Thursday, November 12, 2009

Harvest Time

Fall Harvest

I had a good sized indoor garden over the summer. It was a small jungle of coffee cans and upside-down soda bottles. At it's glory, it really was a sight to see against my southeast facing windows. I hit a bad spell in my pregnancy and didn't water the plants for about a week or so. In the end, they did okay. I got a lot of herbs and a good handful of green beans. My tomatoes didn't make it and even the notoriously prolific zucchinis gave me nothing, but I got a good amount of lettuce for sandwiches. I'll try again next year.

I visited my mother over the weekend. She had an outdoor garden. I got two pounds of the yummiest carrots that my step-dad is super proud of. I got about thirty-five pounds of pumpkin, which is awesome, because we only have one more store bought pumpkin left. My mom grew pumpkins for decorative purposes, but they were too small to carve. (Score!) I got about twenty pounds of apples from her small orchard and a pound of acorns, which can be soaked and eaten as nuts. Even though my garden was a bit of a flop, the harvest did not let me down. Don't worry though, because before I came, my mom was going to give all of this to deer and other wild foragers, except the carrots, so she is not missing what I took.

Winter Harvest

Right now, I have a small window winter garden. I'm growing some lettuce for garnishes on sandwiches. It is common for us to get sandwiches to go when we go out to eat and the lettuce makes them even better. We don't grow enough for a diet of salad, which is fine with me since I don't like the ingredients in most store bought salad dressings. My husband only likes Italian dressing, and it's just too low of a priority for me to make it from scratch at this point.

I am also growing some oregano. I love oregano. Even though we have a large quantity of dried oregano, I like having fresh oregano as well. I grew many more herbs over the summer, but I found I used oregano the most, so I decided to just grow oregano in my scaled down winter garden.

My prized plant, though, are my green onions. This may be the oldest tip around, but I had never heard it before a reader passed it along, so I consider it a gem. Buying green onions from the store doesn't come under my $1.00 per pound for produce rule, so I rarely buy them. But you can plant them after cutting some off to eat. So I pushed some down into one of my coffee cans filled with dirt. Just leave a little of the green and the green onions will grow up.
Since I'm hoping it sticks around for a while, I bought organic for $1.58 instead of the regular green onions for $1.12. I planted the first one last Thursday. It has grown just about six inches in under a week. The first few days it grew kind of slow, then just shot right up. I've planted five so far and have more in my fridge that I am excited to eat up then plant.

I water all of the plants while I make breakfast, every day. Incorporating it with something I must do every day ensures that there will not be a garden massacre again.

Grocery Store Harvest

Potatoes are around $0.20 per pound around here. It is the time to buy. God designed it so that hearty foods would be harvested in the fall and they would keep throughout most of the winter if stored properly. I've been getting carrots for around $0.40 per pound and cabbage for $0.30 per pound. I've been making cortido, a Latin American sauerkraut. This is a great way to preserve harvest vegetables, as well as moving me closer to my nutritional goals. Of course, squashes and apples are a good buy right now, but I won't be buying them too soon.

How has the harvest treated you? Are you extending it into the winter?


Barbara said...

I had a wonderful harvest from our garden and fruit trees and bushes. Most of our winter eating will come from this food. I can, freeze and dry these foods. Emily, you can grow garlic in the same way as your onions. I dont grow inside during the winter.

Jenny @ The Zepf Life said...

I never thought to plant anything indoors! Since our dogs would eat anything we plant in our back yard, we grow a garden at my parents. But have nothing left to show for it, we obviously didn't plant enough. But we are going to grow pumpkins in our side yard next year. I can't wait. I love growing and eating fresh, healthy, cheap organic food!

I will definately try growing some things indoors.

Clisby said...

I didn't plant a winter garden (although it's not too late to plant some things in S.C.), but I'll probably plant in Jan.-Feb. for the spring. I second the garlic recommendation - very easy to grow. Also, it's not much help to a person in an apartment, but once you're living somewhere with a little land, potatoes are easy. One year my husband was showing our son how to cut up a sprouting potato and plant the pieces; we got at least 10 pounds of potatoes from it. Plus, potato plants are fairly attractive, so you could plant them as a border. They have the added advantage that you don't *have* to dig them all at the same time. It's not like tomatoes, where you have to pick whatever's ripe or lose it. Basil is another one where you can use some, root some - it grows like a weed.

