Monday, May 2, 2016

Living the Dream

In my dreams, I'm living a sustenance lifestyle. I'm growing my own food, living off the land, totally off grid. Fishing in the creek for my supper, pulling some greens out of the garden to go along with my grilled fish. Fresh milk from a cow to provide my dairy. 

In reality, that's not the case. I don't know that it ever could be, either. 

Via
First of all, I hate fish. With a passion. 

Second of all, if I kept cows or other livestock, they would become like pets to me. There's no way I could send them off to be butchered. 

And I do like me a good juicy cheese burger or a nice steak on the grill!

Via
And bacon...don't forget bacon. 

Sigh. 

So, as long as I want to continue to eat meat, I must rely on others to do the dirty work. 

But I can still grow some of my own food, and I do!

Every year I seem to be adding to the amount of things I grow myself. Trying to increase the harvest, and increase the amount of food I process and put up for winter. 

Via
It's a very smart thing to do in this day and age, if you have the means. Groceries are crazy expensive and Lord only knows what's in half the stuff we buy at the grocery store!

My seedlings are coming along very nicely in my pseudo-greenhouse in the lower level of my house. I spent hours this weekend thinning and repotting many varieties of tomatoes, peppers, squash....getting ready to harden them off in a couple of weeks to plant out. 

And I added a little something to my garden this weekend that I'm pretty excited about. 

I have no photos from my own house because it has been raining non stop since I brought them home, sorry about that!

But....meet my new friends:

Consort European Black Currant
First up is my new Black Currant shrub, which I am super excited about. Black Currants are used often in Ireland for jams and juices and I just adore the flavor. I have been searching at my farmers markets in my area for the past few years for black currants to buy en masse and process but no luck. Not one tiny black currant berry has been for sale ever!

So, I will grow my own. Problem solved. 

Here's the description of the Consort European Black Currant:
Extremely productive, self-fertile variety produces clusters of medium sized, 1/4" black berries with a black berry flavor. Very hardy and disease resistant, reliable and easy to maintain. Birds rarely bother this variety. Currants are very high in vitamin C and antioxidants and are delicious in jelly, jams, or sauces.

Perfection Red Currant
Next up - red currants. For the same reason as the black currants. Nobody sells the berries up here - nobody!

Aren't they just gorgeous? 

Here's the description of the Perfection Red Currant:
Long clusters of relatively large berries ripen to a dark red in early summer. This attractive shrub with green, maple-like foliage is useful as a hedge or in containers. Mildly tart, juicy, thin-skinned fruit are excellent for eating, jellies, sauces and cooked deserts. Self-pollinating.

Seedless Concord Grapes
While I was at it, I had to get a grape vine. I remember being a small child in New York City and one of our neighbors grew grapes in his tiny back garden. They were the most delicious things I ever tasted and I can still taste them today in my mind. 

I chose a seedless Concord Grape because of the deep true grape flavor of a Concord Grape. 

Yes, please. Bring it on. 

It will be just like turning back the clock and being a kid again. 

Here's the description of the Seedless Concord Grape:
America’s favorite grape — available in a seedless form for easy eating. If you love grape juice, then you love Concords! The fruit makes full-bodied juice or your own house wine. These vines produce abundant crops that have also been used to make prize-winning jams and jellies. Exceptional hardiness, vigor and disease resistance. Seedless. Heat-tolerant. Self-pollinating. Ripens in mid September.

Caroline Raspberry
Of course, there was no way I was leaving the nursery without a raspberry bush. I adore raspberries - they are my favorite berry. I have never grown them myself, but why not give it a try, right? 

Here's the description of the Caroline Raspberry:
A highly adaptable and early ripening Raspberry variety, Caroline Raspberries will thrive coast to coast and will ripen earlier the farther south they are grown. A vigorous grower with excellent yields, Caroline produces a rich and intensely flavored red raspberry. Caroline is an easy grower that is resistant to root rot and other diseases; however it has a low tolerance for heat and drought. An Everbearing variety, Caroline will produce one crop in late June and will fruit again from mid August until frost. 

Via
I also have 6 strawberry plants which I hope will produce this year. Last year was their first year and I got flowers but no fruit to speak of. 


Patriot Blueberry Bush
I planted a Patriot Blueberry Bush in the center of my veggie garden as well, when I moved here last year.....black bears love blueberries so I made sure it got a protected place of honor! I hope this year will be a good crop - last year it spent the season just getting established after a tough move from my previous home. 

Here's the description of the Patriot Blueberry:
Patriot is a superb variety for both container and landscape use. Low 3-5 feet bushes have attractive open, spreading habit with fiery red to orange foliage in the fall. It's cold-hardy and widely adaptable.

Via
And I have a small fig tree in a pot that a sweet friend gave me last year. It was a baby off her much larger fig tree and I'm so excited to watch it grow. 

She says I should get figs off it this year. Fingers crossed. 

So, now the problems that I have are:

1. Where the heck am I planting all these things? 

2. How am I going to keep the wildlife from eating all my fruit?

It's a learning process. One I am very happy to take on. 

