Learning Self-Sufficiency in a Suburban Setting

A soccer mom shares what her family learned by using self-sufficiency in a suburban setting.

| June/July 2002

  • Kim stacks firewood that was free for the taking.
    Kim stacks firewood that was "free for the taking."
    MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
  • Brian Reynolds with the three younger children.
    Brian Reynolds with the three younger children.
    MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
  • Brian cutting wood in an urban setting.
    Brian cutting wood in a suburban setting.
    PHOTO: MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF

  • Kim stacks firewood that was free for the taking.
  • Brian Reynolds with the three younger children.
  • Brian cutting wood in an urban setting.

Incorporating self-sufficiency when living in a suburban setting.

I don't live on a farm or a remote mountainside — nowhere near the "boonies," as my mother calls the countryside. I am just another suburbanite with a half-acre plot and a brick ranch house in the middle of it. Our yard is modest, but we've found even on this small amount of land, a family can go a long way toward self-sufficiency.

Suburbs is a dirty word to some, but this is where I was born and raised. Although country living is fine for some folks, this also is a great life, it is simple to incorporate self-sufficiency when living in a suburban setting.

Our four children eat a lot, so it pays to have a garden. Our plot is approximately 20 by 40 feet. In this small area we grow enough corn and tomatoes to last all winter. I prefer to freeze my tomatoes, as it's easier than canning. I freeze corn in the husk. When we're ready to eat it, it comes out of the freezer and into the microwave. Nothing could be easier, and the taste is fresh-from-the-garden.



I also freeze zucchini (grated up for sweet bread), green peppers and hot peppers. I always put out several cucumber plants for pickle relish and bread-and-butter pickles. I can't find pickled beets in our local stores, so I plant and pickle those, too. We plant a few cabbages and some early lettuces, and that pretty well fills up our garden plot. It only takes one day for us to get our garden in, which is a small sacrifice considering the abundance it provides not only in food but in the sense of accomplishment as the harvest comes in. I never feel more connected to Mother Earth as I do when I'm in my garden.

Now the downside: weeding. Who wants to spend their valuable time on that? I've discovered a free and easy way to deweed the garden. As soon as I have my rows in, I lay down cardboard (free from the grocery store) and cover the pieces with grass clippings. If your mower doesn't have a bagger, ask a neighbor to drive over and dump their clippings in your garden. It's easier on them than trying to squish the clippings into a garbage bag. As the grass clippings break down, the garden gets a shot of nitrogen and other nutrients.

sam_20
10/17/2007 12:16:53 PM

Good article, similar situation. Wondering how you freeze your tomatoes I have about 90 left this year I need to do something with. thanks


sam_19
10/17/2007 12:16:47 PM

Good article, similar situation. Wondering how you freeze your tomatoes I have about 90 left this year I need to do something with. thanks


sam_18
10/17/2007 12:16:39 PM

Good article, similar situation. Wondering how you freeze your tomatoes I have about 90 left this year I need to do something with. thanks







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