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What's it got in the Stores?

I've been promising the "how much space do you need to be self sufficient" blog post for a while now. If you're reading this in the future, then maybe I've already done it in which case, I will probably have deleted this and replaced it with a link.

I guess if I've not done that yet, it still belongs to the future.

Actually, what I really want to do is to create a self sufficiency mobile and desktop web-app which lets you fiddle around with a whole load of different inputs - from the size of your family to how often you like to eat peas - and it will give you a comprehensive guide to assist you in the planning and growing of all that is required to sustain health and happiness. But I guess that is even further off into a distant future.

every year, we're getting better at this.

A good start to all of this, though, might be a look at what I have got in the stores this year; what is missing; what the hopes are for future years. So let's do that.

So, then, here is a follow-along row-by-row table looking at the first two shelves:




Tomato pasata




Thick tomato sauce




Pasta sauce




Pickled tomatoes

2 litres



Green slime




Mixed pickles




Sandwich spread




Quince Jelly




Dried mushrooms



9 litres

Tomato sauce




Tomato sauce




Tomato sauce




6 rows of jams



36 pots

Quince jelly



6 pots

Pickled cucumbers




Pickled chillis




Pickled beetroot




Various pickles




Dried apple rings



5 portions

On the bottom shelf, there is a whole bunch of random stuff, the most important of which is the dried peas and beans. There are maybe 9 kilos in total, but this isn't finished yet. I have another job lot of peas to thresh and winnow, and this evening, I'm planning on podding the last of the borlotti beans which I just picked this week. In November. I'm doubtful that these will account for another kilo, but maybe. There are definitely a few still.

I also have stored: swedes, turnips, sunflower seeds, a lot of sorghum and a lot of sugar beets for processing.

Also, I'm trying dried spinach this year. I dried maybe 10 kilos of the stuff (that is a LOT of spinach), and it's gone down to basically nothing in weight, but the plan is to chuck a handful of the crispy goodness in to pots of stews throughout the winter.

The right hand side of the bottom shelf is put over to niceies. Little nice things of unusual extra taste and quality. High class delicacies.

There is still a lot of food in the potager. There are still a huge number of carrots in the ground, and an infinite supply of green stuff - swiss chard, spinach, savoy cabbages, and broccoli. On top of that you can add another twenty-odd assorted leafy brassica things.

In a tiny little baggie somewhere, there is a minuscule amount of saffron. I'm hoping to get the herb gardens going next year. You can probably see the calendula flowers in oil, and the dried lavender. I want to make soap next year, from raw ingredients. That is, an oak tree, sunflower seeds and lavender!

Most of what I eat us potatoes. For the majority of my time at the barracks, I've been keeping them in these grocer's boxes. This year, I'm trialing two lots of about 30 kilos each in flour sacks. Sacks which used to have flour in. They are made from paper these days, not the jute of the old days, which is a shame, but yannow, progress. These, I get from the baker when I get stale bread for piggies.

you didn't think I would forget the potatoes, did you?

There are the usual 180 kilos of potatoes. Eating these can become boring. Well no, not boring. I've never been bored by a potato yet. But samey. Let's go with that.

Most of my meals are "something with potatoes".

The importance of the niceies shelf is to have as many different nice things, just to add to the variety of potatoes, beans, veggies, tomatoes. Which actually, when I write it down like that, sounds perfectly acceptable. But, as we all know, winter is long, dark and boring. The more interesting things you can put on your plate, the better.

Most of the niceies are little odds and sods of random things. Some of them were left by people who came to stay at the Barracks in the year, some are wild forraged, but this year about half of them came from a glorious food basket of home-made delicacies I got from two wonderful people who came to my birthday party back in September. I'm going to be thinking of them often during the cold months!

But is it enough?

The question is always, is it enough?

And this can be surprisingly tough to answer.

At its most basic, the question of is it enough means is it enough calories?

Since year one, it has been enough calories. I am really good at growing potatoes.

But enough calories just means that your life continues as an alternative to starving to death, If I'm not going to starve to death, and if during the year, I have eaten so much fresh, high quality food, of great variety (and all to a higher definition of organic than you can buy for any amount of money in any shop) that my stored reserves of healthiness are plentiful to overflowing. So, with enough calories, and with enough stored goodness inside me, I will emerge next year ready to go again.

Now, no-one particularly wants to continually make withdrawals from this account all winter until you are in overdraft. But, if that did happen, it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world. Towards the end of April, we'll start eating fresh food again, and by the middle of July, we're right back into 100% fresh. It wouldn't be a terminal thing. But sure, it's not optional.

Starting here as a baseline, then, the next level up must be is it enough vitamins, minerals and protein?

Please, don't get hung up on protein. I'm not going to get into it here, but for goodness sake, if you want to take me up on it then read this blog post I wrote in May before you do. I am thinking about changing the peas and beans around a bit next year - fewer peas, more beans for drying. Undecided.

I guess with considerably more time available than I have, I could go through the nutritional values of everything in pots, add it all up, and try to figure out if it is enough. But, I think far more significantly, is to say that I have so much more of everything than I have had before, that it's a racing certainty that I have enough. I hit my targets on tomato sauces and exceeded them on jams. I would probably like some more pickles, but I had a bit of a catastrophe on the cucumber front this year, and next year, I am confident that the teachings have been noted, conculsions have been made, and that cucumbers will be a lot more plentiful next year. I already know that onions will be. And garlic. And I also love pickled cauliflower. This year, there are no cauliflowers. I mis-labled some brassica seeds, and ended up on the no cauliflower side of the cauliflowers. D'oh.

What I would like to do is to figure out when I will transition from eating each stored thing to plucking them from the garden and chowing down on the fresh variety, and from that work out how many pots of each thing I can eat per week.

The Weekly Haul

On Sundays, I go over to the stores (they are at the other end of the barracks from the loft) with a shopping bag, and I bring back a week's supply of foods. Rough guessage tells me that this year, that shopping bag will look something like:

  • Two-to-three tomato sauces (including green slime and pickled tomatoes)

  • One-and-a-half pots of jam

  • One jar sandwich spread

  • 300g dried peas / beans

  • One pot of pickles (pickled chillies will probably be toasted!)

  • 6 kilos potatoes

  • 2 kilos carrots

  • As many green brassica things as I can eat before they go funky - lets say a cabbage a week equivalent

  • Spinach and chard until the rabbits find them

  • 1 random selection from the niceies shelf. 2 on special occasions

I will still be buying:

Oats, margarine, rice for the rare occasions when I really don't want a potato.

I will still be getting stale bread for the piggies (I hope), and there is always a loaf in there somewhere which is perfectly good for toast!


Next year there is going to be a LOT more of everything.

Bon appetit!

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