20 Jul 2018

ursulas_alcove: 19th century engraving of a woman using a drop spindle (Default)
I see lots of people online with huge pantries full of canned goods. Very Pinterestable. They have gardens with lots of one type of plant, a whole bed of just cucumbers for pickling. Beautiful raised beds that their husbands have built. Another bed of just onions. All very pretty and flat! They plant traditional vegetables, mostly annuals. Their land has naturally-occurring topsoil too. Some people have vast quantities of land. Their kitchens are full of gadgets that peel or juice or whatever.

Backyard, view from the attic

I live in a different place. It's urban. My lot has less than 1400 sq ft of arable land. Most of it is vertical. It cannot be dug because of tree roots. There is no topsoil. It's all compacted clay. So when I see those pantries packed with canned goods, I need to remind myself that it wasn't necessarily one person all alone who did all the work. A whole family may have worked the land, harvested, and canned. That they had a budget and an irrigation system. They don't have to climb a hill with a bucket. They can use a rototiller to prepare soil. And they have more space to grow. But most importantly, I have food diversity which they don't have. My garden is based on perennials, some of which aren't old enough to produce yet. I need to remember not to compare myself to them.

So "putting something by" means you have enough abundance to eat both today and set some aside for winter. So for example, we feed three adults. We harvested four meals worth of purple beans. Two went into the freezer. Two were eaten right away. Four meals isn't much. We also harvest seed for next year. So not all my produce makes it into a meal. I do have four different kinds of beans planted. Some are drying beans. Some aren't ready yet. These beans are planted all over. Some are climbing the sunflowers, others a trellis, others are in my firepit and some are lining my driveway. All are very densely planted. That is still a lot of beans for the size of our yard. There are over 140 different kinds of plants growing here, not including the dyeplants and pollinator garden. That is a lot for the size of our yard.

Another one bites the dust . . .

The cupboard now has about four jars each of peaches, peach butter, rose petal preserves, and now raspberry jelly. We had to buy the peaches because our tree went down in a storm. Potentially, I could have goumi berries, honey berries, gooseberries, strawberries, aronia, elderberries, plums, asian pears, blueberries, ligonberries, blackberries, red currants and black currants. It will take a few more years for them to produce. What we got were mulberries, rose petals, black raspberries and red raspberries. A big difference between the number of items on the list.

Raspberry Jam

A lot of people are surprised to find my pantry is usually empty. I prefer fresh food as much as possible. I am hoping to find time to create a hoop house for year round growing which brings us back to budget constraints. My freezer is far from full. I am working on small loaves of spice breads for grab and go situations, events and road trips. So far, only three loaves. Rome wasn't built in a day. The current freezer inventory is rhubarb, baked beans, mulberries, a few black currants and a small bag of green beans. There are also frozen gallons of water in case of power outages or to put into travel coolers instead of buying ice. And Chronographia baked peach galettes. Once the budget constraints have passed, I hope to add more vegetables like spinach and corn, soups, and meat pies. Wishful thinking!

Organizing the Pantry

We are up to fifty pounds of food grown so far this year. That's five pounds ahead of last year. Fingers crossed that we can grow more than ever before!

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