Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A hundredth of an acre

Not that it's really possible to calculate, since my garden is like me: a little sideways, a little chaotic, a little haphazard, and always wandering off to do something else, but I think I have 435 square feet of vegetables.

One hundredth of an acre.

I feed four people with this. Two of them don't live here right now, so I pack up food and send it home with them. Anyone who works in my garden gets some too. I'm trying to grow/preserve enough to make it through January this year, and I'm trying to do it using as few appliances as possible. (It seems silly to plant a garden and then buy 14 different appliances, all shipped from China, to preserve it.) I'm able to fuss with my garden, since it's so small, in a way that a giant potager or a small farm can't-- the more space the more you have to trust that you'll lose some, but there's enough extra to make up the difference.

Although I joke that I grow on the Shaker system-- a third for the family, a third for the parish and a third for G*d (in his guise as the critters)--really, there's nothing to spare. I plant 40 snow pea seeds. If I lose half, that's half our meals for a month. On the other hand, I can individually tie every one of them to their supports, which is something I did today. I don't have to thin my lettuce; instead, I can pull the tender seedlings and rearrange the rows, or slip them in bare dirt somewhere else, because there are only a hundred of them.

Every sprout is a precious child, and I take joy in each. With a 10th of an acre, or a quarter, I wouldn't feel each tiny life elbowing or spearing its way to the surface.

So a hundredth of an acre isn't very much. But I very much believe that it's one hundredth of an acre that is helping to save the planet.

Spring Stir Fry with early vegetables

1/2 tofu cake
1 rhubarb spear, diced
1 bunch asparagus
3 cups spinach

Dice the rhubarb and macerate in 1 Tablespoon sea salt and 1 tablespoon sugar. Let sit for 10 minutes. Cube the tofu, and drain it on a paper towel to draw off some of the moisture. Saute in a hot wok in a couple tablespoons of sesame or peanut oil. Add the rhubarb, including any moisture. Saute until the moisture has steamed off. Add the asparagus and saute til it's bright green. Add the spinach and saute until it wilts.

Add soy or oyster sauce, or leave as is. Serve over rice.


  1. Our garden is approximately 300 square feet (didn't go out and measure it). We are also trying to grow enough to take us through most of the winter. We will probably never grow enough to make it through to the next harvest, but we will try. I have been busy foraging for asparagus and picking rhubarb at my grandmother's to add to the freezer, since we don't have enough in our garden to eat and freeze.

  2. I figured it out because I wanted to know how much more work would be involved in growing an entire acre, and yikes.