Self-Sufficiency Poetry

Our self-sufficiency quota for electrical energy is 30%, but what about the garden?

Since I haven’t smart metered every edible wildflower consumed, I resort to Search Term Poetry and random images. This is a summer blog post, lacking the usual number crunching and investigative tech journalism.

Search terms are from WordPress statistics and Google Tools.

Direct self-consumption quota was nearly 100% last year (no preservation), and self-sufficiency was very low, with one exception: Yarrow tea.

This year we will reach 100% herbal tea self-sufficiency:

Yarrow TeamThe solar/air collector is boosting yarrow harvest – and we have yet to include its cosmic quantum free energy focusing effect in the marketing brochure.

fringe science theories
can efficiency be greater than 1

Collector, yarrow, poppy

But it also boosts vitality of other life forms:

alien energy

Slimey Aliens near collector

I cannot prove that these particular slimy aliens – edible and a protected species in Austria – are harmful as I never caught them red-handed. You just need to be careful when collecting vegetables to avoid the slimy parts.

We are self-sufficient re green ‘salad’ and ‘fake spinach’ for about half a year. Our top edible wild flowers in terms of yield are Dandelion, Fireweed, Meadow Goat’s Beard …

why does the grim reaper have a scythe

Meadow Goat's Beard

… and White Stonecrop: both tasty …

jurassic park jelly

White Stonecrop and snail

… and ornamental:


White Stonecrop, Sedum Album

With standard vegetables (accepted as edible by the majority) we did crop rotation – and the tomatoes look happiest as solitary plants in new places …

analyzing spatial models of choice and judgment

Tomatoe Plant

The Surprise Vegetable Award goes to an old heirloom variety, called Gartenmelde in German:

slinkyloop antenna
physics metaphors


Last year exactly one seedling showed up, and we left it untouched. This year the garden was flooded with purple plants in spring:

virtual zen garden

Gartenmelde in spring

There are two main categories of edible plants – and two different branches of the food chain: Things we mainly eat, like tomatoes, herbs, onion, and garlic …


Garlic, tomatoes, herbs

… and the ones dedicated to alien species. Top example: The plants that should provide for our self-sufficiency in carbohydrates:

simple experiment


In the background of this image you see the helpful aliens in our garden, the ones that try to make themselves useful in this biosphere:

force on garden hose
so called art

Helpful Alien

But looking closer, there is another army of slimy life-forms, well organized and possibly controlled by a superior civilization in another dimension:

the matrix intro
protocol negotiation failed please try again

Slimey aliens and potatoes

microwaving live animals

This garden is fertilizer- and pest-control-free, so we can only try to complement the food chain with proper – and more likeable – creatures:

solutions to problems

Hedgehog, Potatoes

Yes, I have been told already it might not eat this particular variety of aliens as their slime is too bitter. I hope for some mutation!

But we are optimistic: We managed to tune in other life-forms to our philosophy as well and made them care about our energy technology:

so you want to be an engineer

Blackbird and air pump

This is a young blackbird. Grown up, it will skillfully de-slime and kill aliens, Men-in-Black-style.

Life-forms too quick or too small for our random snapshot photography deserve an honorable mention: Welcome, little snake (again an alien-killer) and thanks mason bees for clogging every hole or tube in the shed!

It is a pity I wasted the jurassic park search term on the snail already as of course we have pet dinosaurs:

Pet Dinosaur

So in summary, this biotope really has a gigantic bug, as we nerds say.

sniff all internet access

Bug or Feature

14 Comments Add yours

  1. You must be kidding … that the garden snails (Helix?) are protected? Can you ‘hunt’ for the table without a permit? I wonder if anyone has tried to calculate the caloric cost of all of that mucus in the overall energy balance of the organism! Just a thought.

    1. elkement says:

      Yes, Helix Pomatia (‘Weinbergschnecke’) is indeed protected – here is a German reference: – but I think this mainly refers to trading and ‘professional’ use. Although I can hardly believe it, looking on our meadow, the population had been considerably diminished by collecting snails for selling them to restaurants.
      Some references say (seems an academic dispute) that snails eat the eggs of slugs so I better don’t touch them!

      You’re right – that continuous production of slime seems like a miracle – perhaps some mechanism we can learn something from in energy technology :-) ?

      1. I can’t imagine that even commercial harvesting would have any sort of influence on standing populations. Anyway, as I understand it snail ‘farming’ is the source of most of the edibles we encounter at the restaurant. I just found out that the mucus can be more than 98% water by weight with the balance being glycoprotein. One would think that the caloric investment in manufacturing the stuff, and at such high rates, would be prohibitively high?

        1. elkement says:

          Yes, we also have snail farms now – but several reports I read say ‘for centuries’ they had been collected systematically and were nearly extinct in Italy and France. Now they have recovered – with the exception of some lesser known snail species whose habitat was restricted to smaller areas, like Corsica or Sicily.

          I’ll be very interested if you ever solve the mystery of the mucus! :-)

  2. Irgendeine says:

    Really lovely!

    1. elkement says:

      Thanks – especially the slugs are lovely ;-)

  3. I really enjoyed this post, especially the garden updates and the clever way you work in the search terms. Our garden is at a similar stage as yours, I think. Our potatoes are blooming, and the tomatoes are only beginning to produce fruits (still green and small). We’ll be eating peas, beans and carrots soon, I think.

    1. elkement says:

      Thanks, Michelle! The last photo here is from June – now we have started harvesting potatoes (the ‘early varieties’), onions, cucumbers, zucchini, and a first small batch of tomatoes – and herbs. I might be self-sufficient on dried oregano and rosemary in winter. Ha!
      (I have traded the detailed current reporting for artistic freedom ;-) – most images are from June, but the upside-down tree alien images is from spring.)

