According to author John Seymour, “urban homesteading” incorporates small-scale, sustainable agriculture and homemaking. (from Wikipedia)
I put homesteading in quotes because I feel like we’re really just taking a stab at it, and that only in what limited capacity we are able to with a small town lot. But for what it’s worth, here are our homesteading attempts.
Pickles and Green Tomato… uh, stuff
An adventure in canning! Lady L really wanted to make pickles this year, so she planted pickling cucumbers in the Spring, but we haven’t gotten enough at any one time to warrant canning. So we picked up some pickling cucumbers at our produce market for only $1 a bag. Amanda and Lady L used a short brine, and canned them the next day. Now we’re waiting for them to “age”… “ripen”… (whatever they’re supposed to do!)… before we try them.
At the same time, Daddy brought home some green tomatoes that had fallen from his boss’s plants. For the past two years, a guy that Daddy works with has given him a jar of cold-packed green tomato pickles that he and his wife make. Daddy and Lady L love them! Daddy wrote down the “instructions” but 1) it isn’t making much sense a year later! and 2) they really did want to can them, instead of cold-pack. So Lady L found a different recipe to try. Amanda and Lady L did these “Pickled Green Tomatoes” at the same time as the regular pickles, since everything would already be out. Unfortunately, you have to cook tomatoes to water-bath can, and the end result was something akin to sweet-and-sour-green-tomato-marmalade-relish. Oh, well. Some people like it for what it is and it won’t be wasted. Lesson learned: green tomato pickles need to be cold-packed.
(I’m afraid it was a busy two days and I only got a few pictures!)
The green tomatoes and onions ready to be salted.
A lot of salt!
Pickles on the left, and Green Tomato stuff on the right
We like Kale… but mostly in soups. And this is August. Ugghh! So we blanch the majority of our Kale and freeze it for winter. Once again Amanda and Lady L were on preservation duty, and picked LOADS of fresh Kale and then blanched it down to two freezer bags (a.k.a two batches of soup). It was kind of deflating. The conclusion of the day was that they should do it in larger batches!
My sweet, smiling, busy sisters! *happy sigh*
Bare stem, leafy green, and stainless steel.
Washed, cut, and ready for the boiling water
After boiling, plunged into ice water to arrest the enzyme things happening
From the ice water to the drying towels
The magic of a straw + lung capacity + zip-seal bag. Who needs a machine?!
“Only two of these!”
Bulk Grain and Honey
Fresh flour. What can beat it?! We have a grain mill, but have been struggling to find grain at a good price. We finally ordered from Wheat Montana with a co-op about an hour away. However, it wasn’t the best experience, and we hope to get our own group of people together to order in a few months.
Along the same lines, we found a good source for local, raw, organic-ish, wildflower honey. We order in bulk and get wholesale prices. It’s too delicious to speak of! 😀 I even use it in my coffee, something I had tried before and not liked. But the honey from this farm is truly my favorite out of all the ones that I’ve ever had.
Rolled Oats, Spelt, Hard White Wheat, and Soft White Wheat
A 5lb container of “liquid gold”
Sidewalk Container Gardening
And finally, I tried something new this year in gardening. I’m not typically too involved in the gardening (besides the weeding and cooking aspects!), but I really wanted to use our space more efficiently for growing food. I thought edible landscaping was a cool idea, but we don’t have landscaping. We have sidewalks. We do however put decorative flower pots on the sidewalk in front of our house each year. So the obvious connection was edible sidewalk “flower-pots.” Below are the results. I now know NOT to use mint, and to give the squash a little more soil room as well as padding under the stem on the pot edge.
Front to back: Yellow Squash, Green Chard, Celery, Purple Basil, Chocolate Mint, and Kale
At the front of the house… they DID look better in the beginning of Summer