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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-24-2009, 10:00 AM Thread Starter
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Living in a commune/vegetable gardens and canning

Okay, so I guess the title doesn't have that much to do with what I wanted to talk about, but here goes.

My wife and I are all granola crunchy when it comes to our food going mostly organic and home grown when we can. Our current place doesn't have all that much space (townhouse) for gardens, but we have a good sized 8x4 planter where we have a number of vegetables growing and we belong to a CSA that is organic.

Well we have just gotten in to pickling as we are growing some pickling cuccumbers and the CSA is giving us ridiculous numbers of regular cuccumbers right now. Things seemed to have gone well, though they need a couple more weeks of pickling before they can be sampled. Next project is jam and apple sauce this fall. I've made applesauce innumerable times before, but I've never canned it (simply thrown it in the fridge or freezer). I am going to try canning it this year, since frankly I love it and my son is a huge fan as well. I could easily can a dozen quart jars of applesauce this year. For the jam, frankly I occasionally find a good grape or strawberry jam I like from some place, but I don't like the store bought stuff very much. Overly sweet and not very berry like. So I have a local farm that does 'you pick' stuff for strawberries, blue berries, black berries and apples (among others) at very low prices and they are semi-organic (they use pesticides, but drip feed, not sprayed on which is significantly better). I think I am going to try canning a bunch this year.

Now that aside, I am having a hard time from dreaming of my next house. The wife and I want to move further west in our county where it is semi-rural and get around 3-4 acres. Plans are already hatched for 2,000-3,000sq-ft garden (probably 40x50 or 40x60). That is at least a starting point, we may go larger of it works out well. Including drip lines, timers and rain water cisterns to feed it all. The garden is more of a perk of moving 'out west' then it is the reason for wanting, but it is a big perk.

Nothing quite like pulling some sugar snap peas off the vine and eating them or grabbing some cukes and cutting them up for a salad that night. Going to need a lot more canning supplies and actually going to need a pressure cooker (a big one!) if the large garden plans ever come to, pardon the pun, fruition. Also in the garden plans are several fruit tress (probably dwarf bartlet pear and dwarf apple).

Currently we have a single pickling cuke that is pumping out about 4-5 big (about half regular cuke size) pickling cukes a week (about enough for 1 quart pickled), a couple of tomato plants, a bunch of leaks, a couple of egg plants and a few variety of peppers in the bed. Outside of the bed we have Rosmary in the ground and in pots on the deck with have a bunch of sugar snap peas, basil and oregano. The peppers are not doing well (they've done well in pots before for us, I am thinking over watering here, but everything else in the planter loves the water), everything else is flourishing like crazy. The bed is under planted and we are going to do carrots in there shortly.

next year I think we are probably going to change up where things are planted and go with 3-4 tomato plants, 2 eggplant, 3-4 pickling cuccumbers, 4-6 brocoli, carrots later in the season and possibly leaks again.

Anyone else do canning or do large vegetable gardens?
-Matt
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-24-2009, 10:08 AM
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Re: Living in a commune/vegetable gardens and canning

In our town, we have several community gardens (all run by the same 501(c)(3)) that help teach organic/sustainable growing. The food all gets donated to the local shelter for use to feed the needy and orphaned children.

Pretty good experience. I don't go out there that often, but my father-in-law probably spends 30 hrs a week out there (he's obviously retired).
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-24-2009, 11:08 AM
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Re: Living in a commune/vegetable gardens and canning

What's a cuke?
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-24-2009, 11:31 AM
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Re: Living in a commune/vegetable gardens and canning

[quote author=biggee72 link=topic=151332.msg3244761#msg3244761 date=1248448125]
What's a cuke?
[/quote]

lol cucumber


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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-24-2009, 11:39 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Living in a commune/vegetable gardens and canning

Pronounced like puke, but with a q sound instead of a p sound. Yes, short for cuccumber.

Yeah, Baltimore changed over its flower gardens near city hall in War Memorial Plaza to vegetable gardens for educational purposes. They donate all of the food to homeless shelters. I was amazed at how productive they were, 1,800lbs of produce from the early summer harvest. According to the article I was reading on it they get tons of inquiries from people about what is growing in the garden, what different things are, what can you cook with them, etc. They have up 'home gardening' pamphlets and recipe guides and aparently they are getting gobbled up like hot cakes. I guess it should be a little less suprising when I realize then plenty of the people who see/come by the gardens have lived in the city their whole life and probably don't know what a vegetable or fruits life cycle is outside of what they get in their corner groccer or if they were paying attention to the limited amount from school.

Interestingly the city is spending less on planting/upkeep then when they were doing flower gardens and the rate of vandalism has dropped to zero (other then the rare occasional missing head of lettuce, cabbage, etc). That plus all of the interest in the gardens and the enormous amount of produced food for the homeless shelters (sadly way below what is actually needed to supply all of the cities homeless shelters, but its something and it is fresh) means they are likely to continue it for the foreseeable future.
-Matt
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-24-2009, 11:43 AM
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Re: Living in a commune/vegetable gardens and canning

Yeah, the gardens here donating 14,000 lbs. of food in 2008. Pretty impressive. Good community activity, too.
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-24-2009, 11:54 AM
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Re: Living in a commune/vegetable gardens and canning

LOL ohhhh. I thought it was where you make pickles. I'm a dumbass.
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-24-2009, 12:43 PM
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Re: Living in a commune/vegetable gardens and canning

i love hearing about successful community programs and such. It's good to be reminded the world isn't just full of selfish retards and criminals.

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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-24-2009, 03:11 PM
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Re: Living in a commune/vegetable gardens and canning

I really admire what you are doing. I want to get a house someday and set up a garden, probably nowhere near the size you're going for.

On a side note, now I'm hungry

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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-24-2009, 03:25 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Living in a commune/vegetable gardens and canning

Picture of the resultant pickles.



Picture of the vegetable garden just after planting back in May.



Really could have gone with about a 50% higher vegetable density on the planting. Oh well, there is next year. Took me a solid day to make the planter. Its 4x4 cedar stacked 3 high held together with 1" rebar as stakes through the wood. Drainage back there is whicked bad hence why I went with a planter that high (so the vegetable roots don't drown when there is half an inch of standing water for days on end after a few bad rain storms in the spring and early fall). The circular planter on the right has a pair of rosemary growing in it. Took them forever to really start growing, but now they are both about 2ft high. I am going to have more rosemary then I know what to do with.
-Matt
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