Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Harvest to Harvest

Sometime in the past that's long forgotten I acquired a book named 12 Months Harvest published by Ortho. It chronicles life on a small independent farm by the Dewey family in Gilroy CA and how the projects they experimented with led to increased self-sufficiency. It says, in the introduction, "the reasons for using these methods today are varied -- for some it is the desire to recall that "old-time" flavor of homemade jam, others enjoy the security of knowing exactly what has gone into the foods they eat, and still others feel a sense of pride and independence from growing and preserving their own food." That sentence may have been penned in the mid-1970's but it is equally relevant for today. I know I've thumbed through my copy of the book until it is falling apart... If you see one, I recommend it for your personal library.

I like how they work with the rhythm of the seasons to grow, harvest and preserve their food. Since it's early spring here in Utah, it's time to have the garden planned and partly planted. I am woefully behind schedule on this as our spring has been unusually wet and cold so the garden has not been tilled yet and I only have a rough idea of what I want to plant where. This year, not knowing my job and financial status, I am going to plant a garden but keep the size rather conservative so that I have some assurance of being able to care for it.

Because I want to make salsa and need to replenish the stock of frozen tomatoes, I plan on 6 nice big beef-steak variety plants. Planning for salsa, I'll also put in a row of onions and a couple of jalapeno peppers and some cilantro. For fun and sweet little munchies, I also want to have 2 grape tomatoes. To make a few bottles of Aunt Bee's Dill pickles, and lots of fresh ones, a cucumber vine or two is in order as is a nice stand of dillweed. In past years we enjoyed the Blue Lake variety of bush beans so much that I want to plant a row of them as well and hope for as abundant a harvest so I can freeze some for next winter. I may also try canning a few bottles of Dilly Beans. Just to use fresh, I want a short row of Swiss chard. And I think I'll give carrots another try. If they do well, they can winter over right in the garden to be dug whenever we want some. Also have red potatoes well sprouted and desperately needing to be in the ground... And this year I really want to get the raspberry row looking good and filled in either by transplanting from my own little thicket or with plants offered by a neighbor's son. If I can get a place ready, he's also offered me strawberry starts. And if I can squeak out the funds I want to plant those fruit trees along the back fence as well... 2 apples, a pear, a peach, an Italian prune and a Santa Rosa plum. I have another neighbor who wants to use the extra space to grow corn and melons in exchange for sharing the produce so that will be a nice bonus!

Putting it in writing... that sounds pretty ambitious but surely worth the try!

If you want to try a garden, but need a little help getting started, here's an interesting link to explore:

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