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Category Archives: Sustainable living

Environmental justice: The people fight back

Al Gore This is a rather long photo essay. I hope you’ll bear with me. People sometimes ask me why I choose to live in a rural and seemingly backward place like Stokes County, North Carolina, after 18 years in an urbane place like San Francisco. Stokes is a poor county in the foothills of […]

You can’t have too much abelia

The bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies would agree: You can’t have too much abelia. Abelia shrubs bloom almost all summer long. There are thousands of little dime-size blooms. Abelia is an old-fashioned and out-of-style relative of honeysuckle, though it’s not as fragrant, and (thank goodness) it doesn’t climb. This abelia bush, now nine years old, stands […]

If only we had more of these

My guess would be that there are very few stiles remaining in America, though I also would guess that there were never that many in the first place, except possibly in New England. Most Americans probably don’t even know the word. Even I, born and raised a country person with roots in the Appalachian Highlands, […]

A portrait of the deceased

Not infrequently, living things from the garden are almost too beautiful to slice and eat. And yet, that’s why we grow them. Their existence is ephemeral. They’ll soon be lost and return to dust whether we eat them or not. The existential implications of that are horrifying. We share about 20 percent of our DNA […]

Setting hens

It doesn’t happen all that often, but every now and then a hen takes a notion to set. This young lady is a year and a half old. There are a number of remedies for “breaking” hens of setting. Having tried it, I would testify that it’s not worth the fight. Broody hens are remarkably […]

Dieting without being hungry

Rump roast plus some less-guilt-inducing things. Click here for high-resolution version. In eleven years of blogging here, I don’t think I’ve ever written about cooking beef before. I’m 98.6 percent vegetarian, but diets change things (for a while). During my adult life, my weight has bounced back and forth from about 147 to 157 pounds. […]

Walnut pâté

Raw walnut pâté in pocket bread, cucumber slaw, homemade refrigerator pickle, garden tomato. Click here for high resolution version. A good maxim for good health would be, eat more walnuts. Believe it or not, here in the Blue Ridge foothills, I can sometimes find local black walnuts for sale in late summer. You have to […]

If you’ve got too much of it, baba ganoush it

Are we tired of squash and okra yet? It could happen. Baba ganoush is not just for eggplant. Any vegetable that likes to be roasted can be turned into baba ganoush. This one is made from roasted yellow squash and roasted okra. Are we tired of pesto yet? I hope not, because the basil is […]

The elusive okra bloom

An okra flower. Click here for high-resolution version. I have been trying to get a photo of a fully open okra flower, but I still have not succeeded. Okra is a relative of hibiscus, and its flowers are much like hibiscus flowers. The photo above, of a not-yet-fully-open flower, was taken at 9 a.m. two […]

Two theories of gardening

A thriving squash plant, with lots of room and some pampering. Notice how dry the soil is. I’ve already learned a lot from my experiments with this year’s garden. As I’ve mentioned in other posts, my plan this year was to plant sparsely, leaving plenty of space between things for cultivating and for weed control. […]