Independence Days Update: Focus on Managing Reserves

Sharon July 13th, 2008

Hi Everyone – this will be my last ID update until August – since I’m doing so much about food preservation, and trying only to write online four days a week, I feel like I have no time to write content posts about other stuff between this responsibility, the book club and all the material for the class, so I’m going to use Sundays to write Peak oil and Climate change content for a couple of weeks, and come back to it when I’m not writing so much about preserving anyway.  I’m thinking that I may go to once every other week or once a month anyway – not in practice, because I think the “do something everyday” thinking has been helpful, but I’m worried that more people seem to think that my lists are intimidating than they do helpful, so maybe I’ll back off a bit, and just keep reminding us.

 On to my subject of the week – Managing Your Reserves!  This is important stuff – you do all this work – you spend the money to buy the food, you do the work to preserve it, you put up, you put it away – and you do not want to lose it.  That means that your food needs your attention every so often – probably not super often – that’s the whole virtue of storing things, but often enough.  Root cellared things need to be checked and sorted out, and things that are starting to spoil removed and cooked or eaten.  Canned goods need their seals checked every so often and for you to keep an eye out for rust and other damage.  Dried things need to be kept away from light.  Old stuff needs to be eaten before the new stuff comes in (have I mentioned how labelling is helpful yet ;-) ?).  Some stuff will need to be composted or fed to an appropriate critter now and again. 

 Some people organize their reserves by spread sheet, some people with paper and pen – but you do need some system.  If you write down how many containers of frozen chicken stock you have, you won’t spend all afternoon taking the freezer apart looking for that one when you used the last one last week.  I’ll do a whole post on potential organizational systems, but the major issue is this – just as the gardener’s shadow is the best garden fertilizer, so too is the food preserver’s shadow the key to actually getting to eat and enjoy what you have.  So, yes I know it seems kind of pointless, but make the time to do inventory, check supplies, look in the buckets, sort out the rotten apple that really will spoil the whole barrel.

 Ok, onward and upwards.  My weekly accomplishments:

 1. Planted: Saskatoons, betony, st. johns wort, arugula, beets, carrots, turnips, bush beans, cabbage, yarrow, bok choy, marshmallow, edible chrysanthemum, basil.

2. Harvested: Cucumbers, zucchini, summer squash, cousa squash, beets, carrots, lettuce, parsley, cherries, raspberries, blueberries, basil, mint, onions, broccoli, green garlic.

3. Preserved: Rhubarb sauce, strawberry jam, strawberry sauce, herbs in salt

4. Stored: Picked up a big bag of nutritional yeast (good for grownups, good for critters) and packed it away, and some more tea (actually for my Mom, but she visits so often that I’ll keep some of it).  Added 10lbs more local honey to reserves.

5. Prepped: We finally cleaned out the haybarn that has been filled with the stuff from Eric’s grandparents that we had no idea what to do with for a couple of years.  Most of it will be given to our synagogue yard sale or thrown out (unfortunately, a lot of it isn’t give away-able – they brought *EVERYTHING* they owned – Eric’s grandmother was too overwhelmed by caring for his grandfather to sort things out), but we found some treasure (badminton and croquet sets, fishing equipment, a few additional garden tools – neat).  More importantly, we can now put umm…hay in there for the goats, which are coming just as soon as the fencing is up.  But the fencing couldn’t go up until we cleaned the barn because the posts are in there… So we’re getting there.

6. Managed reserves.  Cleaned food storage closet – partly.  Hope to finish tonight.  Inventory will begin soon - I shoulda done it in the spring, but was too busy with the book.  

7. Cooked something new – tried out a new whole wheat pizza crust – it was ok, but not as good as our fave.  

8. Reduced waste - the annual wave of fruit flies has made me religious about partially eaten fruit going to worms, chickens, sheep or compost pile. Not fast enough, unfortunately.  Cleaned out hay barn so that our neighbor with the horses can minimize her waste of hay – she was losing a lot to rain, and can now use our barn.  Anything rained on I get free for my garden, which is great.

9. Worked on local food systems: Gave a private tutorial to one of my food storage students so that she could take her lessons back to her community ;-). (ok, my college buddy Bess came for the weekend and in between gossip, I showed her how to water bath can rhubarb sauce – but it sounds better the other way).  Talked a bit about getting more local foods into my shul’s kosher catering program.

Ok, how about y’all?


30 Responses to “Independence Days Update: Focus on Managing Reserves”

  1. Sarah says:

    Planted: nothing this time

    Harvested: Stuff at the CSA, plus those purple beans in the yard are going in dinner tonight.

    Preserved: kimchi, herbs in salt, froze spare onions that were starting to go off

    Stored: Several boxes of orzo that were on sale

    Managed/Prepped: Found the book I’d been keeping track of things in, cleaned and rehung the whiteboard for keeping track of stuff in the fridge, contemplated dehydrator purchase

    Cooked: Made a tasty new bread variation, discovered that shredded raw beets make wonderful salad.

    Worked on local food systems: Found out about a new honey CSA

  2. AnnaMarie says:

    I think selling the house on Monday and moving the following Monday is going to be my independence for this week. Packing up an entire house in less than a week, we had five days, really doesn’t lead itself to much more than that.

