Recently, our publisher put up an inspiring post about an urban garden in Detroit on our book’s marketing page. That post garnered over 250,000 likes and loves and wonderful comments from so many people. As you might imagine, it also brought out a comparative few “experts” who questioned the bountiful harvests grown on small plots.
Imagine our shock and dismay when a few wizards even told us it was impossible to grow our year’s worth of vegetables in our relatively small garden, something we’ve been doing for over 4 decades.
Anybody who has ever grown a vegetable has a good idea of what a single plant will provide let alone an entire garden. Anybody who has ever grown a cucumber or squash (think zucchini) and begged the plant to stop producing understands how prolific they can be. The result of such a bountiful harvest is that August is a very hectic month.
Freezing and Canning
We always breathe a sigh of relief once the hectic month of August is past. For anyone trying to grow and preserve as much of their own fruits and vegetables as possible we’re sure you can understand what we mean. And for those who have never actually pursued this endeavor but hope to some day, well now you know. August is brutally busy with harvesting, canning, freezing, drying and lets not forget planting the fall garden. But that’s a topic for another day. Back to preserving. Many days more than one item is put by. The picture we’ve included with this post illustrates what we mean.
One Day’s Harvest
This was a day’s harvest (August 27, 2021). On this day corn, green and wax beans as well as Lima beans were blanched and put in the freezer, blackberry jelly was canned and a large kettle of tomatoes ( 30 pounds worth) was cooked, strained and boiled down for spaghetti sauce that was canned the next day. But by this date, a wide array of fruits and vegetables had already been frozen including peas, broccoli, strawberries and about 40 pounds of blueberries. Our pantry shelves are quickly filling up too with freshly canned sauces, jams, jellies and juices that include vegetable juice, blueberry, currant, rhubarb and even strawberry juices.
Although it’s much too soon yet, our root cellar will eventually be fully stocked with potatoes, carrots, onions, leeks, cabbage, and for the first time, apples from our orchard.
Small Gardens Grow Lots of Food
Don’t for a minute listen and be swayed that it takes a lot of land to grow a garden. It most definitely does not! Whether you choose to plant a few containers to supplement your diet or till a small patch of ground for year round goodness, that’s your choice. You will be amazed at the productivity of whatever you choose to plant.
In our book The Self-Sufficient Backyard: For the Independent Homesteader, we go into detail on what we plant for 2 people. What vegetables, what quantities and what we expect for yields. There are charts for various vegetables that include growing information as well as approximate yields so you can extrapolate the information depending on your likes and dislikes based on the number of people in your family. The information we provide is a starting point and you can refine through the years as you get more experience.
Once August is past, there’s still canning and freezing to do but the onslaught is over and we can rest easy that we’ve survived another hectic August. Is all the preserving a lot of work? You bet. Is it worth it? Absolutely!!! We’re exhausted by the end of the month but filled with satisfaction that our larder is well stocked and we’re in a fine position to feast all winter on the fruits and vegetables of our labor.
Why not become a little bit more self-reliant by growing a few veggies? I know winter isn’t even here yet but it won’t be long before snow flies, seed catalogs come in the mail for next year’s garden and thoughts of garden layouts occupy our thoughts for spring planting. There is no better time than now to start planning and preparing for a garden for next year. Now is the time to till the soil, perhaps plant a green manure/cover crop and get ready to pop in some seeds for spring planting.
Until next time, keep the dream alive! We wish you a great day!
Ron and Johanna
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