Paradise Lot, I thank you

You guys made me cry. :-)  Seriously, I had thought about what you meant to me and how I would miss you but hadn’t considered you might miss me….selfish of me.

So I have thought about this all day while thinking over your comments (which I don’t have the time today to answer individually) and want to say that I will come back to post on an infrequent basis. I can’t set up a schedule as life has to come first. More on that another day.I will also check in to answer comments as leaving the information online without responding to questions is just plain rude (to me at least).

Small Footprints, I should be thanking you as you put so much time into challenging us to do better in our lives one small step at a time.  I was very proud to share your challenges.  Cat, I love your comments!  Your comments have felt like talking to a good friend, good friends don’t edit or count the number of words in a conversation. ;-)

Since you want more and I am in the middle of work I will leave you today with a post I wrote a while back but felt it needed a bit of polishing.  I think the subject is important and hope you will enjoy it.

I just finished the book Paradise Lot by Eric Toensmeier and Jonathan Bates and came away with a feeling of hope.  Here are two guys who bought a duplex with 1/10th of an acre of compacted soil and turned it into an edible forest garden.  What was amazing about their garden is the fact that it is in Massachusetts where the winters are more bitter than my area and yet they have a banana tree growing in their front yard.



Okay so the banana tree doesn’t produce fruit but to be able to keep a banana tree alive in their front yard in MA is impressive.  Eric and Jonathan stated out with a goal of 300  species of plants on their small plot and at the time of writing had roughly 200 perennial or self-sowing species.

Their goals were lofty, they wanted an edible garden that would not only produce consistent food for them all year but wanted to see if they could take a barren plot of land in an urban environment and create an oasis for not only themselves but an ecosystem for insects, birds and other wildlife native to that area.

While the list of foods they have been able to grow in such a small plot is surprising they have taken the time to look at when each plant would be producing food and in the case of berries, they have enough varieties which ripen at various times that they are never without berries from early summer to be beginning of autumn.

As I read Paradise Lot I kept looking outside at my field, I already have the wildlife here. We already have the worms, snakes, bunnies, birds and even the praying mantis (a sign of healthy ecosystem) has paid us visits.  But the field outside my door is not organized to support the life these two men created on their small plot.

The other reason this book has inspired me so comes back to water.  If I can grow more food, even in partial shade, I will use less water to produce food.  I have been saddened this past week to see pictures of farmers uprooting their almond trees because of drought conditions, water is a key component for life both for people and the plants we grow and depend on to nourish us.

Much of what they grow they have done in shady conditions.  I had no idea the number of edible plants that could be grown in the shade.  With drought conditions spreading the idea that we can grow even berries in the shade has inspired me to take a better look at how I can use the land available to me.  I have wanted to plant fruit and nut trees but believed the area around them would then be of no use in growing food plants.

One year Jonathan decided to weigh all the food brought in from the gardens during a 6 month period.

From what I recorded-and it wasn’t everything-I estimated that for a household of four adults, over six months, we harvested four hundred pounds of forest garden fruits and vegetables from the perennial portion of our tenth of an acre, in addition to the many annual vegetables from the annual bets, tropical gardens, and greenhouse.  Much of that forest garden harvest was from partial shade, and many of our plants are still getting established and should produce more in the future

I couldn’t find this book at the library so I bought it for the Kindle. it didn’t take me long to see this was going to be a book I needed in print to use as a reference as I try to turn my field (a little at a time) into the ecosystem that can support both myself, friends and family, and more of my community but also the wildlife I cherish.

35 thoughts on “Paradise Lot, I thank you

  1. I am so glad that you’ll be posting occasionally. Even though you feel that you’ve said everything you need to say, life has a tendency to toss new and unusual things in our path. So maybe tomorrow or next week or next month, you’ll come across something which we’d all benefit from … and, with your lovely way of “talking”, we’d all surely benefit. Besides … most of us, your readers, consider you a friend … and it’s sad to lose a friend. So we need to “see” you once in awhile … just to say “hi” … to catch up … to visit. :-)


  2. Hi Lois. I am very happy that you will be popping in from time to time. Like everyone else, I have come to enjoy, respect and admire your way of living and for the brief period that I have gotten to know you and your family…well…let’s just say it’s been wonderful and I selfishly do not want to give up getting to know you!

    That being said, I will respect every and all choices you make ad I hope that we can still keep in touch.

    Take care and my best to all.



