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So Far in the Store Room

Self sufficiency is created in the kitchen, not in the garden.

This year, for reasons, there has been a huge and welcome growth in grow-your own gardening.

Millions of people have taken to their back yards to start on the adventure of planting for eating. I have answered more questions on tomato blossom end-rot and the the hardiness of cabbage this year than in the last 20, for sure. Oh, and people, ask away. I love it, and frequently discover new things in the process, so keep asking!

But despite always interesting and welcome flood of questions about the garden, no-one has asked me about preserving.

On my instagram, I deliberately try to post about the whole range of "what I am doing here" stuff, but I think I am mostly seen as someone who grows food. Well, if that's what you want, there are far more dedicated vegetable gardeners than me on there, and if you want to know about that sort of thing, then you should definitely follow that sort of person.

Bob Flowerdew (living embodiment of the patron saint of vegetable gardeners) unfortunately is not. He is on twitter though. I probably don't post enough about what happens in the kitchen, though.

I do not consider myself a person who grows food. I am a person who lives outside of society, but who has not rejected it. I just prefer it this way, and I have gone into my reasons for it many times. Too many for some people!

We start growing in these parts much the same as most folks, I guess. The greenhouse things start going in to pots towards the end of March, early April. The first super risky potatoes are buried in the garden around the second week of April - main crops I traditionally put in on my mother's birthday - April 23rd. It seems like a good enough day to do them, and it helps me remember every year when I do it, without having to go back to my notes from previous years. It gives them three weeks to start to grow underground before the Eisheiligen - traditionally the last day of frosts in Germany, and the day before which no green shoots are safe above ground.

A week or so later and you can cut your first asparagus if it's going well. At the start of June, if you're lucky, you will get your first broad beans and first potatoes. From this point, your fresh fruit and vegetables slowly start taking over from your stored produce.

Or in other words, we eat 100% fresh from the garden from July to October. 4 months. And it's only in the last two months September and October - the harvest season - when the garden is producing considerably more than we can eat.

The other 8 or 10 months of the year, the success of self sufficiency found in the stores.

I'm nearly done stocking the store for this year. There are some crab apple and rosehip jellies being finished today. There may well be another few green beans to come. And the feuerbohnen are going to get picked this week. That should be about another 3 - 6 kg of dried beans. Finally, the carrots. I am massively looking forward to seeing how many of these ginger beauties come out of the ground. It's been far to wet to take them in the last couple of weeks, a bunch of them will have gone woody, but that's ok, the piggies get them. I hope (hope hope hope) that there will be at least 20kg of them though. Scorzoneras as well.

Of course, parsnips, winter cabbage family things and winter spinach will stay int he ground until they are needed. Even if I have to go out there and kick the snow off them - it just gives them more flavour. So this is not everything, but this is most of what I have to see me through.

First up, though. A comparison. This week in the stores last year on the left, and this week this week on the right.

I had to make another shelf. And I can't fit all the potatoes on the rack. I think there are 160kg of them. I need them to last until the third week of June. That's the absolute earliest I will get the start of the early crop next year. Calendar week 26. We are currently in week 42. That makes 36 weeks to go. Or 4.44kg of potatoes a week. Damnit, that's enough for TWO people!

Of course, that's not all, though. There are a dozen pumpkins, marrows, dried mushrooms and many hundreds of super-hot chillis hanging up.

I've not actually worked out exactly how much food this all is. Or if it is enough. When the carrots come, I am quite sure it will be. And the 26 cabbages, cauliflowers and sprouts in the field totally count as well.

Time to get fat!

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