Tom’s home from college and full of ideas for making our lifeways sustainable.

“Aren’t they already?” people ask, thinking that because I’ve written several books about eco living I must do things perfectly myself. But I’m a working mother and an American to boot, and definitely not perfect. I don’t do much driving, but I fly a good deal and that’s about as energy-intensive as you can get. I’m an adept vegetarian cook, but I don’t cook very much these days–especially in the last month, because I’ve had a severely sprained ankle.

Our first focus, with Tom here doing some of the preaching (what a nice change!), is the garden. We’ve put in an immense amount of stuff–tomatoes, beans, peas and potatoes, peppers and squash, and much more–and summer heat is here at last. The key challenge is going to be weeding, and then harvesting. Harvesting takes more time than people realize, and it’s easy to lose control with plants that need regular attention in order to be most prolific. There are a few peas now, and we need to pick daily in order to keep the plants flowering and producing.

I have to admit that I am better about picking flowers than about keeping up with the squash. Last year I had huge quantities of sweet peas and I was out every morning picking bouquets. That’s where mindset comes in: I cannot buy vasefuls of sweet peas, but it’s relatively easy and cheap to buy vegetables. Not, however, the heirloom varieties we’re growing. We are also increasingly conscious of the need to develop more self-sufficient ways, for what Tom likes to refer to as the post-oil world.