Winter Vegetables: Part One
Graham R. Cooper
A couple we are friendly with through family connections dropped in mid-week; they were keen to have a wander round our vegetable garden. That got me thinking about just how many home-grown vegetables we have available for eating over winter.
Having ‘grown our own’ for what seems like forever, my default setting for home-grown vegetables was as follows: for the rest of my life a plentiful supply would be mine for the taking. ‘Mine for the taking’ has the ring of truth to it, whereas to my ears, the ‘our’ in ‘grow our own’ rings false.
You see, June’s the gardener: I eat what June grows. Which got me thinking about ‘the rest of my life’ in a more general sense as well.
I’m sixty-seven and June’s sixty-three. On average, women live longer than men anyway, so as long as June’s body and soul continue to hold-up on the veggie front, I shouldn’t need to worry.
June dug the yams last week.
(Note to self: Do my bit for her body and soul by offering positive reinforcement at regular intervals when she engages in the following extracurricular activities: walking, cycling, tramping, yoga. Not a big ask seeing as I enjoy those activities as well.)
This is where ‘the rest of my life’ pondering kicks in. What if, for whatever reason, I ended up being the sole ‘providing’ homesteader? Would I keep the vegetable garden going?
Yes, I think I would. I wouldn’t have a show of keeping it in its present state of June-ificence, but I’d hope to grow enough vegetables to last year round nonetheless.
I’d make the veggies a top priority. The trade-off being that I’d say a sad but, in my view, necessary goodbye to the goats. I’d still keep a few cows and hens, and continue to cut my own firewood in the way I describe in a couple of recent posts. (https://grahamrcooper.com/2021/05/17/wood-chopper-part-one/ and https://grahamrcooper.com/2021/05/24/wood-chopper-part-two/)
And I’d make wholemeal bread the way June does at present: eight or nine loaves at a time. (https://grahamrcooper.com/2020/05/04/our-daily-bread/)
There’d be no more strawberries, raspberries, red currants or blueberries, but I’d still fuss over my favourites: gooseberries and black currants. Stone fruit and pear trees would have to fend for themselves – unpruned unless branches were in the way, and never covered to keep the birds off the ripening crop.
I’d prune and otherwise look after the apple trees: to me, they’re right up there with the black currants in the pantheon of the fruits; I’d want to be sure I still had home-grown apples to eat for nine or ten months of the year .
As things ran their course, I’d have to forego much more besides. Building a lean, mean machine, with an overload trip switch to prevent burn out.
Consequently, there’d be far less risk of getting so disillusioned, if not downright depressed, that I ended up walking away. After all, abandoning the place and with it the homesteading, would, I’m certain, be a far riskier undertaking. Who I am is all bound up in this way of life, and my sense of place.
But I do know I’d be clinging to the edge of the precipice if ever pushed to become the sole ‘providing’ homesteader. And of course I don’t know how something like that would actually play out. I just have to hope I never find out!
That’s all on modern-day homesteading for this week. Next Monday I’ll tell you what June – my ‘just outside the backdoor’ greengrocer – has to offer in the way of winter vegetables: Winter Vegetables: Part Two.
Thanks for your company. Bye for now.