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KW-36 Looking ahead to the winter stores
with a small amount of optimism
September is the month when the harvests start to flow and the self sufficient pirate first gets to really find out if they are going to make it through the winter or not.1
Thinking about the stores is a year-long obsession, but now we can start to make predictions for how it’s going to go, and knowing how last year went, I can have a bit of a think about how this year is going to go.
This is what the stores looked like at the end of last year - about November.
There’s just no way I’m going to catch up on last year’s tomatoes. The polytunnel is doing really well, but the field was mostly a disaster. When it rains all of July, we have learned, tomato plants go wild, and they’re not coming back. There were enough tomtaoes for last winter, but I could have done with some more. A definite oops here, but as we are going to see, I think it’s going to be ok.
There will be more this year. No doubt about it. I’m going to have to mix it up a bit though. I did definitely get a little bored of them. Tomatoes in jars are always a delight in winter. Pickles, surprisingly, full of useful vitamins and fibre and crunchiness, less exciting with time. 2
Peas and Beans:
This is a weird one. I remember last year deciding that I would definitely plant a whole load more peas and beans, and looking at the picture of the stores, it does seem a bit light on them.
I don’t actually remember running out of them way before the peas started, though. There will be a lot more this year, but less variety. Next year, I will go back to a couple of rows of soya and kidney beans again.
Are going wild. See again, “what happens when it rains all July”. It might not be good for toms, it destroyed all strawberries, but by goodness, it’s good for potatoes.
I think I’m on target. Weirdly, the quince trees aren’t doing much this year. But that’s ok. I only need a few for the pectin, the rest go to the pigs. Generally in the orchard, we’re doing awesomely. I’ve been eating 2 - 6 peaches a day for the last month (they have just finished now), and the apples are going to be well in excess of the one-a-day required to fend off the physicians.
Garlic and Onions:
I have never before had a year’s supply of garlic and onions. It’s a lean-ish year on the allium front, but considerably more than I have ever had before. This will make a staggering difference to the winter cooking. Also, mushrooms. It’s looking likely that I’ll have fewer than last year, but I was going a bit crazy with chucking 20-dollar handfuls into everything I made last winter. We shall be more reasonable with the fungi this time around.
Fresh winter vegetables:
Is this not the most handsome of cabbages? It has 20 brothers and sisters, all of which should keep for months in the cellar.
The spinach is doing exactly what it should do (seeding in situ for a carpet of the stuff), carrots, parsnips and leeks can stay in the ground pretty much all winter, to be harvested fresh.
I have 30 kilos of threshed and winnowed wheat, 8 of rye and a hand-cranked grain mill. I didn’t have any of this last year. Or any year. If I wanted, I could have probably a thousand kilos of corn flour as well. If anyone knows what to do with a thousand kilos of corn flour, let me know.
We’re going to be just fine for carbs this year.
Nearly all of this is still growing in the garden, though. And I really need an idea of what to do with the pumpkins. About half of them are oil-seed pumpkins so I’m going to see if I can figure out how to make oil from them - same with the sunflowers - but having a few over winter would be nice. I strung them up in muslin bags last year, and they didn’t last so well. Maybe I just have to get used to eating them first.
So this week is quite simple. My daily routine is pretty set.
06:00 wake up, brush teeth, read a bit, yoga a bit, nice cup of tea
07:30 feed pigs, water the greenhouse, potter a bit
08:00 2 hours in the veg garden - weeding, tidying, transplanting, harvesting
11:00 putting things in pots, making food for the day
13:00 siesta. It’s too damn hot out there. Doing a little bit of incremental cleaning in the loft. It’s getting slowly more betterer in here.
16:00 mowing. I’m trying to do at least an hour a day.
18:00 wood chopping. It’ll be interesting to see how much I can get ready for the winter if I do exactly one hour a day. Probably not enough.
19:30 feed pigs, the day is over
I also have to finish off the winter pig field, but other than that, I’m going to be a little bit strict with myself this week. Less bimbling for once. For one week. Let’s see how it goes.
And so, to it. I wish you all a wonderful week. From the timetable above, I see it’s pig feeding time. Better go and see to them
Take care of each other
Much pirattey love
Your, Pirate Ben
We always make it through the winter.
I did discover, though, that I can eat beetroot. It turns out I quite like my own pickled beets.