  3. What an amazingly inspiring book this sounds like. Kindle, eh? Yes I too might have to PRINT it as a reference rather than carrying the Kindle around with me in the wheelbarrow as I work! ;)
    I wish we could share a cuppa tea in person but our blogging visits feel like the next best thing! I’m hoping you’ll come back even once in a blue moon. Wishing you the best, Lois.
    xo Hugs – always – Gina


    • Gina, the book is wonderful. The main difference, other than being about forest gardening which involves more shade (something I think we should think about with global warming and conserving water) is that this is the first book I’ve found specifically for the colder regions.

      Gina, I can’t seem to stay away or forget about the blog. I stumble on things all the time and think “this would be perfect to share”. I know I can’t blog every day or even every other day right now, but I am starting to see the blog, and each of you, have become an integral part of my life.


  4. I’ve been gone, so I just read your post about your new adventure. Saving student’s discards sounds like a wonderful project. And I wouldn’t ever worry about your posts getting old. What I tune in for most, is seeing the clever way that you repurpose discards. Good luck with everything and I look forward to hearing from you then and again.


    • Live and Learn, thank you. You will be happy to hear I have 2 projects nearing completion that I will be showing soon enough.

      I have not been alone in wandering town when the students leave trying to pick up anything still useful. But so much still gets tossed. I thought if we could only give the students a reason to donate it (that one little trip past their front door) we could save so much more. But now I have to finalize the venue, post notices all over town and the campus then begin the advertising to bring as many people out here as possible to adopt the things. That an I know I will need more help than I currently have lined up.


  5. You know, my general opinion on blogging is that you should do it when you want to, and ignore it when you feel like ignoring it.

    This is actually my third blog. My first one was completely haphazard – it was also on my parents’ radar which made it… um… well, let’s just say that I had to be really careful what I said.

    So I closed that one and started a new blog – this time I decided I was gonna “do it right” so I was really focused on choosing “green themes” I put a LOT of time into choosing a clever name, and I made myself post in depth well researched posts on a schedule. It was WORK.

    And then, someone threatened to sue me because apparently they had thought of my clever name before I did… and claimed they owned the Trademark, though it was never registered. Long, ugly story short, I punted and just cancelled the blog.

    But the thing was… while I was sorta grateful to be out of the self-imposed pressure cooker of writing well researched posts, and keeping up the schedule, I really missed my blogging buddies! So finally I started my current blog with a completely different attitude. I still find myself tempted to take it too seriously from time to time, but in general I enjoy having a forum to rant or just post random observations. I don’t make myself stay terribly focused, and I never worry about posting on a schedule.

    Anyhow, that’s my long-winded way of saying that I look forward to your occasional posts, and hope that whatever direction you choose to go with it, you do what makes you happy.

    Now, I think I’m gonna go obsess about berries and banana trees! :-)


    • Don’t berries and banana trees sound wonderful right about now? I have been scouring the seed and plant catalogs trying to narrow down my wishes for this years garden, but everything sounds delicious.

      Some one was going to sue you? That is ridiculous. I mean we can’t register a name if it’s already out there so that means you had it first.

      I’m glad you found the right balance and in time maybe I will do so as well. I have 2 projects to show of before and after so you can look forward to that soon. And I happened to stumble on a story that I immediately thought needed to go on a Good News Monday post….see I can’t just forget about sharing. :-)


  6. :) Well, you are a silly “moo”, of course we would miss you. I have come to realise this (only since you wrote your post bowing out) that we each seek out the company of different people on here for different reasons… you bring sanity, intelligence, wisdom and calmness to my days :) :) I had been thinking of giving it up but am thinking differently now. We do build friendships here but life commitments must be lived first and I often feel I waste time, moderation the key maybe!

    The book sounds great Lois, I will check it out and like the sound of Radical Homemaking so will look at that too.


  7. I, too, will miss your regular posts. The quality of your blog in the last few months has really been interesting and inspiring to me. I wish you the best in your new endeavors and will look forward to hearing from you from time to time.


    • Cynthia, the blog had changed quite a bit and I was concerned the content was not what others were interested in. It’s good to know that you found it to be of value and interest to you. I think the biggest problem I had as the blog aged was a concern that my content wasn’t fresh and would be a waste of my readers time. I always wanted the content to be valuable not just my rambling to be able to click publish.


  8. Pingback: Change the World Wednesday – 26th Feb | Eco-Crap

  9. I was about to send you an email in response to your previous post. I fully understand if you do need to leave the blogosphere to pursue other goals but it certainly will be lovely to know that you will drop in from time to time.

    Even though I am on the other side of the world it has been a privilege to read your posts and learn of what you are doing.

