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Speaking of Bare Cupboards

March 25, 2011

I like putting away clean canning jars, but it’s sobering to see all the empty spaces on the shelves.  It’s a long time before canning season begins.

I’m getting low on tomato products too – although we don’t need nearly as much as we used to before DH found out solanums were on the hit list of gastric distress.  I am still planning on canning lots of tomatoes this year.  My rule of thumb is two years worth, which gives me room for a crop failure, ( like last year) illness, etc.  I strive for roughly 52 units (quarts, pints, pounds) of whatever I am preserving, and if there is a bounty or bumper crop (I prefer those terms to glut) I double the 52 unit figure.  I’m not saying you need 52 quarts of dill pickles – you need to analyze how you cook and eat, and only preserve what your family actually likes to eat.   How much salsa do you eat, how much tomato sauce or diced tomatoes do you use each week?  We don’t eat much salsa, but I cook with it quite a bit.  A pint a week isn’t too much to have on hand.  Of course there are always weeks that you don’t use any tomato sauce or salsa, and that is where your extras come from for your pantry.

Toms, pre-thinning.

The tomato seedlings are doing great – well actually, all the seedlings are doing great.  I wish heartily it would warm up though, we just finished afternoon chores, came in and got situated near the fire and it had started snowing, again.  Sigh.

Despite the cool weather the greenhouse is comfortable even though it is unheated – at least there is no wind and rain, and on a cloudy day it is still much warmer than outside and a good place for dog napping.

Faithful trudger and all around farm pup.

Ah yes, fresh greens soon – even I get tired of kale and cabbage.

There is something about the ritual of planting those seeds.  As the canning shelves empty, the planting season begins in earnest.  Sometimes I think people really hunger for that connection as much as they hunger for good food.  Which explains why most people don’t like grocery shopping but love gardening.

Little Sweets lettuce.

My mom taught me when I was a little kid just how to roll those tiny lettuce seeds between my thumb and forefinger, it is second nature now.  Like typing, you feel when you make a mistake, too many seeds in one cell, and then you have to thin.  And you have wasted a seed.  I don’t think about it much now when I seed, it just comes naturally and it does me good to glance over at my daughter seeding and see her rolling seeds too.  Gardening is about more than just food, I love gardening.

23 Comments leave one →
  1. March 25, 2011 7:10 am

    When it’s raining and I have left my greenhouse door open, I’ll come home to find my pups napping in there, too!

  2. March 25, 2011 7:11 am

    I enjoy emptying out and making room for the new. I cleaned out my hay loft, and am going to give away most of the preserves we haven’t used yet. Now on to my office….

    I’ve still yet to learn that nature doesn’t wait for procrastinators – you’re planting your seeds already and my filled out seed order is still in my truck 😀 . I sense a lowering of veggie variety standards ahead…..

  3. March 25, 2011 7:13 am

    Inspiration. Time for us to get on the ball….

  4. March 25, 2011 7:22 am

    We use Fedco, too! They have really robust seeds. All the greens have come up in the flats in the potting shed. But we’re not even trying with the warm weather seedlings this year. A friend and co-worker of ours is getting into commercial growing, so we’ll get starts from her.

    We never use as many of the canning jars of apple sauce and tomato puree as we think we will and are shifting to apple juice and salsa, which move a little faster. 😀

  5. michelle permalink
    March 25, 2011 7:45 am

    Gardening is my Thing. I love more than just about anything else (save for the humans in my life). I am so jealous of a good greenhouse. I want one so bad I can’t stand it!

  6. March 25, 2011 8:23 am

    I definitely go through the tomatoes, and hope that I’ll have enough to see me through this year until my toms are ripe. I’m finally getting low on salsa verde, which I canned two summers ago. Two plants netted twelve pounds of tomatillos, and I made a gallon and a half of salsa which I canned up by the half-pint. We don’t go through it as fast as we used to, but we sure love it when we have it. Guess I’d better grow a couple tomatillos.

