Independence Days #1

resourcesA few months back I discovered the blog Casaubon’s Book which is where you’ll find author Sharon Astyk’s ruminations on peak oil, climate change and economic instability. It’s fascinating stuff.

Today I’m going to talk about Sharon’s Independence Days Challenge. Over the last few months I found myself getting mired down in details, spending too much time reading and not enough time taking action. This challenge was a cure for that type of procrastination. I hope to be able to update weekly, but I guess we’ll see how much progress I make in that sort of timeframe. Here’s a couple of relevant quotes:

“I think a lot of us have in our heads the idea that putting up [preserving] food, or getting into the garden has to wait until we have time. But of course, that time rarely arrives. Thus, I’ve found it tremendously helpful to simply do a little bit each day. It is also enormously useful to my morale to know that I got a little ahead in my goals that day – even when it is hard to believe it.”

“It is easy to forget how important this “little stuff” is – easy to think that your little garden doesn’t matter very much, or that your preparations won’t be enough… [but] the corollary of the fact that every calorie of food takes 10 of fossil fuels is that every stir fry or salad you eat from your garden saves 10 times the oil as the calories contained within it. The fact that almost every packaged ingredient uses 7 times as much energy to create that packaging means that your choice to buy bulk oatmeal just saved 7 times as much energy as the package contains.”

Here goes:

Plant Something: It’s coming to the end of the warm season, so the only thing I planted this week was some Golden Wax Bush Beans. We have very little space left for any more vegetables, so this will probably be the last planting until the cool season crops start going in next month.

Harvest Something: We continue to get a good dozen oranges from our Valencia tree each week. I love to juice them up as they are sweet and delicious. We are lucky to have Navel and Valencia oranges so we have fresh fruit all year round. Crabapples are also ripe, and as outlined in yesterday’s post I’ve been harvesting quite a lot of them. I pulled out the five experimental Beets. The Cayenne Pepper and Jalapeno plants each produced about 20 ripe peppers this week. Our first Heirloom Tomatoes ripened and were quite delicious straight off the vine. We continue to eat our Red Romaine Lettuce. We collected the last of the Golden Wax Beans which were overrun by the tomato plants. A few herbs (basil, rosemary and thyme) were collected for cooking.

Preserve something: Pickled Beets. Crabapple syrup, Applesauce and frozen apples. Pickled Jalapenos and Cayenne peppers. Dried Cayenne peppers.

Store something: Other than the preserves, we haven’t added to our storage this week. Our supplies are quite sufficient for the moment, but I think they might be starting to run a little low within the month.

Manage Reserves: Most of our staples are still OK, but some attention needs to be given to many of our other supplies. It’s a priority to organise water purification.

Cook Something New:I enjoyed the experiment with beet green and feta pasta. I also made some toasted muesli (granola) from some stored oats, nuts, seeds and my newly produced apple syrup.

Prep Something: Unfortunately I haven’t taken any action this week. My most pressing matter is to get some water storage sorted out, so I’ve been researching the best way to do that.

Reduce Waste: We have been amazed at how we’ve managed to reduce our waste. Even though most of our leftover food gets sent our dog’s way, since we set up the compost bin I’ve been amazed at just how much food we were throwing away. Things like onions and orange and banana peels were all headed to landfill and now they are going towards compost to build our soil.

Learn a New Skill: Preserving foods has been the skill I’ve been working on this week. I also learnt how to hand pollinate Zucchini. Helping my vegetables to reproduce has been the highlight of my week.

Work on Community Food Security: I’ve started a green-waste collection at work, so once a week everyone brings in their food scraps and coffee grounds and I take them home for the compost. It’s been a huge success, because the compost pile wouldn’t have grown fast enough without outside assistance. Since starting, many of my work colleagues have asked about what I was doing and have taken a real interest in my organic garden. I am extremely happy that there are now five others in the office growing something in there garden. Organic gardening gone viral!

Regenerate What Is Lost: This last week, Brendan received a beautiful, handmade recipe book from his Nan. She’s such an excellent cook and we really wanted her to pass on her cooking expertise. I’m so glad we are now in the place to make the most of the knowledge and i can’t wait to try some of Nan’s wonderful recipes.

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