Independence Days Update: Season of Roots

Sharon October 19th, 2010

It is time to plant things that are dormant but need the winter to settle in – yesterday it was blue and black cohosh roots, goldenseal and bloodroot.  The day before it was garlic, and I still have bulbs yet to plant.  All of these things are somehow mysterious to me – one doesn’t believe they will actually come up and arrive again.  It is an investment in the future.

It is time to harvest the root crops as well, now that frost has killed the tops of most things.  Marshmallow root, elecampane, burdock, elecampane, dandelion and echinacea need to be dug, chopped, dried and tinctured, although a few of the roots will wait until spring, before they begin putting on new growth. 

We dug the sweet potatoes yesterday – despite the hot weather, they didn’t size up as much as I woudl have hoped, but the flavor was glorious, we roasted some to eat with greens and cheese sauce ysetrday, along with the freshly dug potatoes. I’m leaving the turnips, celeriac, salsify, jerusalem artichoke,  beets, leeks, carrots and others a little longer yet to sweeten with a few more frosts, but soon – very soon they will come in – along with half the parsnips (the rest stay in the garden for early spring).   The season of roots is here!

Lots of harvesting but not much planting.  The children collected all the green tomatoes and ripe hot peppers yesterday, and all that’s left in the garden are greens and roots, really.  There are a few flower that haven’t been toasted, and some herbs yet to harvest, but for the most part, the garden is winding down. 

The eggs are winding down too – we don’t light our hen house, and the hens are getting to the point of laying only a few eggs.  But that’s ok – it will pick up again after the new year, and I incline towards the theory that the rest is good for them.

Milk, however, we have aplenty – the only boys not weaned now are Stachys and Hemp, and those two will move up to the buck barn this week – we’re just waiting for Stachys to hit 8 weeks.  Basil and Hemp will be going to their new home soon after.  That leaves just the girls pestering their mothers for milk, but the mothers are increasingly bored with the nursing, and since the doelings are separated out at night, their Moms are giving us great vats of milk, which we are turning into cheese and yogurt, and still overwhelmed by.

Lots of things yet to do to get ready for winter and wind up the season – I feel behind due to the travel and the holidays, but all will come together.  There’s still a little time yet, and autumn ought to have some time for revelling in the year’s accomplishments too!

Plant something: Black cohosh, blue cohosh, fall raspberries, garlic, goldenseal, bloodroot, mayapple, partridgeberry.

Harvest something: green tomatoes, red tomatoes, hot peppers, eggplant, kale, chard, beets, turnips, carrots, onions, potatoes, sweet potatoes, spilanthes, marshmallow, burdock, dandelion, elecampane.

Preserve something: Last batch of raspberry jam, green tomato chutney, green tomato pickles, dried hot peppers, pickled beets, tinctured and dried various roots.

Waste Not: Usual composting and reducing of packaging and feeding of things to other things.  Eric seems finally to be making progress on getting scraps from the SUNY Cafeteria to feed our chickens as part of their local foods project.

Want Not: We both finally got new shoes, badly needed – Eric’s were really holey. 

Eat the Food: First pumpkin pie of the season, first batch of chicken soup, first batch of lentil soup, first pumpkin pancakes….the fall cooking is for real!

Build Community Food systems: Off to New Haven this weekend for a conference on urban adapting in place, gave a big talk about food at ASPO. 

How about you?


9 Responses to “Independence Days Update: Season of Roots”

  1. Mavis says:

    hi Sharon,

    I finally made the time to read Depletion and Abundance this past week and just DEVOURED it! I wrote a rave review and posted it on my facebook page’s Book Box.

    So, freshly inspired, I’m working on drawing my teens into loving life on the home front. Seeing as this is not yet where you’re at as a parent, you may be interested in what that looks like, here.

    We are: city folks; working-outside-the-home parents; plugged into the internet; children attending inner-city schools; teens enjoying all the media intensity one can get from a single household computer, ipods and pay-as-you-go cell phones. (no TV, no gaming systems – believe me that I am thanking my lucky stars that I indoctrinated them early on this – as they are natural-born gamers).

