Tuesday, May 27, 2008

7, 6...I planted a peach tree

The "butter jar" belongs to David and the compost container belongs to me. Not sure how that happened but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. (Some blessings wear alot of heavy makeup.) In the pile of decomposing leaves and food waste a peach pit opened and the seed inside sprouted. Three inches tall with baby leaves beginning to open, it now lives in my yard. My first Independence Days Update will begin with - I planted a peach tree.

Let's take stock of where I am.

1. Plant something: Up until this year I have grown only cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, and a few beets that I harvested as greens. This year we have planted potatoes, onion sets, beets, Brussels sprouts, rhubarb, asparagus, sunflowers and chives in the front yard. Six varieties of tomatoes, garlic, onions, sweet peas, leaf lettuce, radishes, carrots, cucumbers, zucchini, sweet peppers in the side yard. Black currants and red raspberries are out back. Parsley, basil (purple and Italian), cilantro, mint, chives and dill are inside growing hydroponically. Alfalfa and radish seeds are sprouting in jars for eating fresh. Next weekend we are starting a garden at my daughter's place in New Hampshire with sweet corn, winter squash, green beans, tomatoes, and flowers. Still to plant at home is bee balm. Hopefully it will attract pollinating insects - bees. I've seen a couple honey bee visitors but our resident bumble bee regularly cruises the property.

2. Harvest something: Only the herbs are ready to be harvested. I'm experimenting with drying them and just eating them fresh. A sandwich with basil instead of lettuce is quite tasty!

3. Preserve something: I found online information on the principles behind drying food and how to build a system that works called, A Review of Solar Food Drying. Back when I was taking a black and white photography class where we developed our own film, David took an unused dresser, removed the drawers, and built screen frames to slide in where the drawers used to go. We hope to adapt that set up for drying foods. I have about fifteen dozen quart-sized canning jars and the equipment for hot water bath canning. Other equipment includes a saucer for making apple sauce and an apple corer/peeler.

4. Prep Something: We have VERY much to do in this area. We have started purchasing some food to store - peanut butter, baking soda, powdered milk, white vinegar, sugar, wheat berries, unbleached flour, white rice, brown rice, and a variety of legumes. We have also purchased our first rain collection barrel and a small Berkey water filtration system. Our well water is very hard. The filtered rain water is wonderful for drinking. We are collecting an assortment of water storage containers and planning the expansion of our system.

5. Cook something: Years ago we purchased a Vita-mix system including the dry container for grinding grains. We have been baking our own whole wheat bread. There are small red beans soaking tonight.

6. Manage your reserves: So far everything is new. However, my freezer is full of wild blueberries which need to be canned and either stored or sold...speaking of blueberry muffins...ah, breakfast, my favorite...

7. Work on Local Food Systems: We are still investigating what is available locally. I began my tomato plant give away. So far eight plants have new homes. Plus this blog is new. Hopefully our experience will encourage someone else to begin a change where they are.

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