Less Noise, More Green: All is gathered in

Thursday, December 4, 2014

All is gathered in

 Last January, I wrote on this blog that one of my goals for 2014 was to extend the growing season into the winter. I had plans for a hoop house. As the summer progressed and I was working flat out maintaining my gardens and preserving the fruits of my labors, I came to a realization - I was tired and I was going to become even more tired before the autumn months were over. The thought of growing food for all four seasons and digging my way through the snow to tend crops in February was not making me excited. I am not a winter person. I hate the cold. I hate ice. I know Eliot Coleman loves his winter hoop house but I need a break.

With the addition of my front yard edible landscape, 2014 was incredibly productive. I have fermented, pickled, canned, frozen, dried and stored more food this year than ever before. My kitchen has been a whirlwind of activity since late June when I started preserving peas and strawberries and I am still drying and freezing herbs into the first week of December. My freezers and cupboards are groaning. Life is good.

This time of year I think about past generations, especially those who were truly self sufficient through necessity or circumstance. With no supermarket around the corner, putting enough food away to see you through the winter could be a life or death issue. Last year, I hoped to be eating food from my stores into the New Year. This year, I think we will be eating home produced meals for a lot longer.

One of my strategies this year was to freeze more whole meals. This will save me time in the kitchen this winter but did not save me money. I will struggle to balance out my food budget for 2014 but I should see a reduction in my food bills for the first few months of 2015. If not, I will need to rethink my strategy!

I have two food organizational tasks on my list, right now. I need an accurate inventory of my cupboards and freezers (in the crazy preserving days of summer I lost track). I also need to update my recipe files with all the recipes I created and tried this year that are 'keepers'. I have a huge pile of notes, print outs and magazine clippings that I need to catalog.

As for winter food production, I plan to experiment with my grow lights to see if I can get a successful crop of lettuces growing. I also have kale, Swiss chard, cabbages and carrots still in the ground, cozy beneath a blanket of leaves.  This is winter gardening at a pace I can handle.

With a break from being productive outside, I have the time to be productive inside and get some house projects finished. Winter seems like a good time for nesting. Soon the seed catalogs will start arriving and planning will begin for next year's garden. By February I will be itching to get my hands back into the earth but until then I will enjoy my change of pace and the easy meals coming out of the kitchen.



  1. Great work Sue and a lovely looking harvest. I kike the idea of being in the warm still enjoying the home grown food whilst winter does its thing !

    1. Agreed! People that live in a warmer climate and can easily grow food all four seasons must do so at a different pace. I'm sure it has its own rhythm. The way I see it, the winter rest is my reward for a summer and fall of hard work!

  2. Sue, I've got swiss chard and cabbage in my unheated greenhouse and patio tomatoes under a grow light inside. My first year trying this. I have Eliot's book and wish there was a planting chart for starting overwinter veggies. I always wait too long to get the winter stuff started.

    1. Hi Mike,
      Thanks for leaving a comment! i wish I had the space for a green house. I know I would use it over the winter! Starting veggies for winter harvest is tricky because if you start cold loving veggies too early they can bolt. If my lettuce project is successful I'll expand my indoor winter growing next year.