It’s been a long, wonderful summer filled with intense learning and amazing food and new discoveries.
We more than doubled our garden size this year from 3 large garden beds to 6 beds, plus a squash field and some hollowed out logs for edible herbs and flowers. Oh, and we still planted our edible front yard for all the neighbors to enjoy.
The funny thing is, our edible front yard has done its job so well that in the past two years we’ve inspired nearly all of our neighbors to start their own wee gardens, it doesn’t hurt that our new February survival tactic is to put seeds in dirt under fluorescent lights and start sprouting so that come spring we have wagons full of extra tomato and hot pepper seedlings to share…
The point is we’ve been successful and so this year our neighbors didn’t need our front yard the way they have in previous years, which meant, more food for us! A blessing and a curse.
However, I am proud to report that after tonight I will have successfully used EVERY SINGLE TOMATO, including the green ones. They have all been eaten, turned into salsa or marinara or chutney and canned or frozen.
I had used all of the hot peppers, but then October decided to go warm and mild and they have continued to produce, so in addition to the regular tomato based salsa, I’ve now crafted three different types of hot sauce using Thai chilis, habenero chilis and cayenne peppers.And I’m looking down the blender barrel at another batch or two before the snows come and close the garden for the season.
I’ve pulled all our carrots and used most of them.
We still have beets in the ground, and in the fridge, and canned in the pantry. But, that is my fault. No one in my family but me likes the damn things, and I accidentally planted two batches, when I only needed 1/4 of a batch. Oops. Live and learn. (And ask your friends to PLEASE stop by and pick up some beets!)
Speaking of learning – here are some lessons from this year’s garden.
1. Baker Creek Seeds are WONDERFUL! BUT, pay attention to whether you can grow what you want in your area. I did get a few that were not designed for my climate/altitude and because I am a lazy gardener, they struggled.
2. Okra is a silly plant best left to people who are willing to grow acres of it. I planted 5 plants and it took a whole season of careful harvesting & storing to get enough for a single batch of gumbo.
3. As always, we should have planted more Jalapenos. It turns out there is no such thing as too many jalapeno plants.
4. And, as always, we planted too many tomatoes. But… When we’re still cracking open jars of home-made salsa in January, I doubt we’ll be upset about this.
5. Next year, more carrots, more potatoes, more midget melons.
6. We need a cider press. That is definitely the top ticket item for next year.
7. Canning is expensive, but if I get all my jars back, or if people donate theirs to my cause (hint) it’ll all be worth it!
Last, the biggest thing I learned is that I really want to share more of what I know with people.
I love cooking and I love sharing food.
More than that, I love sharing real food, simple, yet delicious food. Food that the average person can make at home without too much stress or a pair of tweezers.
So, in the vein of sharing blessings… I am thinking about embarking on a new path with Kitchen Bravada and I’d love to feel you out.
I’d like to offer a new range of services and I want to hear what you think – are these services you’d like, what would you pay for them, are there related services I’m forgetting but that you wish I’d consider?
1. Getting Started with Rocky Mountain Urban Gardening
Face it, not all plants do well here, and some plants do great if you can just get the setup right. Others (mint, I’m looking at you) should NEVER be planted unless you want them to take over. I’d love to help people get started. Between me and my husband (though he doesn’t know I’ve just volunteered him) we can do everything from building garden beds to designing edible landscaping to planting rocky mountain friendly varieties of your favorite fruits and veggies and teaching you when to harvest and how to harvest your crops to get the most out of them.
2. Eating the Harvest
So you’ve got a garden and it’s producing food – now what? How do you turn raw veggies into delicious meals? I’d love to come over and introduce you to new recipes, new techniques, flavor combinations, dishes and styles. Let me help you broaden your palate and get creative in the kitchen with your garden bounty!
3. Preserving the Harvest
Once you’ve gotten into gardening you’ll learn that everything tends to come in at once, in abundance. So what do you do when faced with gallons of tomatoes, mountains of zucchini, buckets of carrots, bushels of beans – all at once!?! I want to come to your house and help you survey your bounty and show you the best methods for preserving each food for later use. From pickling to canning to freezing to drying, different foods prefer different preservation methods. Let me come over and show you how to get the most from your garden.
4. Eating Healthy for Less
I just wrote a BIG LONG post about this over on my ranty-pants site. I made a wish over there, but then I realized I could take steps toward realizing it right here with you all. I want to come to your home and spend some time with you. I want to learn what you like to eat, what you wish you were eating, what’s holding you back (money, time, kitchen skills, lack of equipment…) and then I want to dive in and help you. I want to create a plan with you and help you make your shopping list and go to the store with you and then I want to come home and show you how to turn good ingredients into GREAT food that your whole family will enjoy.
I want to be The Food Whisperer (Because somehow in our culture people who are good at things whisper… I don’t know. I don’t make the rules.) But that’s the idea. I want to come over and spend some time just consulting and then go home and think it over and come back and create a customized plan that fits your needs AND your available resources. (Because it won’t work if I come up with a plan that requires more time than you have, or more money than you have or skills that are too far beyond what you’re comfortable with in the kitchen.) And then I want to spend a day with you getting started, and then come back and follow-up and teach you some more tricks. I imagine this being something where I spend one day a week with you for a month and then maybe another follow-up once a month for the next three months. Something like that. I’m brainstorming, help me out. What do YOU think would work best?
If these ideas sound good to you, sound like things you wish someone would come help you with – please, let me know in the comments.
Here are the big questions –
1. Do these sound like services you’d like to use? Is there anything you’d change about them?
2. If so, how much would you be willing to pay for them? (If that is different from what you would be able to pay, feel free to note that. I understand that sometimes services are worth more than we can afford, personally I suspect this is one of those things for most people.)
3. For those who are able, would you be willing to pay more if you knew that a percentage of your payment went into a scholarship fund to help people in need access healthier food options and education?
4. Did I miss anything?