What did the story at the start of the podcast have to do with today’s topic? Well, in today’s podcast, I am circling back around to a discussion I had with Michael Bell about a new garden planting concept that some of us are experimenting with this year. We called this concept Soup Gardening!
While some might smile and nod at the end of this podcast because they are intentionally growing and preserving their vegetables and herbs (this is how they live and what they do), this a mindset shift for me who has made a lot of pickles, salsa and relish over the years. After all, we are moving from suburban gardener to urban homesteader. So let’s get into this topic and concept, shall we?
What is Soup Gardening?
Julie and I learned a lot during the Government Shutdown. This event was a major tipping point that changed our thinking and approach to life: finances, gardening, canning, and even the direction of Small Scale Life.
One lesson that we learned was that my current canning efforts had a flaw. I have dwindling cans of homegrown and homemade salsa, jam, dilly beans, pickles, corn relish and some stewed tomatoes on our shelves, but we did not have the right canned goods to last in emergency situations for long. We are changing our mindset by going from making and canning boutique items like appetizers, relishes and jams (which are delicious and fun) to making and canning ingredients for meals or soups.
Based on lessons learned during the Government Shutdown, my Team got together and had a very good offline discussion about maximizing our garden spaces. Through this brainstorming session, my friend Michael Bell came up with a garden concept called “Soup Gardening,” which made a lot of sense to me. Essentially, the Soup Gardening concept is this:
- Grow higher-calorie vegetables – Develop a planting plan to maximize these higher-calorie vegetables in limited garden beds and container gardens.
- Harvest the vegetables and herbs – Do not let vegetables and herbs go to waste!
- Make and can soup from the vegetables – Once these vegetables are harvested this late summer and fall, make pots of soup that can be pressure canned and stored on a shelf.
- Can vegetables on their own – If I don’t make soup out of it, I will take Nicole Sauce’s (from Living Free in Tennessee) advice and can just that ingredient (i.e., just can diced tomatoes or stewed tomatoes). These items can be combined to make dishes later in the year.
- Store extra root vegetables – Store potatoes, sweet potatoes, squashes and onions for later in the winter season. This implies setting up some kind of root cellar in my small basement to keep these from rotting.
- Dehydrate and store herbs – Once harvested, store herbs in containers or use them in dishes. Do not let these go to waste (see above).
What are Higher-Calorie Vegetables?
When you think of higher-calorie vegetables, think of items that typically are in vegetable or vegetable beef soup. Can you picture a hot, steaming bowl of homemade vegetable soup? If you need a recipe for some great-tasting vegetable beef soup, we will have one for you on smallscalelife.com/recipes-soups.
This year, I am going to grow higher-calorie items that can be used in vegetable or vegetable beef soup. Not surprisingly, these are items that tend show up on homesteader, prepper or survivalist lists as must-have vegetables and herbs to grow. Higher calories items that will be Soup Gardening include the following:
- Green beans (beans in general)
- Sweet potatoes
- Sugar Snap Peas
Some of these items store really well without needing additional processing like drying or canning (potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions and carrots are on that list).
Soup Gardening: Adding Herbs
At the same time, I would like to increase the amount of herbs we are growing on the property and add them into the Soup Garden. We use tons of herbs in cooking, and other herbs be used to heal. At the same time, you can work herbs into the landscaping and attract pollinators like bees and hummingbirds. I am looking to grow the following herbs this year (just need to get some containers or space somewhere):
- Peppermint (mint)
- Plantain (yes a weed…with healing properties)
We also have some garlic chives in our garden, and rhubarb growing the yard. We will move rhubarb and garlic chives to new spots. and we’ll see how they do. Also, I am crossing my fingers that some of the comfrey survived this winter, and I need to find a good spot for those plants (if they lived).
We have a lot going on for the 2019 Garden Season….or should I say 2019 Soup Gardening Season? I will have articles, posts and podcasts soon about the following topics:
- Seedling Transplants
- Indoor Gardening in Small Spaces
- Garden Types and Considerations
- Garden Design
- What is a Wicking Bed?
- Wicking Bed Design and Build
- Rain Gutter Grow Bed Design and Build
- Planting Plan
So stay tuned! More Soup Gardening is coming!
Putting It All Together
This brings me back to sitting down and listening to Julie read Little House in the Prairie to our boys during the Crash of 2008. I realized how dependent we are and that we need to learn skills, practice them and growing. We can do better than being a mindless consumer at Walmart, Whole Foods or Costco. We can do better for ourselves, our health and our families.
I am really excited about this Soup Gardening concept. It makes a lot of sense to me, and it reminds me of how our grandparents and ancestors used to approach gardening. It wasn’t about making cool cans of Dilly Beans and Sweet and Spicy Pickles, it was about surviving in the depths of a harsh winter. At the same time, they were maximizing their gardens and exercising a ton of skills: planting, cooking, canning and/or dehydrating vegetables and herbs.
This is a new strategy, and it makes sense to me.
How about you? Are you starting or growing a garden this year? What is your strategy for planting your garden this year?
If you need help working through a garden plan, reach out to me in the comments below, on the Contact Us Page or at realsmallscalelife [at] gmail [dot] com. I can help you design a garden plan and answer your questions.
Have a good weekend and go get em, Lifers!
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Listen to Soup Gardening with Michael Bell
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