I have done a good job this year of getting as much planted as possible. I still have one large bed that has not been plowed up yet. As you can see, I planted my tomatoes in containers. I am hoping this will prevent them from getting the Late Blight. I am moving these around right now, but as they get bigger, I will not be able to do that. They will need to be stable and staked up.
Healthy So Far!
I pruned my tomatoes this morning, by pinching off the suckers. This will make them bear more tomatoes, rather than just leaves. Don't know what I am talking about? Here is a site that explains it, Pruning Your Tomato Plant. This year, I'd really like to have enough tomatoes to can and make my own ketchup. If I don't grow enough, I will purchase some locally.
Most of the wild plants have been blossoming for some time. Today, I was excited to see the blossom on my squash plant. The first! Many of the squash plants have some ready to blossom, but this was the first. Can't wait to have fresh yellow squash, zucchini, cucumbers and green beans. These plants give you food to eat now, when we need it. The tomatoes don't get ready for harvest here till about August or September. I will be canning many jars of these foods, but there will be enough to eat fresh too.
Squash Blossoming Already!
I hope your gardens are doing well. We have noticed more people having gardens this year. Must be the scare of the GMO foods? Or maybe it is just the price of the food in the store. I know for us, it is normal. But I have increased the amount of food I am growing this year. I plan on getting more canned than ever before. I am hoping I can make all my own condiments too. I like to know exactly what is in our food. What about you?
As anyone who knows me, knows, I LOVE to can. I love the whole process, from starting a seed in April, to taking my jars out of the canner. It gives me a good feeling, I am proud of doing it. I know many people are afraid of doing it, not enough experience. Or like my friend, Dawna, they take the bull by the horn and take off. She cans a lot and everything she can get her hands on. She is a true homesteader in every sense of the word.
The last step before cooking and eating it!
That said, I recently read some old newsletters that Richard Fahey (of the Christian Homesteading Movement) wrote a few years ago. He didn't like his family canning their foods (Not that HE had to do it). Of course, they didn't have a stove. They use a hearth, and I imagine that would not be easy to do. But they did can pickles and tomatoes. Both are foods that can be done in a water bath canner, so easier on a hearth than a pressure canner.
Buying Potatoes In Bulk to Store
They left much of their root crops in the garden in ditches and covered them with straw or hay. I can't imagine that stuff did not freeze, but he says not. When my husband and I lived in Bainbridge and was in our early stages of homesteading, we lived on an old farm and had the use of one of the barns there. It was metal though, and and had no insulation. We bought a 50 lb. bag of potatoes and a new metal garbage can. We thought we'd store the potatoes out there in the barn, but they froze. We were heartbroken to say the least.
Root Cellar now
Now a root cellar, that is underground is completely different. You can bury a garbage can underground, but make sure it is at least below the frost line, which is 18 inches here. In the cellar of most old houses, you will find an old root cellar that is still usable. Our root cellar never got cold enough in the coldest winters to freeze a canning jar. I kept jars of canned food down there when we first moved here. The root cellar has windows and one of them will be able to opened a crack, to let the night air into the cellar in the warmer weather. In the morning, I close that window and open the pantry door to let that cool air into the pantry. At night I close the pantry door. That is how these house were built to use the natural sources to store your food.
Stairs to pantry have been replaced
Now we are working on it again. My husband rebuilt the stairs so they are safer now. He built a stone bench along the back wall, since the stone was already down there. I am planning on making some wooden boxes with metal screen covers on them so that the critters can't get into them. We are going to put up some kind of shelving but will have to keep the food inside a container of some sort due to mice. No matter how much I try, I cannot eliminate them for good. So to combat them, I am keeping the jars in Rubbermaid containers. The fresh produce that I want so badly to store, will have to be protected. No hanging my cabbage from the rafters. No open baskets of potatoes and other vegetables. Everything has to be protected. Don't tell me to get a cat, I have 4 very good hunters and they get mice almost daily, as do our garter snakes who are in abundant amounts this year.
Making plans is part of homesteading. Planning for the future and your food supply is a major part. Do you have a plan? If not, why not? In any emergency, food is essential, whether you are a homesteader or not. Gardening is the most important thing you can do for your family. Don't let them down!