Missouri Herbs

Missouri Herbs
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For herbs I don't grow, this is my favorite place!

Bulk organic herbs, spices and essential oils. Sin
On our site, you will see selected links to books that have been valuable to our homesteading, permaculture, spiritual, health and natural building paths and links to products we use or feel are ethical. Purchasing any of these products through my site will help contribute to our homesteading success and our teaching others to do the same.

Friday, May 2, 2008

I want to say thank you to my friend Kendall who encouraged and helped me yesterday. Her blog has given me momentum to start my own.

After reading books on organic gardening including Eliot Coleman's book on the 4 season harvest (see links section) and in learning from teachers, I learned that you can grow and eat fresh food year round and store much of the fall harvest. Being able to grow and store your own food is the emerald in the crown of self sufficiency. So many people struggle with the cost of groceries. The cost of a head of lettuce is ridiculous. People should not have to pay these prices for wilted, stunted, gassed produce.

In learning about the cycles of nature, I learned there is a year round growing season if you do it right. You can store much of what you harvest in the fall so that you have home grown goodness all winter. Did you know you can store apples all winter that were harvested in the fall? One of my teachers and his family that live in upstate NY lives off their land, have no car, no phone, no electricity, no computer etc...They grow and eat their own food all year, sell seed, supplies and other homestead items through the mail, they teach some classes there. They eat very well, have one of the most prolific gardens, magical soil and impressive Root Pit I've ever seen. They've been homesteading up here since the late 60's I believe. They are able to pay their property taxes, have a sturdy house to protect them and have all that they need. Some of their kids went to college. They choose to live a much more strenuous existence than I care to. I think there are certain "conveniences" that can simplify your life and still leave little or no foot print. Things such as lights that are powered by your own system such as solar, wind or water. I love cooking with the oil lamp, but i don't want to be dependent on oil and it's hard to do many things in that dim of light. I could use them if I had to though and do like to read by their warm light.

Any where you live; you could grow some sort of root vegetable that gives a salad type green to eat. You could grow Belgian Endive, harvest the root in the fall and put it in a bucket of sand in a cool, dark place (under your kitchen sink covered with bag). Then, when you are ready for fresh endive in the middle of winter, add water! There is a little more to it than that, you have to make sure it's kept dark etc, but not much more to it. Elliot Coleman's book talks more about it. You can do the same thing with carrots, celery and a host of other root crops. That's just one example of how easy it can be for anyone no matter where you live. If you want a copy of my write up on Belgian Endive, just let me know. People should easily be able to grow at least some of their own food at home and stop buying food shipped in from cross country and overseas.

You can pick up old bread pans for around 50cents at resale shops, punch a hole in the bottom with your choice of hard pointy thing, add a little soil (leaf compost is better if you have it), heavily and thickly sprinkle in Canadian field peas that were soaked overnight and then drained (prior to soaking they were dried), water the soil when dry, keep out of direct sunlight but around 70 degrees (hotter or colder is fine) till they get tall enough put in a window sill to green the day before eating and eat fresh sprout salad like that all winter. Make sure to first soak the beans in twice as much water as there are seeds, somewhere cool like a root cellar, basement or refrigerator. I bought 3 bread pans to do this, but don't have any going right now. They aren't like bean sprouts which is what you typically think of when you think of sprouts. They are more broad leafed like a clover. You can buy these peas dirt cheap and store them for a long time dry. I think we are going to get a 50lb bag of them as soon as the root cellar is done. There are a ton of websites on sprouting and a big variety of plants that be grown this way. You don't have to get new equipment. The method I used works just fine for personal use. See my link on Sprouting Info for an example of what types of things can be sprouted. It's just such a great way to get vitamins during the winter. My teacher says that people get S.A.D. (Seasonal Affective disorder or Winter Depression) from lack of vitamin D in the winter and this could help them.
To find leaf compost, find an area like a stone wall with trees nearby (old cemetery for example) where leaves will have accumulated over the years and wind will not be able to scatter them far. Dig down a little with your hands to clear off the top new leaves and you might find some nice fluffy stuff for your seeds. You can always make your own too.
With a good root pit or cellar, you should be able to store much of your harvest for most if not the whole winter (depending on the produce). I don't really want to do a lot of pressure canning, it takes a lot of water and power (and time) and if something stores in a dry state, I don't want to waste the energy. Some things like tomatoes and fruit, will need to be boil canned and/ or dried since they won't preserve otherwise. I might Pressure can pinto beans since they are a fast and delicious diner during busy times like now when the garden is going in. I do like having some cooked beans on hand. I'm just not going to do a ton of canning. If we lost power, we have wood and a wood stove - I can cook dried items just fine on that. I do like to use my pressure cooker for cooking because it speeds up the cooking time which reduces the amount of energy used.
It can be fun if you think about how much money you can save by growing some, if not all of your own vegetables. It doesn't have to be hard, you don't need special equipment and a lot of money. Just a little time and interest.
Here are some raised beds we built this week. Yes some are crooked, they need a few more screws here and there and as of this photo we hadn't finished adding the compost, soil and sand.

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