    However, should we actually manage to buy a house this coming week and move in the following week then I can truly start my independence and have something to discuss.

  3. Becky says:

    1. Planted: Not much, just a few radish seeds in between.

    2. Harvested: Tried to leave the strawberry patch alone for a couple of days to have enough berries to put up. Well, somebody beat me to the berries. Not positive if 2 or 4 legged critters were in there. Can’t blame the deer this time. They usually eat lots of strawberry leaves as well. Ended up going to the local U-pick to harvest 20lbs of strawberries.

    3. Preserved: Strawberry jam and sauce. Got a couple of small turkeys. Canned one so far.

    4. Stored: Molasses, soy sauce, and salt. Got 15 gallon water drum from local brewery supply store. By the way, they also got good tasting malted grains. Did not like the price of Vodka I use to make coffee liqueur. Settled for the cheap stuff. I’ll know in two years, if there is much of a difference in the final product.

    Oh yes, I used 20% less energy compared to last year same time frame! There is hope.

  4. risa bear says:

    Plant Something: Last of the potatoes.

    Harvest Something: Cauliflower, peas, lettuce, spinach, beets, bok choi, mustard, onion greens, nasturtium, chives. Eggs. Some cabbage succumbed to aphids, which the chickens appreciated.

    Preserve Something: Peas, cauliflower.

    Store Something: Firewood, kindling, a lot of flattened cardboard cartons.

    Manage Reserves: Can’t manage home storage without a home, so: finally dealing with a decade of deferred maintenance. Painted the north side of the house and am pulling defunct gutters off in preparation for re-roofing. Also wrote a check for $250 to go toward principal on the last $6,500 of our one remaining debt. What with what happened to IndyMac, it seemed the right thing to do with what little discretionary money we have.

    Also under managing reserves: We don’t air condition and the 95 degree days are a danger; we’re not young any more. So we are managing our reserves of strength by taking siestas. If you’re house painting and go indoors to lie down and cool off and feel the least bit sleepy, SLEEP. Give it ten to twenty minutes. You’ll rise up ready to tackle whatever, and as the light lasts so much longer in the summer (especially north of, say, 40 degrees latitude, or south of same, in that other hemisphere) you’re good until 9:30 or 10 p.m. But without the nap you could become a danger to yourself as the evening wears on. See under Learned a Skill, below.

    Prepped: set up one of next year’s new “raised” beds — this one was the vinca border along the north side of the house, under the kitchen window, then on the east side around the corner to the “patio.” There’s a concrete walkway along the entire length of the bed, making it ideal for inclement-weather harvesting. A couple of months ago I mowed the vinca, an invasive species (and mulched fruit trees with the clippings), then smothered the bed with black plastic until we could scrape up enough cardboard. Yesterday, we moved the potted tomatoes and potatoes, pulled off the plastic, flattened all the boxes and spread them over the bed, then distributed a bale of straw over the whole thing. This bed will be watered from time to time to encourage earthworms to move in and convert the vinca roots and cardboard into castings, and then it should be ready for use as a spring garden. Size: 4X60 feet.

    Cooked Something New: have taken to cutting up bread (home baked buckwheat/rye/oats/wholewheat) as it gets a little toward — well — stale — and layering it underneath the stir fried greens and hard-boiled duck eggs.

    Way better than it sounds.


    Worked on Local Food Systems: Selling eggs regularly. Have taken to keeping the little rice steamer handy and whenever I come in for a glass of tea or water (it’s been 95, four of the last six days!) I bring in some greens or peas, blanch them in the steam, rinse, drain, and bag up in a labeled quart freezer bag and freeze, before going back to my house painting. The whole chore takes about ten minutes, combined with the tea break.

    Reduced Waste: More grey water to fruit trees. Mixed two gallons of hideous pale green and pale blue paint left over from a color scheme at my mom’s place. This resulted in a pleasant enough sort of dark olive green that I’m painting the foundation of the our house with it, to hide the robin-egg-blue that the previous homeowner had sprayed all over it. I could never live in a robin-egg-blue house. Umm, okay, so if it was the last house in the world, sure. A cave might be nice, in that case. I have never spray painted. A roller and a brush are good enough.

    Rode the bus to work all week. Along with dozens of people I’ve never see riding.

    Learned a Skill: How to use a combination folding-extension ladder. These things can be used as fruit picking and pruning ladders and also straightened out to seventeen feet for roofing and gutter work. But it took a little puzzling out, the first time.

    And: How NOT to use a bench vise and pipe wrench. I put too much body english into trying to salvage a galvanized 1/2″ elbow that had fused onto a pipe, fell backwards over a little red wagon full of geegaws, and punctured my fanny with a wicked-looking 7″ gutter nail. Not much of it got into my backside, but my pride was rather wounded.


