In this post, I've looked at that and a little more. This is an important analysis, because it will help me determine how much to plant next year. Of course, it's hard to pick a starting point of when we'll dip into our stores. Something like pizza sauce, I'll start using as soon as I run out of the previous year's. Things like dinner vegetables aren't so clear cut. If I have something fresh growing in the garden, I prefer to use that. But if we get a hankering for sautéd okra, then I'll get some out of the freezer regardless of what else is growing in the garden.
With all that in mind, I've tried to estimate our needs by food categories: fruit, vegetables, and meat, but also things like jams & jellies, soups, sauces, and starches. In the past, I simply used 52 weeks as a basis for this. For example, if we wanted to eat green beans once per week, then I needed to can 52 quarts of green beans. This time, I tried to take into consideration the fact that during summer months, we will be eating fresh from the garden. Also, I'm learning to overwinter root vegetables in the garden itself, so these don't need to be stored, since they are available as long as the ground isn't frozen. Someday we'll add a greenhouse, and that will change storage needs again.
These estimates are approximate minimal needs for just the two of us. That's my starting point. Of course, I'd like to have more for the times we are feeding more. Or, for the times when a certain crop doesn't do very well. For example, my sweet corn didn't do well this summer, so all I got for food storage was one pint to freeze. But again, these are things I'm working toward. Things that will have to be taken in steps.
Here's what I've calculating for our first year, using only months when none is available fresh:
Fruit - calculated in pints, though frozen fruits are in quart bags
- need: one pint every 2 days = 3.5 pints per week for 9 months (40 weeks) = 140 pints
- have: 91 pints worth (including applesauce, not from homegrown apples)
- need: one quart every 2 days - 3.5 quarts per week for 26 weeks (Nov - May) = 91 quarts
- have in storage: 92.5 quarts + winter squashes (one per meal) = 99 quarts worth in the pantry so far, plus broccoli, which hasn't been harvested yet, and turnips, beets, and carrots which I can overwinter under mulch in the garden.
This one's tougher. If I can get three meals from one chicken for the two of us, then our 11 chickens will last us for 33 meals. Since DH likes meat for dinner, that's obviously not nearly enough. We're already planning on raising a big batch of meat chickens next year. We're also discussing more soups and stews, which will stretch our supply out some. He'll accept eggs, however, we usually use these for breakfast, lunch, and baking. I can go through 2 dozen eggs a week easily, so my 12 frozen dozen won't last but a month and a half during non-laying season. We talk about substituting complete vegetable proteins, for example the black turtle beans with whole grains, but he still misses his meat. This is where saving fats from bacon and sausages, and bones helps. If I sauté my onions and veggies in these fats, or cook soup or beans with bones, it gives the dish a meaty flavor, and that helps. I have over a gallon of dried black turtle beans, so there is a lot of soup and bean dishes. We're discussing getting a couple of pigs next year, also raising a couple meat goats. The question here though, is are we ready to butcher more than just chickens???
I do purchase locally pasture raised beef and pork. These are a bit more expensive, but with the money I save from growing our own fruits and vegetables, we have extra dollars in our food budget for this.
Soups - I love soup for lunch, and make a lot of soup from leftovers, dried beans (of which I have over 2 gallons of homegrown dried black turtle beans), or split peas (purchased in bulk). That makes it hard to calculate how much canned or frozen soup I really need. It's just nice to have the convenience of ready-to-heat soups on hand. I'm not even going to try to guess how much I need. I'll just make a note of when I run out, and plan for more next year.
- need: as many as I can manage
- have: 16 quarts. Will probably end up saving these for shopping and errand days.
- need 26 pints for pizza, more for other pasta dishes
- have 33 pints tomato based sauce + 5 pints pesto for pasta
- need - 26 pints if we go through one pint per 2 weeks (that's a guess)
- have - 26.5 pints. That's just squeaking by, isn't it!
Pickles (specifically cucumber pickles) -
- need - I'm guessing minimum about 26 pints a year (one per 2 weeks), but DH loves his pickles so double that would be better
- have - 13 pints. Obviously need to plant more cukes! This doesn't include pickled beets, which have yet to be sampled.
Starches - all meals, year round. So far we've only grown potatoes in this category. We harvested in July and 3 months later, out of 125 pounds, we have about 22 pounds left (some lost during storage, some made into soup, quite a few eaten.) We still have fall potatoes yet to be harvested. That's an important dinner starch, but I also need to consider flour for bread and baked goods. I'm planning an experimental patch of winter wheat soon, and next year we'll try to grow field corn.
Eggs - included with proteins above, but if I try to consider what I'll need on a weekly basis, I'd say we can go through 2 dozen easily. I have 12 dozen frozen, so that's 6 weeks worth. Not sure how long my hens will lay, nor how egg production will decrease as they get older, so I still have some experimenting to do before I can calculate this one with at least a small amount of accuracy.
In addition, I have frozen broth; dessert ingredients like pie fillings; ingredients like dried onions and frozen green peppers; dried fruits I'll use for baking such as figs, bananas, and watermelons; pickle relish; enough pumpkin for 2 holiday pies; dehydrated tomatoes, pesto, and herbs. Bulk purchases include beans, grains, flours, and meat.
So. To answer my own question, have we grown and stored enough? In terms of my first short term goal, yes. For this year, it was to grow and preserve all our vegetable needs. On that score, we've been successful both with dinner vegetables and pizza sauce. As a bonus, we're still getting fresh veggies from the garden and will have root crops in the ground. For some things I'll have to wait and see, for example, how long the frozen green peppers and dried onions last. Next year I can make adjustments accordingly. My bonus category is jams and jellies. Hopefully we do have just enough till strawberry season comes around in the spring.
Other categories remain as future goals, meat and starches for example. Even though we don't have a year's worth of potatoes, I've learned a lot and can plan for more next year. Meat self-sufficiency will take longer to reach, as it requires preparation for the animals, and the ability to feed them too. Grains too, as we need to learn how to grow and harvest them. Fruits are waiting on our fruit trees to mature. The things I didn't mention are sweeteners and fats. In the future we'll have bees, and if we do get pigs, we'll have some of the fats too. It's one step at a time, and I'm happy with how far we've journeyed to date.
In reality, this is a lot of guesswork. It is one of those issues which is best answered experientially. Since this is the first year (in this place and with this garden) that I'm making a deliberate effort in this direction, I won't actually know how accurate I've been until this time next year, I'll have a better idea of when I ran out of certain items, and whether or not I'll need to plant more. One step at a time. I can't say that often enough.
The Big Question: Have We Grown & Stored Enough??? © November 2010 by Leigh at http://my5acredream.blogspot.com/