Photo Essay: Living Off My Land

Yesterday was my eighth house-iversary. Meaning that it’s been eight years since I first became a homeowner.

Being in charge of a 56-year-old house that sits on a small plot of land in central Tucson has been quite the learning experience. One of my ongoing areas of study is self-sufficiency. To what extent can I live off the land in a major city?

As mentioned earlier, I’ve become an avid urban gardener. And you know gardening. It’s like an addictive drug. You just have to do more of it.

One of the key ingredients of a healthy garden is nutrient-rich soil. Which Tucson lacks. So, time to build it up via compost. My gateway drug into the world of composting was via two small buckets that I got from friends in the Watershed Management Group Co-op.

But two small buckets can only give you so much compost. Time to step up production. For that, I purchased one of John Taylor’s 55-gallon Compost Barrels …

Photo essay - Compost Barrel built by John Taylor in Tucson, Arizona back yard

Price of the above Compost Barrel: All of $80.

John got into this venture because he wanted to create something more reliable than those fancy-dancy composting systems that cost hundreds of dollars. Keep an eye out for his ads on Craigslist Tucson.

Back in June and July, I was busily harvesting and drying mesquite beans from my front yard tree. Filled a five-gallon bucket with beans and biked it over to the Dunbar Spring mesquite milling fiesta on Sunday.

Photo essay - Bicycle towing trailer with bucket of harvested mesquite beans in Tucson, Arizona

That single bucket of beans was turned into two one-gallon jugs of mesquite flour. Total price: $10 for around six pounds of flour. That’s about $1.60 a pound. In the mesquite flour realm, that’s a smoking good deal.

Now, who’s this guy with the clipboard? It’s Adam Schwartz from the Watershed Management Group (WMG). He’s doing a site assessment for my upcoming WMG Co-op greywater workshop …

Photo essay - Adam Schwartz does a site assessment for my upcoming Watershed Management Group Co-op Workshop in Tucson, Arizona

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