growing dinner

It has been a while since I have written…death of a woman I love so much, family reunion…now I am HOME.

:: :: ::

To me, living sustainably isn’t about organic food and recycling. I mean, it kind of is, but my life sustainable means eating local food that is in season and reducing the amount of recyclables I produce. A big part of this for me is growing my family’s dinner. So, I have been working my tiny urban plot for years and I think I finally have it figured out (or almost) so that I am not just growing tonight’s dinner, but I am growing food to live on when the soil hardens and the green fades to gray.


It has taken practice and thoughtful planning to make this happen in my 20×15′ garden. My goal: Planting successive crops at the exact right moments so the harvest keeps coming. I am definitely still learning and inevitably grumpy with stupid decisions I make. Like, planting my carrots in many short rows across a long skinny bed. That makes the soaker hose placement look like a lame contemporary line drawing.


In March I planted arugula, peas and greens. It was a bit early this year because of our seemingly never ending winter. But the seeds fared just fine and came up as soon as they were given the chance.

In April, I harvested all of the arugula and greens and pulled those bolted plants to make room for beets, spinach, radish, lettuce, carrots, potatoes, onions, more peas (LOVE peas). After danger of last frost (or so I thought), I planted tomatoes, peppers, cabbage, eggplant, basil, winter squash and beans.


Now we wait and harvest. I love picking spinach and peas straight from my plot and, after a quick whirl through the food mill, bug gets dinner. We also have radish and a few more weeks of rhubarb and strawberries. If I had wed in May or June, I would have carried a giant bouquet of rhubarb.


I think I would have been a good homesteader. But I would have had a hard time without essential items like my hairstylist and refrigeration.

16 Responses to growing dinner

  1. Gypsy Root says:

    My goal is to learn all of these wonderful skills. So that when we finally get our little plot, that is all ours, we too can live like this. For now I am waiting for the yummies from our container garden.
    Rhubarb bouquet…love it!

  2. Gypsy Root says:

    oh, any book suggestions for learning how to garden year round?

  3. John says:

    A perfect summary of my goals that I’ve never come close to fulfilling. — “Planting successive crops at the exact right moments so the harvest keeps coming.”

    My gone-to-seed spinach is nearly a yard tall, and the greens next door are 1″ babies. I’m attempting watermelon (again), and the broccoli (planted in March!) has no sign of producing food still.

    Are you planting anything new in July for fall harvest?

  4. Patia says:

    Oh! Those toes! So adorable.

    And the pullets. And the rhubarb bouquet. And the bouquet of potatoes and beets and radishes.


  5. Gypsy: I am not sure where you live…but I like to look at the seed catalogs to get ideas. Territorial Seed Company has a winter catalog that I got not too long ago. I will try, for the first time, some crops for the winter: an overwintering carrot, snow hardy greens and some beets under cold frames. And, of course, garlic.

    John: I know! It is hard and I am not nearly an expert. As far as planting stuff in July, I don’t think so because there really aren’t any seeds that can germinate in hot soil and if they muster the courage to do so, they will bolt in the western Montana heat…right? I could totally be wrong. I plan to harvest like a mad woman in July and August. And, in the fall, collect the potatoes, beets, squash, greens and carrots.

  6. Patia: I know! The toes! It makes me want to wake her up right now to nibble on them.

  7. TRB Holt says:

    Rhubarb bouquet?….could set a new “green” twist to weddings …..I like it. The bridesmaids could carry carrots, broccoli or whatever! I just gazed at your garden today, in person with Alice; it is a thing of beauty.

    xoxo, me

  8. Anonymous says:

    That strawberry picture is making my mouth water. For the first time I actually pulled off the flowers on my new strawberry plants in the hope that they will produce better.

    This year i’m going to start some fall crops under grow lights in my chilly basement. I know lettuce and spinach transplant pretty easily.


  9. So sorry to hear about the death of someone you loved. Hope the reunion was healing, not distressing–it all depends on the family!

    I’m super-impressed by your garden. I also admire the toes–but my real question is, What is she standing on? Looking at that picture makes me feel dizzy, because I can’t figure it out.

  10. I admire your determination. I used to grow more vegetables. This year, some lettuce, tomatoes, asparagus and peppers are all I’ve grown.

    Beautiful veggie garden. Sustainability, feeding one’s family, is a good will gesture to the Earth.~~Dee

  11. Kelle says:

    big smiles on the toes meet chicken coop wire…oh, the fruits of your garden and all your labor look so delicious and fresh and…well, how food is supposed to look. Your tummies must be so happy!

  12. Ah… I can’t wait to figure things out as well as you have. I have such good intentions… maybe one day they will turn into the kind of harvest that you report? I hope!

  13. FinnyKnits says:

    That’s my dream, too – to be a good contemporary homesteader. To eat everything I grow – whether fresh or canned for winter – and to work out a garden plan so that I’m using every spot as efficiently and ecologically as possible.

    Of course, I’m nowhere near achieving it, but that is the life of a gardener. You’re always working toward perfection.

    Also – I AM SO JEALOUS OF YOUR RHUBARB. Oh the strawberry/rhubarb pies I’d make. That is my all time favorite combo and it’s SO expensive here. No one grows rhubarb here.

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  15. The toes are standing on the top of the chicken run. My bug loves to sit above the chickens and watch them cluck around.

    I definitely do not have things all figured out. But I suppose if I did I’d be bored, right? Just today my spinach is bolting the last bolts and I don’t have a things planned for that plot. Off to the farmers market this weekend to see if I can score some half priced leggy tomatoes to throw in the ground.

    It is a funny thing about rhubarb, Finny. We bought our house five years ago and it had been a rental for ten years before that and wasn’t watered. Ever. So we landed a double lot that was all compact dirt, dandelions and three live plants (somehow survived): wild roses, peony and rhubarb. At least there is something we can grow better in Montana than California!

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