Saturday, April 14, 2012

Saturday Pantry Suggestions

A section of last year's garden
Not only my ponderings but it seems my entire life has been wrapped around the lawn and garden this past week.  It's just that time of year when one is at the demand of nature and everything else has to be worked in among the planting and weeding.  But I love it!

Gardening is such an important part of the pantry lifestyle, even if one has a very small garden like mine.  We built our raised bed garden about four years ago when we realized we could rarely afford to go to the farmer's market, anymore... which is what happens when inflation collides with a fixed income.

Each year I've learned something new and I've expanded my gardening skills.  Although I do admit this Spring's crazy weather adds an entire new dimension to those skills (or not).  Who would expect my spinach to die because it was too hot right after I planted it... in late March?

How does gardening affect the pantry?

Well, obviously if your garden is large enough you can do all kinds of canning and freezing (and drying).  This is the way humanity deepened their pantry for thousands of years.  It is only in our very recent generations we have forgotten that.

It is good to see many young women wanting to learn the old fashioned skills like canning again.  Although, as a bride in the 1970s... the "Back to Basics" movement was flourishing back then... again amongst terrible inflation (much worse than now).

After all, those were the years when magazines like Organic Garden were birthed.  (It was also the decade "old" crafts like quilting made a comeback.)

By gardening, we also save money which can be used for those items we can't grow!

Is a small garden worth the time and energy and cost?

When we built the fence

Our garden the first year

Definitely!   The first year we only had enough money to build the fence and two adjoining raised beds for planting season.  We did build another two adjoining raised beds later that year to have them ready for the following Spring.  Then just last year hubby built a square raised bed in the small space still available.

We have had lots of veggies and herbs from this small garden so we were hoping to expand it out further this year.  However, finances does not allow that at all.  But at least we have what we have built and we are tending that.

What if I do not have a lawn?

My little herb garden from last year

First of all, grow something!  There are herbs which can be grown inside and they will add flavor (and healthy properties) to your food.  Almost half of my herb garden is now apple mint, which I allowed to grow that much.  I make tea from it, as well as the lemon verbena plant.

If you have a deck, there are many items which can be grown there.   There are tomato plants developed just for growing in pots (as long as you have enough sunlight).  I heard Jamie Oliver (on one of his cooking shows) say he grows the tiny tomatoes (like cherry tomatoes) in containers just for his family to snack on when outside.

I'm tucked lemon balm next to the faucet... and yes, there is a vinyl divider there already :)

This year I plan to grow our cherry tomatoes on the deck, as well trying a couple more veggies I haven't grown in containers before.

Gardening is one of those areas where we think it is "all or nothing".  If we can't grow a real garden, then why grow anything?  I thought that for years!  I also thought it was too expensive to build a raised bed garden in our back yard.

However, even that first year when we built the fence, cleared the grass, and built the first raised beds... it was only around $100 (and all of that is still there).  The most expensive item was the fence which is just chicken wire around steel posts but it is necessary where we live.

I know what I'm sharing today isn't anything new but rather I hope an encouragement from our experience to grow something.


Vee said...

I like the idea of your simple chicken wire fence a lot because it does not block the view. It's almost as if it isn't there while still keeping out deer and hopefully groundhogs, too. Do you ever have anything digging under it?

What a great idea to grow cherry tomatoes on the deck just for snacking!

Kristi in the Western Reserve said...

I gasped at the photo and was greatly relieved that it was a picture from last summer and you didn't have such tomatoes already. (I hope a few moments of thought would have made me realize this even without the caption, but there was an initial shock!)

What sort of plastic do you have on the garden, Brenda? I will mostly be gardening on my patio/deck again, I think, and already have chives and sage returning. And mint and thyme and other herbs around the yard in different places. I had some tomatoes last year and many flowers which are a joy! Couldn't you make the frames of the beds from recycled wood? Sometimes people find this at Craig's list or a recycle lumber yard. I remember your hubby was able to get earth from the woods near you. But regardless of how much garden you have, it is so worth having!

Anonymous said...

Brenda, After over thirty years of having a huge garden we moved into a smaller home for our retirement years and I thought that was over for us, we were going to be sensible and have just a small one with two 4 ft square beds. Four years later we have five four ft beds and the hubby has just closed the gaps between several of the beds to give me just a little more growing space! We hope that next year, Lord willing, when the hubby is retired we are going to rebuild the beds to give us as much planting space as possible!

Cherry tomatoes do great in containers! Since I never have enough space in the garden I plant them (two varities, Sweet Million and Sunsugar) together in a large container near the back garage door. Each summer they grow to over five feet and we easily get a bushel of tomatoes from them. There are a number of tomatoes that are meant for containers and do well. Good luck with the contianer gardening! May our Dear Lord be with you...Marsha

Mrs.Rabe said...

We just try to do a bit more every year. We have much weeding to do, as the family was away.

We love the different varieties of grape tomatoes, sweet 100, reisentraube, etc..great snacking tomatoes!

You're right every one can grow something...tomatoes, herbs very well in pots! Peppers too!


Rebecca said...

After vacationing at my brother's home this week, I want to go home and "grow SOMEthing" - just as you encourage here. I realize I've enjoyed my perennials immensely. Why haven't I planted some lettuce/spinach, etc. somewhere among them - at the very least????

I have put in a tomato plant or two once in awhile but need to be more intentional and plan ahead better to augment our pantry and healthy eating patterns. Thanks for the encouragement!

Anonymous said...

Yes growing things ..anything you like..sure does help the pantry. Also if you have any extra at all you don't want to can,freeze or dry I am sure you can find a neighbor willing to take it or barter for something with it. I have people that I want to do something for and I make bread or such for them but come summer they also love the veggies! Several of them cannot grow any due to bad health. Thank you for the encouragement you always give us Brenda! :) Sarah

jackie said...

i have been catching up with your blogs and loving every one! i have one question ~ i just love, love, love Sweet Annie but have been unable to find a plant or seeds anywhere. Can you give me some direction in locating some of that beautiful smelling herb(not weed!) ?

Vicki in UT said...

My husband got a new job, and we had to move away from our garden and house, and are now living in an apartment. Our only "yard" is a 6' square of cement by the front door, but I have 6 pots there--4 tomatoes, 1 lettuce and 1 with spinach and chard. It isn't much, but it is definitely worth doing. Store tomatoes taste like cardboard compared to home grown tomatoes, and how many times has lettuce and spinach been in short supply due to e-coli scares? Maybe next year we will be in a house and can have a real garden again.

Anonymous said...

This is very encouraging to me.. I have a small space and really needed a little kick in the pants or the proverbial carrot before the donkey to get me going. THANK YOU...Faye Davis

Heather L. said...

Loved the picture of Christopher and his soon to be bride.....

Have gotten excited about square foot gardening this year and marked out my garden (can't afford to make raised beds right now. It took me hours to plant half of it. I hope that it really works and I am able to get produce to help with the "pantry". His methods appeal to my personality. :)