passing on the information to me but now to see what you are doing with this site is truly amazing. I am also a believer in buying local vegtables and fruit as we just came back this evening from our local farm on bikes with pears, apples and a small watermelon (in my back pack). I must also confess that I do buy local meat (grass fed all organic) once in awhile. We also buy our local Nova Scotia wines when ever we can. I can truly say that NS wine stands up the the best of them. I won't wait as long as I have in the past to check out this wonderful site. dad


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