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The End of the 2010 Allium

01.29.11

First major root cellared crop of the 2010 harvest has finally bit the dust: the allium family. Kept fine, we simply consumed more than we produced. I had cellared Copra & Red Long of Tropea onions, shallots, a garlic of unknown variety [purply, strong cultivar], and Giant of Musselburgh and Pandora leeks. The onions, shallots and garlic stored just fine a few layers deep in a shallow box. The leeks I dug up soil-and-all and plopped them into a plastic pail. I’ll store both the same way next year, as perishability was not my problem, eat-too-many was my problem. Solution: grow more. In fact, had they simply grown to even a medium size last year, we likely would have been good for another couple months – but they were all pretty small. So I suppose that really leaves me with two solutions: grow more, or grow them bigger…somehow.

Sadly, the next major crop to fall from inventory will be our potatoes. Hence my recent interest in local grains. Still, they’ll make it to mid-February, and may even see the light of March – the month where robust herbs and the allium family start to show the first green of the year around here.

Make no mistake, this story is in fact a happy one. Last I checked, it’s February next week. So in year one of root cellaring our garden veg, with a good portion of the gardens yet to be productive, we’re going to make it to spring. That’s a 25-meter-diet of organically raised veg requiring negligible cash-output stored passively for months with zero energy input costs. That’s pretty darn cool.

Some interesting math: Our lot size is 115x48ft. 5520 sq ft. There are 43560 sq ft to an acre, which puts our city lot at 12.7% of an acre – extremely close to 1/8th. Take out about 1300 sq feet for the footprints of our home and garage, and we’re left with about 9% of an acre, or less than 1/10th. Can we produce enough fruit and veg for our family of 5, year round, on that little land? Getting closer every year, and I’m confident it can be done.

6 Responses

  1. Mike says:

    There never does seem to be enough onions and this is something we always seem to run out of as well. It sounds like you have been very successful with holding your food over in the root cellar. Isn’t it amazing to have as much produce as one could ever want so close at hand…I smile to myself everytime I go down stairs and dig out a veggie. I have no doubt that you will make such good use of your less than 1/10 of an acre that you will indeed succeed in your food self-sufficiency endeavors. Have you ever heard of the Derveas family. They do have the HUGE advantage of being located in California, that said, they manage to grow an amazing amount of their own food on 1/10th of an acre.

  2. Greg says:

    Yes, figuring out acreage is a neat exercise. When thinking about land access, the persistent question is: how much is enough? We figured out that our large, west garden is 0.6 acre. Knowing the productivity you’ve been coaxing out of your 0.1 acre makes me think we might have room enough after all for my ferris wheel.

  3. Incredible (again). I just made French onion soup with my veal jus and about 8 massive yellow onions and was wondering how and why it was “invented”… thinking about someone having an abundance of onions and making this incredible soup with them…. I guess caramelizing onions was an easy enough discovery, and it was only a matter of time such a soup evolved. If it evolved. But, then I was thinking how decadent the soup would be for a farmer as it uses so many onions. Well, about one per person – or per serving, I guess.
    I am shocked your leeks lasted just stuck in the dirt. Your root cellar is doing a lot more than I thought possible.
    :)
    Valerie

  4. Mike – I indeed am familiar with the Derveas family, and read their blog/follow their story. They have an advantage of climate, but also provide the family’s income off their lot!! If we can achieve half the production they do, the 3500lbs of food will be no small achievement [they did 7000+ lbs in 2010].

    Greg – Hah. Funny. Should be enough room for that ferris wheel. Although you folks have a different agenda with growing into a market garden, so your needs will be different, no question. I don’t anticipate 100% reliance on our city-lot-food, I think that’s naive, but until I feel I’ve maxed it out, the question of ‘what can be done’ will constantly be asked.

    Valerie – ‘supposedly’ onions can be an easy crop to grow in abundance. Not yet for me. I hope so, one day. It may have been born out of ‘honey, the onions are starting to rot, we’d better eat them up, and fast!’. :) The root cellar has not disappointed. Served crunchy, crisp carrot sticks to guests yesterday, and marveled at the condition of the veg. It’s Feb tomorrow. I’m so pleased.

  5. CourtJ says:

    We go through our leeks very quickly too. I have resorted to buying them pre-started from the garden store so that they get bigger. I have tried starting them in the house, but they just don’t get very big since I don’t have a heat lamp or anything. If you find a solution on how to grow large leeks in our climate I would be very interested to hear it though! When I am at your meat class I am going to ask you all sorts of things about keeping more veggies through the winter. My first try went terribly this year (the six month old at the time didn’t help).

  6. C – you’re attending the game class? Great! Look forward to chatting about root cellaring.

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