Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Growing your own fruit in town
I'm a homesteader girl at heart. My idea of heaven is a cabin up in the woods far away from neighbors and noise. Growing and preserving most of our food ourselves with a cellar brimming with orderly rows of home canned jars. Reality, however, means that we must live where we can make money to feed and clothe our brood. Compromise being the better part of valor and all that.
So when we were looking for our home smack in the middle of a tiny farming town my first priority was making sure it had plenty of space for fruit trees, berries, and a garden with a place for laying hens and meat rabbits thrown in for good measure. Lo and behold the ideal property came up. It was perfect in every way. A solid 1900 Victorian with a full basement for storing canned foods, a garage for the rabbits, and a small brick building for the chickens. It had a fireplace in the parlor and a wood stove in the living room that would more than adequately heat the house in winter.
The yard was even better, it was sitting on almost an acre of land with large areas ready for a garden and fruits. My ultimate goal is to raise all the fruits and vegetables we will eat in a year. Think that's not possible on a lot in town? Think again, it is absolutely possible! But it does mean sacrificing the lovely but useless yard of grass that needs constant mowing weeding and fertilizing.
This summer we were only able to put in three raised beds and plant 3 blueberry bushes, two peach trees, a plum tree, an apricot, 5 apples, 3 red raspberries, 3 golden raspberries, 3 black raspberries, 2 elderberries, 9 dewberries, 3 dwarf cherries, 6 grapevines, a strawberry patch, and 2 gooseberries. I say only because my husband lost his job due and many projects went on hold. From all of this we will have more than enough food to last year round. Yes it absolutely takes work, but imagine having your own canned peaches, applesauce, blueberry pie or raspberry jam. All for pennies on the dollar. We are a family of 6 and one peach tree will not only feed our family for a full year but two other families as well. Just one apple tree will give us enough fruit for 48 quarts of applesauce for the year. The other 4 will provide pies, fresh eating, and maybe even cider for our family. The grapes will go to making jelly and juice. The raspberries will go to pies, jams, and fresh eating, the apricots and plums will go to jam and syrups.
We had one patch for winter squash, melons, and summer squash. In that one spot I grew enough winter squash to get us through at least 4 months for roasting and pie making. And they didn't even do good this year do to the cold. We had 3 raised beds and other flower beds that I planted in green beans, tomatoes, peas, cucumbers, carrots, lettuces, greens, eggplant, and beets. With that we had all our fresh eating veggies for 4 months and I froze and canned enough for another 3.
The berries and small fruits will begin to bear next summer. The fruit trees will begin to bear well in two to three years. After that we will be getting bushels and bushels of fruit. I will be able to can all of our jams jellies, syrups, fruit, for a year and have tons left over for pies, cobblers, and fresh eating.
I'm planning to build 6 more raised beds next year and planting 2 red currents 2 pear trees and one more plum. And we will still have a nice sized strip of grass to sit and admire the garden in. Our property does not look cluttered or gross. Most of the fruit is planted in such a way as to look landscaped. Our side yard is partial shade all day so it is where we will preserve the grass. Most fruits need full sun to produce a good harvest with two notable exceptions. Both gooseberries and currents do best in partial shade. Not only do they make great jellies and pies but they also form a natural hedge of thorns to discourage unwanted visitors. I love dual purpose stuff. So in this dead area along the fence that most people would ignore I'm going to have the gooseberries and currents.
Not only will this provide our family with organic healthy food, but it will be insurance against hunger if my husband were to loose his job. I think about all those people who have lost their jobs lately and are running out of unemployment. What happens when the benefits end? Having a way to produce your own foods would be a lifesaver.
I also consider food prices going up astronomically. We are already seeing food inflation, and forecasters are saying it will get much worse. For our family that would be very bad as we are all ready on a small budget. The higher food prices go the less things we can buy.