Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents

July 11, 2009


When he's not teaching Europe from 400 to 1400, writing an article about "Clerical Masculinity in the Middle Ages" for a book or discussing other aspects of the period with his scholarly wife Tanya (who is also writing an article for the same book - on Beguines and Parisians scholars) Dr. Andrew Miller has been working on his rooftop garden in Chicago. And not just any rooftop garden as Miller, a cousin of your editor's wife, explains:

|||| I made my own 'earth boxes' at a fraction of the cost that they rip you off in the gardening stores. All you need are two plastic storage bins, some bricks or PVC pipe, and some strips of towel or other absorbent material. Oh, yeah, and some dirt and water. The whole things works like a candle wick. When you put the soil in the top container you simply weave the 'wicks' through the soil, which then go through holes in the bottom of the top container down into the water reservoir below (each holds about 3 gallons of water so I only need to water once a week.). . . . I began them around Memorial Day and we've been eating fresh salads etc every night. Usually you can't grow tomatoes this close together (at least that's what most gardeners say) but with constant water and sunlight (and pruning) it can be done. . . Next summer I'm going to grow beans, carrots, spinach, etc. . .

I haven't computed the savings but the self-sufficiency factor appeals to me. When the Swine Flu Zombies come we can eat tomato-basil sandwiches and watch the chaos from the roof.||||


Anonymous yum said...

Anybody who grows his own knows that homegrown tomatoes (see Guy Clark) are a whole other thing than storebought tomatoes. Grow your own basil in your kitchen window, bake your own Tassajara bread, make your own basil mayonaise (Ina Garten's recipe at foodnetwork) and it's orgasmic-really. Tomato basil sandwiches are better than burgers.

July 11, 2009 6:21 PM  
Anonymous Mairead said...

The only thing I find bothersome is the "watch the chaos from the roof" part. I realise it's probably meant tongue-in-cheek in this case, but the "t'hell wi'you, Jack, I got mine" attitude is the very reason we're all chin deep in that infamous creek.

July 12, 2009 8:11 AM  
Anonymous homegrown tomatoes said...

When you try to tell people there is no effective swine flu virus and that the bug is an escapee from factory farms the look at you like you're nuts. The ongoing collusion of govt. and drugcos. to mandate a vaccine they haven't even developed smells of sorry ethics and could be something more sinister. I agree the nahnah na nahnah bit is annoying and juvenile.

July 12, 2009 12:39 PM  
Blogger Walker said...

Beautiful, detailed instructions (pdf warning) available for free here:


July 13, 2009 2:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Self-sufficiency is a myth. It doesn't exist.

July 14, 2009 9:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's nonsense. No you can't live on another world, but you don't have to shop everyday for poisonous crap w/ no food value. which is the produce in the supermarkets including Whole Paycheck, I mean Whole Foods.

July 14, 2009 8:05 PM  

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