Saturday, December 30, 2023

Ending the blog


Twelve years ago, in January of 2012, I began this blog. When it began, I was growing a vegetable garden and experimenting with some of the traditional gardening practices that Steve Solomon describes and recommends in his book Gardening When It Counts. I had been gardening and keeping data on planting methods and yields obtained for over a decade, comparing them to the data in John Jeavons’ book How to Grow More Vegetables. While I knew that yields were generally decreasing, I did not know how I could effectively address that issue.

It was the publication of Solomon’s next book, The Intelligent Gardener, in 2013 that provided the information on how to increase soil fertility through re-mineralization that helped me understand why yields were decreasing and how to address the issue. Describing what I learned from applying that information to my gardening practice became the primary project of this blog. Over the years I have chronicled the questions I have asked the garden about the effects of the ongoing project to re-mineralize my garden soil and how that project has affected yields, taste, and pest and disease pressures on each of the crops that I grow. I’ve posted the results and my observations after the end of each growing season, sharing this data freely as my gift to my readers and their gardens and as a contribution to garden science.


I’m very pleased that my published data answers some gardening questions that I haven’t seen answered elsewhere. The yield data in pounds per square foot for each of the vegetable varieties I have grown for the past decade or so is something I would have liked to know when I first began gardening. To my knowledge, no other gardener is reporting the yields they obtain for each of their crops on the internet for all to see. I’ve also included data on when I start seeds and transplant or direct-sow each plant and the spacing I use for it in my garden, which is helpful to beginning gardeners and/or those who garden in a similar climate to mine. With that data other people with similar climates can plan how much to plant of these varieties and use the data as a first guess at potential yields for other varieties of the same crop. I’ve been able to use the data I have collected to give what I believe is the first data-driven answer to the question of how much land is needed to grow a complete vegan diet for one person in my climate and publish a plan for such a garden. I’ve also shown how the mineral content of my garden soil has increased over the years as a result of the soil re-mineralization project.


While I’ve been documenting the garden project, I’ve also described some of the systems by which Mike and I live well on less money and energy. These include our rainwater collection system, how we stay cool in summer and warm in winter, our low tech solar food dehydrator, our front porch doing double duty as a solar greenhouse, how we coped with a few days of loss of electricity (here and here), and how we managed for a week without central water heating, among others. In 2016 I documented the reduction in electricity and natural gas usage over several years through changes to the house and changes in our expectations.


Of all the posts I’ve published over the years, I will pull out two different series of two posts, one an outgrowth of my gardening work, the other on the implications of decline in energy infrastructure, as my personal favorites.


The first of these was a pair of posts (part 1 and part 2) on aspects of the permaculture movement that I believe reduce its ability to make the positive contributions to decline that many of its advocates claim for it. While I think some permaculture practices have a role to play, I advocate learning them from books rather than from permaculture design courses, for reasons I discuss in these two posts.


The other is a pair of posts on the near-collapse of the Texas power grid in February 2021. I thought then, and still think, that too few people understand how very close we came to a crisis that would have extended far beyond Texas’ borders. I wrote part 1 and part 2 to describe what nearly occurred and what its implications would have been had it occurred. The low tech, low cost strategies that I’ve included in my blog are among the better ways to withstand not only such a low probability but high impact event, but also the continuing drops down the energy and civilizational decline staircase that eat away at our wallets and our psyches. I also pointed out in part 2 that the “green” energy that the climate-emergency crowd is pushing will only create more infrastructure that we won’t have the cheap energy, economic growth, and political will to maintain.


If you’ve been reading blogs for some time, you know that blogs develop personalities. Just as people change, so do their blogs. And just as people start projects, work on them, complete them, and let them go in order to begin new projects, so blogs begin, develop, accomplish their purpose, and come to an end.


Regular readers of this blog expect it to maintain its personality. However, my interests and projects have shifted to the point where the things I would like to write about don’t fit the personality of the blog. I have already said everything I have to say that does fit its personality. Thus it is time for me and this blog to cordially part ways.


To all of you who have read or commented on this blog over the years, thank you! I hope that some of you have been able to apply something you’ve learned from at least one of my posts to improving your garden, or saving some money, or in some other way that has had a positive effect on your life.


I also extend a big thank-you to fellow bloggers and organizations who have included a link to my blog on their blog sites or who have featured my garden in posts on their blog. Please know that I deeply appreciate your confidence in the value of my blog and of my garden project!


Finally, I gratefully acknowledge two people whose writings have been of particular benefit to the projects of this blog: Steve Solomon for his two books that taught me how to garden well, and John Michael Greer for his books and blog posts and for reviving the Ancient Order of Druids in America, the Druid order that I belong to.


Because the data I’ve made available through this blog is of use to other gardeners, and because more people are likely to become interested in our low-energy-use lifeways as decline continues, I will leave the blog up even though I will no longer make posts or respond to comments. I have removed the subscription block and will not email any more newsletters after this one to those of you who have subscribed to this blog.


I’m signing out with thanks to each one of you for joining this blog’s journey during its 12 years of life. Wishing each of you the best!



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