  5. Carol says:

    Banner weekend

    - canned 5 pints of my first 4 week old batch of sauerkraut (husband is delighted)
    - starting a second batch of sauerkraut in the crock, with two new heads
    - canned 7 pints of salsa
    - canned 3 quarts peaches in their own juice
    - canned 7 pints peach jam
    - starting dry beans for ham and bean soup to can today
    - made batch of pesto
    - canned 5 pints bread and butter pickles, turned out too soft, think I cooked them too long
    - attempted to dry apricots on cheesecloth on very hot day (not very sucessfull)
    - canned ham and bean and pasta soup as a ready-made future meal


    Moldy and sometimes aphid? infested squash blossoms. Pulled up infected plants (all my squash, it seems, left a couple just for hope’s sake). From the reading I could do, think it’s blossom rot? Flowers just fall off with no fruit. Advice welcome. The good news: this made way for a fall garden, purchased seed for fall kale, lettuce, broccoli, cucumbers

    Managed reserves
    Putting on my canned stuff on new shelving, put up after we cleared out basement to create food storage space. Also fielded a call from a friend who knows we’re looking to heat with wood this winter – she has two good trees down and dry and says we can have the wood if we’ll cut them up and take them out.

    Put in a call to a local landscape/plantscape person to advise us on how best to use the land we’ve got, with a focus on manageable production garden/small farming – expandable to production/subsistence farming if/when necessary

    Built a recycling bin system (all our recycling needs to be driven, by us, to local solid waste authority 6 miles by truck), now waterproof and orderly!

    Started a sort of log book for class comments, recipes, thoughts, sketches for production garden.

    That’s it for this week.

  6. Karin says:

    We were away last week so this is a two week update. I understand the need to mange your reserves Sharon. But I think I will have to find another way to record my IdC because it keeps me focused and honest to log in my accomplishments for the week. Meanwhile, I will enjoy and learn from your food storage lessons.

    Planted: before we left for vacation I planted citronella, catnip. Planted garlic scape seed. I was amazed at the growth that one garden can go through. Apparently, it got hot here while we were gone. The amaranth that was maybe one inch tall when we left was a foot tall upon our return. The tomatoes have fruit. And the corn was TALL. This is my first year of growing corn so I am boasting!

    Preserved: dried wild strawberries, broccoli leaves, scallions, oregano,mint,lemon balm, catnip, kale, calendula leaf, cilantro and dill. Canned more rhubarb chutney. froze garlic scape pesto. I didn’t make strawberry jam this year because we still have some left over from last year. We enjoy blueberry jam much more, so will make a big batch of that this year instead. One quart of blueberries to the freezer

    Harvested: wild strawberries, low bush blueberries at the vacation spot, calendula, oregano, basil, beet greens, turnip greens,garlic scapes,beet greens, broccoli, kale, basil, dill, cilantro.

    Managed reserves: did a monthly inventory of the pantry and made a list of what I would like to order bulk by the end of the summer. Weeded the vigorous weeds that grew while we were on vacation. Bottled dandelion wine.

    Prepped: Father-in-law gave us 4 boxes of canning jars. Found some cheap underwear for the wee one. Found some canning jars at the good will. Also found several yards of flannel for making pajama bottoms at the good will. so now I just have to get to it. no excuses! Hubby hooked up new gutter along the south side of the house and connected it to a new water tank. So now we can catch 300 gallons of rain water. Now it just needs to rain.

    Local food: There is a guy around the corner from us that sharpens our chain saw. He said, ” I see you have a nice big garden, just give me some fresh vegetables for sharpening the saw.” I love bartering! We picked up ten chicks. We wanted a rooster and we need to replace some of our laying hens and we want to put some birds in the freezer for the winter.

    Cook something new: Our vacation was heavy on the many-miles-meat. Hubby’s family has an island in the Thousand Islands and every meal had meat. So upon our return we’ve been heavily veggie oriented. Tonight we had a stir fry of beet greens, turnip greens, garlic scapes, scallions, broccoli and basil over some local barley.

    reduced waste: We were the last ones on the island so we had to clean out the refridgerator. Managed to use some of the left overs for our lunch on the 10 hour car ride home. The rest that was borderline ick went to the pig when we got home.

    learned something new: how to care for chicks that are just a week old.

    My personal goal: make something with my hands, almost finish with wee ones winter sweater, made hat for the new niece/nephew that is due soon.

  7. I was absolutely sure I was throwing in the towel and declaring the garden a complete and utter failure on Friday morning, but on Friday afternoon, when I returned from work, I noticed that the cucumber, broccoli, and beets I replanted last weekend had sprouted and that they already looked substantially better than the ones I had pulled out. Still, I’ve been so focused on the garden’s complete refusal to grow for the last 7 weeks that I believe I have worn out my ability to care. I’m now in “it’ll do whatever it’s going to do…I refuse to worry about it anymore” mode.

    Good thing we have many fabulous farmers’ markets here.

  8. sueinithaca says:

    Let’s see

    Planted: nope. Still have a 4-pack of organic bell peppers that would probably really appreciate larger quarters.

    Harvested: currants, black caps, potatoes, the first of the cherry tomatoes, cucumbers and eggs (at friend’s farm. went for sale)

    Preserved: currant jelly, cherry jam, dried cherries, frozen cherries. Did I mention cherries?

    Prepped: rustled up some cheap(er) canning jars for the onslaught of berries that is coming this week

    Local Food systems: Still organizing fruit CSA. Am heading to buy 100 lbs of blackcurrants, 50 pints raspberries, and however many sour cherries I can afford for the CSA members this week. Was interviewed for an article on raw milk (for the local paper).

