I was really amazed at how much food was available to us so early in the season! The appearance of apricots was completely unexpected, and some of the veggies that popped up during the week were a surprise as well.
What I did well: I planted some early varieties of veggies like tomatoes and carrots; this was a big plus because they were ready in time for the challenge, whereas no one else had any ready. I also think that having gardens both at home and at mom's house was a plus; this helped to provide for both houses (the lettuce and tomatoes). I think getting the chickens was a great idea; in addition to them providing eggs for three households for challenge week, they are a joy to me, and make me smile every day with their personalities and quirkiness. I was a constant forager, going out almost every-other-day for blackberries; Todd and I collected 19lbs of blueberries, and I collected massive amounts of wild garlic, apples (with mom and grandma) and apricots (with everyone), and plums (with mom, grandma, and Todd). I also think my overall design plan was excellent, and whimsical looking as they may have been, the output on my gardens has been phenomenal.
What I need to work on for next time: I need to get rid of all non-challenge food in the house. I was really depending on the quinoa to grow as a major source of my protein and grains, but not a speck of it came up in either location. I would like to find things to grow that are a source of higher fat and calorie content, as I think that both would help all of us to feel less hungry. I would also like to find new ways to cook the food; most of my meals were incredibly simple because I just did not know what to do with only the food at hand besides stir frys and salads.
Would I do it again? Absolutely. I would like the rules to be a little different; for instance allowing for trade outside of the group (as long as the items traded for and with are challenge legal items); I would also like to see items such as cooking oil and salt allowed; I drink a LOT of water (about 80 oz a day), and proper water/salt balance is necessary; I also think that the bear had a little advantage because he doesn't have to cook.... so since we do, cooking oil should be okay! :o)
Well, this morning, I went blackberry and wild garlic collecting with mom. Seriously. We're still foraging. :o)
I'm working on preserving some of the mass quantities of foods that I have left over/ am foraging for. I will write a post with pictures... I've already given away bunches, and you still won't believe what I have left! I'm looking forward to my roma tomatoes being done so I can make and preserve some pasta sauce, fire roasted tomatoes, and other tomato creations for the winter. I'm also hosting a couple of canning workshops to teach others... so if you're in town (Cleveland )and want to learn, let me know!
I'm drying my first sunflower ever, and am planning on putting the next rotation of late crops in the ground within the next week. I'm also looking at putting a greenhouse with hoop tunnels over a part of the back yard garden to provide at least some of our food through the winter.
I'm really glad we did this... I have a sense of accomplishment and direction... thanks, brother!!! Oh, and a BIG hug and thanks to Sarah too!!!!!!!