When I was about 12 I asked
my father what job or career he wanted me to have when I grew
up. In that moment he was touched.
"Steve," he said," I don't care if you're a doctor
or an automobile mechanic. What I do want for you is that when
you wake up each morning you look forward to what you have to
do that day,"For him working had mostly been an unwanted
duty done to support his family. Experiencing what my father's
ongoing anger and resentment over this did to him and to our
family, I resolved to do better myself. I suppose that's why
most of my income has been created from home.
I could try to explain "who"
I am but the attempt seems futile. There's little apparent consistency
in most of the personas I've worn. However, I've observed certain
qualities in myself that do seem consistent: like intensity.
I tend to be totally absorbed in whatever I am interested in.
When going through phases lacking this high level of interest
I am bored and feel discontent. There seems to be a natural teacher
at the core of me; I choose the difficult path up the mountain
rather than the flat road through the valley. I have irradicable
propensities toward independence, the expression of personal
sovereignty and the exercise of liberty. In other words, I'm
a free soul who hates paying attention to things I am not interested
in. Consequently, I have rarely been comfortable in the role
If you 'll click on the word "written"
you'll see some short pieces I've written
that have never been published anywhere else. These bits of fiction
and fancy and meditation might tell you more honest truth about
me than I could tell you if I tried.
I write how-to-vegie-garden books. My
best three are in print at this time: Growing Vegetables West
of the Cascades published by Sasquatch Press, Seattle, The
Intelligent Gardener: Growing Nutrient Dense Food and Gardening
When It Counts, both titles published by New Society, Gabriola
Is., B.C. Two older gardening-related books of mine are available
in this library..
In my late twenties I became a secondary
school teacher, this done out of a foolish notion that I could
inspire a love of knowledge in the young by getting them to "do"
history, which was something I had a passion for at that time.
I tried to teach history in much the same way I present this
website, by giving my students the original documents to read
and upon which to exercise their imagination. The method didn't
work very well then because the students were too young to really
appreciate history (a study that never should be undertaken
by someone under thirty years of age). I also failed because
secondary school students rarely study because of their own enthusiasm
and passion for knowledge. So I found teaching secondary school
history a very disappointing experience.
I gave up teaching after struggling with
it for a couple of years and stumbled into self-employmentand
learned how to do business by doing business. I discovered that
self-employment was much more satisfying than teaching school.
For, when Johnny the high school student did not want to study,
the teacher was supposed to fault themselves for being unable
to motivate Johnny. But when Johnny the employee did not work
responsibly or lacked the intelligence to learn the job, the
boss took a simple expedient, fired him and hired Freddy.
After seven years in the book trade
I no longer found the process of doing business interesting.
I had created much more income than I knew what to do with. I
owned a house on a half acre block with very good soil in the
San Fernando Valley. I had a big backyard holding a veggie garden,
chickens and two semi-feral cats. I had come to prefer the garden
to most of what Los Angeles had to offer. I had cash in the bank
and no debts whatsoever. So I sold the typesetting business and
homesteaded in Oregon where I wrote a garden book and started
a successful mail order vegetable seed business. After seven
years in the seed trade I sold Territorial Seed Company in 1985
and retired, age 44, financially independent in a modest way.
However, I still wanted to make a difference, make this planet
a better place to live. Thus has come about one of my better
quips: "Considering the alternatives, I prefer self-employment
to employment. After all, you usually make a lot more when you
work for yourself and always have much more independence. But
my real choice is comfortable and creative unemployment."
I've been writing a collection of sayings
and observations since the mid 1970s; it is called, naturally,
The Wisdom Of Solomon. Most
of these thoughts and sayings are my own creation; the minority
have been ruthlessly stolen. Despite all I've been through this
lifetime, my wisdom book is still only about four pages long.
I suspect The Wisdom of Solomon might lengthen to five pages
before this lifetime is over. Maybe six, if I live long enough.
But probably not six because as I age there seems to be less
and less really wise wisdom. Who knows, as I age the book might
start to shrink.
In 2013-14 I wrote the 7th edition (by far
the best edition ever) of Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades.
It will be issued about Christmas, 2015. That will almost certainly
be my last book about food growing in the Cascadia Bioregion
because the 7th edition won't need revising/updating for at least
another ten years but I turned 72 years old in 2014. Also, I
am fast losing touch with the current scene in the United States.
I now live in Tasmania, the smallest state in Australia. Tasmania
is so different than the Mainland that it seems to me and many
Taswegians that we live in our own nation. In 2002 I wrote and
self-published Growing Vegetables South of Australia. It
is like West of the Cascades turned upside down and inside
out. South of Australia has been quite successful when
measured on a Tasmanian scale; so far I have sold over 6,000
copies to a population slightly less than half a million people.
I devote an hour almost every day of the
year to growing a quarter-acre year-round food garden that provides
more than half the total food intake of two adult as well as
a substantial weekly food box for a few local families. This
garden work, plus almost daily yoga practice, keeps me fit.
Lately I have become more hermitish. I prefer
my garden to most people; I prefer the company of writers (through
reading their books) and of Annie to that of most other social
interactions. We are very active patrons of the State Library
of Tasmania. I wish I did not know what is going on in the worldI
mean the sort of stuff that is usually called "news"but
as remote as Tasmania is, to my sadness it is still part of the
Finally, if you wish to communicate
with me via email go to my contact
All the best to you,