Unusual Fruit: Starting Goji and Sea Buckthorn from Seed

Part of living sustainably is getting your food as locally as possible. To maximize the productivity, diversity, and sustainability of foods you get in your diet locally, it’s a good idea to know all the crops that produce the best in your climate using organic methods. There may be many potentially useful fruits available and adapted to your climate that you don’t know about. Continue reading

Natural Refrigerator: The Root Cellar in My Floor

When I built my house I noticed that one corner of the foundation was really deep, so I planned to make it into a root cellar. Now I use this space to keep the food I grow in the summer fresh through the winter, without refrigeration. It was a rather simple design feature, but it saves me a lot of energy in the long run and allows me to eat my harvest year round.

Our economy expends a huge amount of energy on refrigeration, not only to preserve food so that it can be shipped across the world and eaten fresh, but so that the food industry can recreate the climate conditions of a root cellar. Continue reading

Fossil fuel free scrubbing with the luffa

Why buy scrubbies and washcloths when you can easily grow your own supply from a small garden plot?  This season I grew two luffa plants and ended up with enough dish washing fiber for the next 5 years.  This unique plant has been selected over the millennia for its fibrous fruit and it should have a space in your garden if you want to be more self sufficient.  Easy to grow and prolific, the luffa provides an alternative to manufactured abrasive cleaning products, many of which are produced from or using fossil fuel.  And when the luffa reaches the end of its useful life, you simply compost it.

The luffa plant looks a lot like a cucumber and it climbs in the same way.  However, it’s more disease resistant and it requires a longer season.  So start the seeds indoors in spring if you want to get a good jump on the season.  Although it has somewhat of a reputation for its high fiber content, in some parts of the world it’s been selected for eating.  It’s only eaten when the fruit is young, before the fibrous skeleton has formed.