Posts Tagged ‘Self-Sufficiency’

Our four-year crop-rotation fantasy plan

Getting to the end of our first year in the garden, we’ve been a bit chaotic. Digging beds just in time to plant chitted potatoes, or seedlings outgrowing their seed trays, and we’ve only managed to get three-and-a-half of the eight beds dug (each bed is 5ft x 20ft, and double-dug)

I’ve finally had a chance to sit down and plan it all out properly, ready for next year, and – several books later – I have got a full four-year crop-rotation plan mostly complete: Our Crop-Rotation plan (pdf)

Now I’ve just got to dig and manure the remaining beds, and buy a million-or-so seeds. It’ll be interesting to see if reality even slightly matches the plan . . .

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How much does it cost to bake your own bread?

Now we’re making our own bread I thought it’d be worth working out how much cheaper / more expensive it is than just buying standard wholemeal bread.

So here’s the standard pricing of all the ingredients – I haven’t started looking for cheap bulk supplies yet so these are just from Sainsbury’s.

310 ml semi-skimmed milk 20.77p
225g Strong White Bread Flour 10.35p
225g Strong Wholemeal Bread Flour 14.85p
1 tsp salt 0.2p
3 tsp sugar 1.49p
25 g butter 7.5p
2x7g sachets of dried yeast 19.75p
Electricity 3.14p
Total 78p

So in total it costs 78p, which is about the same price as a Sainsbury’s wholemeal loaf. Cost wise then it doesn’t make much difference – as long as you’re not making a separate journey to buy your bread, as once you start your car up the cost difference would be substantial!

I’ll keep doing it because it tastes great, means we never run out, and it’s a good skill to have learnt for leaner times. I might also look for cheaper bulk ingredients.

Aquaponics Update

Sorry, haven’t been posting much recently – have been sorting out our new house . . . due to move in in a few weeks – working hard – and I’ve been planning out our Aquaponics system.

It’s one of the first things that’s going up at our new house so I’ve been busily over-planning every detail. It’s looking pretty impressive now – go and have a look at the latest version of our Aquaponic Polytunnel over at Garden Aquaponics. Ive also been working hard on what we’ll grow in it – so there’s an update to our planting list there too.

Eating Acorns

I never thought life would get this bad 🙂 but I’ve been looking for a resilient alternative to Wheat, as I’m pretty sure we’re not going to be able to grow enough in our garden to feed my Wholemeal Bread habit. 

Prompted by an article written by Janaia from Peak Moment called “Make Like a Squirrel” I’ve found out that you can eat acorns (after quite a lot of preparation!) They were a key food for Native Americans, and can be incorporated into a range of dishes including bread. The most comprehensive srticle I’ve found is one from Peggy Spring at the San Antonio Natural Area Parks, who suggest these recipes:

 

Steamed Acorn Black Bread 
Mix together: 
1 1/2 cups Acorn Meal 
1/2 cup Acorn Grits 
1 cup white flour 
1/2 cup sugar 
1 teaspoon salt 
1 teaspoon baking soda 
Add: 
1/2 cup dark molasses 
1 1/2 cups sour milk 
2 tablespoons salad oil 

Wring out a pudding cloth in boiling water, spread it in a round bottom bowl and turn the batter into it. Tie the corners and suspend the bag over boiling water in a closed kettle for 4 hours. This should be served hot from the bag, and a steaming slab of this rich, dark, moist bread is just right with a plate of baked beans.


Apache Acorn Cakes 

1 cup acorn meal, ground fine 
1 cup cornmeal 
1/4 cup honey 
pinch of salt 

Mix the ingredients with enough warm water to make a moist, not sticky dough. Divide into 12 balls. Let rest, covered, for 10 minutes or so. With slightly moist hands, pat the balls down into thick tortilla-shaped breads. Bake on an ungreased cast iron griddle over campfire coals or on clean large rocks, propped up slightly before the coals. If using the stones, have them hot when you place the cakes on them. You’ll have to lightly peel an edge to peek and see if they are done. They will be slightly brown. Turn them over and bake on the other side, if necessary.

I can’t see these being a staple of our diet any time soon – but I’m dying to give this a go. I’d better keep an eye out for local oaks.

Is the end of cheap food a good thing?

Blimey, that’s a controversial thought!

Tuesday’s Sydney Morning Herald was trumpeting “the end of cheap food” with world prices rising, and Biofuel production eating into already failing croplands.

98% of me recoils against this idea, but there’s 2% of me that’s listening to WRAP‘s stats on the waste of food in the UK. You can check out the facts at the Love Food Hate Waste website :

  • A third of food in the UK is wasted – just try it at home – bring three bags of shopping in , then take one straight out to the bin again – it’s a SCANDAL.
  • That wasted food is the CO2 equivalent to taking 20% of the cars off the road – that’s right – 1 in 5 cars.
  •  The figures are just ridiculous – 6.7 million tones of food every year, with an estimated cost of £8 billion per year.

So let’s just think about this. We put taxes on petrol to stop people driving, to save the planet. But the CO2 equivalent of 1-in-5 cars is WASTED by us all throwing food away.

So maybe more expensive food is a good thing – it’ll make us value it more, make more people grow their own, and reduce the waste that’s going on?

Of course, that’s in an ideal world . . . in reality, I’m sure that the most waste comes from the wealthiest households, those least affected by the price rises (and by the petrol taxes) so when is somebo0ody going to come up with a solution that is not weath based? That really is the question.

Anyway, while we’re all pondering the big questions of life . . . here are a couple of great links to help make a small difference on our own waste levels. Abby at the Daily Tiffin talking about planning and storage, and Aidan Brooks (an Apprentice Chef) with a whole heap of useful links.

And don’t forget – fill out your own Food Waste Diary to see if the problem begins at home! I’ll have a go with ours, and see how we go.