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Monday, July 08, 2019

To so live that one does not need television

Cultivate poverty like sage, like a garden herb. Do not trouble yourself to get new things, whether clothes or friends. That is dissipation. -- Thoreau

Down to a twelve hour week? We need not fret. Not so many years ago I was living in a single room, doing laundry in the sink, cooking in a rice steamer on my desk, drinking tap water. I made teas from found herbs, and then ate them with my rice; I prowled alleyways for apples and plums in season.

Once I had made my way back to the country (a house was for sale with an overgrown acre at its feet and blue tarps on its roof), I resolved to eat better, and picked up tools.

A tree planter's shovel can do a lot; with it weeds and roots may be chopped, posts may be set, soil turned, seedlings planted, and an orchard set forth. Some have dug wells so. Acceptable soil, temperatures and moisture (while that is possible) can be a big help, though one might be surprised at what some have made arable.

One may find other tools at yard sales and thrifts. Or make others. Know when to stop acquiring; a tractor, for example, can lead to complications. You need not grow twelve acres of carrots for people in the next province, state or country.

I favor a short-handled hoe made from a car fender by a handy friend. For transplanting it has no equal, and it can weed or, in a pinch, plow. But we are a deep-mulch family.

If one can count on relatives that's a blessing. Maybe my best garden tools are the bench grinder and vise given to us by my dad almost fifty years ago. With these, what I don't have, I can generally make. His old wrenches, hammers and such came in handy as well.

One may be given seeds, or find them at a seed library, or on sale. Or from reputable suppliers.

Then there's seed saving. I have always avoided patented seeds for this reason and others.

Saving all compost has worked well here; gardening, like farming, mineral mining and fossil fuel extraction, costs the earth. The costs must be repaid if the garden is to continue. The more local the nutrients, the lower the cost to the earth. I know the gadget pictured here is expensive; it was a gift.

Work and rest, eat, sleep, drink tea, watch the clouds go by. The idea is not to save the earth; as I have said, that's water over the dam. But to at least so live that one does not need television.

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