Thursday, March 10, 2011

Planning & Canning

We're planning our garden this year while staring at a lot of snow.  We're going to start this year with an area for my flowers and herbs and a separate area for vegetables and fruits.  The herb and flower area will be designed for beauty and function.  Read:  no rows. 

I use fresh herbs as much as possible and dry tons for cooking through the rest of the year.  How glad I am that I dried so much two summers ago!  I am down to the last half pint of dried summer savory which is my favorite herb that I use in everything. 

I am planning in addition to my regular culinary herbs I usually grow to add in a variety of medicinal herbs as well.  In all my reading I've discovered that many of the herbs I've enjoyed for cooking also have medicinal properties as well.  It will be nice to have my own supply of things for the various body products I make.

There is another area close to the house that had been used for the family garden many years ago.  It will be perfect for growing our veggies as it is a perfect rectangle, which will make Sweetheart happy.  He likes straight lines and rows a lot. 

I am planning the food gardens with canning in mind.  I used a jar of home-canned tomatoes the other day for making some soup.  It's truly amazing the difference in taste.  I hope to have a lot of tomato plants this year.  We've still got some jars of jams, fruit butters and pickles.  Lots of pickles!  Can't seem to get through the pickled squash though.  It's beautiful, but it's not our favorite thing.  Knowing this will help with planning how much of some things to grow. 

We've got a small orchard of what we believe are apple trees and hope to put in some strawberry beds and plant other berry bushes.  We may add in some new fruit trees as well, but that may or may not happen this year.  We have lots of dreams and finally the space.  We'll see what happens!

I am also planning on making my own field of wildflowers a ways back near the grove of trees.  I want a place where they'll be free to just thrive and reseed and not have to worry about them being in the way of our farming plans as we expand in the next few years. 

Dreaming and making lists is a nice way to spend a bit of this otherwise dreary day.  We've had a week of grey days with more to come.  Some snow, some rain, and lots of clouds have filled our days.  I am more than ready for sunshine and spring!

What fun it was to come across this giveaway for free Tattler canning lids from Maple Valley Farm!  Are any of you using these lids?  I've seen great reviews.  The lids are the flat discs for canning.  What makes these lids special is that they are made in the USA, BPA-free and totally reusable a bunch of times.  You still use the regular rings that you can reuse each year, but now you don't have to constantly buy more of the discs. I want to try them, but would like even more to try before I buy.  :)  pick me! pick me!

Maple Valley Farm is home to a family of eight that bought a 40+ acres Amish farm and live completely off-grid.  That's quite an accomplishment!  I enjoy reading their various posts and have followed some of their adventures for years.  They are even running a Bed & Breakfast so you can join them in living an off-grid life for a bit if your travels take you to Michigan.  Then you can go back home and have electricity!

I know, our new life is a big change for us and may be a bit odd to others.  I couldn't have even imagined a life like theirs a few years ago.  Who knows where we'll end up?  I never thought I'd be living on a farm and making orders for chickens and roosters and geese and turkeys.  I never thought I'd be trying to buy some goats and even a pig.  I am proud of this family following their dreams.  That said, I like power and think we'll go awhile like this before thinking about pulling the plug!   ;)


Brenda@CoffeeTeaBooks said...

I smiled at the difference between you and your hubby in the way you plant.

I love the wild English garden look. My husband... whom you must understand was an engineer... is driven crazy if there are not rows all lined up neat and tidy for flowers are veggies.

I have never grown summer savory! I'll have to try it. I watch Jamie Oliver's show on The Cooking Channel and he's always talking about herbs I haven't used.

Speaking of cooks and such... just bought the latest Tyler Florence Family Meal through a third party at Amazon... wonderful cookbook using fresh, wholesome ingredients.

Stephanie owns the River Cottage Family cookbook. That is on a future credit wish list. I think you'd love it... couldn't remember if I had seen that you read it or not.

Susan said...

I think it all sounds wonderful, Kimberly! Wonderfully perfect.



the Goodwife said...

I love to can and canned up some pinto beans today as well as some beef stew yesterday and some catfish chowder the day before. I told my husband about the Tattler lids and that I'd like to try them as well. They are an expensive investment but a truly worthwhile one I'm sure. I've been trying to figure out how many I'd need......

Good luck in your dreams, there is nothing better in my mind than living on a homestead, wether big or small!

Anonymous said...

Have you grown chamomile to make tea? How do I do this?

Also, I MUST HAVE savory. And my good friend no longer lives in Colorado where normally I could get some volunteers....Where do I get seeds?

Mandy said...

It's funny - herbs are the one thing I have focused on the least when they make such a big difference when cooking. I'm hoping to learn more about their cooking and medicinal purposes so I'll know which ones to grow. :)

It's funny to read about the life change you just made since we just did the same thing. It is so fun to dream now that you actually have the chance to make it a reality, isn't it?


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