    Managed reserves: policed husband so he wouldn’t put away jars of jam unlabeled. Succeeded.

  9. Verde says:

    My update was on my Friday Blog:

    I have to say that this managing reserves really hits home for me. Our freezer in the garage had interrupted power and when we went to take out a home made turkey pot pie, it was moldy. This week I have to get out all the bad or questionable food and throw it away – home made soups, pot roast stew…. It saddens me and so learn this cautionary tale and keep track!

  10. Traci says:

    I am so grateful for this forum for inspiring me to accomplish more. It seems like the more I do, the more I can do. So thank you Sharon and everyone who posts. I will miss the weekly postings. Hopefully, I am in a groove now…

    Planted: cucumbers, melon, beets, carrots, and broccoli

    Harvest: peas, lettuce, basil, thyme, oregano, comfrey, eggs and blueberries & rasp from local farmer

    Prepped: My husband and boys are working REALLY hard building a new barn for milking using mostly recycled materials. Also rearranging old barn & garage.
    I side dressed part of the garden with kelp (still have more) and mulched much of it with straw from cleaning out the barn.
    I am still trying to figure out the best way to sprout the local barley I got for the chickens. They refuse to eat it otherwise.

    Managed: I am still hand raising 14 Barred Rock chicks (I add this because it is consuming a lot of my energy, moving them in and out twice a day etc..)
    I spent some time taking stock of my freezer in prep of incoming grass fed beef.

    Preserved: I dried blueberries and raspberries for the first time and boy does it take a long time! I got 3 quarts out of a bunch of berries- hmmm. I froze several quarts of each. I canned 10 pints of raspberry jam. Herbs in salt (thanks Sharon!). Dried comfrey. Planning to make beef jerky this week.

    Stored: local vodka for making tinctures, local brandy for preserving fruit.

    Reduced waste: I cut back on driving and helped my son navigate public transport for the first time. I returned all the berry cartons to farmer. I am staying on top of line drying my clothes- yay!

    Local: berries and raw milk from local farms


  11. Rosa says:

    Sharon, have you posted the rhubarb sauce recipe? I bought rhubarb on a whim today (our rhubarb died, I suspect of leaking motor oil from next door but possibly of neglect).

    You’re going to laugh, but I just finally planted out four tomato plants. We will see if anything comes of that. They are in the flower bed – I never did get the self-watering containers made for them.

    We’re harvesting raspberries by the mouthful, but I actually juiced some mulberries. I’ll make mulberry jam or fruit leather this winter when my kitchen needs the heat.

    Stored – the usual, hit Aldi on the way back from the farmer’s market & got a few extra cans of salmon & condensed milk. Oh, and when we went to Costco for diapers I picked up another giganto can of chickpeas. We have dry too, but the cans are actually cheaper than dried and we’ve been making our own hummus again.

    Local: this is the good time for the farmer’s market. Eggs, milk, beets, basil, zucchini…I don’t remember what-all. Filled the bottom of my stroller completely full & hauled it home two miles.

  12. Kati says:

    I didn’t do much last week or this as I’ve been on vacation (out of state) most of the last 2 weeks, and therefore not HOME to do much. This is 2 weeks worth of update.

    Planted: another half-row of Spinach for a late-summer crop (hopefully) and the same of Swiss Chard.

    Harvested: Swiss Chard, a couple of stalks of Rhubarb, beet greens (thinning the beets), Spinach. While on vacation we took my daughter and my niece to a U-Pick strawberry farm and gathered a flat of strawberries for yummy eatting. Might not have been locally to ME, but it was locally for somebody. And it was supporting SOMEBODY’s local food systems by harvesting.

    Tended: weeded, watered, thinned, staked

    Preserved: 2 pint-sized baggies of Spinach. Just about the sum-total of our 10-foot half-row of spinach. We’ve decided it’s NOT worth it to continue to attempt to grow spinach for freezing, in future plantings. 2 or 3 plants (with successive plantings of 2 or 3 more plants, for a “steady” supply of “salad” spinach) of spinach will be enough from now on. When 1 10-foot row only gives 2 baggies of freezable spinach….. The time and ground-space is wasted. Also chopped up the rhubarb and added it to a pint-sized baggie I started a couple of weeks ago.

    Make Preparations: Nope.

    Cook something from scratch: Beet greens. Swiss Chard with hot-bacon dressing.

    Managed reserves: usual stocking back up on canned goods used in the previous week, and rotating of supplies. I also bought a couple of jars of locally made jam, while on vacation that have been placed into rotation of yummy jams for eatting. Not locally made in MY area, but locally made in the Spokane area while I was vacationing there. (I don’t suppose that this will also qualify as supporting local food systems, will it?!?!)

    Work on/Toward Local Food Systems: Not in MY area. But I did in another state! *grin* I DID however work toward gaining a job in my little town, instead of the next town over. Not food-related, but life-related.

    Composted/Reduced Waste: Just the usual composting tasks, need to shred more newspaper for adding to my compost bin, though.

    Learn a new skill: does it count that I’m learning how to take care of a new tattoo, and I learnt a bit about navigating air-ports?!?! *grin* I don’t suppose it does. I haven’t learned anything new as to skills for the “post-peak-oil” world. I DID however find a box of discarded spinning and weaving magazines (and a couple of books) this past week at the local library, after returning from vacation.

