Besides all the great improvements going on around here, the big garden, our new house garden and keeping busy taking care of Mom, I have had a few minutes to work in the flowers….and work in the wood. I can’t be long at any one job because I can’t leave Mom alone for more than about 15 minutes. Her mind’s kind of fuzzy sometimes and she panics if I’m outside too long. So my work flits from this to that and back a few times a day. I try to keep mostly at one project until it gets whipped. But mostly I’ve got a few fish frying, so to speak.
It’s said that in Minnesota you have two seasons; winter and getting ready for winter. That’s true. And we’ve been splitting, hauling and piling wood under our porch where it’ll stay handy and dry for winter. So far we’ve got six truck loads under there, with a whole lot more left to cut and split. That’s the “grunt” work.
To reward myself, I take a few minutes most every day and work in my flower beds. My aim is mostly perennials that won’t need constant weeding and care. So far I’ve planted day lilies, oriental lilies, peonies, roses, columbines, iris, phlox, veronica, clematis, hostas, and more. Of course I stuff some annuals among them and my violas and pansies are not only perennial, but also reseed themselves prolifically. Love that!
Last year the flowers were kind of blah; we had an open, cold winter and a lot of them winter killed. But I kept pulling the weeds, which NEVER winter kill and planting more flowers. It paid off big dividends this spring, and it only gets better. WOW!
So I have my vegetables and fruits to feed us, the wood to keep us warm and the flowers to make it all worthwhile. Pretty darned nice out here in the backwoods!
Food for a year
Great pictures of your garden! I too spend hours out there weeding! But that’s ok we need the food. Plus it’s so soothing and restful listening to all the birds.
We too are concerned about the economy and food supplies. We live on a limited income and don’t want to be caught off guard next winter when the prices go too high and we can’t afford food! I can only fathom a guess as to how high some prices will be during the winter based on how high they are now! Especially fruit and vegetables in the produce department!
Anyway, can you give a suggested list of things we should have on hand and the quantity desired for , lets say 3-4 people? I really need help in the meat area, flour, dried beans and whatever else you feel are the “basics” to eat with. This would be for a year until we can garden again and raise more chicken.
I have never stocked up like this before on food and have no idea if I need 1 bag of flour or several. What is the deal with dried beans? I am just starting to use them so don’t’ know much about them. Root crops that you speak of?
Last year I had 100 lbs potatoes, 50 lbs of onions, 1 bushel of carrots, 1/2 bushel of beets, not enough green beans since I only canned about 50 pints and have 1 left! I also put up peaches, pears, applesauce, pie filling, tomato juice, and whole tomatoes. Anything else I should be looking at?
I hope this wouldn’t’ be too much trouble but I am sure there are others who wonder too. I will have our own eggs and lots of home grown chicken too. What does your mom suggest too?
Thanks so much for sharing with us all that you know!! I appreciate it!
Wild Rose, Wisconsin
It’s real hard to pin down just how much a family “needs” to last a year, especially when everybody has different tastes, likes and dislikes. There is a whole lot of difference between “survival” and getting along well during hard times. When we were isolated on a mountain top in Montana, I went through 25 pounds of flour a month for the three of us. I also used about 10 pounds of whole wheat flours, 10 pounds of sugar (including canning time), 5 pounds of cornmeal and 5 pounds of masa harina de maize (corn flour).
To help you figure out your home canned food needs, remember that there are 52 weeks in a year. Therefore if you plan on eating meat twice a week, you’ll have to put up 104 pints/quarts of meat. I found that this was a little misleading, however, as I also had leftovers and extra meat that I saved for another recipe/meal…so the meat actually went farther. I’ve been canning up “meals in a jar,” which include chili, meatballs, etc. that not only include meat but other home raised foods. So I not only have meat and poultry in jars, but mixed meals, as well.
Remember to have about 25 pounds of dry beans, 50 pounds of rice, dry noodles (unless you plan on making your own), split peas, lentils, etc., depending again on your family’s likes. There’s no sense in storing up a bunch of stuff your family really doesn’t like. I’d recommend that you pick up a copy of the BHM SURVIVAL AND PREPAREDNESS GUIDE. It has a whole lot more tips on just how much and what you should consider storing. — Jackie
I was glad to hear that your mother is doing better. I also am glad you had Will with you while she was sick and to help out with all the work you do. My question: if you could have a fall garden what would you put in it? I didn’t do do very well with my summer one. I didn’t know that the boys had been feeding the deer and turkey in the corner by the woods. So you can guess what happened. Not much to eat and nothing to can. So I am hoping to get in a fall one and fence it in because there is no use in putting all the money in seeds for the deer. I read your blog and love to read Backwoods Home but I get through it the day I get it.
Varneville, South Carolina
I would get on that fencing job as soon as possible. I can’t tell you how much relief it is to go to the garden and not have to worry about what is missing today! And the sooner you get it fenced, the sooner you can get to planting. If you get it fenced fairly soon, you could still get in some bush beans and carrots. Besides those, you can put in your fall crops; turnips, collards, broccoli, greens of all sorts. To speed your broccoli up, start seeds inside now so you can plant nice starts out in the garden when the weather cools down some. I’m glad Mom’s doing well, too. I can hardly wait till September. Will is planning all sorts of projects for his next two week vacation here! — Jackie
Due to the fact that I’m about to have a July baby, I wasn’t able to do a huge garden because of timing, heat and exhaustion. Just a few tomatoes and peppers for enjoyment. I’m already thinking of what to do with next year’s garden, and what’s really bugging me is weeds! We call them “Frankenweeds”. They are huge and stubborn.
We cannot eliminate them. We’ve done pine straw, weed tarp, newspaper, pulling by hand, and they just keep coming back. I don’t want to use chemical killers and I do compost my yard and kitchen waste. All I can come up with is that we live in a very semi-tropical climate for almost 6-8 months, and the sun, heat and moisture we experience are just ideal for weeds thrive.
Any suggestions? Could my yard waste in the compost bin be the culprit, or do I just have to put up with the weeds as a normal part of gardening? As always, thanks for your advice; I’m really jealous of the pictures of your garden…wow!
Andrea Del Gardo
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
The only way your yard waste could be a problem would be if you put weeds/grasses in it that had already gone to seed. NO you don’t have to live with the weeds. You can get a handle on them. The first few years is tough, because you do have them. But if you keep after them, you will get them under control. If your garden is too big for you to do this, consider keeping half or a part anyway, fallow. Either keep tilling it up to kill all the weeds in it, throw down an old chunk of carpet after watering it well, or plant a thick cover crop, such as Will and I just did in our new strawberry bed (peas) to choke out the germinating weeds. My garden wasn’t anything to brag about the year I had radiation, chemo, Bob died and we were building our new log house. I was pretty ashamed of all the weeds, but oh well, I did the best I could at the time and I was able to can from it, anyway. As you can see, it looks a whole lot better now…and the weeds are very manageable. In a year or two more, I will have them pretty much whipped. My big help is mulch, mulch, mulch. Just don’t mulch with hay or anything else that has seeds in it; I did and ended up with a hay field in my garden from old hay seeds. Ooops! Straw, THICK pine straw, dry grass (without seeds or chemicals) or dry yard leaves all work well. Any weeds that do show up can be pulled easily because their roots are tender. — Jackie