And you know what? For a girl who grew up in New York City, my little mountain top garden is doing pretty darned good. 

If I do say so myself. 

46 comments:

  1. It would be nice, wouldn't it, to never have to go near a grocery store again. That would be a dream of mine, too. I'm excited to see how your berry bushes do. I tried a blueberry bush last year but it didn't take. I guess you can buy a dud. :( My cherry tree is sprouting new leaves this year so I am hopeful for it. I would like to try a raspberry bush as my grandmother had many growing here so I know they would do well. I wonder, too, about the wildlife eating all your plants. Here I have to worry about rabbits & wild turkey.

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    1. I have a blueberry bush in my veggie garden....isn't that funny, I completely forgot to include that in my post! I will have to go back and edit it - thanks for the reminder, Deb!

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  2. Me again...I would recommend the little green-house, Deb. Other than two nights where the temps went very low I have had them out in it for a month now and everything is doing well. I have tomato, pepper, cucumber & zucchini seedlings inside and each day I see some growth. I also play classical music for them. lol

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    1. Thanks, Deb - I'm going to check them out!! I don't know if I'll be playing classical music for them, though - they will have to listen to the music of the birds and the windchimes instead! :)

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  3. I'm coming to your house, your canned veggies look wonderful! I love blueberries, lucky you! Hope the bears don't get them. The bears get my peaches most years. You'll have grape leaves to cook with too!

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    1. I've never cooked with grape leaves so that will be something else exciting to learn about - thanks for the suggestion, Carole!

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  4. I think in a former life you were a strong pioneer woman, with a huge garden and a cellar you stored your canning jars full of fruit and veggies in. Probably didn't have a man around. He got killed by a bear or something and so you rule the roost. I love your enthusiasm for your plants, because I feel the same way. And I know some people probably think I get downright nutty over a new blossom or plant. I now have a strawberry plant sitting next to my tomato plant. You'll have lots more veggies and fruit than me. But you'll cook delicious and mouth-watering meals out of them! Watch out for those bears!
    Brenda

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    1. I can't tell you how much I loved this comment, Brenda! But, just let's clarify here...I still wore lipstick and mascara, right? And perfume? :)

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  5. WOW, how do you accomplish all these task, plus being a working girl? I do enjoy reading about your daily life and gardening adventures. Also, learn many new things from your blog. Look forward to updates on your flowers and plants, like the new project at retaining wall, this will be a pretty area.

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    1. I have great drive when it comes to my garden, Theresa - just no enough free time to accomplish what I want to do all the time!

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  6. Good for you. I grew up on a self-sustaining dairy farm. I don't think my parents bought much in the way of 'outside' food-except staples like sugar and flour and those came in 25 & 50 lb fabric bags. I grew up with so many of the things you are going to grow---red and black currants. Nothing like currant jelly on a warm buttered biscuit!
    Good luck-you are right on track to living healthy!!! xo Diana

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    1. I can't wait, Diana - but does that mean I need to learn how to make biscuits? :)

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  7. I love this article Mountain Mama:
    I am a mixed bag and a part of me would love living on a farm, etc. I do want to can again this summer and am so glad I kept all my canning things and I kept tons of jars. There is a lot of inspiration here - you never fail!

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    1. There's just something so wonderful about preparing a meal in the middle of the winter using produce that you grew in your garden in the heat of the summer. Nothing like it!

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  8. You have lots of land, but at this rate you're going to need even more!

    (You know you need to cover the fig tree in winter, right?)

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    1. Ha ha, yes....the fig tree spent the winter in the unheated garage, by a window! I gave it little sips of water every now and again to keep it happy!

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  9. I dream about living in a more remote place, but I don't want to live off the grid! Our neighbor-friends of ours did that almost 2 years ago: they retired early and moved to the mountains of northern WA - off the grid. It was their dream and they're loving it.
    You'll have to keep us posted how all your berries are doing. I've tried both strawberries and blueberries, but didn't have any luck. I also didn't really know what I was doing, so there you go. ;-)

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    1. I'd love to be off grid providing I still had a phone and internet! But off grid these days really just means not being a slave to the power companies. I already have a woodstove as my primary source of heat, an artisan well, a septic system, propane for cooking/dryer/water heater, and now a generator - I'm nearly there, just not 100%!!

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  10. I was so excited about having just a small amount of fruit from my very own trees this summer...then we had that awful cold snap. No figs, no peaches, no little apricots left on the trees. The cold killed them. Oh, and the blueberry bush too. Maybe next year. It must be really hard to grow fruit. Sure hope you have good luck with yours.

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    1. That's so disappointing for sure. My fig tree has to live in the garage over the winter so hopefully there won't be any damage from those crazy cold nights we had. I just took it out recently and I think it's getting ready to sprout some leaves soon!

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  11. Black currants may need to live in our yard! Years ago we took great care to plant the strawberries just so and I made bird screens from PVC and chicken wire so the birds wouldn't eat all the berries. Now the strawberries have taken on a life of their own and they are everywhere and thriving. Maybe we should try blueberries again. Nothing like picking your own fruit and veg for morning smoothies. You definitely have a green thumb. How is your back?

