Carl Legge

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since Mar 21, 2015
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Recent posts by Carl Legge

Cassie Langstraat wrote:So I ran the winner picker app in the forum software and we have 2 winners.

Kelly King
Bill Crim

Congratulations Kelly and Bill!

I sent you an email to ask for the email address of the person that first referred you to That person (if qualified) will also get a copy of the book and a permies care package.

Congratulations to Kelly & Bill, I hope you and your referrers enjoy the book.

And many thanks to Cassie for organising and hosting me, I really enjoyed answering the questions and reading the other contributions
5 years ago
Hi Carol, thanks very much for the question. Having a good store cupboard really makes improvising meals from the ingredients you're presented with so much easier.

Here's my list

Dried goods: pasta, rice, pulses, grains (a pressure cooker very handy to quickly cook the pulses)

Tins: tomatoes, anchovies

Various flavours/types of oil and vinegar

Bacon, guanciale, pancetta, parmesan

Herbs or green veg preserved in oil such as persillade (recipe in book), pesto etc

Strattu (very concentrated passata preserved in oil)

A well stocked dried herb and spice drawer

All purpose, strong white, rye, spelt flours.


Fermented chillies, green veg etc

Frozen peas

I'm sure to have missed something
5 years ago

Tina Paxton wrote:
4. Food Preservation: this is definitely an important link in the chain. I like the idea of fermenting foods and am working on developing those skills. Canning is something my elderly mother helps with when she is able. I also want to build a smoker and smoker foods. Dehydrating can be a problem with the high humidity leading to mold. Do you favor a particular method of fermenting (lacto-fermentation for example)?

Hi Tina

Living on the wet west coast of Britain in an old (18th Century) stone built cottage I sympathise with your high humidity & mold concerns. I do use a dehydrator and then vac pac or use jars with silica packets in or pop in the freezer until I need to use. Many things that my friend in Rome can store just in the kitchen have to go in the fridge here.

Lacto-fermentation is fab. Sandor Katz's books are the standard works. There's a recipe or two on my blog as well. And I have two recently published books that I also recommend:

Leda Scheintaub's Cultured Foods for Your Kitchen: 100 Recipes Featuring the Bold Flavors of Fermentation

Kirsten & Christopher Shockey's Fermented Vegetables

Also very good generally on preserving is Alys Fowler's Abundance I have a recipe and some honourable mentions in this, so I should declare an interest

I have a smoker too and love the produce from it. If you are building your own make sure you can use it for cold and hot smoking and incorporate a thermometer so you can monitor temps for cold smoking. There's some pictures on my blog of my set up.

My very best wishes for fun and success
5 years ago
Hi Tina, thanks for the question.

Your objective is similar to ours here in Wales. Half an acre (I can speak acres and square metres ) is a good sized plot and you can do a lot with it. I think with the right crops you could achieve 70-80% of your fruit and veg needs once things are mature. You can easily be self sufficient in eggs and the extent that you'll meet your meat needs depends on how much you eat and whether you fancy eating other stuff from time to time.

I'll concentrate on your question of priorities rather than specific crops or animals. I also concur with D Logan's comments.

First thing is to have an efficient way to recycle animal & veg waste to ensure that the keep the soil in good heart. We use a huge compost tumbler to help us produce compost quicker than in bins. Also look to see what resources you have on the plot and which you can forage (eg seaweed) to help supplement what you produce yourselves.

Secondly, I'd say that some form of winter protection for some crops is essential. This will help you keep some crops over winter and also grow some summer crops that may be marginal outdoors. We have two polytunnels and I'd happily have more. They're also great for bringing on seedlings etc. Make sure you can easily irrigate them, we have a leaky hose irrigation system in ours which means we don't have to spend hours in the summer with hose in hand.

