END OF AUGUST

One pregnant Manti momma.

Another round of ‘maters

Lovely basil

Loads of ladybugs

Summer squash

Salad greens grow in the shade

Tromboncino squash hangs from a trellis

As we are nearing the end of summer, we are reflecting on what a summer it has been!  Although we, being farmers, didn’t have the luxury to go on any vacations, it was a very meaningful and humbling summer.

I think not getting what you want all the time (or doing without) makes you a stronger person.  Think of our pioneer counterparts who, but a hundred years ago, didn’t have the luxury of tramping to non local (within a day’s drive) destinations for fun and pleasure.   One might even opt out of the “green trendy” culture, which, sadly, is masking the same treadmill in a green guise.    True sustainability, pleasure, freedom and worth is found in the place one calls home.  If we are always looking for a better place to be, then one never makes where you are a better place.

The weather continues to play havoc – we are back to cool, overcast mornings.  Very unusual for this time of year.  I don’t think in July and August we even went about 100 degrees. I know, August isn’t truly over just yet.

We are closely watching our last plantings of summer crops, hoping they will produce something before the even cooler weather descends.

The most disappointing crops this year were cucumbers and tomatoes – the others (eggplant, peppers, beans, etc.) didn’t seem as affected with our wacky summerless summer.  If we had known now how the summer planting season would have turned out, we would have not sold so many tomatoes at the beginning of the season, opting instead to preserve them for fall and winter use.  Why?  Well, if we don’t get a second flush soon we are going to run out of preserved ‘maters really fast.

Free Your Mind

Someone called inquiring about FreedomGardens.org (now over 900 and growing strong!) and what was the purpose for this site since/if “people can’t grow a garden and produce as much as you – who have kids, jobs, etc.”

I was a little taken aback by this statement.   FreedomGardens.org is growing beyond our Victory Garden counterparts, fueled by rising food prices and an uncertain climate. A homegrown revolution has taken root on balconies, backyard, front yards and community plots across the nation.  Freedom Gardens is a 21st century gardening movement for the modern age, and the main mission is not to say one has to grow 6,000 lbs (be like us) but to grow outside the box.   I answered, “That’s the problem, you’re already saying that it’s not possible when, in fact, that’s the exactly the kind of statement we muttered to ourselves years back.”  I went on to say, “That sort of mentality/statement defeats. Look at where our family is now – there are always possibilities, there’s always hope” — and the fellow Freedom Gardeners are proof of that.

More preservation and planting efforts underway today.

Anxious

On the three year anniversary of Katrina, with news of hearing this month that our great Aunt finally was able to move back into her home, another deadly storm could head towards New Orleans.   So our thoughts are wandering to everybody there.

Tune In

Jules Dervaes will be a guest on Buisness Matters Radio Talk show airing tomorrow on (Chicago) WLUW 88.7 FM at 10am CT, on Thursday September 4th at noon CT on WBIG 1280 AM, and podcast businessmatters.net which will be up tomorrow.

Comments(26)

  1. Kristi says:

    I would be shocked too if someone claimed that they couldn’t grow a garden because of jobs or kids. Although I don’t work outside the home now, I did once, and still managed a small (150sq ft) garden. When kids came along, they helped out. Even a three year old can help plant large seeds and water with a small watering can. The idea is to grow what you can, not try to grow everything necessary for your family’s survival (at least not at this time). If all you can manage is a couple of pots on a balcony, they can provide you with strawberries, lettuces, or herbs (price those lately?). Fruit trees don’t take up much time, but do require some space. Start small, and add to it.

    Although I’m not in the neighborhood of PTF’s harvests, they’re increasing each year. My 450 sq ft of beds have provided my family with over 70 lbs of food so far this year, and I live in western Washington where we don’t have such great growing weather (well, maybe good cabbage weather). I’m hoping for 350 lbs, but unless the weather warms up enough for the tomatoes to ripen, I’ll probably be more in the 250 lbs of food range. PTF doesn’t dissuade me – rather you show me what can be done, and challenge me to figure out new planting strategies!

