Thursday, July 07, 2011

First Foraging Success of 2011

We went for a brief stroll today, just a jaunt before I had to go to work, and came away with all the berries you see to the left, as well as the promise of some very good grapes later in the season!

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Ten Rules For the Self Sufficient Garden

Yesterday I picked up my second favorite magazine, "BackHome Magazine" and in it is an article that's really got me thinking. Without re-copying it word for word, I'll give you the gist of it and my thoughts.
(By the way, the video I promised has to wait until I can get some soil and time, but it IS coming, I promise)

Rule #1: Plant what you eat.
I'm planning on doing just that, but it has to wait until we get up north, because the only thing growing here with any great success is the herbs. (I doubt we'll get any tomatoes, but the apple tree is going gangbusters!) Our plans include growing apples, radishes, carrots, mesclun, cucumbers, cabbage, rye if I can get it to grow, potatoes, peas, broccoli, onions, zucchini, tomatoes, garlic, chives, peppers, tobacco, rhubarb, sweetgrass and sage, among others.

Rule #2: Plant what you can reliably grow under adverse conditions.
Key phrase here, "what you can reliably grow". well, that remains to be seen considering I'm not sure yet how bad the soil is up there.

Rule #3: Diversify
I think the above list shows a pretty wide diversification.

Rule #4: Preservation
We have extensive plans for preservation. Dehydrating, freezing, canning, powders (more about that later). I'd love a root cellar, but I don't think Mom & Dad would like it much.

Rule #5: Plant more than you think you'll need
With 6 or 7 mouths (depending on whether the Eldest Child moves with us) to feed, exactly how many pounds of potatoes does that work out to? How many tomatoes plants does that translate to? If I'm the only one who likes radishes, should I even bother? What about the aforementioned rye? Surely there must be some kind of chart on the web to answer these questions?

Rule #6: Save your own seed
It's one thing I'm trying to learn about now, while I still have all this time to read. I have at least learned how to save tomato seed successfully. I have visions of jars and envelopes lined up in the freeze, labelled carefully and waiting for soil.

Rule #7: Don't forget the specialty items.
For me, that means tobacco, sweetgrass and sage. These will be grown for spiritual reasons, for gifts and out of respect for the Native teachings we follow.

Rule #8: Stay organic
Because I have a sensitivity to pesticides, organic was my goal all the way along. I think I'm facing poor soil, so I've been learning all I can about green manure crops, compost and egg shells and coffee grounds in the soil, as well as the benefits of biochar. It also means I'll have to learn to distinguish between good bugs and bad. I know what a Colorado Potato Beetle looks like, and the Ladybug. But I've never seen a caterpillar with wasp eggs dotting it's back. Wonder if Chapters bookstore has a book on beneficial bugs?

Rule #9: Don't try to do it all in the first year.
That will be the tough part for me. I already have plans for a solar dehydrator, a solar oven and maybe even a cob oven, a mini greenhouse and a hoop house.

Rule #10: Time is your friend, not your enemy.
It takes time to learn some of the things that I want to learn, it's going to take time to improve that soil, time to build the preserve supply, the seed bank I want, and time to settle into home once more.

It's going to be a long year of waiting.