  13. robj98168 says:

    Sharon’s Independance Day’s Challenge:
    Plant something: Planted Elderberry bush I got at Lowesfor $1.49!; planted wedding seeds I got from cousins daughter’s wedding- The table assignments were on packets of seeds

    Prep something: Ordered jar lid sealers for my FoodSaver system after reading chile’s post on them… I had forgotten that I could do that with my Food Saver!

    Store something:Ground and froze zuchinni for bread
    Harvest something:Hmmm… used radish greens and chard greens (thinning) picked some dandelion greens and added them to a salad, picked some Oregon Grapes I found growing at a gas station and put those into the salad

    Manage something: Got Yard and food waste bin added to my garbage service!
    Cook something new: Made an Low Sugar Apple crisp- was delicous, made a couple of loaves of zucchinni bread

    Work on Local Food Systems: Bought some zucchinni at the farmers market

    Compost something, Reuse. reduce, recycle: Got Yard and food waste bin added to my garbage service! Took old non working Laptop to REPC for recycling.

    Learn a skill:Nothing

  14. Chile says:

    I have been very remiss in reporting in on the challenge due to being discouraged with our garden, unwilling to can in 105 heat, and so much other stuff going on. So, this won’t be just last week, but what I can remember from the past few.

    Planted – tomatoes

    Harvested – couple tomatoes that look like cherry tomatoes – should have been full size. Our soil sucks and the heat/wind battered the garden badly. Our squash plants are huge but only putting on male flowers. One tiny watermelon on the vine promises future tasty goodness.

    Preserved – fresh refrigerator pickles, cucumber kimchi, ginger liqueur.

    Stored – ordered variety of dehydrated foods during sales at Harmony House. Picked up a food vacuum to repackage these for longer term storage.

    Prepped – mostly financial: pushing roofers to get the job done on replacing roof on house for sale, pushing relator to sell it so we can move somewhere more sustainable than a desert city of 1 million people.

    Managed reserves – organized food storage. Inventory complete but additions to spreadsheet still need to be printed (new page added for new dehydrated food section). Working to use up older products in the kitchen.

    Cooked something new – fresh Japanese pickles from “The Joy of Pickles”. I highly recommend the book. Have enjoyed everything I’ve made from it.

    Reduced waste – composting continues. Using up every last bit of food in meals continues. Am not, however composting the prickly pear cactus that fell over in the yard from excessive rain. To be usable, it would take a minimum of a year and I don’t want to be in this rental house that long. The city’s brush pick-up will put it to use mulching the sides of the landfill so that’s a little better than being entombed in the landfill itself.

    Worked on local food systems – sharing these concepts with folks at CSA and unemployed friend. Currently writing a series on food security on my blog, starting with outside community-level resources such as food banks and soup kitchens. The next posts will start moving to individual action. To make it easier, I’ll probably just link to your blog here. Why rewrite all the great stuff you’ve done on food independence?!

  15. Sharon says:

    Rhubarb sauce is crazy easy – chop up the rhubarb into 1 inch pieces (or whatever you like – it kinda dissolves a bit anyway), add a little water (about an inch in the pot) if you like it thick or more if you like it thinner, cook on medium heat until tender (if you don’t pay attention it will really dissolve – which is also good, just texturally different). Add sugar, honey or maple syrup to taste. We sometimes add a little bit of almond extract, since the flavors harmonize nicely.


  16. MEA says:

    Planted — nothing

    Learned — not to pull out weeds wheren wearing sandals lest I fall backwards, over the turning fork, shattering a toe nail. Not as bad as getting a nail in the backside, but I reminder, proper shoes for the job!

    Managed resources, cashed in daughters’ college saving plan (which at this point might in 8 years have brought a terms worth of books) to get a proper fence built, after my jury rigged one failed to keep out deer and groundhogs for the 2nd time in a row, (tree branch crushed a courner, on one noticed for the next week) resulting in a massive feast for the pests, and an almost total garden loss for me. Nothing left but spuds, a few onions, and one cataloupe. (And the soft fruit.) (Some of the money also going on another eval for dd the younger.)

    Tried new food — does a olive garlic humus from the vegan place at the Farmer’s Market count?


  17. MEA says:

    Almost forgot,

    Perserved — as I pulled out escaped mint from the drive, I hung it up on the clothes line to dry.

  18. MEA says:

    And, just to hog all the space here, it was only a day before anyone noticed what was happened to the garden, but by then it was too late.

    There is a huge colony of ground hogs under the shed in the yard of the abandoned firehouse next to me, and about 1/8th of a mile away, a patch of woods, where the township helpfull backhoes out the undergrowth a coupe of time a summer, meaning it’s pefect for a huge herd of deer.


  19. Gina says:

    I, too, understand the need to focus, but I also love coming here each week and reading everyone’s accomplishments! I have gleaned so many ideas from other’s lists. Maybe you could still just put up a random post like “How are you doing on your IDC?” so everyone can still brag about their accomplishments. Or maybe you could start a forum on yahoo like the food preservation one (which I also love) so that it is not clogging up your site. Anyway, will look forward to them no matter what. I don’t feel overwhelmed by those who are able to do much more, I feel similar to Karin in that it makes me personally accountable for my own endeavors. Just some thoughts, of course!!

