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How Much? What is Enough?

October 30, 2013

Often those are the questions I am asked about our food pantry, which includes the garden that we pretty much harvest from year round, the freezers, ferments and canned goods.  The real answer is…good question.  Sometimes I don’t even know myself.  I could tell you we have about 1000 row feet devoted to root crops that will stay in the garden, but I will never weigh them as I harvest through the winter months.  But I do know that it is enough.  It’s an organic problem, this year we don’t have any apples to speak of but we drowned in prunes, again.  Last year we drowned in apples and prunes.  What happens is that you make a lot of applesauce… and then  you don’t blow through it because you just might not get apples next year.  So I made about 100 quarts of applesauce last year because it was a bumper crop.  And I canned it so it would last for more than a year.  Yes, canned food does keep longer than the USDA tells you.  Enough in this case means I have some left over when the next crop comes in.

hardy kiwi juice

hardy kiwi juice

In the case of a minor crop like hardy kiwi, you get what you get.  I had designs on those kiwis to make some jam, but truth be told we don’t really eat much jam, but I do know that we’ll drink the juice come winter, and I didn’t want to expend any effort to make something that will languish on the shelf.  Put up in pints (a little goes a long way ) 22 jars will easily satisfy our taste buds for kiwi juice during the dark days.  Cooking takes away the bite of the protein dissolving enzyme contained in fresh kiwi berries, we don’t eat too many fresh hardy kiwi in a day.  So juice or jam makes use of the effort to grow and harvest.

Final row dug! 10-8-2013

Final row dug! 10-8-2013

We do weigh some crops, but never in their entirety because it is a royal pain to weigh everything you eat.  That mentality comes from shopping at store, you buy by weight and you need to know what you’re in for at the cash register.  In a garden that is different, we operate on row run here, and the rule of abundance.  I want to have some leftover.  We sort by size of course, but uniformity is out the window, If a deer eats part of a head of cabbage, or nips my brussels sprouts, it doesn’t matter how big the head is, or how many brussels sprouts there are, you get what you get.  That head of cabbage is going to the kitchen first.  Guess what honey?  We’re having roasted cabbage tonight instead of bok choy.

Our totals this year on potatoes :  718 pounds for storage from 45 pounds planted of various types.  How many did we eat all summer?  I have no idea.  Some of these were grown for a friend and have already been sent to their new pantry.  My goal on potatoes?  To not run out.  It’s as simple as that.

Storage onions

Storage onions

Our total for storage onions:  145 pounds of Stuttgart, Copra, and Dakota Tears.  Some from seed, some from sets.  10 pounds of shallots of an unnamed variety.  I don’t need to have storage onions all year because we eat sweet onions all summer into fall, in fact I just used my last Walla Walla Sweet onion, so tonight I will have to start getting into the storage onions.  Leeks in the winter garden help round out the allium supply.  I have no idea how many onions I used for cooking throughout the summer and preserving projects.  It was a lot, but no need to weigh them, I just need to make sure I have enough.

Music

Music

I don’t weigh all the garlic either that we consume, just what we store for winter.  I stored 26 pounds of two different varieties, not counting what I am using for seed.  More than enough to last us to next spring’s green garlic and scapes.  I sort the garlic by variety and size and hang it in the barn for curing.  Small or damaged bulbs get used first, and we use a wicked amount of garlic in all the roasted tomato products that get put up here.

Salsa makings

Salsa makings

EOS_2610

Umpqua

Umpqua

Besides the humans buzzing around putting everything away, the other folks that reside here get some benefit from us not being too neat and tidy with all our weighing and measuring and tilling and cropping.  We’ve eaten so much broccoli it is time to let someone else have a go, while we move on to kale.  A good short on the subject can be seen here in this video.

I wish there was a simple answer to how much to grow, or put up but the best answer is to grow enough.  Enough may mean a small garden for some and a large preserving garden for others.  What it needs to be is enough for you.

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14 Comments leave one →
  1. October 30, 2013 9:05 am

    Enough and some more is my plan, like you said, you cannot plan for everything to come to fruition and what works in one year can utterly fail another, so plant more than you need and what you get fed up of do what you do, give away, give to your animals or compost it – nothing goes to waste. Well that’s my philosophy anyway 🙂 We are beginning to adjust some of the things we have tried, more of some things, less of others. I would give up on broccoli as it doesn’t often do well in our climate, but last year it did when most other things gave up in the dismal summer we had and so I will continue to plant them.

    • October 30, 2013 9:44 am

      Joanna, corn was our waste of time here this year, it grew, prospered, and looked beautiful and we just decided to feed it out to the stock because we just weren’t into corn. Tastes change over the years, and growing the corn was an old throwback to my old gardening days. I do not live for corn anymore I guess. My funny thing was dried beans, I had given up hope of getting them to the dry stage in the field the last three seasons, so I made plans to can them and not fret about them not drying – well, they dried perfectly in the field, so it goes to show you can plan and plan so more and then you just have to deal with the garden hand you’re dealt in any given year. The pigs loved the corn and I love bacon, so not a loss at all!

      • October 30, 2013 10:16 am

        As I rely more and more on what we produce I definitely know what you mean. We still like corn, but I wasn’t around to pick much of it at its peak – the chickens didn’t seem to mind very much though. My worry is how to grow it out on our land, where the wild hogs have a great liking for it 😦 We would have liked more carrots but I missed the window of opportunity to get the seed in and so ended up with very few, the good news is that even though I haven’t got around to digging it all up yet, the mild weather we’ve been having means they are sitting perfectly well in the ground – unless the voles have got them while I haven’t been looking.