  2. Kristi says:

    I would be shocked too if someone claimed that they couldn’t grow a garden because of jobs or kids. Although I don’t work outside the home now, I did once, and still managed a small (150sq ft) garden. When kids came along, they helped out. Even a three year old can help plant large seeds and water with a small watering can. The idea is to grow what you can, not try to grow everything necessary for your family’s survival (at least not at this time). If all you can manage is a couple of pots on a balcony, they can provide you with strawberries, lettuces, or herbs (price those lately?). Fruit trees don’t take up much time, but do require some space. Start small, and add to it.

    Although I’m not in the neighborhood of PTF’s harvests, they’re increasing each year. My 450 sq ft of beds have provided my family with over 70 lbs of food so far this year, and I live in western Washington where we don’t have such great growing weather (well, maybe good cabbage weather). I’m hoping for 350 lbs, but unless the weather warms up enough for the tomatoes to ripen, I’ll probably be more in the 250 lbs of food range. PTF doesn’t dissuade me – rather you show me what can be done, and challenge me to figure out new planting strategies!

  3. redclay says:

    As a newbie Freedom Gardner I appreciate the site because I get to see other people who have successes and failures just like me. I’m currently working only 56 square feet of garden space. It’s not much but it’s enough to give me some tasty tomatoes and green beans. Also, I’ve learned some great lessons based on the crops that failed.

    I never expected to harvest anywhere close to what you guys harvest from your mini-farm but I also never thought that was the point. The point is to connect with people who can share their experiences and hard-earned knowledge.

    I encourage everyone who hasn’t signed up yet to do so and to make connections with Freedom Gardners near you.

  4. redclay says:

    As a newbie Freedom Gardner I appreciate the site because I get to see other people who have successes and failures just like me. I’m currently working only 56 square feet of garden space. It’s not much but it’s enough to give me some tasty tomatoes and green beans. Also, I’ve learned some great lessons based on the crops that failed.

    I never expected to harvest anywhere close to what you guys harvest from your mini-farm but I also never thought that was the point. The point is to connect with people who can share their experiences and hard-earned knowledge.

    I encourage everyone who hasn’t signed up yet to do so and to make connections with Freedom Gardners near you.

  5. Chris Louden says:

    Let me start of by saying how amazing I feel it is what you and your family accomplish. Second you are quite the shutterbug. You take wonderful pictures.

    I see that PTF is all over the Internet (facebook, youtube, and all the various sites you operate). I was wondering if you had considered using http://creativecommons.org/ for licensing your photos. Rather they just labeling them as copyrighted. You could restrict commercial use and only allow personal distribution or which ever license applies to what you want to do. its a very community minded license. Just a thought.

  6. Chris Louden says:

    Let me start of by saying how amazing I feel it is what you and your family accomplish. Second you are quite the shutterbug. You take wonderful pictures.

    I see that PTF is all over the Internet (facebook, youtube, and all the various sites you operate). I was wondering if you had considered using http://creativecommons.org/ for licensing your photos. Rather they just labeling them as copyrighted. You could restrict commercial use and only allow personal distribution or which ever license applies to what you want to do. its a very community minded license. Just a thought.

  7. risa bear says:

    It’s true, Anais — we raised 3 kids together and both work full time and yet we have gardened and had farm animals for most of the last 31 years.

    In many cases, what seems impossible becomes much more so the day one gives up television … for starters …

    risa b

  8. risa bear says:

    It’s true, Anais — we raised 3 kids together and both work full time and yet we have gardened and had farm animals for most of the last 31 years.

    In many cases, what seems impossible becomes much more so the day one gives up television … for starters …

    risa b

  9. Brandi says:

    I’ll second Kristi’s sentiments. I don’t work out of the home now, and the kids can certainly make some gardening days less productive than others, but they love the garden too!

