My blizzard watch is extended to midnight with temperatures in the teens and 22 inches of snow, drifts to 8 feet where windy. I am lucky, no high winds, drifts to 4 feet. Still snowing heavily and I already have at least 20 inches at my house.
Here is a photo at noon today. 450 miles of I-40 are closed and the news says 40 million people are affected. I still have electricity and an intact roof! I have cleaned the porch several times to maintain exiting ability from the trailerstead.
A good time to organize closets and dream about spring gardening.
Spring arrives in May, so it is too early to start vegetable seeds. That will be March for the mountains. Tree seeds can be started now, and I have already potted up a few.
This year I want to grow sugar beets. I have never grown them, but root vegetables do well here. The United States used to rely mostly on sugar cane but a large part of our market economy sugar is now made from beets. It is pretty easy to process, much easier than sugar cane, so nice for a home garden.
Maple syrup has about 2% sucrose, beets run 13-16%. Considering I just planted a maple seedling, I imagine that’s 20-40 years out. Beets it is.
I bought more seed than I need, but it takes maybe 10 pounds of beets to make a pound and a half of sugar. I would need to process about 300 pounds to store 45 pounds of sugar for the following year! It is not as much as it sounds, corporate growers get 15-20 tons an acre. 300 pounds or more on 1/100 of an acre would do. Greens plus pulp can be fed to farm animals (and people). My biggest problem may be deer who love the greens (no problem) but also dig the roots and eat them like candy. Bear?
I used closer to 20 pounds of table sugar last year, but did not bake much. Usually more when I bake bread every week, yeast requires sugar. If I get deeper into wine making, my sugar consumption will go higher.
I mentioned to my son that I just started my first batch of wine and that I have always felt drawn to wine making even though I don’t drink. He thought it was a funny hobby for a non drinker!
He has been working on our family history again and found generations of vintners in France back in there. We had a good laugh, making hooch is in my DNA. I didn’t realize that he has tracked my family back to the 800s.
I know I want honey bees, too. Best sugar ever. I could make mead.
All this planning gives me a clue about what it takes to be self-sufficient in food production. I have never before focused on staples like sugar wheat rice corn beans potatoes oats and so on. Smaller gardens just can’t produce those foods in bulk and they always failed my cost basis gardening test.
With more space, I have been growing Bolita Beans, and Yukon Potatoes produce a lot of healthy calories in a small area and are easy to grow. I will add mountain corn, too. Not a huge area, a test plot. My garden beds need soil improvement.
Five acres! Not farmland, but it will still grow a lot of food, mostly for wildlife still, but working on it
If I drank wine, it sure is inexpensive to make. Vintners, hmmmmm. New Mexico is getting more vineyards every year. One of our locals, Gruet Wineries, has done well with award winning wines. The family settled here from a French winemaking family.