"The tragic reality is that very few sustainable systems are designed or applied by those who hold power, and the reason for this is obvious and simple: to let people arrange their own food, energy and shelter is to lose economic and political control over them. We should cease to look to power structures, hierarchical systems, or governments to help us, and devise ways to help ourselves." - Bill Mollison

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Weather, Beets, and Endive

Some of my blog posts might seem a little odd at times, perhaps a bit on the rambling side. The reason for this is that, in part, I try to use this blog as a journal of sorts, finding that it helps me/us to keep track of what we have been doing on a monthly basis making for a good reference of past events. That said, our temperatures of late have ranged from pretty darn cold (-9) to not too bad (mid 20's) and the winter has been more than manageable thus far, nothing like the terrible weather some of you have been facing in other parts of the U.S. and world. We have received around 45" of snow thus far but it has not all come at once as it did in 2008/09 and has provided a nice insulating blanket for our winter garden. It is snowing out as I type this, they are predicting over 9o" of snow for this winter...Rowdy sure likes it.↓

It was so cold the other day his brown fur started turning white, our hair did the same thing...made us all look kind of ghostly in the early morning hours.:)

In the root cellar we have been able to maintain an average of between 34-39° the past couple weeks, ideal conditions for our produce. Unfortunately, before our latest cold spell we had a bit of a warming trend that caused some of our stored vegetables to return to life and start sprouting a bit. This is pretty normal but not usually something we have to deal with until early March. So last week I spent a few hours going through 6 totes of beets and gave them all a much needed trim before re-packing. The carrots look fine, but the turnips also needed a shave. This should keep everything in good condition for a couple more months at which point I may or may not have to repeat the process...routine root cellar maintenance. See also trimming carrots and parsnips.

Sometimes we pack a few of these beets into pots that are placed on an upstairs window cell and "Forced" to provide us with a nice bunch of fresh greens.

At the same time I took the opportunity to cut back any dead stalks of celery and water all of the pots well. We want the celery to keep growing and it sucks up a surprising amount of water each week, some of the plants are even starting to send new shoots.

A couple pots of endive were brought upstairs to be used in our salads. We will replace these weekly and give the remaining soil to our chickens to play in...they love it and sometimes even find a few worms. Speaking of chickens, the girls have started laying again and we once again have a plentiful supply of eggs. We are proud to have only had to purchase exactly one carton of eggs in the past 3 years.

Green and red endive along with a few speckled ones that have obviously crossed with each other.


Buttons said...

Mr H from one rambler to another. I do enjoy your ramblings they are very informative. Nice pics, we have not had a lot of snow so not very much insulation on the ground, I am sure we will get a lot of winter kill with the alfalfa. We will just have to hope for the best. Love your dog.

Kumi said...

... and to think that we were complaining about temperatures in the 30s here... This is all great information for when I try growing some greens for the next winter! By the way, I love the look on Rowdy's face. Looks like he could start talking any time now. :-)

Stefaneener said...

Oh I do get the journal idea. Your weather is so much more than I can imagine living with. As always, the winter storage is very impressive.

Mrs. Mac said...

Is that 90 inches of white stuff for town or up in the snow belt? I really like the variety you have that keeps producing. The celery greens are so flavorful .. keep up the rambling .. we all car learn a thing or two. Glad the girls are producing eggs once again.

Heiko said...

I was wondering, have you ever had any problems with your fruit as illustrated in this video: http://www.flixxy.com/my-blackberry-is-not-working.htm ?

Sense of Home said...

That frozen land looks familiar. I also like to use my blog as a sort of journal for myself.

A question about your celery, are you growing that in the house or is that down in cold storage. Just wondering how garden plants might do growing in my house I guess. Again, your making me think.


meemsnyc said...

Oh wow! Your cellar is amazing! I'm so amazed that the celery does well in pots down in the cellar even with no sun?? I wish I had more room in our basement to do this much storage!

Anonymous said...

Every time I visit your blog, I learn something new.
Endive looks wonderful!

We should get some thawing this weekend, and I'm looking forward to any kind of garden work!

Rick said...

Glad your back, love your posts !

Sheryl at Providence Acres Farm said...

Good ideas! I think I am going to start some winter salad greens tomorrow...

Elizabeth said...

Love seeing the beautiful pics of your winter wonderland.
How do you like your beets? What is your favorite way to eat them? Any good raw beet recipes?
Peace & Raw Health,

Julie said...

Your posts always make me feel like such a slacker ; )

Glad your internet is back. Happy New Year!

Malay-Kadazan girl said...