    So, with the focus on “gathering” my teens back into the home front, and starting where we’re at, I’ve tried:

    1) Cooking dinner together – whole foods with veggies from our backyard garden. Accompanying positive commentary about how with a little effort, (and by that I mean very little) we are still pulling food from our yard. These kids need HOPE and seeing that a little effort can go a long way is hopeful.

    2) Expressing appreciation and hope. We have long shared your rule about never saying “yuck” or dissing the food, but we’re a little short on thankfulness. So with fresh mindfulness I’ve been expressing both my thanks for their willingness to eat what they are served (and to often pronounce it delicious!) and my thanks that I don’t have to worry about whether to starve myself to feed my children or starve my children to feed myself. They are seeing that food security is something we must be increasingly attuned to, but it’s something they can arrange with a little money and some common-sense planning. As teens they need to see that they have control over their future and that inexpensive, healthy foods can be very yummy!

    3) Reminding myself that facebook is not the spawn of the devil. It is actually a community-building tool. It may be a community a mile wide and an an inch deep, but it is a community. It has led my eldest to a small group of kids who are now collectively planning and training for some pretty serious backcountry hiking next summer. They spend portions their weekends unplugged and in real communion, outdoors and on the move and this is forming their self-identity as strong, capable, mature. They do much of their planning and arranging via facebook. Email is dead to them.

    4) Involving them in family debt reduction, by encouraging them to be more financially self sufficient. As teens they can reason their way through why we are reducing our debt*. We’ve been applying most of one parent’s income to debt reduction and got pretty serious about it for the past 10 months. This means our teens have been earning their own money to pay for any “extras”. From us they receive a place in our home (aka “room and board”) and I buy their bus passes, the food they can make into lunches, a small itunes “stipend”, and perhaps $200 worth of new clothes for each son, each year (including stuff they might receive as Christmas or birthday presents). They receive no allowance, nor are they paid to do chores. Everything else they want they pay for themselves (movies, cell phones, video rentals, extra clothes, lunch if they forget their lunches, expenses from hanging out with their friends). They have such a point of pride over this. They earn their money mostly through babysitting and yard work at other peoples’ homes. On the this home front, they are expected to babysit their little sister and do chores because we are all in this together- we all make the place dirty, so we all need to clean it up (of course, the burden still falls primarily on me). They will get paid for more serious labour, such as painting the house, if an opportunity arises. They are much less frivolous about what they “need” now it’s their own hard-earned money they are spending. And they’ve stopped saying things like “I don’t want to go to Cheap-But-Good restaurant – why can’t we got to Expensive-And-Better restaurant, instead?”. Of course, going to restaurants is now seen as a privilege, or “treat”, not a right. On the rare occasion the family eats out, they CHOOSE not to order drink and try to stick to an entree without dessert.

    Why do I go on about restaurants? Remember, we’re in the city where temptation is everywhere! And so dining out need not be just a short-cut for us but part of living a varied life. Now that international travel is off the table for us, it’s part of experiencing a wide-range of culture. A short walk from our home, cheap-but-good means: Vietnamese, Ethiopian, Italian, Portuguese, Mexican,, Himalayan, Thai, Japanese, and of course the ubiquitous Chinese (which we also cook, about twice a week).

    6) We indulge in their fantasies about the Lambourgini or Porsche they want to buy “when they grow up”, but we slip in a comment about maybe someday they can rent one for a weekend ;) and just think all of the time they’ll have to take off work to ride their bikes in the mountains if they live simply and debt free.

    Keep up the wonderful writing and inspiring you do. And remember, if you ever come to Vancouver, let me know and I’ll set up a talk/reading for you and happily share my teens with you :)

    Warmest regards,

    Mavis Dixon

    *The debts were renovation debts taken on to super-insulate our (1925, wood frame) home, put in a highest efficiency furnace, and replace what windows we could afford with triple glazed. Now our home is more resilient. In our PNW climate, we could live in it without turning on the furnace, but find the air quality improves with some dry, warm air introduced and circulated every once in a while. At $25 bucks a month for heat, that’s money well-spent.

