Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Winter: A time to rest, learn and prepare

"Winter is the time for comfort -
it is the time for home." Edith Sitwell

I've really been inspired to grow a large garden this year and do ALOT of canning & drying--I'm using this time to plan, prepare the ground, and read as much as I can on the subject!

This book,"The Self-Sufficient Life and how to live it" by John Seymour is a wonderful read for the garden enthusiast. I recieved this book as a gift, and am really enjoying myself! The author truly lived a rugged, self-sufficient life, and shares so much knowledge on his experiences. My whole family is involved with drawing up plans for a productive heirloom veg. garden, orchard, and herb garden so we don't have to depend on the city grocery as much :)

I didn't preserve much last year, but now I'm taking my time to mark our favorite foods, which of those grow in our region, and creating a space where we can grow it! Through my research, I've studied: Agriculture/Farming, Botany, Horticulture, Garden design , and History of heirlooms/genetics.
Because I know we'll be doing alot of preserving, I've been using the past few weeks to collect canning jars. At SecondHand stores, I find most pints and quarts for 25-50 cents each. I have 50+ jars so far :) Keep your eyes on the lookout for them, I've found some great deals!

This week I'll start pepper seeds indoors, so that they'll be transplant size by late March.
Following peppers will be tomato, squash and more!
It's taken me a while to update because I've misplaced my USB cable -- So hopefully I'll find it soon so that I can post photo's! Once everything is settled, I'll be posting more regularly!
Keep warm!


Jenna said...

I am also VERY excited about gardening this year, and wanting to do MUCH more canning than we did last year:) I can't start seeds indoors because we have absolutely no space for them, but I am doing lots of planning right now and am looking forward to at least canning more than we did last year...that would be improving!!

We already have a very busy summer with the animals, so we'll see how much garden we can fit in too!! I'm definitely looking forward to a warm summer OUTSIDE!!!!!!

Make sure to keep yourself warm too...shawls are a must around here!


gail said...

I wish you well with your larger garden. We are in the middle of summer here in Australia and our salad veges are just coming on now. I will be preserving quiet a bit this year. We have only been here since the end of November bit it is wonderful to be away from the city and enjoying this country lifestyle.

Blessings Gail

Kate said...

I've been pouring over seed catalogs and thinking about my garden, though I'm not sure I'll plant one this year...unless I get a rototiller. Being 7 months pregnant and turning the soil by shovel and hoe is not really good, especially since I tend to give birth early and fast. Anyhoo....I wanted to let you know that canning may seem time consuming at first, but once you get the hang of it, you can preserve food pretty quickly. I usually have to fit my canning into nap times, so time is limited. So long as I get the jars in the canner before the children wake up, I'm fine.

I wouldn't do well in your Georgia heat, but March here in New York often still has plenty of snow coming down. I don't even start my seeds until the first week on April, and even then they take coaxing because the light is still fairly low in the sky.

Enjoy your planning!

Rachel said...

Hello Mia! Lovely post dear! :D I enjoyed working on my first garden last year, and am looking forward to it again this year! We live in the city, so there isn't room to have a big garden or to do canning really. :P But we enjoy using our fresh veggies and herbs straight from the garden for our meals! ;) I'm really looking forward to more fresh from the garden basil! :) HeHe! I love that stuff!

Oh, yes, do please keep warm! ;) It's very cold here in Delaware! ;) Brr! HeHe!

Enjoy your garden planning!
Blessings in Christ!
~Miss Rachel~

Beck's Bounty said...

We are planning our garden as well, and are going to start our seeds later in the week. Tomatoes, peppers, melons, squashes, and more. We can almost taste them .... it won't be long now.

The garden ... our society seems so out of touch with the food they consume ... not understanding how it arrives to the grocery, what it means to eat without plastic wrap and styrofoam packaging. What a full pantry can really be. How beautiful those canning jars of yesteryear can be, lining the shelves. What a blessing this experience of preparing, planting, growing, harvesting, and preserving will be for you ... and for your family ... and for your future.

Saint Francis reportedly said that he felt closer to God in his garden than anywhere else on earth. It is His creation, and it never ceases to amaze me.

Enjoy these times ... savor them ... the planning, the learning, the growing ... the waiting (the hardest part for me - ha !) ... the harvesting ... the preserving ...

May God bless your endeavors.

Grace & Peace,

marysmodernhomemaker said...

Thank you so much for bringing the past to life again. So much of what used to passed on from generation to generation has been lost. Bless you on your garden this year! Praying it is bountiful. We have become a nation so dependent on others. We need to learn to be self-sufficient again. Love followig you.

Regan Family Farm said...

Dear Mia,
Thanks for the inspiration! I'm giving Jenna much of the planning and organizing in lieu of her Biology tests!
You are wearing my favorite "Mia" dress in the first there a pattern number?
Your winter looks very inviting :)
Love, Mrs. Regan

Kelsey Anne Hoppman said...