Thirdly, you need to think carefully about how you use your time. We've made mistakes here trying to develop growing spaces and then found that we've spread our time resource too thinly. Be kind to yourself and take things in steps and consolidate those steps. Also important is to think about how you design the space to make it easy to maintain. We found it a nightmare trying to maintain annual veg beds in grass/pasture for example. We now have hard edged raised beds that don't have the need to weed/cut encroaching herbage. And linked with this, pay attention to your zoning and keep things that need the most attention close to the house if that's possible. I also find that detailed planting & sowing plans and schedules are a huge help in cutting down wasted time thinking 'what to do'. They're not immutable and get flexed according to weather and circumstance.

Forthly, set time aside in your plans to process and preserve your hard won harvests. At the height of summer this can be a full time job. You'll need to have the equipment to do this. In addition to the 'normal' preserves, we ferment a lot of things and I also use a canner (bought from the USA!).

Fifthly, I strongly advocate growing lots of perennial veg. Martin Crawford's book is an excellent resource (as is his Forest Gardening book). They are tasty and you'll spend much less time sowing, planting and maintaining them than you will equivalent annual veg. Linked with this, be content to let annuals self seed in places, they'll find where they're happy and save you time and energy.

Lastly, if you haven't already got it, make a space (or spaces) for you to relax and enjoy your plot and and its products. Make time to enjoy it

Hope that is some help, you have an exciting journey ahead

5 years ago
Thanks for your kind words D, you are welcome and best of luck
5 years ago

Hi Carl,

I am an enthusiastic cook and am excited to see what you have to share with us.

My question is: What would you say are the 3 or 4 foods you'd encourage someone in Zone 4 (northern Vermont) to plant to fill cupboards with food? Both in the short term and the long term - two separate list probably.

What do you find yourself preparing the most from your permaculture plantings? (Most often OR most volume).

Leaning towards plant based because we are currently lacto-ovo vegetarian (though we very well may move towards adding some meat to our diet in the future, but currently don't have animals).

Kelly in Vermont

Hi Kelly thanks for this great question.

I'm not an expert in Zone 4. Here in North Wales we're at Zone 9 and that's despite the fact that we're 10 degrees further north than you. The Gulf Stream does us a big favour.

With that said, here's some thoughts that I hope deal with both your points.

For the long term, I'd recommend fruit and nut trees if you have the space. A quick google search tells me that there are varieties that will withstand your climate and stockists to supply locally provenanced stock.

The most valuable crops I use the most often I'd say were the green leafy vegetables of one kind or another. Here I am moving over to grow mostly perennial varieties of kale/collard/cabbage but I'm not sure that many of these will survive your winter. However, sowings of annual varieties cropped during the growing season and with a fall final harvest would be excellent. They can be preserved easily and I favour fermentation methods for this. I wouldn't be without salad leaves and various herbs. Here I can grow them year round using a polytunnel, but for spring to fall I get a huge amount of value out of these easy to grow crops.

Also, I think a wide variety of root crops for flavour, texture and colour variation. You may need a 'clamp' or cold store to keep these over winter to use fresh. However, Eliot Coleman (Four-Season Harvest) says:

In the frigid mountains of Vermont...only five crops - spinach, scallions, mache, claytonia and carrots - will be dependably harvestable all winter from a cold frame...

so some form of protection of a cold frame or polytunnel may be helpful to you if you have space.

I think the summer and winter squashes are a must have. They are tasty, versatile and relatively easy to grow. I spent an October on an expedition in Nova Scotia and was astonished to see nearly every house with dozens of squashes curing outside. It's a similar latitude and climate (I think) to Vermont and hopefully should do well for you.

I would look to find varieties of peas and beans that would grow well for you. The green veg will be grand during the summer and can easily be preserved by canning or fermenting for over winter. If you want to grow peas/beans for drying, you'll need some space to make this worthwhile.

I see you are a forager too and I think that foraged foods make up a significant proportion of what we eat. I love the change of mindset from seeing many of them that are normally regarded as a 'problem' to being a 'resource'. They are low management and just cost the time to pick, I love 'em.

