Last week I asked how homesteaders were initiated, and I talked about how I got started with canning. But I’ve been thinking since then about how I used to know people in New York City who kept gardens in community plots. Even though I didn’t even think about doing something like that at the time, it had more of an influence on me than I realized simply because I became aware that other people were doing it. If I moved back to New York City (which I don’t plan to) I would be one of those people on my knees in a garden or advocating for a roof garden, or in some way contributing to making urban life more natural.
So I ask the question, why can’t a city be green? Why shouldn’t city people be able to grow their own food or climb a tree? I’m not the person to say that everyone should move away from the city and start their own gardens. I believe that wherever you live, that’s your homestead. There is so much that we can do to eat healthy food and live more natural lives no matter where we are. It may seem impossible but if we start one step at a time, we can make meaningful and long lasting changes. Probably the most important step of all is to teach our children.
There’s a lot of canning and freezing going on this week by those who are taking in and preserving their harvests. I’m one of those people. I already talked about my date with the eggplants yesterday, and I’m planning on pickling my banana and jalapeño peppers before the week is over. While I’ve been doing that dance with boiling water and chopping boards, I didn’t have to do anything to dry these herbs except leave them alone.
A month ago I was writing about what to do with eggplant because I had so many in my kitchen. In that post I talked about making fried eggplant and eggplant parmesan. When eggplant love is new it tastes so sweet and delicious. After a couple months of eating and freezing the stuff, I start to think about other vegetables again. My husband stopped watering his garden about a month ago, after he harvested everything else. He left his eggplants to their own devices while it was very hot and dry. We had almost no rain that whole time. But to our surprise, the eggplants have thrived while gardens have withered all over the Upstate.
We have trouble giving eggplant away. Our friends and neighbors mostly don’t like or never tried an eggplant and don’t show any signs of changing their minds. I was tempted to just let those eggplants go to seed, but they looked so big and beautiful; it would have been a shame and a waste. So yesterday I went down in the field and picked most of them, and also dealt with them very quickly after looking for some new ideas online and finding a couple at FreshBitesDaily.com.
My cat is no help in the garden. He doesn't warn me when ants crawl up my pants. He doesn't know a weed from a seed. He sleeps while I sweat and sweat. He wants to play and I shoo him away before he attacks me with his claws and snaps his jaws. My cat doesn't love me. He loves my hat.
my shadow will loom long when they come. wasps in the lavender bushes will strike out angrily. fire ants will crawl up their pants. the bees and the mantid in the dragon breath will be disturbed. the mint will cover the tangled strawberries and the groundcover will be hiding asparagus spears ready for harvest.
Mostly, when I try something new in the kitchen or garden I start by reading a book or going to the World Wide Web. But the real initiation comes with learning by doing. If my efforts culminate with the desired results then I can say I know something. I am far from an expert cook or gardener and I am not writing this blog to repeat what I’ve learned from people writing other blogs. I’m more like the one who walks you through your initiation, and then walks you through it again as needed. I know you need encouragement sometimes, because I do too.
I haven’t told my husband but I have plans to grow some fresh veggies in pots in the windows this winter. I have to admit that even though I didn’t tell him, I did consult with him on a good day for potting. He’s the expert on astrological matters. So tomorrow is the day I’m going to put this baby in a pot, and a few volunteer tomato starters from the compost…
She told me to slow down and think about the consequences of my actions. I protested that there are many urgent matters that need to be prioritized. She answered that meditation would save me a lot of time in the long run.
When I shared my raspberry soda recipe last week I was focused on the raspberries that I have been harvesting a handful at a time from my garden. I mentioned that I have used three different methods for making naturally fermented sodas. I forgot about my dalliance with kombucha, so really there were four. In the raspberry soda recipe I really just gave up some hints about how to start with a starter… but I’m not trying to keep my romance a secret. So let me shed a little light on how I’ve been spending some of my time these past few months and how you can get your own relationship going with fermentation.
When I was growing up my mother told me to replace the friendly bugs in my stomach, after taking antibiotics, by eating yoghurt. That’s probably still good advice, but it’s not the only way to get your gut right. And really, if you have a bad feeling in your gut, you should trust what it’s telling you about your intimate relationship with food. I’ve also previously talked about learning the forgotten ways of making bread. Well, commercial yeast is to bread what carbonation is to soda. Before instant rise yeast we had sourdough starter. Before carbonation (and vinegar) we had fermentation. One is like a big box of cheap chocolate and the other a petite package of tasty truffles.