We would all like our backyards to be a source of food, medicines, staples etc – but how achievable is it that your backyard could become ”Your Supermarket”?
With decreased block sizes and hectic lifestyles, cost of daily living rising quicker every day, pandemics, food/supply shortages/empty shelves, seed shortages, water shortages etc These things don’t usually lend itself to a self-reliant or self-sufficient lifestyle. However, what if I could tell you that there are easy ways to supply yourself with continual small amounts of produce that will make a difference to your weekly shopping list. This Blog we will be discussing Basic Food Staples we can grow and what other uses we can do with them.
Here are a couple of ideas:
Spring Onion’s and Chives
Grow plenty of spring onion. Spring onion is very easy to grow, it can be planted in containers and many plants can be planted in a relatively small space. It is tough, tolerate of hot and cold conditions and requires very little fertiliser.
Instead of pulling the plant up at harvest, only cut the green leaf section. This can be used as a substitute for onion in meatballs, pasta, pizza, soups, and many more recipes. By leaving the roots of the plant intact the onion will regenerate and continue your supply.
Whilst most don’t have the space to grow big amounts of Bulb Onions at the same time also having the room to store them, using this method I have been able to go almost 3 years without having to buy any onions unless I want a specific type of bulb onion. Garlic Chives and Society Garlic can replace Garlic flavourings.
Basil and Soft Herbs Inc Native Herbs
Early in the season plant plenty of basil. When the plants have developed and are in their prime, harvest as needed but always leave some plants to grow out and go to seed.
Take the large amount of freshly harvested basil, remove any stems and chop finely or put in a blender. Pack the chopped basil into an ice cube tray and add a touch of water. Freeze the tray and pop the frozen basil cubes into a freezer bag. Repeat until you have cube frozen all the basil picked. Try experiment with different Basil’s.
Using this method, you can extend your home-grown basil well past its natural expiration. Sure, you don’t have freshly cut basil leaves for a salad, however you do have home grown basil that can be added to soups, pasta, and stews throughout winter. The basil you grew in summer can still contribute to the meals you eat in winter. All fleshy herbs can be used in this way. Great for Native Herbs too!
Another way is to dehydrate and vacuum pack or jar them. Labels are a must 😊
Who doesn’t love Preserves and Pickles. How many of us throw away jars from pasta sauces, coffee etc? I used to and then drive up the shops and buy more. Costly and not just in terms of Monetary Cost. So, don’t throw away Glass Jars and Lids if they are in good condition and able to seal correctly. Find a variety of Chilli or Capsicum you fancy and grow them. Harvest the seeds from TRUE TO TYPE/OPEN POLLINATED varieties so you know what you’re getting. Dry them and when the time is right, plant them and stand back. Expensive to buy, but very cheap to grow. Why wouldn’t you? Plant a few plants of each. This way you won’t have to pick a little bit at a time and have staggered harvest/ cure/preserving times. This allows you to harvest a substantial amount needed without affecting the upcoming harvest and fluidity. Once fully grown or ready to harvest, simply pick them off the plant and get your jars ready. We wash out our jars and lids, place them in the oven at 100 degrees Celsius (unless using Screw Band where you don’t exceed 90 degrees Celsius), turn off the oven and let them sterilize and cool down to be able to handle without burning ourselves. Now that they are ready to pack up, take the chillies and cut them into slices about half to 1cm thick. Seeds in or out is your choice. Place a pot of water on the stove, heat up to a rolling boil and add vinegar, sugar and salt. Mix ratio is usually 3 (water),2 (vinegar), and 1 (salt) parts. Carefully add chillies and take off the boil. Let it cool for a few minutes and then strain the liquid, fill the jars to the brim and then slowly add back the liquid. Both the liquid and the jars should still be quite warm to the touch but not so hot your burn yourself. Place the lids on the jars and seal up. Allow to cool and then store. Try using different spices in the brine mix. Also good for other soft veg.
Capsicums are just as easy if not easier. Same prep work for the jars, clean and sterilize in hot oven both jars and lids. Pick off the capsicum’s and put them straight under the grill. Burn the skins until they are blackened and blistered. Put them carefully into a container and seal up. Allow them to cool and this will assist you in peeling the skins off. Once cooled a bit to work with, peel the skins off. It’s perfectly ok to leave a little bit on. DO NOT WASH them under water as this will wash off all the roasted flavours we’ve worked hard to produce. Once they have been peeled, drizzle olive oil over them, black pepper and fresh herbs from your garden, experiment with native herbs too, and toss all together. Place into jars and top with more olive oil. Seal and store. This can be done with any soft veg.
We all use varying amounts of Legumes and sometimes a full can is too much or not enough. So, a great idea is to grow loads of Beans, Pea’s/Split peas and Lentils. Once grown and ready to pick, start picking pods. Either separate beans from pods now or slowly pick away every week to have a large amount ready and spend the day with friends and family. Dehydrate them and store in airtight jars and containers. Now you can have, Kidney Beans, Chickpeas, Red Lentils, Broad Beans, Black Beans or whatever takes your fancy, as you need, when you need. Blend up blonde beans and even Chickpeas to make Gluten Free flours!
Tomatoes and Tomato Powder
What do we do with all these tomatoes? Sometimes we get more bang for our buck than we expected. Tomatoes are often one of those that give back more than they get. Something that we can do with the excess fruit, is to make food not waste! Try to collect as many tomatoes as you can from the end of the harvest. Grab a large pot and fill halfway with water and allow to reach a slow boil. Place the tomatoes in batches into the water and blanch for a minute or so. Prepare your Glass Jars and lids as per usual in the oven. After a minute or so when you see the skins starting to come away, place the blanched tomatoes in another pot of cold water. Once all are blanched, fully peel the skins off. Being careful not to burn yourself, place a squirt of lemon juice in the bottom of the jar, add a sprig of Basil and some rough chopped Garlic or fine chopped for intense Garlic flavour, fill with tomatoes and then top with the liquid leaving an inch from the top of jar. I always add a pinch of Sea Salt to the tops and then place the lids on. Now we boil the jars again in a large pot in batches, for 1hr to 1.5hrs. Once done, take out and leave to cool down before storing. With the skins, I like to dehydrate them and them put them through my blender to make Tomato Powder. Jar it up and add it to the Spice Rack.
Sweet Potato and Potatoes
Not only do they grow great in our gardens, but they can also be a great addition to your Self Sufficient Pantry. Eat both the leave
These are just some of the things that you can do to make life a bit easier and the bills a bit less so you can Enjoy Life More, Live Life More and Love Life More. Haile I Selassie I Yess I Jah.
Blessed Love, Ras Mark SUBURBAN FARMER