Anonymous said...

Hi there -

Your garden sounds fabulous! So do you just cut off the tops of the onions (leaving the roots in the can) as you need them?

Anonymous said...

I just found out about the green onion tip a few months ago too! I stuck my "used" green onion root out in the garden this Spring, and never even bothered to water it or anything. Nature "took it course" and we STILL have green onions growing!

However, I never even thought about planting some in the house for winter use! What a great tip!! I have some green onions in the frig right now and you can bet they will be planted indoors so we can continue to enjoy fresh, FREE green onions this winter:)

Anonymous said...

I am confused about the green onion/garlic idea. For the green onion, do you mean you plant the tiny portion with root that you usually toss? When you harvest do you only cut green above the dirt or do you pull the whole thing and harvest bulb? Then do you replant the root again? And for the garlic... what do you plant/harvest?

I have large gardens and process much of it for the whole year. I love this idea of an indoor winter garden! I can't wait to start.

Thanks a lot!

Iba said...

We have an outdoor garden during the spring and summer. I'd like to start an indoor garden for herbs and lettuce for the winter months.

We freeze the zucchinis, squashes and tomatoes that we get from our summer garden. We have about a year's supply of those in the freezer. We freeze berries, too.

Emily said...

Corinna, I left a few inches on the green onions, not just the root stub, but I may have been overly cautious. Then I'll snip off what I use and leave the rest planted.

I'm not sure on the garlic. I think you just need to plant a clove. I would love to try that, too.

Anonymous said...

If you don't like commercial salad dressing, get an old 'Joy of Cooking' and it has recipies for almost every kind of salad dressing. Italian dressing is super-easy to make, its just a mix of dried herbs (cheap) and oil (not quite as cheap, but still very inexpensive) the only real trick is to not use canola oil, which will give the dressing an odd aftertaste.

Debtfreemommy said...

I agree with Clisby that Potatoes can be grown the same way. We take our left over potatoes each spring and cut the eyes off of them (the little sprouts that come up during winter storage) and plant those into the ground. This is how we start out potato patch each year.
You can also do this with beans. You take the dryer beans towards the end of the harvest and shell them out. Then you dry the seeds/beans out over the winter and replant them the next year.
We had Three very large gardens this year. We extended out tomato garden by 3 more rows because we were planning on making extra salsa and spaghetti sauce.
We normally grow potatoes, corn, several varieties of green beans, 2 or 3 lettuce varieties, cucumbers, squash, zucchini, turnips, broccoli, 2 types of cabbage, carrots (which do not do very well but try and try again). In the past we have tried lots of other veggies (and sunflowers) and we try to add something new each year.
We also have a nice harvest of 2 types of grapes, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries.
My mother, father and I spend 2 months of the summer and fall canning something every day. It can be overwhelming but after a few years of sparse harvest we were so thankful for this years bountiful harvest. It was much needed with the job losses and hard economy.
I have been so blessed that my grandfather and grandmother started the gardens when he moved here 55 years ago. Now my grandfather, parents and us all garden and share the harvest among us and lots of the community.

vm said...

When we visit friends who live in areas with lower costs of living or known for certain crops (or even cheaper grocery stores!), we load up the car with as much as we can handle--things like winter squash that will last months and things like tomatoes that we can can. The shallots I found on my last trip were probably 1/5th the price of what we pay at home--a steal in bulk and lasting a long time in cold-ish storage.

AnnMarie said...

If you ever want more acorns, we have a ton of oak trees on our property. I've read about soaking them, and it sounds like it takes a ton of time (which I don't have a lot of since I work full time). Anyway, would love to give them away this year or more likely next!

Clisby said...

Yes, for garlic you just plant a clove. I second the homemade salad dressing - it is *so* easy. The Frugal Gourmet has several salad dressing recipes too. When I was growing up, my mother made a really good oil/vinegar/blue cheese salad dressing that's still one of my favorites. I've never made the creamy-type salad dressing, but they don't sound hard. There's a lot of good information about recipes/cooking on the web, but don't forget your local library. I've gotten great recipes/tips from cookbooks in my county library.

Anonymous said...

