Friday, June 13, 2008

Friday the 13th (of June, 2008)

Well, today wasn't particulary unlucky, other than work was really icky.  Not much to share today, it's cold and grey again, with highs in the upper 50s.  /sigh  No spring for us this year it seems.  Maybe we'll get a spring come summertime.

My spinach is really growing tall. It's just like Jack and the Beanstalk, only their more like tree trunks than beans.  Look how tall they are.

I hope it's normal and ok.  I haven't eaten much of it since then but I will be eating a lot of salads this weekend.

Speaking of beanstalks, here's my Little Pole Bean that Could. I showed it where the trellis was.  Then the next day  it was inches away from it. I figured it would need help but didn't think any more about it.  Today, I came out and look, it came back and curled around the trellis!

Notice how sickly the one right next to the great one is?  That's the one that had the holes in it. Not many just one or two a leaf, and now look at it. EEK!  However, I think I've done a decent job with pest control. Nothing new to report damage wise, though it appears that the lettuce and spinach leaves touching the ground have wilted and been infected.  I try to pick them when I see them.

Anyway, instead of watching TV, I have gotten hooked on sites like Path to Freedom.  It's funny, my brother started out with two 4x8 beds and one 4x4 bed a decade ago, and now that his daughter is 14 he wants to turn his back yard into something like PTF's, so I shared this site and the videos with him, along with GardenGirl's YouTube site. Hehe, his dream is to buy 5 acres and farm it, becoming nearly entirely self sufficient.  Kinda like the Dervaes family, though they need to make money doing what they do.  He plans to retire there and live of his state pension and retirement accounts.  I think he'll have a much easier time of it then they do.  They're subsiding on $30,000 a year and I'm sure my brother would make about that much.  Enough to buy the stuff he couldn't produce.

Myself, I just this year started with 130 SF of raised beds, plus turned a flower bed into a flower bed with two high bush blueberries as its centerpiece.  However, my back yard is for my 4 and 2 year old boys.  When they grow up, then it's a different story.  I could get tons of 4x8 beds in my back and side yards.  If PTF can grow 8,000 pounds of food annually on 1/10th an acre, I wonder how much I could grow on 1/4th an acre, or nearly three times the space?

Enjoy your garden, no matter how big or small it is!


  1. Hi Sinfonian!

    I love how your garden is coming along.

    Although I find inspiration in the efforts of the Dervaes, I can't help wonder about a couple of items... Have you seen the ABC snipet on them? The reporter ask Farmer D, "you're able to sustain your lifestyle as long as others are paying $12 per salad?" Paraphrased, but I think this gives the gist. And Farmer D agreed. I'm beginning to think in an urban setting, to have a simple lifestyle is symbiotic to others having a bit more extravagant lifestyle? I look at their peddlers wagon store, although the family use 2nd hand items, but they sell or commission sell new items. Someone has to buy a new item in order for it to eventually be 2nd hand?

    Also, in terms of someone who has grown quite a bit with 40 sq ft, I recognize how much work it was so I can only imagine the volume of work they put in to produce 8,000 lbs a year.

    What happens should one of the children marry and move away? What happens if a life-changing event happen? I'll focus on the good here, so if a baby comes into the picture.

    I know farming families who have small children and homeschool. They focus on agriculture for schooling and the whole family is up about 30-60 before sunrise working or schooling until 1 hour past sunset. They average $30K annually working together.

    And in the community garden, one of my neighbors is no longer able to pound in stakes for her bean trellis, I did that for her, I think she's in her 70s or 80s. I'm impressed with what she's done so far though. And I can't help but also wonder, what happens when Farmer D can no longer maintain the pace he wants to keep?

    Just some ponderings...

  2. I agree with you PenguinGardner. I too have thought about their need for sales to high-end restaurants and expensive, albeit hard to find, garden stuff. Frankly it's a shame they have to do that, all for a poverty level income. Though the irony is not lost on me about the $12 salad, but that's almost what I pay when I get a salad in Seattle, and it's not even that good (thus me growing lettuce, hehe).

    Yet they look happy. Sure farming 8,000 pounds of produce a year is far more work than an average gardener could handle, and I'm sure they couldn't take on a full-time job. Although watching the Future of Food I understand many farmers and their spouses take second jobs to make ends meet and still maintain big farms (big to me).

    I'm not trying to say the Dervaes family doesn't have it's challenges, and their lifestyle is far from ideal to most of us. But if someone did want to do it and had enough income from other sources to make it work, why not?

    My guess is that one or more of the Dervaes kids will take over the homestead when Farmer D can no longer manage, but if it only lasted one generation, there would still be great lessons to be learned from them.

    Good ponderings.

  3. Just some ponderings…

    I think you whole point of the “Dervaes family experiment” is that you can live in a large, affluent - urban setting and
    be mostly self-sufficient to include: food, power, fuel.

    Forget about the $30,000 number. That is in addition to, all the things they get for free or next to nothing.
    Their day, is not 9 to 5 grind.

    We are trying to understand them from our “modern” point of view instead of looking at them from their
    point of reference. Think back to the 60’s, Whole Earth Catalog, communes, the Diggers and return to
    nature movement. It failed, greed and consumerism won out, but many quietly continued.

    We want our McDonald’s, 24 hour Wal-Mart’s, SUV’s, theater sized led flat screen TVs, NASCAR, golf courses, annual trips to Disney. All the trappings of a modern lifestyle.

    They all live at home. Every morning, they are not hurriedly packing up the kids for day care, Pop-Tarts in every hand, driving a half hour / hour commutes. “Working” for just the paycheck. Not celebrating your child’s birthday due to business travel. In rush hour traffic, drive home, cook dinner and clean house. Fall asleep on the couch, exhausted, wake up, and do it all over again.

    On, and, on, and on.

    They step out their back door and attend to business. How simple.

    Are they extreme or are we just too wasteful?

  4. Ron,

    I'm becoming convinced you only read what you want to from a post. ;)

    "Just some ponderings" is not my name or call sign, it really is just a statement of my post.

    I first start out by saying I am inspired by the family, I'm just putting into consideration how they are being labeled as self-sustaining. I'm believing they are not, they are symbiotic. In order for them to have their lifestyle, others must be extravagant. I'm not questioning their values at all, just the label others are giving them. But I am appreciating the concept that they are bringing balance to an extravagant culture.

    As to the $30K, this is in reference to a family I know who are making a living as farmers, the point was to help illustrate how much more work there is when there are small children...which the Dervaes family currently do not have.

    Another observation, what about extended family or the 2nd son? What about the topic of family values?