Monday, October 25, 2010

Reflections of a first-year Homesteader

After truly diving in to this so-called homstead adventure this year, I thought it would be nice to sum up some of my thoughts, lessons learned, and plans for next year. The end(ish) of the harvest is a good time to reflect on what went well, what could have gone better, and what really does not need to even be bothered with next year. So let's do that.

Worked well:
Potatoes did really well. Need more
Onions were awesome, easy to care for. More, I say!
Lettuce was delicious, although slower than I expected, since I am impatient
Carrots are easy to fit along borders, smaller spaces. Yes!
Tomatoes... mmm! Canned over 18 quarts of tomato sauce. More next year!
Basil was great- need to utilize more
Jalepenos were just hot enough, great in chili and other dishes

Not so well:
Strawberries did not produce like I wanted, didn't have enough. No strawberries next year
Raspberry plant grw like crazy, produced 5 berries. Is young plant, however
Blueberry bushes similar- 5 berries. Oh well!
Celery was kind of a cool novelty, but took up vital space for other stuff
Glacier tomatoes kind of tasted gross. I'll just wait for the real thing

Seed starting-
Worked well:
Lettuce indoors was awesome
Basil was brought in at beginning of Oct and is doing well

Not so well:
Need to start things on time :)

Worked well:
Peaches were delicious
Apples were easier to do with apple core and peeler machine

Not so well:
Tomatoes went quickly- need more for sauce next year
Pickles- more next year

Worked well:
Onions are storing well so far- will run out quickly since we use a lot
Potatoes- same story!
Carrots- could store next year as well

Not so well:

Worked well:
Getting into pattern of going to Co-op for most things, Kroger for snacks and processed only
Getting local meat, eggs, milk, butter and bread delivered to our door! :) :) :) :)
Not so well:
Went to farmer's market a lot towards end of summer- need to work on it!
Worked well:
Getting pretty good at buying recycled paper products consistently
Moon cup
Most cleaning products are eco-friendly
Can now recycle 1s-5s! :)

Goals for 2011-2012

20 potato plants
75 onions
50 heads of lettuce
20 tomato plants
4 basil plants
200 carrots
4 jalepeno plants
10 bulbs of garlic
2 watermelons
2 bell pepper plants
4 pumpkin plants
4 zucchini plants

*Expand into "raspberry bed"
**Make potato bed deeper

Seed Starting-
Start everything possible indoors
*Have saved many seeds already!


6 pints Pickles
20 quarts Tomato Sauce
20 pints Peaches
10 pints Pears
3 pints Cranberry Sauce
5 pints, 30 4 oz Applesauce
12 pints Baked Apple preserves
5 pints Blueberry jam

12 half-pints Corn
4 quarts Beef Chili
16 frozen Raspberry Muffins

4 bags apples rings
6 bags banana chips
fruit leathers?
2 bags dried cranberries


200 potatoes
50 onions

Purchasing- TBD

Living- TBD

The Put Up Lowdown for 2010

Went through and tallied all of the canned goods I have put up during 2010. I have a total for ya'll, although this is a tally of everything I have left, not everything I canned in 2010 all together.

Here goes!

3 pints Pickles
6 quarts Tomato Sauce
17 pints Peaches
7 pints Pears
1 pint, 1 half-pint, 3 4oz jars Cranberry Sauce
4 pints, 6 half-pints, 5 4oz jars Applesauce
12 pints, 3 half-pint jars Baked Apple preserves
5 pints Blueberry jam

3 pints, 11 half-pints Corn
3 quarts, 1 pint Turkey Chili
2 quarts frozen Tomato Sauce
3 containers dried apples
16 frozen Raspberry Muffins

30 red thumb potatoes
25 onions

Woohooo!!! I'm very proud of my self. I'll be eating seasonal, local fruit for at least part of the Winter. My goal is to avoid buying fruit if at all possible (although the girls love it and so do I) until it is in season. I will probably cheat because grapes and bananas are pretty standard in our house. But I'm going to dehydrate a lot of banana chips, and I hope I can also do more apples slices, etc.

