July 7, 2010

A Stroll through the Vegetable Garden

Now that the excitement of spring flowers has passed, my main garden focus is on the vegetables. Each morning as the day begins I take a walk through the garden, checking on the health of the plants, picking off any insects, pulling a few weeds. As I survey my small patch of organic food-growing land––the vegetable garden is about 50 x 60 feet––I feel an intense satisfaction, different from the pleasure of gazing at flowers. Here is my food for the year, which began in spring with asparagus and continues through the seasons with fresh vegetables and then crops from freezer, jar, and root cellar. The 2009-10 garden year provided me with everything except onions, which gave out in March, and tomatoes, because last summer's poor weather meant I wasn't able to can enough for my needs. Yesterday I bought a bag of organic potatoes, since I had a potato craving and mine won't be large enough to harvest for another week or two. That's it: onions, a few cans of tomatoes and a bag of potatoes; other than that, I've kept myself in vegetables.

I'm currently picking and freezing peas, a process that will go on for a couple of weeks. I steam the peas, tray freeze them so they don't clump together, and put them in gallon freezer bags. Peas are one of the vegetables that are just as good from the freezer as they are fresh, along with greens such as chard and spinach.

Carrots and Beets

This is my early crop of carrots and beets for fresh eating during summer; I plant more of each later for storage in the root cellar. I was eating beets from last summer until mid May, and they were still delicious.

The following images are some of my crops––not all––and how they looked yesterday, July 6th, in the early morning. They are all in an early stage of growth, full of the promise of a bountiful harvest to come. The promise isn't always fulfilled: disease, insects, invading creatures such as woodchucks and racoons might take a toll. There is always enough, though, and it is always especially delicious coming from my land and my labor.

Brussels Sprouts, Leeks, Kale, Red Cabbage

Onions, Potatoes

Pole Beans





  1. what can I say -I'm impressed! you make it sound almost effortless, though I know there's plenty of effort involved, perhaps it's the way you take things in stride and just do the work and get on with it. I'm curious: how many years did it take to get to this level of self sufficiency?

  2. hi rappel, after many years, the work involved in producing a vegetable garden has become routine. I began growing vegetables years ago at various summer rentals, helped by experienced friends, so learning about gardening was a slow process. When I moved to Vermont I read a lot of gardening books, taking "The Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening" to bed with me. It took a couple of years for my garden to get to its current size, so I suppose I've been vegetably self sufficient for about 15 years.

  3. I share Rappel's awe and am living vicariously as I garden in shade on an urban sidewalk edge with many peeing dogs. Your comment about there always being enough veggies struck me in two directions. First, that you are able to trust that despite how nature does play out. Second I put it in context of the Earthways/AFOPADI reforesting and organic ag. project I work with in rural mountainous Guatemala. In one of the villages there is simply not enough land to feed everyone no matter how efficient the crop production. So it is interesting to put these two realities side by side...

  4. Julie, I feel lucky and blessed to have this land and this garden, and to have enough income so if I do have crop failures, I can always buy food. Most of us, not all, in the US are able to partake of the bounty of the mainly industrial ag sector; this is so different for those, as in Guatemala, who are truly dependent on the food that they can grow.

  5. another question: is there a whole slew of people living like you do off the land in Vt (or elsewhere)? -- I mean, are you in contact with people doing the same thing (minus the art perhaps) or are you an anomaly?

  6. oh, there are many of us growing food for ourselves, and making art too. We commiserate on problems and compete for earliest tomato and compare notes on yields. Gardening is very much a part of living in Vermont, made more wonderful by the contrast with the long hard winters.