Common Sense Home Good News Letter 9/17/23

“As fall equinox approached, the sunlight slipped back into the house. Living in a passive solar home was a bit like living in a giant sundial. The time of day and change of seasons were impossible to ignore.”

Even without a calendar, I could give you a rough date between September and June by the location of the sunlight on the tiles of our main floor. At fall equinox, the sun penetrates about two tiles in. By solstice, it just touches the far wall. By spring equinox, it’s headed back out of the house for the summer.

When we were scoping out locations to build our home, proper solar orientation was one of the top priorities. It’s amazing how big of a difference it makes in usability and energy use. After over 18 years of living this way, I know I’d miss it if I had to give it up.

You can learn more about passive solar here...​

As the growing season wraps up, I’ve been giving some serious thought to how our family needs to fundamentally change how we grow food in the coming years.

For years, we’ve been adding trees, shrubs, bushes, vines, and other perennials. Now, those plantings are maturing, which is great – BUT – with the new perennial crops coming in, we can scale back production and preserving on our annual crops.

There’s also the element of volunteer crops. We let some crops self seed, and others make their way out of the compost or the animal bedding. (The ducks and chickens get a variety of seedy crops to eat, as well as leafy greens.) I haven’t had to plant lettuce or kale for years, unless I want a specific variety.

Our eating patterns have changed, too. We do intermittent fasting now, and eat a different mix of recipes than we did years ago. There are also a lot of ​wild plants​ we can use to mix up the menu.

I’m making up a list of changes, and hopefully next year will be a little less hectic offline so I can get more work done online. I haven’t forgotten about putting together a membership for growing, cooking, and preserving more nutrient dense food, I’ve just been busy doing it instead of writing about it.

There’s some produce that needs preserving calling my name from the kitchen, so I’d best sign off.

All our best to you and yours,

Laurie (and August IV, August V, and Duncan)

This week’s featured articles…

We had our first sizable grape harvest this year. In addition to eating them fresh, I’ve been preserving some and having fun making ​grape gummy candy​. I love the deep purple color and rich flavor of our homegrown Concord grapes, but if you don’t have fresh grapes, you can use juice or juice concentrate.

Our friends in the northern part of the state were dealing with frost warnings last week, and I know we’ll be frosty soon, too. If you want to stretch your growing season a little more, check out these ​12 ways to protect your plants from frost​.

Our ​spaghetti sauce for canning recipe​ has been very popular lately, but not everyone has enough tomatoes at once for a full batch.

What I do when I have tomatoes ripening in small batches is to freeze them in packs of 5 pounds each. Then when I’m ready to prep a canning recipe, I pull out as many containers as I need. As they thaw, the skins slip right off. If you like, you can pour off some of the clear juice that separates during thawing to speed up the cook down/thickening process. (It makes a refreshing drink.)

Popular on Instagram this week: ​why elderberries are so expensive​ and ​building continues​.

Do you have your copy?

Have you ordered a copy of “​Never Buy Bread Again​“?

With the ever increasing list of additives and preservatives being used in food, it’s helpful to have a “go to” recipe book with easy to follow, reliable recipes.

Lin says, “I’m wearing out my copy of “Never Buy Bread Again”.

I hope you’ll enjoy it, too! The book is self-published, so your purchase directly supports the work we do on the site.

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