Growth is a double edged sword. Unchecked, growth can be cancerous and destructive. It is this type of ceaseless expansion that has put our society into the precarious environmental and financial positions in which we currently find ourselves. On the other hand, growth can be regenerative and life-giving. Following a forest fire or a bitter winter, the first green shoots to emerge from the earth bear witness to the earth's ability to restore life in the wake of disaster.

My goal for this blog is pretty simple and open-ended: I want to document and share with family and friends my efforts to incorporate an ever increasing degree of self sufficiency, voluntary simplicity, and environmentally-conscious design into my life as a would be urban homesteader.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Squash and Garden Porn

We went down to my parent's house this past weekend for a Christmas party. When we left, my mom let me take along a couple of very cool winter squashes that were left over from fall decorations. I've wanted to get seeds for these varieties for a couple of years, and now I don't have to buy them. Woot!

Musquee de Provence: 120 days (C. moschata) These gorgeous, big flat pumpkins are shaped like a big wheel of cheese, and are heavily lobed and ribbed. The skin is a beautiful, rich brown color when ripe. The flesh is deep orange, thick and very fine flavored, fruit grow to 20 lbs. each. This is a traditional variety from southern France and makes a great variety for fall markets.

Rouge Vif D'Etampes: (C. maxima) Most beautiful flattened and ribbed large fruit are a gorgeous deep red-orange. A very old French Heirloom, this was the most common pumpkin in the Central Market in Paris back in the 1880’s. The flesh is tasty in pies or baked. This one can also be picked small, like summer squash, and fried. It is a good yielder too.

The descriptions for those squash come from Baker Creek Seed Co. I mention them because they are related to the second part of this post's title. Last week I got the 2012 Baker Creek Seed catalog. The fact that they send this out for free boggles my mind. It's chock full of amazing photographs of all sorts of cool heirloom and open-pollinated fruits, vegetables, and flowers. 61 of the catalog's 192 pages are full page photos! Jere Gettle (who frequently dresses like Gene Autry on acid) runs a great company, and year after year they put out a catalog that is good enough to be a coffee table book. If you've never bought anything from them, give 'em a try this year.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Thoughts on Liberty

One of the things that appeals to me most about homesteading is the way in which it offers people the opportunity to gain some measure of independence from the corporate and governmental systems that regulate so much of our modern lives. So many people now days are completely unaware of myriad ways in which the choices in their lives are controlled. They have internalized the values of their masters, and as a result they want what they are told to want - even when they think that they're exercising their own free will. Goethe had it right when he said, "There are none more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe that they are free." Here is a blog post and a speech that both deal with how the modern political and economic structure keeps us in cages, and conversely, what it means to be truly free. Read, listen, and THINK.

The first is from "The Downward Spiral", a fantastic blog that documents the ongoing decay of America.

The second is a speech that Lew Rockwell recently gave at a Casey Research Summit. He does a great job of getting past false notions of left-wing/right-wing, Democrat/Republican nonsense, and gets at the heart of our national political system - it's really fascism

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Jars of Seeds

I'm something of a pack rat. I have a hard time throwing away "disposable" items that are still perfectly usable: tin foil, plastic bags, hardware, I hang onto all of it. Glass jars are another thing that I tend to squirrel away as they get emptied of their original contents. They're great for a lot of things, especially organizing and storing seeds. This afternoon I finally got around to shelling out some beans and corn that I've had sitting in my kitchen. The Bloody Butcher and Marbled Indian corns come from down at my parents' house, and the Blue Hopi is the only bit that I was able to salvage from the squirrels and drought this summer. The Navy and Kentucky Wonder pole beans were saved from plants I grew in my garden. The original seed for the Hopi corn and the beans came from Heirloom Acres seed company.