Using your stored harvest

Wendy S. Delmater
By Wendy S. Delmater on Mon, Nov 3, 2014 - 3:03pm

It's that time of year again. The pantry is full for the winter, and it's time to start using up what you so carefully grew and/or preserved.  One last pass through the garden before the hard frost, if you've not had that already. and you're done for this growing season.

I don't know where you are on this continuum, but this is the usual progression.

  1. You've started a pantry. Nothing you grew is in it since you've not canned anything and do not own a canner, but you bought things like dry rice and beans, and tuna and peanut butter. You successfully try to grow lettuce and radishes, or tomatoes and basil,  and get sort of hooked on gardening. You also learn about grain moths and grain weevils. The hard way. You get better containers. You plant a fruit tree or two, even of they're in pots.
  2. You now are the proud owner of a water-bath canner. In your first season you make more jams and jellies than a human can reasonably eat. Most of them came out well, others will live on as syrups or hard candies. The garden has now expanded to twice its size. You try things like carrots and green beans and bell peppers. You're amazed at how much better they taste than store-bought veggies and as you get the hang of it you realize you are also saving money. Jams and jellies are now regularly given as Christmas and housewarming gifts. You start making pickles, too. You plant an herb garden and a nut tree, if there is room. You start composting.
  3. You now own a commercial dehydrator or have made a solar dehydrator. You probably start by making sun-dried tomatoes, or dried figs, or dehydrated blueberries; yes, some berry bushes would be nice. You discover that canning jars are great for storing dehydrated things. You are still canning, tomatoes especially, but jams and jellies, too (although in more reasonable quantities). You start freezing low-acid things that you cannot preserve in a water-bath canner. Your garden is even bigger. You start saving seeds. You make an herb-drying rack. You experiment with growing garlic, potatoes, and onions. Your fruit tree(s) start producing.
  4. You buy a pressure canner. Right about now, if you're a couponer, you realize that nothing in the store tempts you any longer. You are making your own fast foods: who needs Stouffers' frozen lasagna? Your garden takes up a good portion of the back yard. You start looking for ways to circumvent your homeowners' association (if you have one) and plant things in the front yard. You really begin to appreciate perennial anything. You plant asparagus and canes and vines. Your pantry, when viewed by friends and relatives, evokes jokes about you living through a zombie apocalypse. You shake your head at their obtuseness: don't they know how much food it takes to get through the winter? And how much better this stuff tastes? You experiment with growing your own mushrooms.
  5. You continue canning and dehydrating and freezing your crops. You notice a change in your health, and start buying organic things at the store. You get a grain grinder and start making some of your own breads, first soda breads, then yeast. You're eyeing beekeeping catalogs. And you're seriously considering getting chickens. Maybe even a goat...
  6. A smokehouse, fishpond, and a root cellar sound like really good ideas. You're studying permaculture. And you've never eaten this well in your life.

Let me know if I have left out any steps. And enjoy the fruits of your labors, wherever you are on this timeline.

5 Comments

robshepler's picture
robshepler
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 16 2010
Posts: 112
Sourdough? Are you there yet?

Wendy you made me giggle, great fun.

Sourdough? Are you there yet? Alaskan sourdough chocolate cake, sourdough cornbread, sourdough pancakes, waffles, bagels, pizza crust and then the breads, oh my. Kalamata olive, black bean chipotle, sourdough rye and more. www.sourdoughhome.com is a great site for new or advanced sourdough buffs. Just say no to store bought yeast!

Thetallestmanonearth's picture
Thetallestmanonearth
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 28 2013
Posts: 324
I packed most of this into

I packed most of this into one year, except I have to admit I'm still fully ignorant of canning and most of what we grew in the garden was eaten by slugs or the chickens before we got to it.  We got so many potatoes in our CSA that those we grew stayed in the ground, but never one to waste a resource our dog (Tugboat) discovered them and has been helping himself. Once we established they won't make him sick, we encouraged it by loosening the soil with a shovel to make them easier for him to dig. Our dog food costs are down significantly the last two months and he seems proud to have increased his level of self sufficiency. :)

Right now we are planning out small beds to experiment with tree propagation for things like chestnuts, walnuts and fruit trees.  If we end up with a surplus there is always a market for trees, especially we reason when hard times hit.

For now if we had to we could eek out a tough winter on stored rice and beans. We already have seed for staples for next spring and will be planning the veggie garden soon and ordering well in advance. Next year we will be better about preserving the harvest.  Hopefully in 5-10 years, the perennials we've planted will make up a significant part of our diet and we'll be in a position to share tree starts with neighbors should they ever see the value in them.

My livestock project this winter are rabbits with worm pits below their cages. I'd like to get them onto pasture if I can figure out how. Goats will be joining us in spring.

Wendy S. Delmater's picture
Wendy S. Delmater
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Dec 13 2009
Posts: 1988
sourdough in our future

I learned how to make breads, including sourdough--our plan is to make that on a regular basis if there is a crash--but there is a thrift bakery near my husband's job that has whole-grain bread for 79 cents a loaf, so we are using that for now.

We have everything we need to make our own breads, though - from pans and yeast to grain grinders and the location of the nearest grain elevator - we even learned how to wash raw grain of field dirt.

I still have some experiments I want to try, like making my own crackers and making sprouted breads, but there are only so many hours in a day. :-)

 

Wendy S. Delmater's picture
Wendy S. Delmater
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Dec 13 2009
Posts: 1988
a real-life example of rabbit farming

Two summers ago we visited a sustainable farm in Asheville, NC. Imladris Farm had a rabbit breeding operation that was pretty fascinating to tour.

The rabbit barn was open-air in all but the deepest winter, with cages suspended about 4-ft off the ground; the whole thing was on a slope. There was a misting set-up for when the weather got too hot - male rabbits go sterile at around 90 F and permanently sterile at about 97 F, so this was essential. All of the rabbits were in cages so that they were safe from predators and would not wander off.

Cage-free chickens had the run of the place, and scratched through the rabbit pellets for insects while adding their own manure, all of which rolled downhill into a compost pile. When the chickens stopped scratching in the compost pile (and therefore stopped adding their droppings) the compost was ready and pushed to one side to make room for a new batch.

They have a huge berrying operation and use the rabbit pellet compost on their raspberry, blueberry, and blackberry plants.

My takeaway, as far as rabbit farming, was that free-range is great for chickens but death for rabbits.

Oliveoilguy's picture
Oliveoilguy
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Jun 29 2012
Posts: 578
Sourdough Culture Named Giza
Wendy S. Delmater wrote:

I learned how to make breads, including sourdough--our plan is to make that on a regular basis if there is a crash--but there is a thrift bakery near my husband's job that has whole-grain bread for 79 cents a loaf, so we are using that for now.

We have everything we need to make our own breads, though - from pans and yeast to grain grinders and the location of the nearest grain elevator - we even learned how to wash raw grain of field dirt.

I still have some experiments I want to try, like making my own crackers and making sprouted breads, but there are only so many hours in a day. :-)

 

Some friends just gave us a start of "Giza" a sourdough culture from Egypt. Looks like a bit of work to feed and keep this culture, but we are giving it a try.

Egypt: The Giza culture:The bakery where this sourdough was found dated straight back to antiquity and was literally in the shadow of the pyramids. This culture could be the progeny of the one that made man's first bread and is similar to the one we used to recreate that first bread in Egypt for the National Geographic. The dough rises well and is moderately sour.

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