Do you think about what you eat? Or do you go to the grocery store and grab stuff off the shelf? Do you know how much food you consume? When you start thinking about growing it yourself, you need to start thinking about "how much."
I started out with the idea that the kids should know where food comes from. So I planted tomatoes. A friend gave me some raspberry canes (the first edible I ever grew). Then peppers. Then beans, onions, carrots. Then I started thinking--I wonder if I can get through a summer without buying any produce (yes). Then it became-- how long into the the autumn can I stay out of the produce aisle? (a long time). Here's where I've gotten to this year:
Fruit syrup (for treats and drinks)
• Current use: about 1 wine-bottle full every 10 days
• Fresh fruit needed per bottle: 1 pint
• # days from last summer fruit harvest to first summer fruit harvest: 270
I need to freeze 27 pints of fruit. Since I don’t grow more berries than we consume, this can all come from the farmers market. I’ve currently been buying 2 to freeze for every one we consume each week.
• Current use: One whole tomato and one tomato sauce dish per week
• Fresh fruit needed per: 6-8 tomatoes per quart of sauce or pint of paste, plus some just peeled and frozen whole
• weeks from harvest end to harvest start: 40
• fruits per plant, 10-20; need 30+ plants. I don’t have it, only have 10, plus 5 cherries, giving me a maximum yield of 200 (more likely 100+), so I can do at most 15+ quarts of sauce/whole/paste in some combination (probably do paste, since it takes up less room, in smaller jars) I can also stretch this by making as much of the summer’s meals as possible from the cherry varieties.
Winter Squash family
• Current use: 1-4 dishes per week (stews, casseroles, soup, baked goods)
• Fresh fruit needed per: one squash or pumpkin can yield 2-3 meals/uses pulped.
• # weeks from harvest end to harvest start (zucchini) 34
I need 68-130 meals, or 40+ fruits. I have 9 vines, so this is actually doable, betw root-cellar type storage and frozen pulp. Amazing.
Corn, peas, beans, other “side” veggies
• Current use: 2 cups per day
• # days from harvest end to harvest start: 200
Beans a dead loss, won’t get more than we consume immediately (thank you evil furfaces); I have 80 corn stalks, which might yield 2-6 ears per stalk. Gonna need to learn how to preserve corn, because this is also doable.
• Current use: 2+ lbs per week (3 to 7 items per lb, carrots, turnips, parsnips, beets. I don’t grow potatoes)
• # weeks from harvest end to harvest start (including overwintered): 24
• need 100-400 items. Again, a possible winner. I have 80 parsnips, 200 turnips, 40 beets, countless carrots.
• Current use: 1 meal per week
• Fresh needed per: 1 quart of whatever I preserve
• # weeks from harvest end to harvest start: 38
• I have enough parsley and basil to preserve several quarts of pesto (in addition to preserving for use as flavoring); eggplants still up in the air (no fruit yet :(, but there are 12 flowers on four plants, which if they all fruit is 12 quarts of baba ganoush, or peeled, blanched frozen ep slices)
While you gear up for preserving, here's a treat to make with the wonderful apricots available for another couple of weeks.
2 teaspoons baking soda
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup honey
1 cup apricot compote (thin apricot jam. or any thin jam)
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon orange extract (for apricot. Try different extracts with different fruits)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Beat eggs well. Dissolve baking soda with a little milk. Mix together the rest of the ingredients to make a soft dough. Spoon onto a parchment-paper covered baking sheet in teaspoonsful. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. DO NOT OVER BAKE.