Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Update: Long Time no Blog!

Sorry I haven't posted in a while. I lost my dad to cancer in March, and I have been busy with the garden lately. I will try to start posting regularly again :)

The garden is coming along nicely. I have several potato plants in one end of the sheet-mulched bed I prepared last fall (remember the horse manure?) I started with a few store-bought potatoes that had grown 'eyes.' I also have 2 kinds of pumpkins. The small pumpkins were kind of an accident. You see, last October, my son went to the pumpkin patch with his class and brought home a small pumpkin. It sat on my porch as a decoration until about mid-December, when I finally put the whole thing in the worm farm. In February, I uncovered the worm farm to harvest a few of the bottom trays, and lo and behold, I had a bunch of pumpkin seedlings! The roots were entangled and growing right through the bottom of the tray, so I decided to just put the whole tray on top of the garden bed and see what would happen. I was afraid they would be too crowded to produce anything, but there are about 20 little pumpkins growing! I also planted 8 pumpkin seeds from the larger Jack-O-Lantern pumpkins we bought last October. So far there are 9 green pumpkins growing from those, and they are trying to take over the yard!

I have been harvesting broccoli a little at a time for a while now, I think we have had home-grown broccoli about 9 times. Some of it went to seed while I was out of town, and I plan to plant those seeds in the fall. My son, who has always loved broccoli, will not eat store bought anymore:) I have 4 heads of cabbage that are about ready to harvest, I'm thinking about making some sauerkraut. I also have a few green bean plants (need to start more), a few tomato plants that are just starting to flower, and some lettuce growing in the thyme (cat knocked the lettuce seedling tray into the herb pots lol). I planted cucumbers last week, and I hope to harvest enough to make pickles this year. It still feels like not much, since I read about all these other people who grow 80-90% of their family's produce, but I'm still in the learning phase.

The chickens have been put on hold, I'm trying to decide if I want to repair the fence and have just a few chickens in my own yard, or wait until the in-laws prepare a much larger coop with several dozen chickens. At this point it seems to make more sense to wait, since I plan on helping with the big coop, anyway. Same story with goats (and possibly a cow or two!). I have been thinking about rabbits-they produce a lot of healthy meat, as well as garden-ready fertilizer, but I have never tasted rabbit, and they are so cute and cuddly that I don't know if I could butcher them...

I picked up 3 half-flats of strawberries (local!) at the farmer's market Sunday, and I have since canned 15 pints of strawberry jam. I still have a half flat left. I'm thinking fruit leather and daquiris. My son helped me with the jam, and we did some math while waiting for the jam to boil. I asked him, if we eat a jar of jam a month on average, how many jars do we need to make it until next strawberry season (next March). He complained that the math was too easy, so I told him when we go to buy a cow, he can do the math for that lol. At any rate, since the first jar of jam was half gone within 2 days, I think we may need more than a jar a month! Plus, I've already given away 6 jars to friends and family.

I've been working on this food storage thing, a little at a time as I can afford it. I still don't have enough of everything to last 3 months, that will take a bit longer, but some of my stores are starting to look pretty good! Here is what I have so far (besides my normal pantry):

  • 60 liters of water
  • 15lbs of white rice
  • 10lbs of flour (white and multi-grain)
  • 10lbs of sugar
  • 5lbs dry milk powder
  • 2lbs of salt
  • 1 can pepper
  • 1lb of ground cinnamon
  • 24 cans of tomato sauce
  • 12 cans of diced tomatoes
  • 12 cans of diced tomatoes with garlic, basil, and oregano
  • 12 cans of green beans
  • 12 cans of tuna
  • 6 cans of cream of mushroom soup
  • 12 packs of ramen
  • 2 quarts of mayo
  • 1 bottle of mustard
  • 1 jar of pickles
  • 300 tea bags
  • 8 jars of homemade strawberry jam
  • 2 quarts of homemade vanilla extract
Here are a few things I would like to stock up on next:

  • Rolled oats
  • Vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Dry beans, assorted
  • Canned beans, assorted
  • Coffee
  • Peanut butter
  • Yeast
  • Canned chicken
  • Canned salmon and mackerel
  • Clarified butter (aka ghee)
  • Olive oil & other cooking oil
  • Cocoa powder
  • Canned pumpkin
  • Canned fruit
  • Honey
  • Alcohol
  • Pet food
Of course, I want to increase the quantities of what I already have as well. I also want to store non-food items, such as first aid supplies, candles, feminine hygiene products, toilet paper, soap, trash bags, and the ingredients for my homemade laundry soap (I have several bars of Zote, just need Borax and Washing Soda). This is by no means an exhaustive list :) More next week!