  2. NM says:

    Planted: nothing
    Harvested: local eggs, apples, vegetables (CSA and farmers market), herbs, peaches, wild blue elderberries (well, DH harvested them …)
    Canned: roasted tomatoes with onions and garlic, elderberry jelly, more
    elderberry jelly, still more elderberry jelly … Made a quart of refrigerator
    bread and butter pickles out of three slicing cucumbers that were threatening to go bad if I didn’t do something with them; roasted and froze about three pounds of sweet peppers; froze pureed tomatoes and
    basil, as an experiment, to use in winter salad dressing; started a batch of rose petal vinegar (about time; the roses are nearly done!), and a batch of Queen of Hungary waters (which is not food, but does involve putting herbs in vinegar); dried a few more bits of savory, mint, comfrey, catnip and oregano, froze another small bit of pistou, made a little bit more basil salt, and filled a wine bottle with elderberry cordial.
    Want not: Ordered three books on the making and using of herbal remedies, two of them used.
    Had the (old, abused) carpet professionally cleaned, which it desperately needed, delaying the need to replace it a little longer…
    Got listing on land search website.
    Waste not: Eh, the usual. Composting, mostly. After letting the elderberry juice drip undisturbed through the jelly bag in the recommended manner, I removed the bag to a second bowl and squeezed the dickens out of it, to get all the remaining pulp and juice, to make a sort of jelly/jam that turned out so much more flavorful husband has decreed we stop bothering to make the clear jelly.
    Clearing, cleaning and decluttering continues; car is filled with books to take to thrift store (this does not noticeably decrease the number of books in the house), along with a few other odds and ends.
    Community food systems: shared some excess broccoli and sweet peppers with a friend. Husband gave some elderberry jelly to the co-worker who helped him harvest the
    elderberries; said friend returned with a jar of traditional Croatian (I think) plum jam. Forwarded an e-mail to several people about an event where you can buy locally-grown (well … regionally grown; it’s not in this county) grains, beans, meats, potatoes, etc.; ordered 30 pounds soft wheat and 5 pounds rolled oats.
    Eat the food: Corn and tomato soup, pizza, many green salads with tomato basil dressing, pistou and tomatoes on homemade bread; roasted broccoli, the last of the peaches and strawberries, apples, pumpkin muffins, apple cider, spaghetti with pistou and ripe tomatoes, chard calzone, elderberry jelly, citrus scones, roasted vegetable soup with pistou, pistou and tomato sandwiches for me, cheese and tomato for husband; vegetable pot pie, hot biscuits, roasted vegetables, cauliflower mac and cheese.

  3. Claire says:

    No frost in the St. Louis, MO area yet, and no rain for almost a month. Hope it rains this weekend, we need it.

    Planted: native plants: Echinacea purpurea and E. paradoxa, New Jersey tea, blue sage, wild bergamot, little bluestem, soft rush. TriStar strawberry plants, moved to a new bed. Perennial leeks, aka elephant garlic.

    Harvested: raspberries, persimmons, shiitake and other mushrooms, hickory nuts, tomatoes, sweet and hot peppers, beans and long beans, collards, bok choy, lettuce, arugula, tatsoi, dill, basil.

    Preserved: drying the serrano hot peppers.

    Waste not: took the dead electronic stuff to an electronics collection and recycling facility. They rehab and sell what they can, properly recycle the rest themselves.

    Want not: looked through the bulk food and herb supplies, ordered more where needed.

    Community food systems: offering advice and support to a friend who, along with a few other people, is getting a community garden started in his suburb. Offered advice to my brother who asked about getting an apple tree for his yard.

    Eat the food: salad with the arugula, tatsoi, and lettuce plus onions harvested earlier. Made pesto from the basil. Made a stir-fry from the bok choy and another from the collards; both had mushrooms in them. Added mushrooms to our morning eggs. Making bread again.

  4. KC says:

    I am harvesting my first crop of carrots. What fun! I am starting to get the hang of thinning out the biggest to let the smaller ones fill out in the open space. I feel very grateful for the generosity of the earth. We have not had a frost (has not been in the 30′s , yet.) I cleaned out the root cellar and DH is making rodent proof boxes to store the potatoes. The sweet potatoes are curing and ready to be wrapped in newspaper and placed under the stairs. The freezer is full and I am starting to make soups every day.