    Even my just 2-year-old appreciates having her own little plot where she can dig at will (eek!), plant whatever she wants, force sticks into the ground, pull things up, and chase bugs. My 4-year-olds are even MORE thrilled with their own little gardens.

    We also live on an extremely small lot, so our garden will never be as large as yours. That doesn’t dissuade me, it just makes me eager to see what I can make of my space. There are plenty of challenges that I’ll have that you folks will never have faced, challenges of yours that I can learn from, and crops I can grow (like blueberries! 😉 ) with ease that don’t do as well in your different climate.

    Freedomgardens.org is more about community to me than anything else. I’ve already met some other gardeners in Ohio, as well as people from across the country. It’s a source of inspiration, a place to look around and find new ways to challenge myself.

    Keep up the great work!

  10. Brandi says:

    I’ll second Kristi’s sentiments. I don’t work out of the home now, and the kids can certainly make some gardening days less productive than others, but they love the garden too!

    Even my just 2-year-old appreciates having her own little plot where she can dig at will (eek!), plant whatever she wants, force sticks into the ground, pull things up, and chase bugs. My 4-year-olds are even MORE thrilled with their own little gardens.

    We also live on an extremely small lot, so our garden will never be as large as yours. That doesn’t dissuade me, it just makes me eager to see what I can make of my space. There are plenty of challenges that I’ll have that you folks will never have faced, challenges of yours that I can learn from, and crops I can grow (like blueberries! 😉 ) with ease that don’t do as well in your different climate.

    Freedomgardens.org is more about community to me than anything else. I’ve already met some other gardeners in Ohio, as well as people from across the country. It’s a source of inspiration, a place to look around and find new ways to challenge myself.

    Keep up the great work!

  11. ~~Melissa says:

    I think freedomgardens is about letting inner spirit / intuition and desire/ reign over mental blocks, to create a life that exceeds the confining limitations of our big box culture.

    I used to think, I’ll just start a garden here on my little suburban lot until we can afford ‘the real farm’. Turns out, this little lot offers more growing space than I can really manage! If you work with and accept what you’ve got, it’s amazing what it can really become. No one is more surprised than me on this clay-filled Canadian lot!

    And if you don’t have land, borrow some. It’s a big planet and so much of it is just sitting there waiting for someone to ask to use it (parks, community gardens, neighbors yards….).

    Some may never be ready or desiring of a greener life, but for those who are ready, it’s very exciting to jump over the doubts and fears and just start doing it. Small steps all the way. The creativity comes from dealing with what you’ve got. You Dervaes are excellent proof of that. 🙂

    PS: My tomatoes are taking a hit here too this year.

  12. ~~Melissa says:

    I think freedomgardens is about letting inner spirit / intuition and desire/ reign over mental blocks, to create a life that exceeds the confining limitations of our big box culture.

    I used to think, I’ll just start a garden here on my little suburban lot until we can afford ‘the real farm’. Turns out, this little lot offers more growing space than I can really manage! If you work with and accept what you’ve got, it’s amazing what it can really become. No one is more surprised than me on this clay-filled Canadian lot!

    And if you don’t have land, borrow some. It’s a big planet and so much of it is just sitting there waiting for someone to ask to use it (parks, community gardens, neighbors yards….).

    Some may never be ready or desiring of a greener life, but for those who are ready, it’s very exciting to jump over the doubts and fears and just start doing it. Small steps all the way. The creativity comes from dealing with what you’ve got. You Dervaes are excellent proof of that. 🙂

    PS: My tomatoes are taking a hit here too this year.

