Monday, February 23, 2009

Springtime is peak oil preptime

In Oklahoma City, the daffodils are blooming, peach and plum trees are beginning to bud, and the mint and sorrel are popping up. Apparently, it's spring. Spring time is busy time! This year, my main peak oil personal preparation goal is to grow and preserve more food. Last year was the first year we really tried to preserve anything out of the garden, and I'm now noticing when we start to run out of "the good stuff" and switch over to store-bought.

We just ran out of frozen tomatoes and okra, and are running low on pesto, dried oregano, and dried basil. Still plenty of: peach jam, pickled beets, and pickled peppers. We decided we didn't like our canned salsa, but maybe we will try again this year.

Peaches, circa 2008

The thyme, rosemary, parsley, kale and cilantro stayed green throughout the winter season (without any particular protection). Good news - these are all extremely nutritious! Kale has the highest ORAC (antioxidant and phytochemical) measure of any vegetable, as well as containing plenty of calcium, iron, and Vitamins A, C and K. Parsley, the world's most popular herb, is a detoxifier and has Vitamins K and A. Thyme and rosemary are also on Jonny Bowden's list of 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth (the source for all this handy nutritional information). I figure the kale and herbs should at least be enough to ward off scurvy ;).

My potatoes and butternut squash seem to be staying well-preserved in their storage sites - the uninsulated closet in the corner of the house for the squash and the ice chest in the garage for the potatoes. I put the squash and potatoes in their spots back in November, so they've been there for three months. Although the potatoes are beginning to sprout just a little, and a few spots in the squash feel soft, I think they are still edible. Not bad! Next year I will add apples and carrots in ice chests in the garage and onions and garlic in bins in the closet. This experiment definitely gives me hope for fresh veggies year-round without refrigeration, rather than the specter of living on beans, rice and wheat berries with assorted canned goods for four months of the year.

We planted five blackberry plants. I was able to get the kinds recommended by the OSU extension service locally at Horn Seed, although the plants are bareroot and not potted. I bought "thornless erect" Arapaho, Navajo, and Apache blackberries. Unfortunately I am running out of great spots in the backyard and had to plant them a bit under the pecan tree, so they will be in part shade for some of the day.

I bought a EuroCuisine yogurt maker - the kind that Crunchy Chicken recommends. I made one batch of yogurt and it turned out very tangy, but pretty tasty. It was excellent with some of my canned peaches. I know, you don't really need a little gadget to make yogurt, but it does make it easier and gives consistent results. I swear, it's only 13 watts! After I get used to adding yogurt-making into my routine, I'll try making bread.

I have to admit I may have bragged hastily about my banana bread making prowess in the Sun Oven. I made a loaf on Friday, and the bread rose very slowly, I believe because it was only 250 degrees in the Sun Oven. I had a hard time telling when it was "done", and so I left it in a little too long. So much for moist perfection. But even though a teensy bit dry, it is still very yummy, and no burnt crust. Just drizzling a little extra honey on a slice makes it delicious. Hey, any excuse will do.

I bought a 3rd plum tree from Horn Seed on Friday. I have one Japanese plum (Beauty) and one European plum (Italian), which I planted as bareroot trees from Burnt Ridge 3 years ago. The trees are lovely - but no fruit yet! The Italian is supposedly self-fruitful (needing no separate pollinator), but Beauty might need a pollinator to help her along, so I picked up a Santa Rosa plum. I was supposed to plant it this weekend, but instead we got caught up in...

The GREAT PRUNING. This weekend my hubby and I pruned two apple trees, two peach, two plum, several crepe myrtles, two Knock-Out Roses, and a grapevine. I can't believe I thought we'd have time for anything else on Sunday, but still on my list, needing to be crossed out, are: fertilize roses and fruit trees, plant plum tree, add manure and compost to the spring beds, turn the compost pile, thin and cut back perennials, and rake leaves.


The two kiwi vines (male and female) and one persimmon tree from Burnt Ridge Nursery should be on their way in a few weeks. My forever-handy Dad is going to help us put in a (very strong) trellis for the kiwi. Apparently a kiwi vine can set over a 100 pounds of fruit when mature. The persimmon is supposed to be pest-free and disease-free, very ornamental, and ripen later in the year when not too many other fruits are ripe.

Frankly, I could use a few pest-free plants. We'll see how they do. Anybody planting perennials or their gardens yet?


Anonymous said...

If you put the yogurt in a coffee filter or chees cloth and let some/most of the whey drain (save for bread making) it will taste less tangy plus be thicker.

Lewru said...

Wow, what a difference b/w 6b and 7a (are you 7a?)! My cilantro croaked way back. It had bolted, though, I wonder if that made the difference. My rosemary also tends to dry up in the winter and refoliate itself in the spring. I am so jealous of your fruit trees and vines! You need to do a blog on the actual pruning bit for those of us with no fruit experience!

Christy said...

I would love to start a garden this spring but have no idea where to even begin! I didn't realize so many different fruit trees could grow here in Oklahoma. I'm definitely a novice when it comes to gardening but would love to start small and expand over the years. I'm also tired of paying for overpriced (and a lot of times BAD!) produce at the local grocery stores.

Peak Oil Hausfrau said...

Lewru - I think actually the cilantro died off at one point and then re-sprouted. I have 2 types of rosemary. One kind gets dried out (the trailing) and one doesn't (the "BBQ"). I should have taken before and after pics of my trees, darn!

EB - thanks for the tip!

Christy - If you start small, say two peach trees and a 4 x 8 raised bed, it's not too intimidating. Otherwise it can get overwhelming! It's taken me a long time to learn what little I know ;). Call if you want to come check out our garden.