I learned a ton of stuff in the last year. I started thinking and planning and learning about homesteading in fall of 2019, before the shit hit and everyone went garden nutty. But it was a fun year to learn gardening.
What I didn’t know only 2 years ago is embarrassing to admit. Once, I was given a glass jar of milk by a manager that was helping me shop. He said it was about to be pulled off the shelves because of the date but it would be good for a few more days and he gave it to me free. I took it home and did not understand that it was not homogenized. I didn’t even know what that meant. And I didn’t understand that it was supposed to have the cream at the top and just needed to be shaken. But I thought it was bad, so I threw it out!
Another thing I didn’t understand was how you managed and ate out of a garden. Like what you could just harvest when needed vs. what needed to be harvested at once. Succession planning to help with the pacing and all the different ways you have to learn to preserve your food. I had no idea about canning, fermenting, dehydrating, freeze drying, and storing food. I’m still learning the details of all of this, but now I at least *get* how it works.
I also didn’t understand how and why you started seeds early vs. direct sowing them vs. buying starts. Or things like first and last frost dates, zones, etc. Or how certain crops grow better in the fall than in the spring. It was all just like, when you are in kindergarten and you plant a bean in a styrofoam cup. That was the extent of my knowledge about growing things.
It made me more irritated at the people who just cast me aside when I asked for help to learn to grow food. People who just wanted me out of the Church garden and said, “you just plant a seed and water it. If you need help doing that, maybe gardening isn’t for you.” Obviously there is a learning curve to this. No, it isn’t rocket science, but you need to know some basic things and that takes awhile. Experience is key here. The reason it is key is because so much of gardening is trial and error, and it is ok to fail. Plants want to grow, but there are a lot of variables that are constantly changing, so some will succeed and some will fail every year for everyone. These are things I did not know.
I wish I had taken more pictures of the harvest I did last year. It wasn’t a lot, but from about July to the September wildfires, every time I went to the garden, I came home with a small bunch of produce. Here are some of my little victories from the last year:
We have had a few delays this year setting up for our expansion. But I am excited for what is to come. Raised beds are being prepared. Supplies and seeds are gotten. I’m waiting for April 23 for soil, which is not ideal, but we will make it work. I can start some seeds and do some container gardening until then. I want to keep track of the harvest, and do more preserving. I do not have a pressure canner, but maybe that is something we could work on this year. We still supplement with farmers market, azure standard, and other organic stuff, but we have definitely become more in charge of eating high quality, non processed food this year. I can absolutely tell a difference in my health. So, even though my big project is to work on my kidney transplant this year, I will continue to expand my skills and grow more of our food.