Mom and I really want to do more canning this year. I love the way they look on the shelves, and knowing you can hop and the pantry and grab something that you canned (and maybe even grew) yourself is a great feeling. Plus, they look beautiful sitting on the shelves as well. :)
God Bless Mia. Thanks for the update!
In Christ,

Anonymous said...

Good Morning dear Mia!
Winter always stirs up my heasrt to grow a large garden...somehow I am less excited when the summer temps hit 100F and the tomatoes are runningme over! Haha...when life gives you tomatoes...can sauce! I, too, did not can as much as in the past. When our three children were home, we canned about 50 jars each of green beans, an assorment of berry jams, apple butters, fruit cocktail (skip the green grapes, they get kinda weird after canning...maybe red one would do better?!) diced tomates, speghetti sauce, breakfast sausage, salmon and tuna...we were a busy family for sure! I hope this year to organise it all a bit better and be ready with all my supplies...I dislike running to town because I have forgot one thing I neede to can! I have found it also helps to go to garage sales and thrift stores to find jars.
Another thing canning does for helps me focus on being thankful to God for His provision and prompts me to be a good steward of the food He has given us.
Enjoy your planning and God bless you and yours~
Mrs. Bee

Stephanie Ann said...

I hope I can grow a lot this year. I have to plan and plan and plan. It sounds like your garden will be lovely. Canning is very fun if you take it slow. It sounds like you will have a lot of good things to eat in the middle of winter! I am anxious to start my garden too. I wonder if it's the lack of green outside that make us just want to go and plant a seed? Good post.

The Watts Family said...

I was happy to find your blog it is wonderful. We are doing much of the same ~we recently moved onto land into the country with 8 acres. Thanks for sharing those book suggestions I have started seeds also but it is warm where we are so they are outside and have begun sprouting. We have very dry sandy soil so my husband is building boxes for our garden. I look forward to seeing the progress of all you grow. I am sure the Lord will bless your efforts. If your brother is every looking for a pen friend with some other christian country boys I will leave my email below I have 2 sons looking for a pen pal ~Blessings Heather said...

Hey Mia,

Our family was just recently talking about your family & how much we miss y'all!!!! Just thought I'd let you know! Looking forward to warmer weather & gardening again too!
Didn't know if you heard that John & Whitney had a baby girl, Peace Elizabeth, 8-lbs. with a lot of long hair! Jana is due with #4 in July!
Love to all the family,
Mrs. Creath

Marmee's Pantry said...

What a lovely, lovely blog you have. I have thoroughly enjoyed my visit. By-the-way, if you are interested, I just did a review of Carly Emery's "Encyclopedia of Country Living."

Blessings from Ohio...Kim W<><

Lena said...

I also have a lot of plans for my garden this year! I want to plant a lot of vegetables and herbs, and flowers too, of course! So even I am reading and preparing my self, just as you :) That book you show sounds very interesting!
Blessing from Norway

Mia said...

Thanks for commenting!! I love hearing about your garden plans :)


Ginny said...

Hello Mia,
I truly look forward to reading about your little world. I want you to know we are really enjoying the canning that we did last summer. I have done this for years. probably 30some. But this is the first year I have really enjoyed the prepared foods from my cellar room. Crab apple jelly, Raspeberry jelly, strawberry. And gave so many away as gifts. People just love home canned.
Thanks for sharing, I am not yet into the seed catalog as it is still so long away. at least the end of March or early April before we need to start. We alway start too early and have to re-seed.
love, ginny

Maiden4Christ said...

Dear Mia,
We live in the city so we don't normally have a garden but last year we did grow some tomatoes and jalapenos but I love to see your garden and can't wait until we can move and we can have a garden. Does your camera use a SD or XD card? If it does you might not need the USB. Your computer should have a little slot marked SD-MS/Pro-MMC-XD or something similar and you can insert the card in there and it will download your pictures. I hope this helps.

Emily Anne said...

Oh I just love stopping by and visiting you blog every-so-often. It just gives me a warm feeling... I love old photographs and pictures. They're so sweet and make life seem so cheery. :)

You keep warm!

Blessings- Emily Anne

Kelle said...

Please visit our blog, we've given you an award. Thank you for your blog, it is so inspiring.

H said...

Hi Mia,
We are planning an extravaganza vege patch. Do you have any canning books you would highly recommend. Perhaps some of your readers may have some suggestions too.

Paige said...


Great blog post as always! Gardening is one of my favorite things to do, even though I live in the city. I have a little fenced in area outside my apartment patio about 4'x10' and have created a flower garden in it before which I was able to enjoy so much. Living in a place with little spare room, I've found great ways to grow seeds before transplanting them at the appropriate time. You take several seeds, place them in a damp paper towel, and fold the paper towel into a plastic sandwich bag. You then tape the little bag to your window so it's out of the way and your seeds get plenty of light. Just keep the paper towel inside moist and soon the seeds sprout! I love watching them grow :)

Take care!