I hope that's a help

5 years ago

D. Logan wrote:The question I had was about where this book stands apart. With a number of seasonal cooking books on the market, the primary difference seems with your own permaculture twists seems to be a focus on ease of use. Fitting the whole thing more neatly into our modern lives than a number of older from-scratch recipes are. Is that assessment accurate? Also, how strongly does that theme play into the book as a whole? Are there other aspects that may not be as evident as well?

Hi D and thanks for such a perceptive question.

My aim is for the book to be enabling. I wanted to help people to learn to cook and to do so without recipes. So my primary focus was on offering methods and principles how to cook various types and styles of dishes and give ideas & inspiration which ingredients the cook could use to make them. I think that in an system (this being food production/consumption) the most flexible actors in the system are most likely to be successful. So, my aim was to encourage a flexible approach to ingredients, grounded in sound principles.

At its heart the theme is sustainability. To cook like this you need the skills and knowledge. To maintain the approach the food needs to taste good, be cookable within your time and money budgets and be appreciated by those you cook for. To be sustainable within the wider system you need to make the best use of what you have, only use what you need and recycle your waste products.

So time was a one criterion for me. Some of the recipes are very quick to prepare. Sometimes I looked to help use time (and energy) efficiently by batch cooking larger quantities. Another time saver is to preserve ingredients in advance so that they could be used quickly later. One of the things I advocate in my Three Steps Approach is advance planning and this can help save lots of time further on.

And I also look to help people cook using the most approriate/efficient energy source. For example, in the eggs section, I show that the eggehs can be cooked in the oven or on the hob as can many of the fish dishes.

The final section contains tips and tricks for using all of the piece of produce that you have, so the minimum is not used. So, for example, I included a recipe for carrot top pesto so that the leaves are not wasted.

I think the combination of these approaches sets The Permaculture Kitchen apart. Obviously, it's for you and others to judge how well I've done that

5 years ago
Hi Bill

My top tip for good gelatinous stock is to include a pig's trotter or two (or more) to the mix
5 years ago
Hey Cassie

Great question.

I agree with all the replies saying it's great in roasts, with veg and/or chicken, oily fish, lamb or beef.

And rosemary in baking is fantastic, we've just had focaccia with extra-virgin olive oil, sea salt and rosemary sprinkled on it. In bread it's great, I think it partners especially well with bread rolls made with cheese to have with soups.

Your plant will benefit from regular cutting so its stems make multiple branches. You may have noticed how the branches become bare and woody if left and eventually the plant will be more wood than herb. The woody stems make great skewers when they're fresh and green to use on barbecues though. And it also makes a good contribution to a 'smudge fire' to burn to produce a herby smoke that helps to keep insects away from where you are eating.

If you give your plant a good prune and have a lot of rosemary around I suggest making 'romarinade' which is rosemary whizzed up with olive oil, a little salt and garlic to make a paste. You can then use this straight out of the cupboard or fridge when you fancy a quick blast of woody flavour on veg or grilled meats or fish. It'll mean you won't have to go out in the rain in winter to collect fresh herb

I love it whizzed up with anchovies and garlic as part of a thick salad dressing which is great for salads with one or more of fennel, celeriac, potato, artichoke or radishes.

Rosemary is also a traditional herb to use in brewing beer, add a few ounces of the herb to the boil water to extract the flavours and oils. And it makes an ace liqueur if you steep it in vodka or other spirit, it goes well with lemons in the mix or coriander.

I like to chop it very fine when I use it in risotto, soups and stews so that you don't get speared by the sharp needles which tend to feel like bones.

Lastly, you can propagate your rosemary using stem cuttings, so that you can have more and/or replace the big plant when the time comes.

Hope that's a help
5 years ago
Thanks for the introduction Cassie, delighted to be here and looking forward to talking food, cooking and anything else that may crop up.

And thanks also to Jocelyn & Bo for the welcome
5 years ago