That is many variety of fresh stuff from your cellar eventhough you have thick snow there. I have never eaten beets and endive before. I wonder if I would b adventerous enough to plant it next autumn.

Anonymous said...

Inspiring to see you can still eat wonderfully fresh and tasty veg no matter what the weather.

Dani said...

I know that the winter can be a trying time for you, but I am so envious of the enormous "coldroom" it creates.

Here our temperatures reach a minimum of 11 - 12oC - on the coldest days!

I dream of storing enough produce to eat during winter - but know as I am just starting out, my learning curve is necessary :-) I am determined to get there, though.

Well done - it all looks brilliant!

Ms. Adventuress said...

Oh my, you are really dealing with the cold. Stay warm. Love the rambling, of any kind, which I didn't even see as rambling, so you're good to continue. :o) Love the beet greens, any way they arrive and your celery sounds wonderful. And those puppy photos, oh my.

Mr. H. said...

Buttons - It sounds like you are having the same type of winter we had last year. Surprisingly we did not have to many issues with stuff dying off even though the ground was frozen and uninsulated. I hope you have the same luck.

Kumi - It has been in the 20's° during the afternoons but we are supposed to be heading back up into the mid 30's°during the next few days....a regular heat wave.:) Rowdy can almost talk, especially when he wants us to take him for a walk.:)

Stefaneener - I will take the cold snowy weather over the rain any day and it does make for good storage conditions.

Mrs. Mac - The 44" (probably 48" now) is the snow level at the Spokane airport. The 90" is a prediction by a very accurate weather forecaster for our area - Cliff Harris. You might enjoy his weather reports.

Heiko - We do have very similar issues with our fruits. All of our berries are frozen and the apple I had the other day seemed to have some sort of virus...I think it was a Macintosh apple.:)

Brenda - I have a feeling that your weather is much worse than ours of late...-35°windchill = Brr. The celery is in our basement and maintains its green color for a very long time. We occasionally bring a pot upstairs late in the winter and then they really take off. Celery is an excellent plant to pot up for storage, the trick is to be very careful not to disturb the roots too much when transplanting and to make sure they receive adequate water once potted. Our red celery seems to do best in storage.

Meemsnyc - It really does grow in the dark and considering that it is not fresh from the garden many of the stalks are still pretty darn good tasting. Good enough for salads and perfect for soups.

Vrtlarica - I could easily say the same about your blog.:) I hope you are able to get outside and do some garden work, our weather is supposed to warm a bit as well and I will be working on our undercover garden if it does.

Rick - Thanks, I thought we would be offline for much longer but the issue was simply a corroded outside connection so all is well. Glad to be back.:)

Sheryl - Good luck with your greens, I need to start thinking about onions pretty soon I suppose..spring gets a little closer every day.

Elizabeth - Our favorite way to eat beets is to serve them grated raw over a salad. We eat them this way almost every single day...often twice a day. our grandson eats the smaller ones like apples.:) They are also good grated with carrot and cabbage as a slaw with a few nuts mixed in.

Julie - Honestly, I "almost" enjoy going through the totes as it gives me a chance to see all of the produce and contemplate what will be done in the next seasons gardens...which I am really looking forward to.:)

Malay-Kadazan girl - If you have not eaten beets you really must try growing some...so good. The endive is fantastic fresh, steamed, or stir fired, and would go great with all of that seafood you eat.

Anonymous - It took us quite a few years to perfect our system but we are finally at a point where we are fortunate enough to be able to eat fresh garden produce 365 days each year...it really is nice.

Dani - We both enjoy the winter months and the new sets of challenges they bring...although I am more than ready for spring to come.:) But yes, the cold does help a lot with the storage of our produce. I have no doubt that you will come up with an excellent storage system for your own homestead and look forward to hearing more about it.

Ms. Adventuress - Thanks, I will keep on rambling on.:)

kitsapFG said...

Hurrah the redhead gang is starting to lay more again! My girls are actually slowing down a bit this week. I just love your cellar garden - everytime I see it I just marvel at how effective it is.

Looks darn cold and snowy to me! I like the coastal winters better - much milder! Of course I pay for that with mild summers (hard to grow tomatoes and peppers without some real heat and sunshine).

Keep up the ramblings, totally love to read about what you are up to.

Peter said...

We have no basement, but I'm thinking of using the crawl space under the house for cellaring certain things. Mice are a real problem, though; I'll probably need to make metal mesh cages for anything I store down there.

Inspiring post- thanks.

Diane@Peaceful Acres Farm said...

Just amazing!!! I'm speechless....and that is a miracle!