About the zuchinni, I learned the hard way this summer that you pretty much need multiple plants to get zuchinni. There are male flowers and female flowers, and only the female flowers can grow zuchs, and only after being polinated by a male flower. Indoors, you'd have to do it by hand. Outdoors, I was only getting one flower at a time, so no chance for polination via insects or by hand.

Anonymous said...

You can fry zuke blossoms. Yes you need a few plants to get veg.

To grow garlic you plant cloves. You should always try to plant seed quality potatoes or garlic or at least organics. The non organics have been treated with growth retardant. While they may sprout and produce, it will be an extremely small percent of what you would have yielded with untreated. Plus I don't want to eat growth retardant!

Anonymous said...

You can grow almost any green plant hydroponically. If you buy some herbs or vegetables, you can place the stems in a glass of water and see if they start sprouting roots. This is taught in grade school science, so the kids may have fun learning how to grow a garden this way also when they can see the roots sprout as if by magic.

I have to say, your methods of cooking and meal planning are odd. I get that you're on a budget - but your meals sound as if you're only interested in how cheap you can feed your family instead of how healthy you're able to make a meal for as inexpensive as possible. it seems that being cheap is a priority over being healthful in your meals. It seems like you'll skip purchasing healthy menu items because they fall outside of your "under $1.00 per pound" rule, and even though you seem to save a few pennies here and there, you're compromising a well balanced meal. This is your choice, but it doesn't seem as if you're making the best choices for your family. Only for your wallet. And you're poor by CHOICE!

Jen said...

Clisby: I would love to have that recipe for your mom's oil/vinegar/blue cheese dressing, if you would care to share. :)

I love the idea of an indoor winter garden. I actually have a grow cart with lights that would make it easy to grow several things. I mostly use it to keep a few tropical plants alive through the winter that I purchased when we got married. I have about 25 houseplants and a few herbs, but should add more edibles!!!

Thanks for the idea.

Clisby said...

I wonder if that's why we never had luck with summer squash (yellow crookneck squash). My parents used to grow it by the boatload, but we've tried for 3 years and get maybe 4 or 5 measly squash. The plants look great - they vine, they flower, they ... live celibate lives, or something.

Captain Cleavage said...

I didn't know you could eat acorns as nuts????

I will have to try this...but we have a lot of squirlls with really bad tempers so it could be dangerous! lol

Atheist Mama said...

Just out of far as the green onions go - can you plant one and just leave it planted, snip off what you need from the top and it'll keep growing?

I've given up on buying green onions because I never eat them before they go bad...but sometimes it would be nice to add that color and flavor to a meal :)

I LOVE cabbage but dh isn't too big of a fan (although he never complains about my meals, even if cabbage is in it)...I always have an abundance of potatoes on hand and lately have been buying acorn squashes to roast (cheaper than all the other squash).

Atheist Mama said...

Oh yeah!

Acorns...I meant to try eating them when I lived with my parents and we always had TONS of them in the yard every fall.

I've never heard of eating them straight...but I've done some research on soaking them to get out the bitter tannins, grinding them into a meal then drying them. You can then use that meal as flour...pretty neat stuff!

amulbunny said...

I grew really good tomatoes this summer with my topsy growers. We started eating them in May and they were done by mid August. I'll do them again next year and add some strawberries and squash too. I have a long west facing patio so that's where our garden is.

When we were first married we planted cherry tomatoes and were giving them away like mad. Also had a fig tree, but someone else got those.

Good luck with your winter garden. None of my windows are conducive to it.

Scottish Twins said...

We didn't do a huge garden this year - just herbs. We thought we would be moving halfway through the summer and didn't want to plant a bunch of stuff.

But you have inspired me to do an indoor garden this winter. Thanks!!

Jenny said...

It's not complete yet, but I am setting up a little grow area in our basement for an indoor winter garden. I'm planning on growing lettuce and other greens that are fast growing and don't need too much light. I bought quite a few packets of various lettuce, spinach, kale and other seeds when they were on clearance at the end of the summer. I'm going to hang a cheap florescent light (the kind you would buy to hang over a work bench in your garage for $10) over the table for light (as a matter of fact, we have several unused lights in our barn so I'll just use one of those.) That wouldn't be enough light for tomatoes or many other veggies, but for lettuce it will be more than adequate.

Emily said...

Anon, thanks for the tip on growing. I'm not sure how much you've read of my blog, but health is a HUGE priority for us, we just see health as different than others do. That being said, the $1/lb produce rule is not so restrictive if you know where and how to shop for good deals.