Miss Jen said...

Beautiful post~ Mia!
That book you recommended
sounds simply wonderful... *sigh*
Hope you are having a Lovely, Cozy


In Christ~ Jen

The Girl in the Pink Dress said...

Ah, you speak for me as well! I've been planning, researching, etc. We are having a big garden this year- and I've been looking for ways to preserve food besides canning.
I found a brand new dehydrator at the thrift store, but I still want to learn how to sun/air dry things. Carla Emery's 'Encyclopedia for Country Living' has a lot on that.
I've been considering buying John Seymor's book...but I don't know if it's worth it. Was it especially good?
Nice post today! Love your pictures.
The Girl in the Pink Dress

Gail said...

Mia - Thanks for the book recomendation. While I have gardened and canned for 25 years, my skills are in need of sharpening! I put the book on library loan from my library. While we raise all our meat, milk and eggs, I will now really dig into the produce and gardening arena! ( except it will be a very long time before we plant, with the foot of snow we have had....)


Rhonda said...

Hello Mia!
Wonderful post on gardening! I've been looking at seed catalogs this month, but we are thinking about moving to Arizona, so I'm not sure if I'll have a garden this year,since we'd like to move this Spring. If I don't have a garden, I'll just enjoy yours through photos!
Have a Blessed Day!

McKenzie Elizabeth said...

Hello Mia!
I too am looking forward to gardening!!! I absolutely love it:)

Great post...

Love you~

Karla said...

Hi, Mia!!!

I enjoy your blog so much:)

I was gonna ask you a question but it has to do with you post awhile back on makin' ketchup. I made it with the recipe you posted and later on it became chunky and so when I poured it out it was hard dipping stuff into it with it being chunky. I was wonderin' if you had the same problem or if you dfound a way for it to pour out smooth like the store bought. I figure the reason the store bought comes out nice when squeezed out is because they use corn syrup.

Oh, and we haven't had a chance to have our own vegetable garden but we would love to. I did this last week can for the first time. I canned potatoes.Two othe jars sealed bit the the third one didn't and so we are gonna eat that up quick. I look forward to cannin' some more.

Thank you, Mia.

Love in Christ,


Erika said...

I love the b/w picture at the top of your post. It's beautiful. :)
I admire your passion for home-making. Reading your posts makes me want to do the same.
Lord bless you on your gardening endeavors! :)

Mia said...

Dear Karla,
I find that either straining the mixture, or just adding a little water should help. Because it's homemade, it doesn't last as long as store-bought, so when it gets too thick, it could be time for a new batch!
It's so encouraging to hear from you Karla! I missed your old blog, glad I stumbled across your Xanga :)
hope all is well!!


Terri said...

Your blog is lovely, but I have to tell you that I am extremely jealous that you live in a place where it is worthwhile to start seeds already! I miss the south!

Also, I like the book you recommend another book from DK books (Don't you just love them?) entitled Country Life A Handbook For Realists And Dreamers by Paul Heiney.

Homemaker Ang said...

this is so interesting to read that you are going to can this year also! It's a very rewarding experience in the end. This past summer i put up 500+ qts. of our veggies, meats and fruits with my mom and sisters. It can be trying at times, but very rewarding and nice to be able to open a can up when you're busy sewing or other things. Can't wait to read more!
Abby from Maple Valley Offgrid Farm

Wimberly Farms said...

The book on living a Self Sufficient life is my favorite. I love looking at all the garden layout ideas.
Blessings on your garden this year. I always love canning and freezing our own produce.

MONIQUE said...

I just loved this post.
I used to have a vegetable garden which I loved very much. But then I started working full time and we moved last year to the other part of our small town and since our vegetable garden isn't behind our house we just had to let it go. Here we have a smaller garden but I'm allready lookinginto books to see what I can grow in our small garden.

The book you mentioned sounds great and I will look o the internet if I can get it here in the Netherlands as well.

Elena said...

I have been visiting for a while and just wanted to write and say how lovely your writing is and more than that what a lovely life you live. You are inspiring :)

Hippy Goodwife said...

WE are planning our ever growing garden here too, many seed catalogs to drool over! I just picked up a large quantity of canning jars at the thrift today. Hopeful that Spring will come quickly! We still have frozen ground.

Anonymous said...

I like that saying you put at the begining of your post by Edith Sitwell! I LOVE winter! That is neat that you are growing a garden! It is hard work, but it is fun! God bless! :-)

Goodwife said...

That John Seymore book is fabulous! I also really love the book Back to stays out beside my chair all the time! Your blog is lovely!