Friday, July 13, 2012

My toast is sad

And so am I.

This almost-licked-clean jar is the last of our wild grape jelly.  And if you look closely, you can see that the date on the lid is from September of 2010.  The 2010 stash was very carefully rationed as it was going to have to last until the harvest of 2012.

So what happened to the harvest of wild grapes in 2011, you ask?  There was none.  We had a drought last year and every single wild grape vine I could find had shriveled up and died before the fruit was able to ripen, so that meant no grape jelly.  Wild fruits like chokecherries, wild grapes and plums were a total loss in 2011.  The only wild fruit I was able to harvest were persimmons.  Not sure why they survived.

And  here we are again, in a drought. There is one wild grape vine within reach of our 150' hose, so I've been watering it at least once a week, hoping that what grapes still on the vine will survive to ripen.  The other wild grapes around the property will have to make it on their own.  We did have some rain a few days ago and I'm hoping that it was enough to keep them from drying up like they did last year.  So that means that there may not be a 2012 harvest either.

This is pretty much the crappiest gardening year we've had in the 7 years we've been here.  Out of the eight apple trees we have planted, there is not a single apple on any tree and there were tons of flowers on them this spring.  Same for the two cherry trees.  The peaches, nectarines and pears have a handful of fruit on them, but nothing near what I would have hoped.  Definitely not enough to can, let alone make any pies out of.

My grape jelly shortage and lack of fruit on the trees really has me thinking.  Most non-farming folk don't have three days worth of food stored in their pantry.  Can you imagine having to store two or three years worth of food in your larder?  Even most hard-core homesteaders can and preserve their harvest for the upcoming year; what happens if there there is no harvest the following year?

Since our homestead garden is no where near up to snuff, we rely on the supermarket or bartering to provide the bulk of our canned/fresh vegetables and canned/fresh fruit.  But even though we have the luxury of just running into town for a bag of beans or a can of corn, we still try to keep our pantry stocked with several month's worth of food.

Can you imagine having to do that within the confines of your own homestead?  With the labor from your own hands?  Hoping, praying and working to make sure that you have enough vegetables planted (and kept alive), enough feed for the animals, keeping those animals healthy so they can eventually nourish your family?
It makes my head spin.  But hopefully it will give me a little kick in the pants to get our garden producing.


  1. Ah yes I can imagine. That is why this drought is making me crazy. I have accepted the fact that there will be no apples or pears. And luckily I put up 60 gallons of corn last year since there may not be any this year. But I am getting a little scared of having enough food to get us through the next year. I will just have to make what we get last and stretch it out. I just refuse to buy any food at a grocery store. And if we lose a few pounds, well that is what they make belts for :)

  2. I can imagine too, but that's where (hopefully) communities kick in- I'll trade some corn for your cherries, or barter labor for fruits, etc. Being an urban person I've learned the hard way (my newest blog) not to ASSUME something will still be there "later", but get it while you can. With the heat and tough growing, everyone's getting hit. I'll have a bumper crop of blackberries and tomatoes, but the fruit trees- no so much... ah well. I may have to buy some local fruits and can/freeze those.

  3. Poor Carolyn Renee. Poor Toastie. I have been keeping my eye on our wild grape vines, hoping that a) they don't shrivel and die, and b) no one else notices them. Last year I had quite a few apples on my one scraggly tree. This year - 2. A local orchard has almost nothing, so they won't open this year. People who don't farm or raise their own food will be feeling the drought this year - in their pocketbook.

  4. Sad toast is a terrible thing. This year we have a single apple on the tree. We were hit by a spate of freezing temps during full bloom. The raspberries are a bust because of the drought. A late freeze and chipmunks took out my strawberries and my blueberries are too small to produce much of anything.
    I can't imagine trying to survive off our own produce. We have had such a string of bad years of various crops things could get pretty scary. We, for the first time ever, ran out of canned tomatoes this winter because of a bad year last year. And I fear things will get pretty scary in the next year with food prices going up and up because of this drought. If it was just localized it would be one thing but it is so widespread this year.
    Here's wishing us all good weather and productive gardens.


  5. I hear ya. I had loaded apple trees last year. This year, the 2 surviving trees flowered, but I don't know if there were no bees or what. 1 tree has maybe 6-8 apples, and the other, haven't seen one. It's important to store up everything you can get your hands on. Last year I was blessed with an abundance of Italian plums. I will not get any this year from this person. Well, maybe a few. I think it is important as well to not just do one storage method with food. Freezer, can, dry, make jam, smoke, etc for variety.

  6. I had similar thoughts when the garden got wiped out by hail last year. It's sort of frightening to think what might happen if the droughts and crazy weather keep happening year after year.

  7. I am always thankful we DO NOT have to rely on our garden and fruit trees to feed ouselves. :( Two years ago, bumper crop of peaches, plums and pears. Shoot, I was giving them away! Last year and this year, nothing. I can't imagine how people used to get by. Nancy has a good point about bartering.

  8. I didn't realize you had such a drought last year, too, Carolyn. How frustrating it must be to be facing the same thing again this year in your garden.

    Okay, most of us still have the option of going to the store to buy what we need to tide us over this winter (because our gardens didn't give us enough) but the scary thing is how much I believe the prices at the store for food are going to skyrocket. Yes, we still have to eat no matter how much it costs, but just how do we manage to stretch the limited dollars to cover EVERYTHING?

  9. We were just discussing the likely shortage of chokecherries here, this year. It is so dry, the birds will likely get to what there is before we do.

    Poor toast. :)

  10. I think about that each time there is any crop failure. For all of us it is just an inconvenience but to the pioneers it was a matter of life or death. It is still very critical because of increasing prices looming ahead for everyone.

    I am sure all of us will be loosing fruit trees and berries this year because of the drought. I have a Grime Golden Apple tree that looks like it is on its last legs.

  11. This is only my 3rd year gardening and (like you) I find it amazing how variable production is from year to year. No fruit on any of my trees yet. Blueberries (zip) but I moved them inside the fence line this year. Strawberries just planted this year. I'm hopeful that next year might be the "turn around year" for me fruit-wise. Veggie-wise somethings are better than others. I hear ya on the entire self sufficiency thing. Gives me the "willies" thinking about having to provide for myself 100%

  12. Of course the goal is to survive without the grocery store, yet without it we would be in trouble. I have thought of what we would do in a crisis and have found that we are lacking in knowledge of wild, edible plants.Something to pursue. The only wild fruit we managed to preserve were the blackberries that grow EVERYWHERE. They make for a yummy jam.

  13. thank you for the sweet comment you left on our blog...i am now officially following you. do you want me to add you to our blog roll?

    your friend,

  14. People like us, self-reliant bloggers and readers, are far more aware of just how fragile our food sources are. This year with the plant killing heat my be a prelude of years to come where food in the supermarkets is minimal due to poor harvests and what is on the shelf end up being priced beyond reach.
    For gardening an abundance of water for irrigation including a dedicated piped irrigation system that makes watering easy should now be moved to the top of the priority list.

  15. I think about the same thing all the time. This year we expanded the orchard by planting a plum, peach and nectarine tree to the two apple trees we already had. The apple trees have a good crop of apples on them, I just don't think they are getting very big due to the drought. We also planted two grape vines and several strawberry plants. Of course all the newly planted fruits have to be watered to keep them alive in this drought and won't produce fruit for several years. I figure we needed to start some where though.

    I've been really thinking hard about drilling a well and setting up irrigation. But for now I spend at least an hour watering the garden and that long watering the trees.