    Here is my week 11:

    Planted: Not much planting going on this week. I think I may have forgotten to mention pumpkin on week 9. And I planted cilantro.

    Harvested: Onions, red potatoes, green beans, nasturtium, elder flowers, bee balm, lettuce, raspberries, gooseberries, yarrow, lamb’s quarter, garlic, eggs, hay (77 bales from our field’s first cutting!!)

    Preserved: 9 quarts of green beans, 2 half-pints of gooseberry jam, froze raspberries and dried yarrow, elderflower, bee balm and lamb’s quarter. Made and froze soup. Also, dried some of last week’s tart cherries (yum!) Froze a few ears of first sweet corn (bought at farmer’s market), started cabbage fermenting in crocks.

    Stored: water

    Managed: Made soup from last week’s lamb chops that Sr made. Picked up Ryan the bull (and Baby the older cow was bred in exactly two minutes (obviously she was in heat!), working on debt reduction and decluttering, created new file system (I have trouble in the paperwork organization dept., trying hard to remedy this), used my lunch break to walk several miles 3/5 days last week (my road to getting back to the health shape I was in before my last son).

    Prepped: Stored two sun tea jars that I found on clearance (to use with Kombucha and for regular tea) and a package of plain flour sack towels (I use them for everything paper towels would normally be used for). Not much else I can think of off-hand.

    Cooked: Canned green beans for the first time (my MIL has always done it for us in the past).

    Learned: How to care for & handle a bull

    Reduced Waste: The usual animal/compost feed, saving beer and wine bottles for future brewing experiments, recycled a bunch of old paperwork I have been hoarding.

    Connected Locally: Gave away a kombucha SCOBY to co-worker. Finally met two new local great connections: Hay farmer and Bull owner! I am shocked at how little they charged us. The bales of hay came to barely a bit over a dollar and the bull is ours for two months for $100!

  20. Shira says:

    Gina is right on, I just love reading about what people are doing. It’s inspiring, it’s always full of cool ideas, and sometimes, it’s an opportunity to contribute moral support.

    Susan in Seattle, hang in there, plant the fall/winter/early spring garden, all will be well and you will eat out of it until March. While you are at the farmer’s market, check for walla walla onion, leeks, cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower starts and plant some replacements. The fall lettuce and spinach goes in in August. Just keep your winter garden watered through the hot months and by September, you can feel virtuous as you harvest green stuff. Gardening is often rough at the beginning: the soil fungi haven’t built up enough to break down the nutrients. Mighty Myco from Seeds of Change helps a lot to build fungi. Binda Colebrook wrote the definitive book on winter gardening in Seattle, if you haven’t seen it yet.

    Finally last week I froze the 15 pounds of snow and snap peas piled up in my fridge. The warm weather has done for the peas and they are ready to come out and be replaced by the winter garden.

    Got a chance to admire Megan’s garden (very nice indeed.) Scored six dozen canning jars way out of town in berry country and on the way back, stopped at a farm stand for things I don’t grow (strawberries, melon, big fat spuds) and a dairy for cheese. We are slowly gaining momentum with local dairies, late bloomers since Whatcom County is about the 13th largest dairy county in the U.S. Most of the milk goes to the Darigold powdered milk plant and gets shipped all over the country.

    Harvested and ate stuff out my little garden every day: herbs, salad stuff, green fava beans, random volunteer spuds, broccoli flowers, radishes. Got a box of local mushrooms and am drying them in relays.

    Deb G wrote me that she was pleased to see my garden math last week. There was a sobering story in the paper recently about a self-employed graphic designer with two little boys who is regularly dependent on the food bank when her clients don’t pay on time. Been there, done that non-paying client situation. A little garden makes all the difference. I regularly give food to the food bank and others. So I have concluded that my pocket garden is not a hobby, it’s part of my business plan.

    Shira in Bellingham, WA

  21. Susan in NJ says:

    Sharon, alhtough I fully understand your need to take control of your time and the focus of your blog, I will miss your weekly updates and the updates of those who comment here. I always get a lot of good ideas and inspiration. I hope the folks who update on the foodstorage site will continue to do so as I agree with it being a good discipline.
    Planted: potted on some more thai basil starts, a shiso start (perilla britonnia) , sweet basil starts grown from seed, and some wave
    petunias bought on a distress rack; radishes to cover in second tomato bed
    Harvested: thai basil, cilantro, thyme, tarragon, sage, chives, parsley, shiso, the first early girl tomatoes (5 small over the week), cubanelle pepper (1), green beans (3, oh well), a few stray red lettuce leaves, mesculun lettuce mix

    Shiso is a wonderful plant — also called beefsteak plant because that’s what it sort of tastes like, it puts the ume flavor and red color in ume plums and has many uses in Japanese culture. We love this fresh leaf, it’s hard to get even in asian stores and comparatively expensive
    since you only get about 6 leaves in a package. We actually found a start looking very healthy in the otherwise very distressed looking
    herb section of our local nursery and are really excited about it. It’s a petrilla britonia, which is the vietnamese variety, one green side to the leaf, one red side. There are four general kinds — green leaf Japanese, red leaf Japanese, green/red Vietnamese, and green leaf

    Preserved: hung sage to dry

    Stored: some safflower oil and organic ghee because the healthfood store was discounting, 3-6 months worth of dried cherries, cranberries
    and raisins

    Managed: still working on using up frozen food because of the smaller freezer on the new fridge; my partner’s still working on organizing the basement. Weeded the melon patch and both tomato beds.

