Friday, January 8, 2010

Grocery List Seed Planning

My seed shopping, swapping, and saving for 2010 is mostly done. Now I get to look over the piles and plans to figure out what I might have overlooked, and I find the best way to do this is with a grocery list. Every year the garden gets bigger, a little more well cared for, and less and less food makes it to the compost pile as waste. We love canning pickles, jam, and chutney, but freezing food is our number one priority. By noticing what I still end up buying at the store every winter, I have a chance to try and cross something off that list for next year.

Here are the items I still seem to buy:
Vegetable broth (although I froze 16 pints)
Fire roasted canned tomatoes (how do I replicate this taste?)
Tomato paste
Apple Cider (& ac vinegar)

  • rice - I have a continuously wet spot in our yard that has promptly killed everything I've tried to place there, and I have a dream that someday it will be a sweet, tiny rice paddy. I've done enough research to know the obstacles, like needing lots of sun, warm water flowing through, and (in Vermont) making sure that you've planted the proper variety. Unlike the long grain rices grown in California (which is what you'll find for sale on the web) Vermont 's climate is best suited for the short grain, stickier rice, Oryza sativa var. japonica. To begin Project Rice Paddy, I plan to just set the plants out in 5 gallon buckets to make sure that there is in fact enough sunlight - I can just move them around if need be. A Vermont couple has had great trial results via a SARE grant , and host lectures where they hand out plants - I hope to hear them speak at the NOFA VT Winter Conference (probably no plant handouts in March, though.) However, my boss/friend is heading to Japan in a couple of weeks , and she and I are on a mission to locate some seeds for her to return with. Can't wait, as this is really at the top of my 2010 geeky gardening list - please, leave any knowledge you have in the comment section...
  • ginger - I love to put ginger in soups and more recently stirfrys, and it's a mainstay in our carrot juice concoctions. Unfortunately, we can't grow the the heat - loving tuber that we buy in the store, but we can grow Wild Canadian Ginger, Asarum canadense. It's a pretty plant, but I've heard that it can be poisonous to certain people in certain quantities. Juicing is all about maximum potency - sounds like an experiment!

today's carrot/apple/ginger/lime juice

  • fresh herbs/indoor garden - this 2010 mandate has been set: all herbs will be potted. This way, I can bring them in to extend their seasons, carry them into the hoophouse when freak weather is threatening, and if I put them on bleachers in front of the chicken coop, maybe they'll provide a refreshing scent. The real trouble is that to bring plants inside our house means that someone should probably install some windows. We've been living with a window-less second floor for 2 years, just staring up at the framing and spray foam. So, huge south facing windows could mean an indoor garden, lowered heating costs, and maybe something interesting to look at!
  • parsnips & celeriac: I buy parsnips and celery all the time to put in soups (lentil is a house favorite.) I've been so busy staggering and rotating that I totally missed out on some long season crops. Parsnips are 130 days, and it's not uncommon to plant them in June and harvest them the following spring. While celery is only 80 days, it is not a lasting crop here, and therefore a waste of my time. Lately I've been buying local celeriac instead of California celery, and it's been fantastic to cook with. We've had it in soups, roasted, pureed, and even sliced raw in potato salad and I'm a fan. Celeriac is 110 days and can be stored. So here's the plan: I'm converting a large part of my 2010 outdoor garden to long season crops - leeks, carrots, celeriac, brussel sprouts, parsnips, etc... 

Riki's grilled tomatoes from the freezer

As far as everything else is concerned, most of it is about planting more and freezing more. Before I finished writing this post, someone gave me a bag of their own frozen fire roasted tomatoes - grilled on the bbq, duh. Popcorn will be a first for us, as will tomato paste (we've made ketchup, though.) And I'm hoping that apple cider turns into a neighborhood affair - seems like a good plan to me.

Do you plan your seed shopping with your grocery list? What do you buy that you could grow instead?


  1. Parsley. I should just grow it indoors during the winter, but I never seem to get to this stage. I don't ever have to buy thyme, rosemary, oregano, sage, or basil since I either dry or freeze enough to see us through winter and beyond.

  2. Jennifer,
    So far we are lagging behind on our seed list. My trip to Belize in 2 weeks seems to have all my spare time. We do have 3 packets of Sugar Snap Peas, last year we grew maybe 4-5 gallons of them in a 15 foot row!

  3. Joene - Parsley should be on my list, too, and sometimes you just need the fresh stuff.

    Randy - have fun in Belize, oh how I envy you. That's where I was at the turn of the milennium - fond memories!


Please feel free to leave a message. Haikus are always appreciated.

Related Posts with Thumbnails