Leigh said...

I have learned so much about root cellaring from you. Thanks for another informative post. I need to say too, that I'm the same way about my blog; it makes the best record of what's going on around here!

Ayak said...

I'm seriously thinking about keeping chickens but I know nothing about looking after them. They're all over this village and don't seem to take much caring for.

Rowdy is such a handsome dog xx

Mr. H. said...

Laura - Yes, the girls are laying well once again and I am so surprised that these little old ladies have decided to pick up production during the coldest part of our winter. I can't wait to have a few more years of chicken rearing under my belt so that I know what to expect. We are almost over the hump, once february rolls around spring isn't too far away.:)

Peter - I really like your idea of a root cellar in the crawl space. Once of the reasons I use coolers to keep all of our vegetables in is so that the mice don't get at them...works great.

Diane - Wish I could harness some of your powers for my posts as I usually struggle with every word. Hope you are feeling better.

Leigh - I'm glad that you enjoy the root cellar posts, it is an amazing way to keep fresh food fresh. Yes, the blogs do make a great journal, I am always going back to see what I was doing on a particular date the previous year.

Ayak - They can be a handful but it is oh so rewarding to have fresh eggs. Check with one of your neighbors and see what they recommend. Chickens will eat just about any table scrap if it is broken up small enough for them and many are great foragers.

Niki Jabbour said...

Great post - I love the photos of your potted up veggies. very clever! Thanks for sharing..


Kevin Kossowan said...

LOVE THIS. I'm addicted to anything-root-cellar at the moment, and it's great to see what you've done with the forced root veg and the celery too. I'm about to start forcing my first witloof chicory, and may do some beets too for some winter green.

Ohiofarmgirl said...

hey buddy! That endive looks heavenly... I've got salad on my mind lately. Our clucks laid exactly one small, SMALL egg yesterday. Time to break out the Klingon Livestock Management practices.

6512 and growing said...

Man, you guys live WELL! I can see there's a lot of work to your daily and seasonal rhythm, but I get the feeling it brings meaning and pleasure to your days.

Mr. H. said...

Niki - The potted plants are a great trick that we have been using for a few years now and really makes a difference in what greens we can eat during the cold months.

Kevin - We don't force our endive into chicons as is traditional, mostly because we struggle to get large enough roots in our short growing season but I do plan on trying the traditional method one of these years. I am really looking forward to hearing more about your future endive and root cellar endevours. Also, when you plant the witloof remember that the more space they are given the bigger the roots which equates to much nicer forced greens. I will definitely do a better job of heeding my own advice this next gardening season.:)

Ohifarmgirl - One small egg? Shame on those girls. Might I suggest a heavy beserker bat'leth...just showing it to them should be enough.:)

6512 and growing - It's everything for us to be able to feed ourselves in this manner..empowering. We love it.:)

Wendy said...

The endive is gorgeous! I can't believe you've had that much snow. Wow. It's cold and white in Idaho.

Mr. H. said...

Wendy - A lot of our snow has melted away the past 2 days due to rainy weather but I'm sure there will be more to replace it soon enough.:) I made a rice dish with endive for dinner last night and it was really good.

The Cottage Garden Farmer said...

I'm very impressed with your endive and beet greens. We can normall rely on some outdoor greens here in England in the winter but this year's hard frosts and snow has not been kind to them, I am determined to emulate your methods this season and have a lovely supply in the colder months. Good photos too.

Mr. H. said...

The Cottage Garden Farmer - It is nice to have a fresh supply of greens at ones disposal during the winter months. I hope you do try to overwinter some of these plants for greens...I think you will really enjoy the experience.

LynnS said...

Hey Ramblin' Man....Keep on talking, typing, journaling.

Last year, I was so intrigued by your root crops growing in your cellar. This year I got a few more seed varieties to try extending celery in our basement next Winter. I'd love to have fresh celery for salads and soups!

Still love Rowdy's eyes! He'd be a blast to play with in the snow!

Mr. H. said...

Lynn - If the celery works out for you I think you will really enjoy having it at your disposal during the winter months. We are constantly using it, as a matter of fact a bunch went into last nights strombolini soup.

The eyes, yes, the eyes of a little monster are what your looking at...but a pretty good monster.:) He has changed so much in the last couple months...it's like everything we have been trying to teach him just sunk in all at once...mostly.:)

Rosalba Moma said...

I will be planning my root cellar this spring, wonderful ideas you have given me. Cheers

Mr. H. said...

I'm glad you found this post to be interesting.:) Best of luck with the cellar...it's worth doing.

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