        • October 30, 2013 10:17 am

          I suppose I should say that the corn is currently grown in our allotment plots within in the confines of our village and not out on the land where there isn’t the protection from the wild hogs

  2. Beth Greenwood permalink
    October 30, 2013 10:18 am

    In my experience, a lot of people have trouble with the concept of enough — they always want more, which leads to the pickle we find ourselves in as regards debt, pollution and pretty much anything else you care to name. Enough in our personal food system means raising lots of different varieties and kinds of things. The Rutgers tomatoes make so-so eating but can well, while St. Pierre is good for eating but fair for canning. Mortgage Lifter is only great for eating, although it does make pretty good tomato juice. Between the pears, apricots, apples, blackberries, grapes and plums (most of which are essentially wild and get minimal care from us — especially the blackberries) something will always produce. This was a tough year in the chicken department for our family; something that I’m guessing was a viral flu killed half my flock and the grandkids’ cat decimated the chicks I raised. But we have lots of beef and pork, venison, wild goose and duck. We’ll have enough to go around and some to share!

    • October 30, 2013 11:36 am

      Bee, exactly! It’s easy to get caught up in the more concept too – this year I ordered 15 pullets from the feed store, my girlfriend didn’t want to split an order of 25 because her kids wanted different colors of chickens, so to make things easy I just put in an order at the store. When it came time to pick them up, I of course had to peruse the other breeds and I came home with 2 extra Americaunas. For some reason I wanted some blue eggs again, completely putting out of my mind why we quit using those type of breeds when we sold eggs. So at 19 weeks my first Sex-link pullet eggs started to appear, and now the weeks have stretched into 27 and I was still looking for blue eggs from those two hens. I caught myself grumbling about only getting 15 eggs out of 17 hens, and then I stopped myself cold. Really, that is a good percentage of lay, who cares what the color is? I felt pretty foolish, and then yesterday I found that first blue egg, it was like a beacon on the hen house floor unfortunately, and a dirty floor egg to boot. But I got that damn blue egg! And it really doesn’t matter because once they are in the pan, the shell color is but a dim memory.

      Our larder is stuffed to the gills too! Being able to share is a nice feeling.

      • Beth Greenwood permalink
        October 30, 2013 12:52 pm

        Nita, if you’re getting 15 eggs a day out of 17 hens, I would agree that you’ve nothing to complain about 🙂 Isn’t it funny how we humans set ourselves up, then grumble, fuss and complain until something or someone jerks us up by the shirt collar and reminds us how good we really have it? I like Australorps for egg production so I can breed my own (about one-third of my hens go broody every year), but I have to say my Delawares have also been producing well. Surprising, considering they were bred as a broiler, but I find they lay as well as the Australorps, will also go broody at about the same rate and still dress out to make a nice bird for the table. Tell, you what, though, a Delaware/Australorp cross is an odd-looking little critter: white with lots of black speckles in various places, black legs and skin, black eyes, built more like an Australorp. Makes it easy to know which ones are crosses, since they all run together, but I don’t know how well they’ll lay. Guess I’m just an old-fashioned gal with old-fashioned chickens!

        • October 30, 2013 1:21 pm

          I know, probably the next thing is I’ll be complaining about too many eggs:p Raising chickens or actually letting the hens do it has never been high on my priority list, it probably should be, but it’s about like appliqué, I like to look at it or read about it, but that’s about as far as I will venture down that path. Makes me a poor sort of homesteader I guess!

          I have to say one year we got an Australorp/Aracauna flock by mistake. We ordered Australorp because we were color coding by breed so we knew which flock to cull by color/age and those hens laid the prettiest olive green eggs, they were beautiful, but they tended more to the flighty Aracauna side than the laid back Australorps. It seemed that the Aracauna rooster liked to fly the coop and get in with all the girls, or at least that’s what the hatchery told us.

  3. Nick permalink
    October 30, 2013 5:39 pm

    Is that a typo on the 1000 feet of roots? How does one use so many root veggies? Maybe I’ve asked this before. My neighbor calls root vegetables gramma food. 🙂

    • October 31, 2013 5:47 am

      Nick, not a typo, but at least 600 feet of that 1000 is specifically planted for the milk cow, and she eats a lot of root vegetables during the winter.

      Gramma food? Gramma food that is currently in vogue…

  4. Victoria permalink
    October 31, 2013 7:31 am

    Since I’ve got a relatively small garden plot, “enough” for planting in the garden is as much as I can reasonably use; if I end up with leftovers there then it means I could have used that space for something else I currently purchase at the farmer’s market.

    For canning, “enough” is as much as I think I might get through someday, especially if whatever I’m canning is free. For example, this year I’m turning 150 pounds of apples into applesauce, which is a crazy amount for 1-2 people. However, the apple tree in my aunt’s yard only bears every other year, and sometimes it gets hit with a late frost on a bearing year, or I’m too busy to get out there. So I could easily still be eating this batch of applesauce 4 years later.

    • October 31, 2013 8:45 am

      Vic, I know exactly what you mean – we were inundated with apples last year and I was a little harried but I put up as much sauce as I could muster, knowing we may not get a harvest like that again for some time. We have the iffy weather too, we never know about the fruit yield until we see that actual fruit.

  5. March 4, 2014 5:16 am

    Thank you! I totally love this! I have resisted buying a scale. I didn’t know why I didn’t want one, just that it seemed like another gadget to clutter my life. But this is why. I want to have enough, not to weigh, but to eat. 🙂 I love your wording here. 🙂

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