    Prepped: Went to a local art/craft fair and talked to some local people who recycle food grade drums into rain barrels, came home and
    discussed where we could put such a thing with partner, decided it’s probably not mutually feasible at this time until we gutter the
    garage/out building as otherwise it could only go near the front door which my partner doesn’t like. Still pondering where to order bulk
    oatmeal — in the last three months oatmeal has gone from 0.99/lb to $1.25+/lb at all my store type options and I’m having trouble finding
    (or having the right person return my calls) any local storefront that will order it for me in bulk; I’m about resigned to order for UPS
    delivery, won’t save me anything but I’ll have a supply. Picked up another gardening book at a used bookstore

    Cook something new: don’t think so but we had a really lovely garden herb salad.

    Waste: this week we were still working through fridge spoilage issues. Even though we really try to avoid plastic shopping bags they have over the last year somehow multiplied beyond usefulness (in part I’m sure because we used them as packing when we moved and as we
    unpack they reappear and also because the car has been going almost weekly to the dealer for hybrid battery issues and sometimes we forget
    to take out the bags), so I sorted out the recyclable ones and put them aside to take to the store next time we go. I’m trying to reduce
    using Kleenex and switch to hankies as part of Chile’s current challenge.

    Local Food: Shopped the farmer’s market and our local health food store with a stop on an errand run to buy more loss leader local
    blueberries at a supermarket (and discounted ice cream, my partner still insists this is necessary to test freezer, haha)

    New skill/learn something: researched shiso

    Susan in NJ

  22. Kim says:

    Planted: winter squash

    Harvested: dewberry, blackberry, raspberry, currants, lettuce, arugula, green beans, rio zappe beans, basil, parsley, kale, broccoli, radish

    Preserved: basil, parsley, berries

    Prepped: finished emergency checklists, finished medicine kit

    Managed: We kept up with all the work. Coop order turned in.

    Local: None this week.

  23. Nettle says:

    We’ve had a warm, rainy July so far, and the garden is becoming a jungle. The tomatoes are prospering beyond all reason and we’re just getting the first cherry tomatoes, the pattypan and zucchinis are taking over their area and encroaching on the other beds, and the scarlet runner beans are over the second floor and growing like something from a Japanese anime. I now understand the story of “Jack and the Beanstalk” better than ever before. Peppers are looking bushy and happy – we’ve gotten a few yellow banana peppers already, and the serranos and jalapenos are covered in little green baby peppers. The bell pepper is flowering but no little bells yet. Dill, fennel and basil are huge and I’m now at the point where I can include something homegrown in every meal, though often it’s just basil or thyme. I’m drying the basil as fast as I can.

    We harvested and ate all the beet greens last week. There were maybe three stunted beets on about 20 beets planted, but lots of greens. Roots veggies so far have been a total failure, though the beet greens were tasty. I moved the parsley, which isn’t doing well, over to the newly vacated beet patch, and hope it will do better now. I pulled up all the failing carrots and moved one of the basils over to the carrot container (it was crowding its neighbor.) My cilantro got overwhelmed by tomatoes and I think it’s done for the year, though I managed to get plenty frozen. Onions are growing but they might go the way of the beets. My cabbage was destroyed by slugs, so I’ve started some anew in a container. Green beans aren’t growing as fast as the scarlet runners, but they are growing. The Ichiban eggplant is slowly dying and I don’t know why. It’s got a tasty-looking six-inch eggplant on it, but I’m wondering if that’s all I will get. It got hit hard by flea beetles early on, and I’m thinking that might be why. The other eggplant (round Italian-type) is doing better and will give us its first fruit sometime later this week. We’re eating the chard, and it’s good, but I don’t think I’ll do chard again next year – we need more than one plant to get enough to have a reasonable amount of food for two people, and something else could use that space better (did I mention that all of this is in about 50 square feet of space?) Potatoes look great on the surface, though I’m concerned after my beet, radish and carrot failures. They got all wilty last month, and I thought I would lose them, but they’ve rallied and are now all bushy and dark green. I might get brave and root around for new potatoes this week.

    We’re doing ongoing harvests and drying of basil, thyme, comfrey, and dill. Veggies are being eaten as they come in – later, when the tomatoes and squash start to really roll in (here’s hoping), we will have to think of freezing and canning, but for now, everything is eaten right away.
    I set up a space in the basement to be a “root cellar” – right now there are only a few pounds of storebought tomatoes and some canned goods down there, but if the potatoes come in well that will be added on to. Our CSA is suddenly giving us huge amounts of summer squash, which makes me a little afraid for the future considering how healthy my garden squashes look right now, so I’m looking into ways of preserving it besides freezing. We really like summer squash, so for now it’s all being eaten. We’ll see if we still really like it at this time next month.
    I investigated pressure canners and found the one that I want – my plan is to spend part of the Magic Government Check that’s supposed to come soon to buy one.

