My gardening books and journals are being opened and studied for the coming year. By February there will be cabbage and broccoli seedlings in the greenhouse to put out in the garden as soon as the ground thaws enough. I've been researching tomatoes and peppers, because 2011 is going to be my magic year!
2010's garden was good. I grew a lot of new things that I was really very pleased with. I grew some new herbs that made it all the way through November. I grew cayenne peppers and lots of squash - that I didn't get much fruit from, BUT I learned a lot about how to grow and care for different varieties of squash. And I had 4 large pumpkins! I am definitely making the list of things to try in the coming year.
I am researching a gardening method called Grow Biointensive, also known as "Mini-farming". Since I live in the city on a 40 foot lot that both of my next door neighbors have encroached on from both sides (making my lot more like 36 feet) I don't have a lot of room. And our house faces the west, so we really don't have a lot of sun, except on the side that faces the south. I am going to try to remedy that this year. I do, fortunately, have two long strips of dirt, about 3 feet wide and 25 feet long that are a good size for the intensive gardening method. One of those strips is full of white quartz landscaping rocks - which are hideous! - but I am planning on moving those rocks to the north side of the garage, when there is no sun.
I have been hearing the whispers of the "Old Way" for about a year. Every Autumn I feel this little voice inside of me begin to nudge "Provide....hold back.....preserve....provide! Winter is coming!" Sometimes I wonder if there are mutant squirrels sending ESP messages to my brain, but then again, there IS a little farmgirl deep down inside of me. Grandpa and Grandma taught me the importance of food preservation. Yes, on occasion, I do turn on the political talk shows, and I was shocked to hear 3 out of 5 political pundits talking about the costs of food rising and how we should be teaching ourselves food storage and preservation because a time may be coming that food in the grocery store isn't affordable. And that is just good advice in general! Everyone should keep at least an extra week's food in storage, but I have challenged myself to find a way to store 6 months worth of food for us.
Hooray for the Midwest!! Do you know how much I love living in the Midwest? I can ride my bike to a Farmer's Market. I can drive 15 minutes in any direction and find a berry farm. There are 4 apple orchards within a 45 minute drive from our house. And I have learned the locations of 3 small local butchers. Put that in your pipe and smoke it all you Big City Folks. When you can't afford your food, we 'yokels' in the farmlands will be just fine.
Okay, sorry, that might have been uncalled for. My best friend is visiting from Los Angeles, and when the two of us get on a rant about the spoiled lives of those on the West Coast, the feelings sometimes last for days afterwards. Either way, we still get a chuckle out of mocking the 'big city folks'. :)
Anyway, this week we're going to make and can pasta sauce and applesauce. Alex told me last week that he's tired of canned Italian. Particularly, one night I had boiled the spaghetti noodles and unceremoniously dumped half a jar of store brand marinara over them and stirred. His actual words were "That's not made with Love". This seems to be a new kick my husband is on. He can apparently tell when the food I make doesn't have my Love in it. And of course, being the picky little turd that he is, he doesn't like it, eats half of it and the pushes it back across the table at me. So I am on a quest to create my own recipe of pasta sauce that has the special, and obviously necessary, ingredient of Love in it, that Alex will eat.
I gave our household an ultimatum this year - reduce the grocery costs to $50 per week. I am proud to say that we have done it! For my 2011 New Year's resolution, I would like to reduce it even more! I would really like to get it down to $35 per week and stop buying store bought canned goods altogether and try to stick to fresh produce and ingredients entirely.
To the kitchen! It's time to bake Christmas cookies!