Sunday, January 13, 2013

Gearing up for 2013

With the holidays over and a good dent being made in last summer’s harvest, I’m now starting to mull what kinds of garden projects to take on in 2013. Below is a picture of an apple-strawberry-saskatoon pie—inspired by what was sitting on the top level of the freezer this afternoon.

I think first up is a perennial herb garden with space for annuals (mostly basil). I have some room on the south side of the house (so lots of heat and good wind protection). Getting that space ready will likely be job one in the spring.

I’m also keen to try making sugar from sugar beets. I’ve never grown sugar beets (more of a southern Alberta thing) but I imagine they are pretty much like regulars beets. So I need to do some research about varieties and processing.

I’m also keen to make some apple cider next fall. I had a quick explanation from a friend of a friend yesterday and it looks quite manageable. So picking up the necessary bits of equipment seems like a good winter task. It also makes me keen to give Operation Fruit Rescue another go this spring.

A bigger decision is whether to expand the beds in the back by tilling under some grass in the utility corridor to the south of us. I really hate having to mow this huge stretch of lawn. This might be an autumn 2013 task, after I get a sense of what the additional bed I put in last summer means in terms of workload.

Based on what the cold room and freezer looks like, we need fewer green/yellow beans, double the number of potatoes (almost out!) and onions and garlic, and slightly more carrots. I’m going to experiment with a frame to increase the amount of potato hilling I can do to see if that helps the harvest any. First up though will be seeding some spring greens in the cold frames--in about two months or more.

I think we’re about right on jam and apple sauce. My plans to can vegetables seem to have run into a snag whereby flat-top stoves don’t necessarily get on with pressure canners all that well. Of course, there is no definitive answer about that available--just lots of cautionary tales.

An alternative might be another freezer, perhaps in the garage. The power needed to freeze irks me some. But, if we only used it in the autumn to spring, the drain would be pretty minimal (an unheated garage is pretty cold from October to April anyhow!).


  1. Using electricity for freezing food irks me, too. Perhaps you could use your pressure canner outside. If you had a gas stove single burner like you would use to deep fry a turkey or boil a pot of water for lobster might work. I use my pressure canner to can stocks, as well, so they don't take freezer space. I can extra fruit juices so I don't have to freeze them.

  2. Thank Sarah; that is a good idea. I would think most fruit juices I could do in 500ml jars with a water bath because of the acidity; soup stocks and veggies are the holy grail here. Hmmmm,