Thursday, February 18, 2010

Notes on preserved food

My tomatoes are gone. I made it seven months without having to buy tomato products. (That doesn't include fresh. I had to start buying fresh tomatoes in November.) Not one package of frozen tomatoes left in the freezer, none in the canned-goods cupboard (except for half a dozen jars of salsa.) I used the rest of the sauce and diced tomatoes in an enormous batch of chili the other night. I'm kind of sad.

On the one hand, I'm impressed that we managed to eat garden tomatoes half way through February. On the other hand, it's at least five more months until another garden-fresh tomato graces our table. I realize now that if I'm to provide all our of tomato products from the garden for a year, I'll need at least another dozen plants (I had twelve last year.) And I don't have one more inch of room, so I might have to give up on that notion... or dig up another section of the back yard.

All that's left from my preserving efforts last summer are four cups of pumpkin puree, a cup of grated zucchini, two meal's worth of pesto, two cups of chopped bell peppers, a pound of stored beets and a handful of pitted sweet cherries. I can see the shelves in my freezer, ever more as we work at eating up all those veggies and all of the meat from the elk.

This past summer's garden and preservation experiment has given me a clearer picture of what I'll need to do in order to really grow the bulk of our food. (i.e. a LOT more work. And space.) I imagine it would take a few years of growing and saving and lots of record keeping to really get a handle on the right amounts of everything. Not sure if I'll ever get that far or not, but it's nice to think about. :o)





8 comments:

Life said...

We went through our freezers-full (one full-size and one half-size) of squash, zucchini and pumpkin by the end of December. I'm thinking I'll do all of the squash in the puree form to fit more into the freezer next year. Our flour budget was half-price last year from using that squash in all our baked goods. I can't wait to get back on that path! We've been doing well w/ carrots and bananas from the grocery store, though. I freeze them, thaw them out and run them through the blender w/ the liquid for the bread. They're cheaper per pound than the flour, and everyone loves it :-)

Julie said...

'Life' - good for you guys! We do quick breads with zuke and pumpkin and banana for breakfasts and snacks. The girls love it. I make a lot of muffins too - they freeze nicely for hubby lunches.

Life said...

Thanks, Julie-- I'm impressed you put up enough out of that little bitty space to last you so long. One thought for you-- if you have a bit of space in the front yard, you could put a little mound of soil in the middle and plant a pumpkin or squash vine in that, and let it curl out from there. Have you read up on vertical gardening, or are you already doing it?

Julie said...

We do some vertical - I grow beans, peas, cukes, etc. on trellises along the back side of the garden. We did our pumpkins the way you mentioned, letting them trail out from where they were planted... and they killed the grass and were a big pain for Andy to mow around. I'm pretty sure he wouldn't be impressed with random mounds of squash to mow around in the front, and he likes for the grass to be neat and tidy all the time. :o)
I do plan to do luffa gourds in a barrel in the front, tied along the fence, and I might do peas in pots out front too and have them grow on the fence between us and our neighbors.
Anyway, yeah, I'm learning to implement every space saving technique possible, while still keeping the yard looking neat. That's why I spend so much time keeping records and planning - every square inch is used.
(All this garden-talk, and I just looked out the window and realized it's snowing... again.)

Life said...

My first garden was 120 sq ft
it was so poorly planned that I got almost no significant food-- a few cukes, baby carrots and more kholorabi than could possibly be enjoyed by a small army. I seriously respect the amount of produce you are getting off your plot. I only wonder what would happen if we combined your efficiency with my space-- WOW!
-- Stephen

Julie said...

LOL Stephen, if we combined your space and my planning, we'd have a road side produce stand and both our families would be well-fed, too. :-)

Just Me said...

Wow. It is amazing to me that you grew enough to last this long. But then again, I could kill fake flowers. I have the complete opposite of a green thumb.

Life said...

I wonder if that road-side produce stand might pay the bills... or the rent... or...? Can you draw me a floor-plan of Julie's Efficiency Model? I'm thinkin' modify w/ foods we're eating out here... I wonder what the price of kale, collards, chard, onions, garlic & squashes will be here this year, and whether there's a market for it close-by... I shouldn't tell you I've spent the last week in shorts during the day. Guess you guys will just have to move closer, huh? ;-)