The last time I was home, my mom and I spent some time in her garden harvesting the last of her green bean crop. Together, we filled three buckets full over about an hour of bean hunting – the garden’s bean yield from one week alone! We ate them for dinner that night and on several other occasions while I was visiting, and they canned the rest for the cold winter ahead.
Just before I’d arrived, my parents noted that the apple tree in a neighbor’s yard was becoming heavy with ripe fruit, all of the apples dropping to their rotting death. They approached the neighbor about picking them for her (since it was driving them nuts seeing them go to waste). She happily gave them permission to pick them and take them home. My step-dad spent three hours harvesting that next day, yielding three 10-gallon buckets. They made countless batches of apple cider, apple pie-filling, apple sauce, and apple compote. My entire family is benefitting from the simple act of harvesting an apple tree in a single afternoon.
My mom had also made the ‘mistake’ of throwing a bunch of pumpkin seeds into her compost pile, only to grow so many pumpkins that we spent an entire evening roasting and pureeing them. She had at least 30 of them on her front porch. Our family didn’t need to buy pumpkin anything for the next few months!
These are just three examples of my how my parents acquire an incredible yield from a small back garden and 12 hens that supply our family with fresh, organic eggs. Their back yard supplies them with so much bounty that they preserve it for the winter in the form of soups, salsa, compotes, jams and pickled goods. They also give their in-season surplus to our family or anyone else interested in cooking with home-grown goodness.
Spending time with my mom and watching how she makes use of what she already has inspired me in my own gardening endeavor. For me, even just the simple act of composting my food scraps produces an excellent, nutrient-rich source of natural fertilizer for my garden. You can see my first composting adventure here. You can also watch this video to see how a tiny front garden can yield more than you would imagine…and see how clueless I felt as a beginner gardner. 😉 Anyway, here are some nice photos from both of our gardens.
In this day and age, most of us go to work and create/receive non-tangible yields in the form of PowerPoint presentations and paychecks. I found the 9-5 life exhausting and uninspiring for the simple fact that the yield I was producing wasn’t giving me an inkling of real satisfaction. Having a little garden really added an element of meaning to my days, and it’s been a great joy to put something on my plate that I grew from seed.
If you have even the tiniest of plots (like I have), get your hands dirty and see what sort of food yield you can create for yourself. I can pretty much promise that when you pick the fruits of your labour and present them on a plate to your loved ones, the feeling you’ll get from it is nothing short of awesome. Even if you don’t have your own plot, there are plenty of spaces to grow guerilla-garden style. Read this amazing story of a town growing food everywhere, even in front of the police station!
And if you’re in the mood to follow a bold, urban gardener on WordPress, check out Chris Condello. He’s informative, inspiring and madly in love with plants.
If you’re a natural leader and want to involve your neighbors, check out the Food is Free initiative. And if you’re feeling lazy and don’t want to grow your own, you can find FREE, edible food in your own neighborhood!
If you have an inspiring garden story of your own, I hope you’ll share with a comment or link below.