Thursday, January 02, 2014

The Canning/Freezing/Planting Process - Year 1

 I am working my way through the list of items I should can this year. Mind you, I am starting it late and the garden isn't even ready to go yet. Add to that, it's the first time I've done a garden in the new area with the icky ground we have here. (It'll be a raised garden.)

I know that, no matter how productive I really need to be, some of what I want to accomplish in full summer number one here...simply won't be possibly...just realistically. Nothing to do with my time limitations or anything else.

The other thing is, I have kids that think they need to eat constantly. Also ones that pick and choose what meals they'll eat and which they'll choose to skip only to make something else hours later. It really doesn't help me get my budget in line at all.

Keep in mind, for a pancake household can go through an entire store purchased box of pancake mix. So, I have eaters. 

Peanut butter is really expensive where I live. So, to offset the cost for peanut butter, I figure I really need to not buy jelly. However, since I've yet to plant any bushes or trees, I'm likely not going to have any of my own stock to make jelly from. There is a small local farmer's market that I plan to check out this summer. Hopefully their prices won't be as scary as the fruits in the three grocery stores we have (all of which are at least 30 minutes one way to drive to...well, one is, the other two are around an hour).

Also, on some items, I know I can freeze rather than can. This does save time...but also causes the need to invest in something that can seal them up really well. Freezer burn tastes yucky. I also need to check freezer life as well as canning life on some of the items I'd like to stock my shelves with this year. This information, I'll share on the blog as well. 

I have to admit, we are a potato family. We're going through about 15 to 20 pounds of them a week. My kids love them as a side for most every meal. They also enjoy them as a snack. Or made into french fries. Realistically, I doubt I can even plant enough to keep us in potatoes just for the summer, let alone the winder months.

So, as you can see, there are things I have to admit failure on right at the start. I'd have to plant all my acres in potates to keep up with the amount my family eats.

Bread is another expensive item in our stores here ($2 a loaf is the cheapest). I have to make myself really work on keeping homemade bread readily available.

I'd definitely love to have enough corn, beans and tomatoes so that I don't need to buy any over the winter months. I'd also like to keep us in jelly through the winter and into the summer (even if this year I'm buying fresh from farmer's markets). I'm  hoping to do the same with squash.

I have chickens that I'm hoping will lay well before winter hits and that will allow me to cut back on purchasing eggs. Goat milk, I'm also hoping to steadily have by end of summer...that will stay flowing through winter. (Milk is $3 to $5 a gallon at any given time/store). 

One thing I am noticing is that start up costs are huge. But, once you have everything, hopefully, everything will run smoothly and there will be extra money left in the budget after the month is over.

I'm roughly planning for 30 weeks of needing canned items. This also may put us into a place of being out and having to buy for a time. However, with each year, I can make that improve. My logic is (these aren't actual numbers yet, only sample numbers): Now, this is assuming you have the space to plant. I did, but no longer will after my move. I'll have a very small area for a garden ~ and it'll be in direct sunlight.

(2014) If I plant --
5 rows of corn
5 rows of potatoes
3 rows of squash
3 rows of strawberries
3 rows of cabbage
3 apple trees
2 pear trees
3 blackberry bushes

I would increase yearly by 2 or 3 of everything (so eventually I'll have plenty extra to donate to food banks or to provide to my children as they get older and move away from home).

(2015) I would then plant --
7 rows of corn
7 rows of potatoes
6 rows of squash
6 rows of strawberries
6 rows of cabbage
6 apple trees
5 pear trees
6 blackberry bushes
then maybe add another item or two I'd love to have available fresh 
3 rows watermelon
3 orange trees
3 rows cucumbers

((**Remember, too, that some items you plant, you want to be sure you have some properly stored to use as seeds for the next year. This will also cut costs.**))

(2016) I would then plant --
10 rows of corn
10 rows of potatoes
9 rows of squash
9 rows of strawberries
9 rows of cabbage
9 apple trees
8 pear trees
9 blackberry bushes
I'd increase by 2 or 3 those items I chose to add the year before 
6 rows watermelon
6 orange trees
6 rows cucumbers
then maybe add another item or two I'd love to have available fresh
(onions, carrots, grape/muscadine vines, lettuce, blueberries, raspberries) 

At some point, of course, you will max out on increasing your numbers. That's when you've made it! 

For me, I need to locate local farmer's markets that aren't charging the same or more than store prices. Yes, for real. Here, during the corm festival, I got corn at the local grocers for less than they were selling it at the festival. Also, anything and everything home grown and home made will almost always cost you more around here.

So, I'll have to keep everyone updated on how I get around this and how much I can actually manage to plant in my small ~soon to be my~ yard.


  1. Oh, good idea to plan ahead on planting for canning purposes. Hadn't considered that. :)

  2. I'm sure it will take me several years of adjusting my numbers and what and how I plant, but it was the easiest way I could think of :)


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