Saturday, October 29, 2016

Let the vegetables end (sort of)

Container with lambs lettuce and miner's lettuce, October 2016
After an unexpectedly warm--near constant low to mid 20s Celsius--summer, albeit a little late starting, it's now gone cooler and more rainy here at the end of October.  The main bulk of my plants are finished and cleared away.  I've told the husband we can start buying vegetables again in November.  This will be supplementing the winter veg (kale, cabbage, broccoli, salad greens and a few leeks and root veg) still growing, and the preserved veg in the cupboards/freezer.

Since the second week of July, we have bought no vegetables--except 10 onions for emergency green tomato salsa.  Note this only includes vegetables and not fruits;  all fruits were allowed and we continued to buy "salad" fruits like avocados, cucumbers, etc;  this was explicitly stated at the beginning of the challenge.  I know, loopholes and all that. 

I should also state that not every vegetable we ate came from our garden.  I was given quite a lot, including three overflowing sacks of rhubarb (the bulk of which is still in the freezer) and enough zuccini to make several jars of pickles.  I also obtained some free vegetables from other sources.

One of my five year goals is to be self sufficient in seasonal fruit.  Hopefully this would extend to salad fruits too!  (Though maybe not avocados.)  I anticipate that in future years, building on the success of this year, I might be able to manage this.  My main obstacle to growing en masse is not my small space:  it's organization.

Using The Complete Guide to Self Sufficiency as my guide, I had very clear and timely instructions on what to plant and when this year--this is a book written for my particular climate (central/northern England).  In previous years I haven't followed any sort of plan, other than "plant vegetables" and mainly used the backs of seed packets as my guide to gardening--along with a garden year book focused on ornamentals and the occasional internet advice.  I now have a specific plan, and it showed genuine improvement on my previous gardening attempts.

Maybe the extraordinary summer weather contributed more to my success this year, and having secure fencing for chickens certainly helped (no major chicken-caused damage this year);  but I also attribute it to John Seymour's method.  Let the bought vegetables begin again--we've had a full 16 weeks (that's just about 4 months) of not buying.  And we will continue to eat from the garden until further notice.

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