Friday, November 5, 2010

Planning for next year

I know that often this seems like a garden blog more a survival or preparedness blog but it's really not.

It's just that in my mind self sufficiency is the path towards survival. Sure, I buy #10 cans of food. Not often. But I save up and do occasionally buy it. I do that though with the idea in mind that if a total economic/social/energy/EMP/whatever collapse were to happen I would have that stuff for TODAY because I am new to preparedness and I am, well, not totally prepared. I would like, in the future, to someday produce enough food from my small suburban lot to at least feel like I had a handle on survival if I had to. At least in the short term until I could get to somewhere bigger.

So I garden. I plan on fruit trees and bushes. I hide herbs both kitchen and medicinal into my landscape. I am slowly growing a preparedness library and constantly testing myself to see "can I do that without electricity?"

My family is not on board. Well. They are on board with the small containers of tomatoes, of pretty flowers in the front yard (can you say chamomile?) and the canning of local produce. But they are not yet into the bigger picture of powering down, of doing by hand, of going without or making due. Not yet.

Everything is a process. Just like learning to garden, can, cook from scratch is a process. And I'm getting there.

Next year will see big changes to my back yard. Right now it's large and has some very old tall trees (I think elm but I could be making that up). It's mostly grass or dirt with some trees and bushes around the perimeter. There are lilacs, that I love and other stuff, that I don't care about.

Next year though will see actual garden beds put in with a work table and an arch to a new path. My mother in law has it all planned out. I think she knows about the survival/preparedness stuff but has never asked about it. She has, however, seen my under stairs cold storage closet and I've talked at length about how I want to produce from my land but make it beautiful (to be deceptive). There will be more tomatoes next year, more beans, more cucumbers. She has promised there will be apple trees.

So I've already started looking at seed catalogs and researching heirlooms. I've started saving money for the materials. I've started planning meals.

I'm excited to plan, that's actually my favorite part of preparedness. The planning. I like to have a list, a plan, an idea.

This winter will find me focused on cooking from scratch and local. I'll be working on my library and working on my kids, trying to power down, trying to increase their attention spans.

It's exciting for me because I feel like I'm finally making progress.

And I'm ready for green beans straight off the vine.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


Several years ago when I was still married to my first husband I escaped to my Aunt's house in Wyoming with my then only two kids and begged her to teach me to make and can applesauce.

At the time I had a two year old who are like a bird and one of the only things she would eat was applesauce. It also seemed a LOT easier than learning how to can salsa or make jam. I was so silly back then.


This weekend I decided that while my dreams of planting appletrees this year did not come to fruition I would still make applesauce. And apple butter. I actually made carmel apple butter.

The apples we local, bought at the nursery down the road from us. I bought half a bushel of Jonathon and half a bushel of Jongold. Note to self: perhaps a bushel is too many apples.

That's a lot of apples in total.

I happen to own a foley mill bought at a garage sale for $1 but I also own a kitchen aid. I will admit, I tried to make the applesauce after cooking them in the foley mill first.

It was taking too long.

So I ended up using my Kitchen Aid mixer to make them into pulp and them using the mill to make it smooth and keep out the debris of apple cores and peel etc. It worked well for me.

I spent 8 hours on Saturday and another 1 on Sunday because a)my kitchen in small, b)my canner only holds 7 pints at a time and c)apple butter takes longer than I had anticipated. But in the end I ended up with the equivilent of 21 pints of applesauce and apple butter.

Feels pretty satisfying overall. But next year I'm employing child labor for the foley mill. That thing sucked the energy right out of me.