The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Beauty before utility

In most ways, I'm completely uninterested in appearances.  I happily wear goodwill clothes for a decade, until holes in inauspicious places make them inappropriate for public consumption.  I'm pleased as punch with my free trailer, and have no dreams of big, fancy houses.  When I see people drive by with shiny sports cars, I roll my eyes.

But there is a seamy underside to my supposed disdain for mere looks.  A place where I fall prey to beauty before utility, where my common sense is forgotten in the face of mere charisma.

Music garlic

You guessed it --- garlic!  Despite the fact that Silverwhite Silverskin is by far the best producer in our garden, I snuck in two beds of Music Garlic last fall.  Music is a huge hardneck garlic that looks stunningly vibrant when the more productive Silverwhites seem a bit dusty and tired.  In a few weeks, Music will uncurl its scape and put on an even more intriguing show.  Sure, hardneck garlics don't yield as well as softnecks unless you offer them perfect conditions, but the eye candy is worth it.

Looking for a little beauty on the homestead?  Our homemade chicken waterer will keep your coop cleaner and your birds healthier.

Anna Hess's books
Want more in-depth information? Browse through our books.

Or explore more posts by date or by subject.

About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

Want to be notified when new comments are posted on this page? Click on the RSS button after you add a comment to subscribe to the comment feed, or simply check the box beside "email replies to me" while writing your comment.

I personally don't see anything wrong with growing pretty plants in the vegetable garden - that's why I always grow Scarlet Runner Beans and Ping Tung Eggplants. The beans are heirlooms which most people, if they grow them at all, grow in the flower garden and just throw away the beans - what a waste! It's true that the beans aren't quite so tender in the "green bean" stage (you have to pick them small), and perhaps some people are a bit put off by the idea of having fuschia and black beans in their bean soup; but the flavor is great and the plant's themselves, with their vivid red flowers, are gorgeous and attract hummingbirds to boot. Also, the beans are velcro-fuzzy - you can stick them to your clothing, which is just goofily fun! I also grow Lowell's Evergreen sweet corn - another heirloom. It doesn't produce as evenly as the modern hybrids do, and you have to get it in the pot almost instantly to enjoy the sweet flavor, but if it's happy, it grows huge stalks (higher than the roof of our carport), and the silk is bright fuschia when fresh - just gorgeous! So I say, if you want to grow beautiful garlic, go for it - a good garden can feed the eyes as well as the body!
Comment by Ikwig Fri Apr 30 10:20:30 2010
I want you to know that my wife and I have lived in a mobile home for 31 years now. We lived in a mobile home park for 3 years until I just couldn't take it anymore. We finely found 7 wooded acres in the country with a small stream flowing through the north side of the property, and as soon as we closed on the deed we moved the trailer onto the property. After 28 years of improved foundation, insulation, siding, upgraded thermal windows, attached greenhouse, solar array, wind turbine, and many more improvements, we now have a house (and home) that we are very proud of and paid for in full. People would be better off if they would learn to live with less.
Comment by zimmy Fri Apr 30 12:19:56 2010

Ikwig --- you're right that beauty is important all by itself. I tend to forget, and just plant for flavor, but this year I got smart and put flowers on my gardening calendar. So today I put in a lot of annuals --- the kind that even I can't kill with neglect and which will brighten our garden edges in the summer. Cosmos, sunflowers, Mexican sunflowers, marigolds, zinnias, and some mixes. I'm looking forward to even more beauty coming right up!

Zimmy --- I'm so glad to read your comment! Sometimes I think I must be crazy since no one else agrees that it's far more important to have a blissful life and acres of land than a fancy house. Even most back-to-the-landers seem to go into debt building their dream home, if the glossy pages of Mother Earth News are any indication. Now I really want to make it easy for users to post photos because I'd love to see images of your mobile home!

Comment by anna Fri Apr 30 17:30:09 2010

profile counter myspace

Powered by Branchable Wiki Hosting.

Required disclosures:

As an Amazon Associate, I earn a few pennies every time you buy something using one of my affiliate links. Don't worry, though --- I only recommend products I thoroughly stand behind!

Also, this site has Google ads on it. Third party vendors, including Google, use cookies to serve ads based on a user's prior visits to a website. Google's use of advertising cookies enables it and its partners to serve ads to users based on their visit to various sites. You can opt out of personalized advertising by visiting this site.