The New Home Economics

Review 2009 :: Preview 2010

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This has certainly been a busy year, hasn’t it?  I started this blog in February, along with several different kinds of seeds for my garden.  Both have grown considerably and one has now died.  We’re still eating tomatoes and applesauce that we’ve canned, though we will run out very soon.  We ran out of frozen raspberries a long time ago.  Here’s what we’ve accomplished, ecologically and economically speaking, in 2009:

  1. Potty-trained two 2-year-olds. I never blogged about this, but getting our kids out of diapers is my number one achievement for this year. We are thrilled to be spared from the environmental and financial hassle.  Yes, I considered cloth diapers instead of disposable, but I just never got to it (now exercising my mother-of-multiples excuse).  I feel guilty about it, but life goes on.
  2. Started seeds indoors for the first time. This spring was my first attempt, and I learned a few things.  For 2010: peat pots all the way, and I am also going to make my own “kits” instead of buying one.
  3. Attempted milk-jug greenhouses to get plants outside earlier. Result: success!
  4. Started making our own yogurtWe use a yogurt maker, but from what I’ve read it’s really not necessary —  as long as you adjust your expectations of the resulting yogurt’s texture.
  5. Started milling our own flour. I kinda still can’t believe we do this on a regular basis now.  We’re still learning, though.  We have not had much success making bread or pastries with freshly-milled flour.  We have a rather inexpensive flour mill that grinds the wheat a little more coarsely than is ideal. For pancakes, though, it works great!
  6. Switched to dried beans instead of canned.
  7. Read Nourishing Traditions. This was, by far, the most important book I read this year.  (Completely unrelated side note: my favorite fiction was The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.  It came out in 2008 but I didn’t get to it right away.)
  8. Became a complete and total fermentation maniac. From kimchi to sauer kraut to sauerrüben to taking a class on fermentation and staying late to get Sandor Katz’s autograph… I maybe went a little off the deep end on this.
  9. Canned applesauce and tomatoes for the first time. I would definitely do this again, and this winter is giving us a good idea about how much we would actually need to can in order to not have to buy any tomatoes all winter.  Hint: significantly more than we did.
  10. Purchased a CSA share.  We split a full-share with our neighbors.  I would definitely do this again.  I’ve never eaten so much fresh produce in my life.
  11. Built a new single-speed bike from a dumpster-salvaged frame. The credit for this goes to Adam, and I think we’re going to see more bikes like this from him in 2010.

And now 2010 is going to be even busier.  Here are just a couple things I’ve got planned:

  1. Hennepin County Master Gardener program. My core course starts January 12, and I’ll be volunteering with various projects all year long.  I won’t be able to officially call myself “Master Gardener” until 2011 (I think), but for this year I get to be a “Master Gardener Intern” which is still very cool.
  2. Continue my project of re-thinking how I get groceries. This might seem strange, but I’ve been giving a lot of thought to how we buy and store food, and ways to make it more sustainable, healthy, and save some money in the process.  There will be a big post coming up on this, very soon.  Hint: it involves the bulk section.
  3. Put in a root cellar. I want to convert at least part of a closet in our basement to a root cellar.  First I need to clean it out.
  4. Add more vertical elements to my garden. Planning to build some trellises so I can grow more beans for drying.  They are easy, they fix nitrogen in the soil, and they are delicious.
  5. Add a whole new garden in the back yard. We removed some trees from the back yard in September, so now begins our back yard make-over project.  Part I: add a new garden consisting entirely of edible perennials.  Top of the list: a small cherry tree, gooseberries, and currants.  And some sort of greens — maybe lovage and/or sorrel.
  6. Continue to explore alternative transportation. I’ve already got a head start on this: running home from work when it’s too snowy to bike.  It’s definitely a good workout, but is it fun?  I haven’t decided yet.  I’m going to try it a couple more times before I write a post about it.

That’s all I can think of for now, but I’m sure other things will come up.  The Master Gardener thing is really going to dominate this year for me, so I don’t want to be too ambitious in making any plans beyond that.  I guess you could call the second list my New Year’s Resolutions, but they are more like goals.

Later this week I’m going to review Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day — this book may lead to getting rid of the bread machine once and for all.

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