    Plant something: cover crops, cover crops, cover crops: crimson clover, hairy vetch, winter peas, favas, white dutch clover, naked oats, and more. (Cindy Connors’s website homeplaceearth has a nice pdf on how to choose which cover crop to plant and when). I hope to plant the garlic this week. I planted spinach a couple weeks ago and it is up and running.

    Harvest something: tomatoes, nardello peppers, other sweet and hot peppers, basil, parsley, arugula, endive, carrots, beets, green beans, okra, sweet potatoes, potatoes, chinese cabbage, tatsoi and michili, chard, kale, arugula, lettuce, okra seed, polecat crowder peas, giant daikon. I harvested the peanuts last week and they are hanging in the barn – (hope the critters don’t find them).

    Preserve something: I just discovered – the pilot light in the oven of our gas stove – makes the oven a great place to dry herbs and to dry hot peppers. I dried basil and cayenne. I am freezing cabbage soup. Last week, I froze some crowder peas.

    Waste Not: Used carrot tops to make broth. Mulching the garden with bean hulls and basil stems.

    Want Not: found a raincoat and some warm shirts at spca thrift store

    Eat the Food: cabbage soup (made with kale, chinese cabbage, carrots, onions, peppers, tomatoes, crowder peas, and parsley – all from the garden). cornmeal pancakes with homemade applesauce. more spaghetti squash with tomato-pepper-okra. a quiche made with tortilla crust and peppers, chard and tomato.

    Build Community Food systems: sharing garden bounty with friends.

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  7. Brandie says:

    Plant something: just a little cilantro. Getting the potted plants ready to bring inside, and I discover the epazote seeded itself into everything else’s pot.

    Harvest something: tomatoes, jalapenos, malabar spinach, stevia, lettuce, winter radishes, basil seeds to save

    Preserve something: canned meaty chicken-turkey broth

    Waste Not: used blackberry seeds strained out of pureed berries to make blackberry tea; keep trying to get my ducks to eat leftovers

    Want Not: stocking up on pumpkins and sweet potatoes. Got some great deals on used clothes for the family.

    Eat the Food: mini pizzas with tomatoes, basil, and goat feta; blackberry ice cream; posole with radishes

    Build Community Food systems: made a gardening & poultry-raising friend to swap stuff with

  8. carol says:

    Harvest something: new lettuce, hot peppers, wild persimmons

    Plant something: will plant garlic this weekend

    Preserve something: canned bbq sauce, green beans, beef sausage, beef stew, sliced apples, applesauce, beets, chickens stock, squash soup, chili

    Waste not: used canning water to water garden, re-used dozens of good canning jars, replaced rotting board and painted, primed and painted shed to protect against rot

    Want not: set out a month ago to have 4-6 weeks worth of meals on hand without need for electricity, enough for four of us plus our mothers and siblings (total 8). That has meant an adventure in figuring out what we eat, what things we need to start eating, and canning whole meals, stocking up on winter squash and roots, building a root cellar, and canning, canning, canning. A great exercise -and you don’t have to eat like an aesetic or a marine – just see what you eat and figure out the non-electric way to adapt to same or similar. We have a wood stove and a wood cook stove and 4.3 acres of mostly woods, so as soon as we get a hand-pump on our well, we can have heat, water and hot water: 3 hot meals a day plus tea and coffee, for a month at a time with no need for electricity.

    Now have to reorganize everything in my cupboards and basement pantry so that I have a long-term storage area (grains, sweeteners, leavening, etc), a root cellar and week-by-week meal shelves with fully planned meals for 4-8 for a week. When I have 6 weeks/shelves of those, I’ll start actually eating out of them so we start eating what we store and vice versa. Then I think I can can just twice a month to replenish the “meals ready to eat” (think chili, stew, soup, sausage, beef tips in wine, chicken meat in stock, etc.). Have it almost figured out, just need a small army to rip out all my existing food, reorganize and replace all of it in new places.

    Eat the food: have already eaten some of the chili, bbq sauce, and the applesauce.

    Build local food community – all the above is local sourced, local meat, local produce. Talk to the farmers and cattlemen every time I go to market and swap wood stove stories and recipes.

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