  13. MS Garden Girl says:

    I am somewhat taken aback that someone would think so negatively. I work 2 part time jobs (averaging 38-40 hours per week), plus homeschool, plus my son’s activities and my extended family and church commitments. I still find time to take care of a couple of cucumber plants, some okra, corn, 6-8 tomato plants, a small bed of lettuce, and a larger (5 x 12) bed of green beans. I have managed to can several quarts of tomatoes, apples, peaches, green beans, carrots, and pints of blueberry and plum jelly. My garden may not be beautiful (lots of weeds and bugs), but we have still eaten healthier this year than any other. I don’t get a lot of help from my husband and son, but I think of the garden as MY activity. Sure, I let some housework go and enjoy the outdoors~especially during the spring and summer, but we don’t eat off the floor and furniture. As long as clothes are clean and dishes are washed, we let everything else slide.

  14. MS Garden Girl says:

    I am somewhat taken aback that someone would think so negatively. I work 2 part time jobs (averaging 38-40 hours per week), plus homeschool, plus my son’s activities and my extended family and church commitments. I still find time to take care of a couple of cucumber plants, some okra, corn, 6-8 tomato plants, a small bed of lettuce, and a larger (5 x 12) bed of green beans. I have managed to can several quarts of tomatoes, apples, peaches, green beans, carrots, and pints of blueberry and plum jelly. My garden may not be beautiful (lots of weeds and bugs), but we have still eaten healthier this year than any other. I don’t get a lot of help from my husband and son, but I think of the garden as MY activity. Sure, I let some housework go and enjoy the outdoors~especially during the spring and summer, but we don’t eat off the floor and furniture. As long as clothes are clean and dishes are washed, we let everything else slide.

  15. Sinfonian says:

    The way I read the caller’s quotation, he (probably media related) says that people can’t have a farm like the PTF family while working jobs and raising kids, so why bother having a site.

    I work 50 plus hour a week at my job, plus commuting, and raise kids and I garden. I knew when I signed up at Freedomgardens.org that I would not likely ever have what the Dervaes had, but who cares? If I go from my current 130 SF to more, or better yet, learn to better utilize my 130 SF to grow better food and preserve some for my family, it’s worth it! And heck, if I move one step closer to self suficiency or sustainability, then BONUS!

    And like some have said, I have met a handful of like-minded local Freedomgardeners in my area that I enjoy communicating with. I’ve found some things I’m doing wrong and some things I’m doing right. It’s great to have someone in my microclimate to bounce ideas off of. So it’s definitely a community.

    That said, I do feel at times like I have little to add to the homesteading forum topics, but I enjoy reading what others have to say. You never know. hehe.

    Thanks for all you do! I don’t know more selfless human beings. Thank you!

  16. Sinfonian says:

    The way I read the caller’s quotation, he (probably media related) says that people can’t have a farm like the PTF family while working jobs and raising kids, so why bother having a site.

    I work 50 plus hour a week at my job, plus commuting, and raise kids and I garden. I knew when I signed up at Freedomgardens.org that I would not likely ever have what the Dervaes had, but who cares? If I go from my current 130 SF to more, or better yet, learn to better utilize my 130 SF to grow better food and preserve some for my family, it’s worth it! And heck, if I move one step closer to self suficiency or sustainability, then BONUS!

    And like some have said, I have met a handful of like-minded local Freedomgardeners in my area that I enjoy communicating with. I’ve found some things I’m doing wrong and some things I’m doing right. It’s great to have someone in my microclimate to bounce ideas off of. So it’s definitely a community.

    That said, I do feel at times like I have little to add to the homesteading forum topics, but I enjoy reading what others have to say. You never know. hehe.

    Thanks for all you do! I don’t know more selfless human beings. Thank you!

  17. Patrice Farmer says:

    Hope your Great Aunt will be spared and all those in the path of the storm. And yes, that’s a modern ideal that you can’t work, have a family and garden…people have done that since time began…it is not only possible but becoming more and more of a necessity. You plant it, water it, and let it grow…it doesn’t take much time to do that. Keep up the good work with your family…

  18. Patrice Farmer says:

    Hope your Great Aunt will be spared and all those in the path of the storm. And yes, that’s a modern ideal that you can’t work, have a family and garden…people have done that since time began…it is not only possible but becoming more and more of a necessity. You plant it, water it, and let it grow…it doesn’t take much time to do that. Keep up the good work with your family…

  19. Cindie K. says:

    The world must be much smaller than we all imagined, as we are in West Virginia and have had very similar gardening outcomes this year. Our tomatoes are continuing to ripe one little fruit at a time. Our cucumbers were less than pitiful. Our corn was pretty much devastated by an early storm that took out about half of our expected crop. We are still waiting the final ripening of the three watermelons we grew (our first year for this!)