What else is good to dehydrate? I tried making fruit leathers and they were very leathery as they stuck to the plastic tray they were created on. They tasted very good but they did not come off. How do I prevent fruit leathers from sticking to the tray from whence they came? :) A teeny bit of cooking spray? Would that be gross?

I still have some cayenne and jalepeno peppers growing in the garden, along with the lettuce, basil, and a few lonely tomatoes. I planted garlic several weeks ago and it is shooting up already. Our weather has been so warm lately!

Also, happy to report that I transplated some of our outdoor basil plants inside under the grow lights, and it is doing pretty well- growing back, albeit slowly. Fresh basil in the winter! :)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

I can't Deni this feeling..

This weekend, while visiting my hometown of Columbus, I stumbled upon a nice little food dehydrator while thrifting around at New Uses. New Uses is a Plato's Closet store of sorts, except instead of clothes, they have applicances and furniture, etc. They had a Deni brand dehydrator for $20, and so I had to purchase it, of course! I have a small problem with Food Preservation Tool Envy. I know, I know- it's bad.

So of course, I had to try out this new toy of mine. Yesterday I sliced up some Goldrush apples and powered up the Deni!

Results? Fairly impressed! Some trays took longer than others to dry out, but in fairness I cheated and did a little bit of overlapping that was not supposed to happen. I also was not 100% precise in my apple slice-measurement techniques. Oh well! The only annoying part was that I was silly and started the process at 6:30pm, which meant that I was up at 1am and 3am and 5am checking on apple slices. I need to do it on a day where I get home early, or on the weekend.

My next goal is to make some fruit leathers! I never in my wildest preserving dreams thought I would be making fruit leathers. I'm pretty (way-too) psyched about it. I'm thinking blueberry/raspberry fruit leathers?

Also, I went to the Worthington Farmer's Market with my mom over the weekend, and they had the most delicious F'ing strawberries there. Ever. Pardon my language, but those berries were just SO good. Each time we took a bite of one throughout the day, one of us felt compelled to exclaim something like, "OH my GOD these berries are SO FUCKING GOOD!" or some other comment about how the berries in the store in January are like mutant berries from hell. So well done, farmer man in Worthington. Those are some sweet strawberries! If I could have forseen that I would be buying a dehydrator later on that day, I would have bought like 4 quarts and preserved those babies!

Another day.

Other preserving goals this week:
  • Make blue/raspberry fruit leathers
  • Can applesauce and apple slices
  • Make and freeze some more soup broth
  • Make and freeze more chilli before tomatoes and peppers go away for the season
  • Stop by Farmer's markets and freeze good veggies before market closes down for season!

Can I do it all?

Yes I can! :)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Tidying up the Fall Garden

Garden activities are finishing up now that it's mid-October.

It's time to harvest those last crazy tomatoes and pick those jalepeno peppers. They give great flavor to soup, or our new favorite family dish to make, chicken stir-fry. I transferred the little lettuces I started with my indoor grow light, and they are doing SO well- they love being outside :) I'm excited to have fresh lettuce for another few weeks. We planted garlic last week, and I actually had some garlic come up from when I planted it last spring mistakenly! I chose two different varieties from Dyer Family Organic Farms . I bought two cloves of each type, one to sample, and one to plant- Chesnok Red and China Stripe- both kind of "zesty" varieties- Yum!

Pictures to follow :)

I also started recently receiving weekly deliveries from Calder's Dairy! I've signed up to receieve a loaf of bread, two half gallons of milk, and butter as well! So far (minus an address mishap) I've been very happy with quality of products and bread was delish!

Now I am having local chicken, turkey, pork products, eggs, milk, butter, and bread delivered to my house- this is a big accomplishment to check off of my Local Eating Goals list!