The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Running out of winter stores

Chopped green onions

The trouble with a cold winter is that you use more of everything.  This is why I try not to put all of my eggs in the same basket and also try to plan on surplus.

Squash and carrotsFor winter meals, I tend to freeze a lot of vegetable soup and a significant amount of green beans, to stock up on storage vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes, sprouting beans, and butternut squash, and to use quick hoops to protect lettuce, kale, and brussels sprouts for fresh eating over much of the winter.

Last year, we had such good luck with the last option that I stored less of the other types of vegetables, but the negative teens killed most of our over-wintering plants this year.  The result?  We had to eat more of our inside stores, running out of soup in February and eating up the last butternut this week.  We've still got a bit of everything else left, but are very glad the garden is starting to give us leafy greens again.

Stacking firewood in the snow

The woodshed also suffered during this cold winter.  We went into the 2013/2014 winter with our shed nearly full, and that was lucky since we went through firewood like nobody's business.  In fact, in January I estimated we'd run out of firewood by the end of February.  But, luckily, the weather warmed back up to slightly below average (rather than drastically below average) in February, so we've still got a bit of wood left even as we start to refill the shed.

Filling up the woodshed

In our modern era of homesteading, if you run out of winter stores, you can buy more.  (Assuming you stocked up on cash the same way you stocked up on wood and vegetables, of course.)  But who wants to eat store-bought vegetables when you can just tweak your planting to ensure homegrown goodness?  We'll be sure to store just a bit more of everything this year, and if that means we're still overflowing with vegetables in April, we'll give some away.  Extra firewood will be just that much drier two winters from now.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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You can live on scrambled eggs with egyptian onions.
Comment by Errol Thu Mar 27 15:52:52 2014
Could you post (or point to a previous post) about how much (and what) you guys plant for a family of two to last a whole year? We are struggling to come up with a true working list of produce that could truly feed our family of 6 for a whole year. I know that climate and food preferences will not be the same but reading your ideas could help with our endeavors. Thanks
Comment by Elizabeth Fri Mar 28 12:22:59 2014
Elizabeth --- Absolutely! In fact, I was going to link to that post in tomorrow's post. Here's what you're looking for. Keep in mind we don't eat much of the most starchy vegetables, so if you're a potato eater, you'll want to plant those and probably increase sweet potatoes, winter squash, etc. Have fun!
Comment by anna Fri Mar 28 13:02:11 2014
Anna you are a true inspiration.. I read your book and was inspired beyond... Right now we are only sustainable in hot peppers and herbs front as we have a container garden only but it is our dream to eat off of our garden entirely. The freshness of the peppers is unbelievable compared to those they sell on the markets here - almost rotten.
Comment by Nihal Sat Mar 29 05:42:57 2014

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