Garden Update and Food Frugality

Right, so posting has taken a back seat to, er, LIFE lately but I have a bit of time to catch up some.


When I bought my Inisght 28 months ago I paid $12,600 for it -its a 2001 and it had about 53k on it. Now, 30k miles later, when we are considering turning it in on a 4 door hybrid car I have received quotes -sight unseen- for $11000+ on trade. On E-Bay, Insights w/71-100k miles are going for $16k in Cali and $14 in Minnesota. I had intended the Insight to be an investment, but it apparently has become one.

Ran the Family Fleet fuel intake with our Forester and Insight v. what would happen if we switched our primary car to a Civic Hybrid and used the Subaru mostly for Farm Work and the “second” car, and annual fuel consumption dropped 10% by shifting more miles off the relatively thirsty Forester (27mpg) but adding $14k in debt seems like a bad move. However I just put new tires on the Insight (with 80k on them it was time!) and mileage appears to be up -88mpg on the way home! No easy answers here, so I’ll wait until I am sure.

Market Gardens

  • First sales of the year are in the bank -chives and spinach! First restaurant sales should happen tomorrow with our first cutting of lettuce. Very gratifying to be able to provide food to the community!
  • We had a freak late, hard frost last week that decimated most of the potato growth -setting them back by almost a month, but they are coming back strong.
  • Hoop House tomatoes are over 2′ tall ( for comparison the home ones are still in transplant shock due to cold soil and are all of 6″ tall) and beginning to blossom out! Peppers are about a foot tall. All plants are incredibly robust with thick stems are very dense leaf canopies!
  • “3 Sisters” plantings (56 hills of 10 corn, 5 squash and 7 beans) are sprouted and I will plant the pole beans into them in a week.
  • Onions are 6″ tall and my Jacob’s Cattle beans for drying are sprouting finally.
  • The “Sustainable Market Garden” plot is severely behind due to lack of time, but mostly because I have no water at the site yet. That is a whole ‘nother story.

Home Perma-Gardens

  • Strawberries are insanely productive with what appears to be our best crop yet. First one was ripe this morning -2 weeks earlier than last year- and was freakishly sweet. We planted 125 plants 3 years ago and let them run. We sold off 30 plants this year that were encroaching on our prairie and you can’t even tell. Peak harvest LY was 2 QTS/day for one week, with total harvest spread over a month.
  • Every single fruiting bush (Currant, Hazelnut and Goumi), vine (Hardy Kiwi and Grape), bramble (raspberries), and tree (1 Apple, 2 Peach, 3 Pear, and 2 Paw Paw) survived the second worst winter on record (I mulch ALOT) -and we should get our first orchard harvest off one of the pears! WAY Excited!
  • Peas and Raspberries are flowering, lettuce is up, and my Sunchokes are 2′ high

First “real” rain in over 6 weeks came last night with a vengeance: over 2.75″ here and 2.9″ at the market gardens. The more insane Global Warming is making the weather the more convinced I am that we will all be under some form of Hoop Houses within 10 years for any kind of delicate veggie. Every major front this year has dropped tornadoes somewhere along its line, and the temps are all out of whack -we’ve had 5 frosts since our “last” frost date and now may break a heat record this weekend less than 10 days after a 27 degree frost.

In addition to all of this, Mia and I are back dieting again. I am down 25 pounds from my peak of 210 2 years ago (I am all of 5’7″), but would like to lose another 15-20 to get me under 170, so we are back on Weight Watchers. Cliche? Maybe, but the shit works if you are diligent: I lose 2-5 pounds weekly like clock work. We skip the pre packaged junk and go local of course, but mostly it forces us to be even more concious about what we eat (my portion controls SUCKS – it’s still set where I ate in College… when I was running 3-7 miles and weight lifting 2 hours 3-5 days a week). Yes you can gain weight being a vegetarian -a plate FULL of pasta is too many calories even without the sausage. Weight control is a math equation.

The best part is how empowering dieting is. Just like when we pared down our lives to cut out the excessive consumption, paring down my eating is incredibly liberating. It is shocking how truly consumed by our appetites society trains us to be. The simple Values of Austerity and Patience are, at least to me, deeply wholesome and gratifying.
Be the Change.

9 Responses

  1. glad to hear from you again, we had some odd weather in CNY too, though no frosts. It was cold and dark for about two weeks, but just last night we had a hard storm that has left occasional aftershocks throughout the day. I’m glad to hear about the kiwi and pawpaws, I just put in a few myself.

    And from experience I know its possible to be vegetarian and overweight. My “freshman 15” was more like a 30. I could stand to drop a few now myself. Best of luck on that, and thanks for the update.

  2. Thanks for sharing these valued garden thoughts, as the points resonated strongly with me. Keep feeding the creativity.
    I am currently travelling so, for this reason, I’ve nothing better to do than surf the web for gardening ideas, lie around and update my blog. I just added you to my Favorites. Looking forward to reading more from you.

  3. Having spent a few years as a fat vegetarian, I feel your pain. 🙂

    Portion control is hard, and I’m finding that the conventional wisdom about needing to eat three square meals each day is wrong, and usually it encourages me to eat too much in the morning and at lunch, which puts extra calories in my body and makes me feel sleepy.

    My wife and I have done WW in the past, and while it works, we always hit a wall at some point where we just couldn’t lose any more weight. I’m reading more about body fat ‘set points’ and the like, and that makes sense to me.

    I’ve switched to eating very little in the morning, having a light salad or similar for lunch with fruit, and then eating a regular (pretty healthy usually) meal in the evening. That seems to work better for me personally.

  4. The weather has indeed been completely out of whack. I hope you made it through the big storms and tornadoes today…what an afternoon.

  5. Denise,

    I think you were hit harder by the storms than us-good to hear your fine. On the garden end, about half our head lettuce has hail/wind damage but the Hoop House is fine.


  6. Hello Rob,

    I hope your garden have not too much suffer from the storms this past week here in southwestern Wisconsin. As I live in Madison and do my shopping at the farmers market on a weekly basis (to get what I can’t grow in our community Garden, I was wondering where you are in the farmers market and if you are there on wednesday morning as I prefer to go at that time than on saturday morning (too crowed for me).

    I hope things are doing good for you


  7. hello,
    This is monish the owner of

    I came through your blog accidently,but some how your blog kept me there for long.that why iam comenting on your topic.

    its really good and iam happy to see such blogs here online.good keepup the work..
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  8. Hey Rob, are you guys still staying dry? I’ve been hearing more and more about flooding in Wisconsin over the past couple days. What a mess!

  9. Xavier,

    The storms didn’t hit us as bad as some, but bad enough. We do not currently sell in the Madison markets -our little gardens are not big enough to warrant a market that large. I hope to break several thousand in sales. For reference, Harmony Valley Farms, one of our preferred at Madison, lost $800,000 in the flood last year…

    We will be at our little Johnson Creek Farmers Market in July with tomatoes and potatoes, and anything else I can salvage from the storms. We have ALOT to replant.


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