    I’m still figuring out how much of things to put by. Knowing how much to grow and can or freeze is kind of hard, but eventually I’ll get it. I think you have been doing this for a very long time though.

  7. March 25, 2011 9:24 am

    I can hardly wait…of course no greenhouse here, but we are starting to work the ground…by Mother’s Day I can plant my garden!


  8. March 25, 2011 11:32 am

    I’m currently living vicariously through you. Very long negotiations culminate on April 8 and we find out if we are moving. If we move, it is only a container garden and I don’t want to waste the seed. If we stay it is a hard press to get everything in the ground. So I’m happy just looking at your seedlings and imagining them as my own 🙂

  9. March 25, 2011 12:01 pm


    I am new to your blog; I came across while doing research for my senior thesis on small farmers in Portland (I go to school at Lewis and Clark College). I have really enjoyed reading it (I changed my homepage to your blog from the Astronomy Picture of the Day; I felt like I needed to be reminded of more grounded things, than such other-worldly happenings!)

    Anyway, just wanted to say your blog makes me happy, and I hope to use your advice when I have my own farm some day! Oh, and your dogs are so cute!


  10. March 25, 2011 3:09 pm

    Thanks for a wonderful post. 🙂

  11. March 26, 2011 4:15 am

    My root cellar/pantry is also emptying. Used the last onion this week. Freezers are down so things can be added (frozen cheese, bred, etc.)

    I also plan how many units when I can.

    Here, in our passive solar house, we’ve not needed the stove much and that’s slowed the germination. It’s not pushing 80 any more, as it did with the stove. Start the next round the end of next week.

    Here the snow is mostly gone, and we didn’t get the 4″ predicted 2 days ago, and knock wood, won’t get any in future. I’ve got snowdrops and crocus flowering and have cleared several of the flower beds.

    Last week, before the promised rain/snow, I frost seeded clovers in the middle pasture. I’ve not done this before and will be interested to see how the germination is.

    I’ve added my brand new website, and it has a link to the photo albums I had up before.

  12. March 26, 2011 6:44 am

    Dear Matron I roll my seeds too. Your cupboard is bare but just think how much fun it will be to fill them up again. I am looking forward to fresh greens too. Great post. B

  13. Eva permalink
    March 26, 2011 7:12 am

    Even your bare cupboards are beautiful.
    Such a cold spring that I’m holding off a few more days before I start seedlings here in BC.

  14. March 26, 2011 11:41 am

    Good advice. I always wonder how many units is enough. I would LOVE to have a pantry as big as yours! Space usually constricts how much I can put up. But, every little bit helps. I mostly can tomatoes, pickles, and fruit. We’re trying to eat seasonally these days. And fortunately for us, the weather is mild here in Alabama for most of the year. My tomaotes and peppers are going in the ground this week. : )

  15. March 26, 2011 4:09 pm

    Your jars, both full and empty always look so sparkling clean. My tomatoes are getting low too……peaches are GONE!

  16. March 26, 2011 4:23 pm

    Help! Help! I can’t find your post on canning butter!! I need to put up some of this lovely spring butter! Can you point me in the right direction? I really thought the name of the post was “Canning Butter” but I don’t see it in the archives.

  17. March 27, 2011 5:04 am

    Great to see the update on both fronts. I find considering family consumption needs and overshooting by a year a practical yet so foreign concept. I have some work to do in planning my cellar efficiencies, now that we’ll have been through year 1’s successes. I’d guess that’s a life-long project.

    I am one of those that hates grocery shopping, and loves gardening. My seedlings make me happy. We still have many, many feet of snow that needs to melt – an epic year of snow for these parts.

  18. March 28, 2011 11:59 am

    I really enjoy reading your blog. I too am starting seeds, our snow won’t be gone until late April or early May, but seeing those starts sure gives me a sense of spring even if it is only indoors. I too remember planting seeds with my parents when I was a kid, and my mom showing me how to roll the seeds.

  19. March 30, 2011 6:24 am

    Don’t you just want to wallow in that growing medium? And there’s nothing on Earth that smells better than a tomato plant.


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