  24. Karin says:

    Nettle, how about drying your zucchini? I planted extra Zukes this year for that very purpose. I’m thinking the kids will think they are chips and I can throw them in a soup. I’ve shredded and frozen zuke before and it is okay but flavorless and a chore to prepare by hand.

  25. abbie says:

    OK- my first week officially participating: I planted some lettuce seeds, another row of carrots, some more peas and some more green beans.
    Harvest: Basil, the last of the peas, the first of the green beans.
    Preserved: I made and froze pesto with the basil and garlic from family’s garden. I also blanched and froze 1 bag of peas and 2 bags of green beans.
    Prep: I pulled out the bolted lettuce and the dying pea plants, weeded and got the ground ready to plant seeds.
    Store: just the stuff in the freezer…
    Cook: green beans (new recipe)
    Manage: I cleaned all of the clutter out of the pantry.
    Reduce waste: I tossed all of the bolted lettuce, ends of the beans, shells of the peas, and corn husks in the woods for the animals. Does that count?
    Work on local food systems: Got native corn from my family’s farm. Got onions and garlic from family’s garden. Focusing on “Corn Week” this week on my blog.
    I guess I did pretty well. Hope I can keep up with at least one thing from each category each week.

  26. feonixrift says:

    I did some garden planning, at least. =)

  27. NM says:

    calendula, chives, garlic chives, zuchinni, acorn squash. So far, nothing has come up, including the earlier-planted carrots and bush beans. We had a heat wave, and I suspect nothing is going to come up. So I guess I’ll be replanting.
    Harvested: raspberries (and, forgot to say last week, wheat! At least I think it’s wheat. It came up in my garden near the bird feeder, and it looks like wheat … Of course, I’ve no idea in the world what Kind of wheat…. So it’s drying in the sun now. Total amount may be as much as an entire cup of grain. Maybe a cup and a half. And I do have a grain mill, so there I go; my grain harvest is in! : })
    Also 20 pounds pie cherries. The farm I go to pick them had a small crop this year, and sold out the first day the u-pick opened. Yikes. I’ve definitely got to replace my poor deceased tart cherry tree.
    Preserved: 6 or 7 jars tart cherry jam; 7 pints tart cherries canned in 20 percent syrup; 6 pints frozen tart cherries. And baked a cherry pie, while singing, “Can she bake a cherry pie?” I need to get out more.
    Learned new skill; how to post on a blog (Ok, so not exactly survival-related, but does now allow me to update the blog for our Slow Food group, which is working to increase awareness of and access to local food). Held a Slow Food meeting, and talked with a new member who is starting a new business; a website that will list all of the county’s local food resources, for free, but is hoping businesses will pay for advertising and “enhanced” listings. Very exciting; right now, figuring out local u-picks and who has what, when, is an exercise in frustration.

  28. For the week ending July 6th:

    Planted: Nothing

    Harvested: Peas

    Preserved: Nothing

    Stored: 25 lbs pinto beans.

    Managed: Nothing

    Prepped: Firewooding with R, got a half cord of lodgepole (went to him). Ordered a scythe!

    Cooked something new: Sauteed farmer’s market chard & spinach from R’s garden, cooked like mushrooms with red wine (and onion and garlic and a bit of oil), then a dash of vinegar once it’s on the plate. Needs more spices, otherwise good!

    Advocated for local food economy: Participated in the farmer’s market, selling garden starts from a friend’s garden.

    Reduced Waste: Trying to repair a weedwhacker instead of junking it after one part broke. A recently-bought new one is so poorly-designed that it’s about to break as well, and I’m pondering returning it. Then I bought a THIRD weedwhacker for $13 at a thrift store, am mostly using that. (all this mess with problem weedwhackers became the motivation to order the scythe!)

    Learned Something New: Tried again using the sprouting screen. Last time I tried to sprout very old red beans. One or two sprouted, but most didn’t, and the whole thing just started to ferment pretty fast. This time I’m sprouting freshly bought black beans.

    Then, for the week ending July 13:

    Planted: No

    Harvested: Peas and one tiny strawberry

    Preserved: No

    Stored: No

    Managed: No

    Prepped: No

    Cooked something new: Baked a cake (from a mix) in the solar oven.

    Advocated for local food economy: Wore a T-shirt promoting the local organic farm/you-pick

    Reduced Waste: Started feeding the cat raw ground beef instead of cat food. Even though the beef comes in plastic wrap and styrofoam, it’s a lot less packaging than can upon can of cat food. I’ve had to feed him less and less at a time, so that he eats most of it right away and there is less food remaining in the bowl to spoil in the heat.

    Learned Something New: When I went to try the cake in the solar oven, I put it out very late in the day (6pm, and I live hard up against the east side of a mountain range, so the shadows cross my yard about an hour earlier than they do farther out in the valley). So I left the cake out there all night — I did fold up the wings of the oven, since it was quite windy that night. The next morning I didn’t have to leave until after 10am and I was hoping the cake would cook by then, but it was still pudding, so I left it while I was away, and came home to a yummy cake late that afternoon!

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