    My husband and I both work full-time rather demanding jobs. Our homesteading efforts are still very critical to us, and the efforts we make to live a more sustainable life grow constantly as we develop and practice more skills. We are looking forward to a period in our lives when we will plant a more extensive garden, use solar cooking ovens, and return more fully to the land. We live in town and yet find many many options for this goal.

  20. Cindie K. says:

    The world must be much smaller than we all imagined, as we are in West Virginia and have had very similar gardening outcomes this year. Our tomatoes are continuing to ripe one little fruit at a time. Our cucumbers were less than pitiful. Our corn was pretty much devastated by an early storm that took out about half of our expected crop. We are still waiting the final ripening of the three watermelons we grew (our first year for this!)

    My husband and I both work full-time rather demanding jobs. Our homesteading efforts are still very critical to us, and the efforts we make to live a more sustainable life grow constantly as we develop and practice more skills. We are looking forward to a period in our lives when we will plant a more extensive garden, use solar cooking ovens, and return more fully to the land. We live in town and yet find many many options for this goal.

  21. Laurie says:

    Hmmm, that comment sets me back too…. It seems to me that it’s all about what a person’s PRIORITIES are. I value feeding my family good healthy food from our own hands and our own soil. I value having a wonderful hobby through which I can transform the stress of my “real” job into a beautiful yard, gourmet vegetables for pennies, and nourishment for body and soul. Sadly, some people place more value in watching cable tv, and I don’t expect that they will ever understand. I’m glad I get to make my own choices about how I use my precious time! Freedomgardens rocks….!

  22. Laurie says:

    Hmmm, that comment sets me back too…. It seems to me that it’s all about what a person’s PRIORITIES are. I value feeding my family good healthy food from our own hands and our own soil. I value having a wonderful hobby through which I can transform the stress of my “real” job into a beautiful yard, gourmet vegetables for pennies, and nourishment for body and soul. Sadly, some people place more value in watching cable tv, and I don’t expect that they will ever understand. I’m glad I get to make my own choices about how I use my precious time! Freedomgardens rocks….!

  23. Christine says:

    And Amen to that!!!!! C

  24. Christine says:

    And Amen to that!!!!! C

  25. Wendy says:

    What’s really ironic to me about the call you received is that here I sit in Maine, where our growing season is about 1/3 as long as yours, and after finding your site and realizing how much you do in your small space, I set out to prove it could be done here, too! Even if I fail, no one can accuse me of not trying.

    My mother always used to say “can’t never could,” and I always hated it, but she was right. If I believe it can’t be done, I’ve already failed anyway, and there’s no harm in giving it a go. Worst case, I’ll have some homegrown produce for the summer and save a couple of dollars ;).

    Oh, and it has been a bad year here for tomatoes, too. Mine are just starting to get ripe – here it is almost September.

  26. Wendy says:

    What’s really ironic to me about the call you received is that here I sit in Maine, where our growing season is about 1/3 as long as yours, and after finding your site and realizing how much you do in your small space, I set out to prove it could be done here, too! Even if I fail, no one can accuse me of not trying.

    My mother always used to say “can’t never could,” and I always hated it, but she was right. If I believe it can’t be done, I’ve already failed anyway, and there’s no harm in giving it a go. Worst case, I’ll have some homegrown produce for the summer and save a couple of dollars ;).

    Oh, and it has been a bad year here for tomatoes, too. Mine are just starting to get ripe – here it is almost September.

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