    I wish you all the best with your new ‘project’ and hope you will post about it once you are up and running with it.

    I will definitely seek out the book, “Paradise Lot”. It sounds interesting and could be a valuable resource.

    Thanks again for all the effort you put into disseminating information and doing your bit towards saving the planet.

    Fairy xxx


    • Fairy, thank you. I have missed you as I had to pretty much give up reading other blogs to continue posting with my workload at the moment.

      I hope you can find a copy of Paradise Lot. I found it to be invaluable and broke down and bought a paperback copy to use as a resource. There were so many ideas and plants in there I had never heard of before.


  10. Wow, how did I miss the last post where you were saying good bye! No way lady! I got your email and there is no way we are saying good bye. I know you say now you will post once in a while and that’s a good thing, but I will email you and ask you what’s going on…..We became friends on here, we will remain friends. :-)


  11. hi, now I am not sure if I am sort of saying this “tongue in cheek”, but I recently read about a “sliver” (ahem gold) lining to the California drought…

    it is expected with the big drought many veins/sources of gold will now be revealed. Was discussed that this may well start a new “California Gold Rush”..

    mmm, not so sure that is a good thing either, long term.


  12. Lois, will enjoy your “time to time” posts…thank you for that. (grin).

    this book sounds good. someday I will hunt it down..actually, I will hunt around a couple of second hand shops, might get lucky.

    you know, re your garden, you have done so well, and (I think), yu are not pouring gallons of water in to it? (is that correct?). I think you have done well to find plants which will grow, in the conditions you have.

    I believe part of the problem, with “droughts”, is people moved to those areas for various reasons and then started to grow massive amounts of plants/trees which were not native to the areas. of course this necessitated bringing in water…I don’t know for sure, but I bet those almond trees you spoke about being uprooted, were not native to the area, and sucked up HUGE amounts of water

    I guess what I am trying to think about/say, is sometimes Mother Nature does NOT like to be messed with..

    I guess I am thinking, if we learned to want what we have/available, instead of insisting of having what we want, it would be less stressful on nature, and who knows, might be less stressful on us.


    • Lynn I absolutely agree with you about some droughts being the result of humans bringing in non native inappropriate plants. Lawns are one of the most water wasting ideas there are. People in general are too clueless about how much water they use and how much they waste. Flush toilets are the biggest water users in most households. While California often seems to be the birthplace of many great ideas about how to protect the environment there are also many ways that state is extremely harmful to the environment. Too many people for too little water, agricultural practices growing non native plants that require too much water and fertilizer, huge numbers of cars and the superstructure to provide highways for their travel,the list goes on. There are individuals bucking the trends but people in general are more interested in daily showers,green lawns, and driving the latest car than how each of their choices overtaxes an area that is already overwhelmed.


      • well, this is sort of more of the same, but I have heard folks talk about this sort of thing…
        well, lots of folks from (especially) more northern areas of north America would retire/move to Arizona and California for health reasons …asthma/arthritis. I remember folks discussing this back from when I was little. Especially for Asthma. apparently the hot / dry climate was good for asthma / lung conditions.

        however, folks wanted (over time) things to “look like home”. so, they planted trees and plants to “look like home”..Well, ended up needing huge amounts of water, and then too,
        huge amounts of pollen from the new trees / plants. suddenly, not longer so great for asthma..again. Human changes.


        • Lynn, I talked about just that subject here. I moved to Arizona in 2001 and was shocked by what I found as I hadn’t been there since 1972. The so called dry heat was no longer dry and humidity levels with the heat caused me plenty of discomfort along with breathing difficulties on the hottest days.


          • ah. so my memory of folks comments seems correct.

            it’s a tough one, as folks are natural builders/creators – where ever they live. however, everything has a reaction/consequence/etc.


          • ” build and create within the ecosystem we find ourselves in and not try to control the geography to our liking?”
            yes, sounds good….and at the very least, make do with plants which are able to grow within said eco system…. / make do with building materials within said eco system…

            however, humans are not so easily “satisfied”. I think, maybe only the hunter / gathers of ancient accomplished this.


          • Lynn, I don’t know if it’s too late or not but I find myself hopeful when I see so many of the younger people (20s and 30s) who are rejecting the way things have been set out. They are vocal about the environment, are downsizing to tiny homes and living within their means. They are rejecting the idea of a big house with the mortgage and the furnishings that cause debt and rejecting the 9-5 promises of a good life with mundane work. If anyone is going to save things it will be the youth of today,not my generation.


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