      We have been surprised – positively – by the produce of potatoes as some of these plants were nibbled down to skeletons of stems by the slimy aliens – but as we say here: Dumbest farmers grow largest potatoes :-).
      The most promising vegetable is not featured: We have many eggplants, and we test a new variety – from Sicily, described as heat loving. Last year we only dared to plant one adapted to our climate, but the Italian one grows better :-) – one small violet ‘egg’ is already visible. And in contrast to Zucchini plants the slugs has left them alone.
      Pepper and chilis have looked pathetic for a while (and heavily under alien attack), but they are blooming now, and we see one first fruit!
      I think we still have to optimize the preparation and toughening of young plants before planting them out – it seems they have been inside too long (too warm and not enough light) although we delayed seeding and exposed them to sun and ambient air temporarily… but full exposure to our Pannonian sun and wind was still a shock. Gartenmelde shows how resistant and durable plants are if they can just grow where they want naturally.

      In autumn I can report on Brussel sprouts – I think I have seen its enemy already, the innocuous white butterfly :-)
      Beans and carrots are on the list for next year, and I am already researching some more heirloom ‘forgotten’ varieties of root vegetables.

      1. Before I forget, here is a link that might help you get started on your optimization research: One thing I would add to the process, if it is convenient, is to expose small plants or seedlings to moving air for a while each day (like near a fan). I was able to do this many times, and had the best luck with transplants in those years. The stems and leaves are better prepared for the hardening off process and later transplanting.

        It is difficult for us to grow brussel sprouts, cabbage and broccoli because of the heavy cropping of canola on the prairies; these plants support healthy populations of those white butterflies, and the more crops, the more butterflies. Their offspring, a little green worm, become a remorseless eating machine that can clear out a garden really quickly!

        Fortunately, we don’t have slugs as large as you, though, and usually find them only chomping on the lettuce. I think they’re too small to digest the more fibrous plants. My mother-in-law gets so freaked out by slugs that she’s completely given up on having a garden. I have recently engaged in hand-to-hand combat with the slippery little monsters, picking them off the leaves by hand.

        My garden this year was invaded by pumpkins. I had too many fruits in last year’s harvest and didn’t process all of them. So, by spring a few ended up back in the garden for compost. Apparently, drying out a few pumpkins makes the best seed. The germination rate must have been really, really high!

        1. elkement says:

          Thanks for the link, Michelle!! Using a gentle ‘ventilator’ is a great idea – we have been more concerned about wind than sun actually. There is a reason why wind power is profitable here.

          I have just noticed that our snails eat the green tips of onions and … snippets of paper?! :-) The slugs eat everything but especially young vegetables and seedlings. I think I know now why most of the tiny cucumbers have vanished. The most pesky variety (called ‘Spanish’ slug here) had been imported from Portugal in the 1970s. The ‘Spanish’ one looks like the traditional one (but both become >10cm long) but it is bitter so hedgehogs and birds don’t like it – and I understand that they prefer worms and bugs that don’t need de-sliming :-)

          I am afraid cabbage is a challenge here, too, not only because of the Kohlweißling butterfly. Recently I identified an alien-hatching-like colony of grey lice typical for cabbage on the sprouts … and it is amazing how many large brown slugs fit onto a small leave :-).

          But as long as such experiments are compensated by an invasion of something else – like Gartenmelde and eggplants this year – I am happy :-) We also have some very promising potatoe plants on the compost piles – some planned, some accidental. Congrats on the pumpkins! I imagine an invasion of pumpkins as very ornamental!!

          We will also try some autumn/winter vegetables this year, like so-called Asia salads – you might be able to grow them nearly all winter here and slugs don’t like them (so the experts say ;-)).

          1. Just a thought about cucumbers: if you crack the optimization puzzle for transplanting, cucumbers might be a candidate for indoor seeding; the older plants develop a self-protective bristle that some insects avoid.

            I have seen those slug eggs, too. I try to turn the soil once in late, late fall, already after some nights of heavy frost, so that I can churn up some of those eggs and let the cold kill them. I’m not sure if it helps, but it makes me feel better.

            As an update to my own helpful alien killers, we’ve noticed a brown field mouse has moved in to the garden. She sometimes appears under the bird feeder to collect dropped seeds. My husband was delighted, as he has this idea that mice like to eat some of our garden enemies. He may be correct: in de-slugging the lettuce of late, I have found less and less signs of the invaders. Instead, I have noted the occasional little pile of mouse poop in the area. It might be a life’s worth of conditioning that makes me not like mice, but I will experiment with letting nature take it’s course, leave her alone, and see what happens.

            1. elkement says:

              We grew the cucumber seedlings inside – and the plants look healthy now, grow fast outside with lots of blossoms, and have lots of bristles. I have inspected the lost cucumbers again – actually, it looks more like if they were cut or chipped off than ‘nibbled away’. Perhaps I was wrong to blame the slugs, and it was a fluffy cute bird or another animal ;-) ? Next ad hoc attempt: Build a makeshift espalier as one cucumber survived where the plant tries to climb upwards, clinging to a tomatoe plant – we let them creep on the ground before (… as recommended by local natural vegetable gardening heroes ;-))

              We should have mice in the garden – sometimes we had them in the house (my blog post on accidental electrocuting one is one of my top posts), and we have moles. I learned to love their mounds by collecting valuable fine-grained soil now!

              So much to learn – I enjoy being a dilettante :-)

  4. The images take your poetry to new heights. I particularly like the yellow circles which add a touch of research. All that is missing is a random references section. Enjoy the summer!

    1. elkement says:

      Thanks a lot!! I should create a random references section by 1) uploading each image to Google’s Image Search and 2) linking the page associated with the first ‘most similar’ image :-)

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