Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Now that I've written about my personal challenge of only eating locally, it's time for me to start figuring out just how I'm going to do this.  So far, only my 16 year old daughter is willing to go along with my scheme.  In a way, this may make eating my backyard easier-less competition for food?

I have started tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, herbs in my temporary greenhouse.  I have greens coming along in my coldframe.  I have seeds for black beans, kidney beans, summer and winter squash, peas, green beans, carrots...I have a lot of seeds.  My asparagus bed ought to be brimming with spears in late spring.

The grains will be the kicker for me.  I do a lot of baking.  I learned that the co-op sells flour milled from wheat grown in SW Wisconsin, which will be great.  I'm hoping I can find oatmeal there as well as I love oatmeal for breakfast.

Local dairy products are NOT hard to find here in Wisconsin.  the parents of two of my piano students own a local organic dairy, with a store that sells milk, ice cream and other products.

Meat shouldn't be tough, either (though I don't eat much).  We already buy our beef from a local farmer who raises her herd on grass. Eggs will have to be purchased from the farmer's market-my city does not allow backyard chickens (don't get me started on that).

However, I plan on most of my food coming from my backyard.  When I eat out, it's my goal to only eat at places that are locally owned-not chains-and if possible, places that source ingredients locally.  I don't eat out much, so this shouldn't be too much of an issue.  When I travel, same rule: eat only at locally owned places.

I think this challenge also means, no coffee, no chocolate. 

I have a decent personal library of gardening books.  Time to start rereading them for more nuggets of information, especially herbal teas.  If I can't have coffee, I am going to "need" a hot beverage each morning; it's part of my routine. 

A big reason that I want to try to eat out of my backyard is because I think that at some point in the future, the oil "bubble" will burst and costs for everything will rise.  Food is shipped to stores from thousands of miles away and stores only have 2-3 days of stock on hand at any given time.  If I can figure out how to grow enough food to fully sustain myself throughout at least part of the year, I'll feet like I've got a handle on sustainability and self-reliance. 

Monday, March 18, 2013

Eating from My Backyard

This year, my plan is to eat only locally grown food or from my backyard.

Yes, I eat from my backyard every year, but this year I plan to challenge myself.  From June 1st until September 1st, I plan to only eat what I grow, what I can purchase at a farmer's market, or food made locally.  I haven't yet decided what "locally" means. 

Already, I've come up with exceptions: I plan to keep using salt and spices.  I am not planning on giving up my daily habit of coffee (I'll just need to buy beans roasted locally).  Since I am the one planning this challenge, I get to decide the rules.  Wine and beer...we grow our own hops and make our own beer, but we buy the grain and yeast.  If I buy wine or beer, is it good enough if the beer is local or do all of the ingredients also have to be local?  Chocolate is an import.  If I buy organic, fair-trade, is that okay?  What about when I travel or am a guest in someone's home? I'm sure I'll have a complicated system of logic by the time I'm done.

Basically, the point of this potential exercise in eating locally isn't to deprive myself of foods I like.  The point is to see how easy or difficult it is for me to find the food I eat on a daily basis, locally, and to supplement what I cannot find, with the next best alternative (organic and fair-trade).

There have been numerous books where the authors have been militant about only eating from their backyard or watershed or within 100 miles.  My focus will be more on where I can find the regular stuff (like flour and oatmeal). 

I have my cold frame planted and seeds started.  It's snowing right now and June 1st seems a ways off, but I'm sure I'll be cursing myself for not planting a bigger variety of food when that day rolls around. 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Adding to My Garden Library

For my birthday this year my parents gifted me with cash.  This presented me with the problem of what in the heck I was going to buy as I was instructed to not use it to buy groceries or other household necessities which is sadly what I usually do with gift money.  I am not a shopper by nature.  Going to the mall and wandering about in that stale air and artificial light is a special form of torture, quite frankly.  If I'm at a store, it's because I need something there.  I'd rather be outside hiking about or tending my many gardens.

Which, is what I decided to do with the money.  Spend it on some garden reference books.  Technically, this is not a purchase of need, though I'm not sure I spent it in the manner my mother intended, though the pair of jeans I bought to replace some worn out ones probably counts.

This year, I plan to grow herbs for teas in my old strawberry bed.  I've wanted to have a tea garden for years but just never got around to using my herbs for anything other than food and bath salts.  So I found a couple of books on it and a book on permaculture. I ordered Homegrown Herbs by Tammi Hartung, Rosemary Gladstar's Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health, and The Vegetable Gardener's Guide to Permaculture.  My hope is that I can take away some useful knowledge from these books, especially the permaculture one.  I have tried to read Bill Mollison's permaculture books many times but have found them tediously dry and dull, which probably says more about my scientific aptitude than his writing since his books are incredibly popular. 

It'll be a few days before I get my hands on the books and I'm excited to read them.  We still have a lot of snow outside and with high temperatures hovering around freezing we'll have that snow for awhile.  I'm itching to get out into my backyard and do what I love: grow more food.  So until I have more than my coldframe, hoophouse, and small greenhouse to tend, these books ought to scratch that gardening itch. 

Thanks, Mom.