Grit Blogs > Another Kind of Drew

Taking Stock

BountyI admit, I have spent a little too much time lately thinking about what our garden(s) has NOT done for us this year. There have been moments of frustration, bugs galore, long, hot days, and rotten fruit.

Despite it all we have managed to get a great start on our fall/winter preserves. To date we have put away 45 lbs. of yellow onions, 8 quarts of strawberries, 4 gallons of peaches, 3 gallons of blueberries, 3 gallons of blackberries, 37 heads of lettuce (both european and buttercrunch combined), 13 quarts of bell pepper, 8 quarts of crookneck squash, 2 quarts of zuchini, 5 quarts of green beans, 11 quarts of zipper peas, 2 quarts of butter beans, 10 gallons of sweet corn (purchased from a local farmer), countless fresh herbs which we dried, ground, and put in the cupboard, 7 quarts of dill pickles, and 6 quarts of stewed tomatoes. We have also made 14 quarts of apple butter, 7 quarts of strawberry freezer jam, 1 quart of pesto, 8 quarts of blueberry jam, and 4 gallons of okra ready for frying.

WOW! Just seeing it in writing has gotten me excited. We have already exceeded last years bounty and it is only mid-July. We still have a solid month of beans, peas, potatoes, okra, etc. And that isn’t to mention the fall crops.

We also started a flock of “meat chickens” about 13 weeks ago so they are about ready to process for meat and stock which will go nicely beside our side of grass-fed beef and our portions of locally harvested pork.

None of this comes easy though. We have worked hard; both before planting and during the harvest. Not to mention the hours of peeling, chopping, stirring, and processing. It isn’t easy at all but it sure is rewarding.

My one hope though is that everyone who reads this post is experiencing their own wonderful bounty -  be it one tomato plant or 500 acres of soybean.

For flowers that bloom about our feet;
For tender grass, so fresh, so sweet;
For song of bird, and hum of bee;
For all things fair we hear or see,
Father in heaven, we thank Thee!

          – Ralph Waldo Emerson

anotherkindofdrew
7/27/2010 11:41:27 AM

@Dave - I grow buttercrunch up until about mid-August. There are a couple of variables though since they don't handle drought, extreme heat, or direct sun well in these conditions. We use soaker hoses for our garden so they get a nice root bath twice a day (early morn and early evening) and they are planted in the shade of our beans so they don't get much direct sun at all; if any. Now, they do grow quick so you don't get a huge head as you do in the spring but you do get a good taste. We just plant a little more than usual and harvest it quicker. I don't have many suggestions for your region as we are gearing up for our fall garden which is comprised largely of kale, collards, and romaine. A salt house is nothing more than a storage area where meat and fish are salt cured and stored for later eating. There are some great accounts of salt houses in George Washington's Mount Vernon journals. Thanks buddy. May you also be blessed!


nebraska dave
7/27/2010 11:11:07 AM

@Andrew, what kind of lettuce do you grow in the heat of the summer? I haven't tried to do that as folks tell me that it will bolt instead of produce edible lettuce. I have space to plant another crop and I'm thinking about something for a cool weather fall crop. Any suggestions? I don't really know what a salt house is and smoke houses are not too common here in Nebraska. I think that diversity is always the best thing in all that we do. If something happens to one part of the food preservation plan it doesn't ruin all the food. Canning is probably the most safe but it does require a lot of energy in fuels and in labor. Deydration can be done with solar energy. Freezing is the easiest but has some vulerability involed with it. In your case you have backed up your electrical system which is a good thing. Have a great day and may God bless all that touches your hands.


s.m.r. saia
7/26/2010 10:50:54 AM

Aha!! That makes sense. Thanks!


anotherkindofdrew
7/26/2010 9:03:30 AM

@Shannon - Easy. You don't! hahahaha. We eat those now and frequently as well as give some way. We have a constant rotation of lettuce growing in various successions. We even do fall and winter with our hoop houses.


s.m.r. saia
7/26/2010 9:01:34 AM

Drew - WOW. How on earth do you keep 37 heads of lettuce fresh through the winter????


anotherkindofdrew
7/24/2010 1:41:48 PM

You are so right Dave. When I was making the list (at the request of you for a more positive garden post....hahahah)I was really taken aback at how beautiful our harvest already was. Remember earlier in the season you and I talked about giving away and being able to share. Well, we have been able to share with quite a few families and that is more awesome than anything. Freezing can be risky business when you live on the grid. Our freezer runs off alternative energy and the house also has a generator in case of an emergency. Pan and I have talked many times though about going back to a salt house or smokehouse like she grew up with. I would love to hear your thoughts on that. But we have also taken precaution as you have. This is the first year we have canned beans rather than frozen them and are starting to move forward with dried fruits/beans/etc. rather than frozen.


nebraska dave
7/23/2010 9:03:36 PM

@Andrew, yikes that’s a lot of bounty. You will be eating well this winter. Some times we can get so involved in the process of preserving the harvest that we really forget how much we have accomplished. It’s good for us to step back and take inventory once in a while. I have just started harvesting the cucumbers with tomatoes on the way. I’ve been saying tomatoes on the way for a couple weeks now and they just haven’t started ripening yet. Of course, it couldn’t be that I’m a little anxious to get my teeth into the first red juicy tomato of the season. I’m glad you found corn to add to your winter storehouse. My neighborhood just experienced a power outage this last week. It only lasted from 7pm to 2am but it seems that’s happening a little more frequent than in past years. I just don’t trust freezing any more. I still have temporary stuff in the freezer but any long term stuff is definitely going to be canned from now on. We had a three day outage a couple years ago and I was right on the verge of firing up the grill and cooking for the neighborhood. It’s pretty scary how dependant we are on electricity. I hope things slow down a bit for you to enjoy the winding down of the dog days of summer. I had family from Las Vegas visit for a couple days. I cooked up a pot full of Nebraska sweet corn for them and they couldn’t get enough. They were quite amazed at the taste difference between Nebraska sweet and the California stuff they were used to eating.