The Prudent Homemaker said...

About the onions:

I live in a mild climate. We grow green onions all year long. I bought a 6 pack from the nursery a couple of years ago for under $2 in the spring. It had more than 6 tiny plants in it; probably about 18.

I planted them all, and as they grew, I only cut off green side pieces. They will get HUGE if you let them keep growing. I keep cutting side pieces (never the main shoot) and it keeps producing more and more side shoots. As long as you harvest just the green parts, they will last a very long time.

After several months, they go to seed. A harder main stem shoots up, with a round flower with lots of little flowers on it. This produces seeds, which, left alone, will easily reseed themselves and give you oads of new onions! (you can also collect the little black seeds when they are ready).

By doing this, I have had more than enough green onions; because of reseeding, one row became 6!

The Prudent Homemaker said...

Oh, and from your picture, I'd say that what you left of your green onions should be more than sufficient!

The Prudent Homemaker said...

And to Anonymous:

There is nothing wrong with an under $1 a pound rule. In the last few weeks in my area, I have seen gala apples for .47 a pound (normally $1.49-$1.99), bananas for .39 a pound, onions for .50 a pound, squash for $1 a pound, tomatoes on the vine for .87 a pound, potatoes for .20 a pound and bartlett pears for .38 a pound.

There is nothing wrong with buying the food that's the cheapest price per pound. You'll get a lot more food that way. And, you can still have a great variety! There are some stores further out from me that have even better prices; someone showed me an ad today for a place that has grapefruit for .33 a pound, carrots for .25 a pound, cucumbers 8 lbs for $1, avocados 5 for $1, limes 6lbs for $1 (yes you read that right), etc.

There are over 7.2 million people out of work right now. Those who have jobs are thankful for them. By watching what you spend, you can still feed your family great meals.

Emily has some great variety in her meals.

I feed my family of 7 for an average of $5 or less per meal for all of us. It can be done, and it can be balanced.

crabcakes said...

We've had fresh, abundant basil for about six months that we started in the spring from seeds. So much that I've dried some. I'm going to expand my window herb garden big time next year.

Emily, question...

How do you store your potatoes and how long do you find they last?

Simple in France said...

Emily, I've been curious about indoor gardening for some time and just haven't tried it yet because I haven't found enough info to make me want to fill my house with dirt!--this is a great post.

Simple in France said...

Oops! I forgot. We eat a lot of salad and I only make my own--the store bought kind is absolutely suspicious. Gross. Here's the super basic recipe that you can expand on any way you like. I mix it up in a cup and keep any extra in the fridge. It only takes about 30 seconds so I don't mind if I have to do it each time. My MIL in France makes it this way, but it's a lot like Italian.

In a small cup or bowl mix the following first:
1 tablespoon vinegar--
(basalmic, cider, red wine are good choices, but you can try anything)
1 tablespoon mustard if desired (use the dijon style if you decide to add mustard though, the regular yellow kind is not advised!)
a pinch of salt
any dried herbs or spices you want to add
Stir the above until mixed and then add
2 tablespoons of olive oil.

You're done. You can also add water or chicken broth at the vinegar stage to get a 'light' salad dressing, but we never do! Really--it's so easy and you can tweak it to taste stronger or lighter as you choose--you should try it.

Anonymous said...

I love that you have a garden while living in an apartment. I tried this too for the first time last summer. My biggest successes were the rosemary plant and basil. I use them almost daily and it's fun!
Tiffany in the Balkans

Virginia said...

I know it has been said before, and I know you love your black and white, but that first picture just looks like a lot of shapes. Not all pictures look great in black and white.

Also, I had been told acorns were poisonous.Guess that is not true...

Anita (Living, Loving and Learning) said...

It's always good to keep root foods such as potaotes, carrots and such in cool dark places. I like taking mine out of the plastic and placing them in a small cardboard box in the crisper. Apples also needs to be taken out of plastic and placed in cool dark places. So treat your apples the same and they will last longer.

finding my purpose in the 2nd half said...

Do they have a community garden plot in the town where you live? Thought this might be the logical next step in your gardening adventures. I've always had a garden in the past but we have more than 200 trees surrounding our current house and not a lick of the right kind of sun for an indoor or outdoor garden.

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