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    1. So now you have enough strawberries for both you and the birds, Donna? Or do you still cover them all in chicken wire? My back is nearly 100% again, thanks for asking!!

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  12. Goodness! All that fruit is making me hungry. City girls can have a green thumb too. I am sure all your plantings will do very well Debbie :)

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    1. I sure hope so...every year it's trial and error, Karen!

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  13. I love seeing more and more people become self-sufficient. I can't have our livestock killed either. I love them.

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  14. I love seeing more and more people become self-sufficient. I can't have our livestock killed either. I love them.

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    1. I used to keep chickens, Valerie, but got so upset when they died. The last straw was when a hawk got one and left it half dead in the yard. I can't do that again!!

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  15. You are goin' to town, girl! So many yummy things, it will be hard to keep the bears at bay. I recently saw a San Francisco gardener on the PBS series "Victory Garden: Edible Feast", show how he "electrified" his apple trees, so that the rats wouldn't eat all of his fruit. Seems extreme, but at least he's not using pesticides!
    I see your berry basket overflowing...

    Thank you for sharing your outdoor post with us on The Maple Hill Hop!

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    1. Wow, how interesting - I wonder if it did anything weird to the apples?

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  16. Me too! Me too! That would be my dream but we have had to cut back some due to health but I still do what I can and I can still dream! Good luck growing all your new things! Nancy

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  17. Me too! Me too! That would be my dream but we have had to cut back some due to health but I still do what I can and I can still dream! Good luck growing all your new things! Nancy

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    1. Thanks, Nancy!! It's nice to know that so many people have the same dream...I used to think I was kind of crazy! :)

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  18. I share your dream too Debbie but alas, I do not have the energy to live that lifestyle. It takes everything I've got just to manage our little garden here in town and that is with tons of help from my wonderful hubby who does most of the backbreaking work that I cannot. I would think with bears in your area you are going to have to be careful with those current bushes...they sound like perfect bear food to me. ;) My parents had to put up 8 foot high chain link fences around their gardens to keep the bears and the deer out. Mom even has her fruit trees in the garden enclosures. I do hope you get some figs this year! I love them but never thought it would be possible to grow them in my gardening zone and well then there is the Rufus factor also if I tried to bring the tree indoors. ;)

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    1. I put the fig into my unheated garage in the winter, as instructed by my friend who gave me the start. This is the first full season it will have with me....fingers crossed it survived the winter in the garage!

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  19. I share your dream too Debbie but alas, I do not have the energy to live that lifestyle. It takes everything I've got just to manage our little garden here in town and that is with tons of help from my wonderful hubby who does most of the backbreaking work that I cannot. I would think with bears in your area you are going to have to be careful with those current bushes...they sound like perfect bear food to me. ;) My parents had to put up 8 foot high chain link fences around their gardens to keep the bears and the deer out. Mom even has her fruit trees in the garden enclosures. I do hope you get some figs this year! I love them but never thought it would be possible to grow them in my gardening zone and well then there is the Rufus factor also if I tried to bring the tree indoors. ;)

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  20. I've always wanted red currants, but I didn't realize they were even available in the U.S.

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    1. They certainly are! There are mail order and online nurseries that sell them also!

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  22. I love your dream, Debbie, but I could never live off the grid unless I was forced to. I love to eat fish, but I would never clean and prepare them; that's Mr. Cottage's job. And you're so right about the animals, they would all become my pets. I'd have to become totally vegan...LOL!

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    1. I could manage vegetarian but never vegan - that would mean giving up CHEESE!!!

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  23. You will have so much fun with all the lovely fruit you are planning to grow! I have a large 72 x 72' garden that my husband built for me two years ago, and I am planting all my fruit, veggies, and flowers inside it, because of all the critters we have too. Sounds like we both have a lot to learn this year! I am currently working on constructing two large strawberry beds as I purchased 90 strawberry plants - what was I thinking? LOL! Hope your rain stops soon, and you can get back out into your dirt :)

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    1. Wow, that's a huge garden!! Mine is too small to keep all the fruit in it, that's why I even took the herbs out. Holy smokes, 90 strawberry plants? Wow, you could sell fruit!!

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  24. Our last home was out by a lake with lots of critters roaming around the house like they were in a supermarket. Deer would be on my back porch when I looked out, so we built a fence even though we didn't want one. Hope your dream comes true and you get the fruit before the critters do. Will be watching for updates!

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    1. I hope the deer stay away from my garden but it's doubtful....last year I had a deer that would circle around the edges of my garden, just watching for those big fat flower buds....and come and chomp them while I was sleeping!

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  25. Oooh exciting to see all your berry bushes and plants! I'm adding strawberries and raspberries this year. We've built the raised beds but still have to get soil. Love this time of year...though it's been rainy and gloomy here in VT, too.

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    1. I thought we were going to get a bit of a break today but it's been absolutely pouring all day long!!

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