Autumn harvest in northern hemisphere
So how is your harvest going? And your food preservation? Your preps for a winter garden?
Pickles are one of the best value-added ways to preserve food.
This past week: pickles galore. 15 pints of dill spears and chips went through the water-bath canner; also, 4 pints of spicy pickle relish with mustard and horseradish. In the fridge we have about 20 pints of half-sour garlic dills in chips and spears and four fridge relishes. We still used a ton of fresh cukes in salads and gave away more pickles. We ended up with what would have cost over $100 retail for $30 worth of farmer's market Kirby cucumbers and garlic, energy, and some free dill from our herb patch.
Also last week we canned and froze a bushel of green beans, yielding 36 pints frozen and 24 pints pressure-canned. These came to about the equivalent of 50 cents a can but with FAR less salt. We canned and froze 40 lbs of chicken meat bought on sale for 50 cents a pound bulk, and canned the resulting broth. Mushrooms are currently drying.
On Saturday we hitched up the trailer and picked up a cord and a half of oak and cedar logs which we are cutting up for firewood. Some of the oak was green so yesterday we finally set our shiitake mushroom plugs in some suitable logs.
A couple of weeks ago we canned concord grape jelly from grapes on our property. The good crop of muscadine grapes we grow were either sold to the health food store or juiced and the juice is fermenting to make vinegar. (You add active cider vinegar from the health food store, I've been told. We'll see.) .The grape skins were turned into fruit leather; it's great.
Fig season is just about over and all of the figs are made into jam or dehydrated. We got our first fennel out of the garden and our first kale.
I have romaine lettuce starts to put in the garden with a new experiment for the fall: black plastic to keep down weeds. We left three carrot plants in the ground so that they will make seed next year (they are biennial). We found a great local seed and feed place that sells onion sets at half the price as online, with no shipping charges.
We are going to do a cold frame again this year and are trying to decide what to grow in it. How about you all?
Last year we tried starting onion from seed for the first time, we are using soil blocks and put four seeds per 2" block and then transplant. It worked. Don't think we will ever by another set.
We have been using hybrids for our market garden and have begun trialing some heirlooms for their seed saving ability, would love to get to the point of seed saving most varieties.
We have been canning a bit all along the market season, saving what culls we can for ourselves. At the end of the season it is quite a bit of food.
WE HAVE to get started cutting wood pretty quick! We have been consumed with getting starts in for the winter, we hope to sell greens through the cold months, using high tunnels and low tunnels to do so.
Love that you are going with the cold frames, it works! Low tunnels are a similar strategy and our spring success was such that we will use them extensively this fall.
We will have a bit of a noir grape harvest this year. We have made plum wine, peach wine, prickly pear wine and some crab apple wine, hope to have a couple of cases along side of them in a few months. We also have some chili sauce fermenting, last year's batch was amazing.
Thanks for keeping this forum going Wendy, I love your thoughtful posts.
175 kg of pears and 170 kg of tomatoes so far! And the milk keeps pouring out of our flock of dairy goats (1.6 megagrams this year so far…)
Our complete harvest records are available on-line.
386 pounds of pears and 374 pounds of tomaotes…wow. Surely you are not going to eat them all, are you?
We stopped at 80 pounds of pears and sold half of those. How are you preserving the part you keep?
How are you preserving the part you keep?
Perry! (Pear cider.)
We then take the pomace (poirace?), or the dried pressings, and spread them out on greenhouse tables to dry, then feed them to the goats all winter.
Below is what i pulled from the garden this afternoon for the final harvest of 2015.
Highlights of the year were plenty of tomatoes, potatoes, courgettes, lettuce, chillis, broccoli and beetroot.
Onions, garlic and carrots did ok but were largely competing for sunlight and space with the courgettes and broccoli. Courgette did a little too well if truth be told as i've got more than I know what to do with.
Disappointments were the broad beans, corn and peppers. The broad beans suffered from blackened flowers which i suspect is due to a lack of pollination (flowers just turned black and dropped off). Corn got swamped out by the courgettes and the peppers really struggled when i transferred them out side (note to self; greenhouse required).
Being that this was my first attempt i had no appreciation for bulb/seed spacing and leaf spread. Next year will see a more organised planting regime to optimise plant growth
Luke, that is a very nice first effort. Best to learn things now rather than while under pressure to feed yourself from this. The learning curve is not impossible but it does take a few tries.
And, as you said, it's just a last harvest There was more before this.
I find it very useful to keep track of how much the same produce would cost in my local supermarket. Even when I was not getting fantastic yields it was a nice milestone when I broke even with the cost of seeds and such and a thrill when I first made a profit.
We did not plant any carrots this year. We are secure in knowing how to grow them, and have seed for next year, but we wanted to make some of the beds deeper first, and needed the room to experiment with other crops.
So this year I bought my carrots from a local grower at the farmer's market. 48 pounds for $17. While that's only 34 cents a pound, that's a lot of carrots.
Note: a mandoline slicer was a big help. The 48 lbs of carrots yielded 17 pints, 11 quarts of pressure-canned ones and 21 two-cup freezer bags full, so far. Look at it this way: a 2-lb bag of carrots in the supermarket is $1.79, so unprocessed we already saved $26 by buying in bulk. But when you add in the processing, the 21 bags of frozen carrots are now worth $42 at the supermarket (on sale), and the canned carrots are worth 52 store-bought cans of carrots at $0.90 each, or $47. So processed, the $17 worth of carrots are now worth $97, and I still have 12 pounds I am about to dehydrate (they're easily going to be worth $30 more if I bought them dehydrated). Oh, and I used some in a stew, and don't forget all those carrot sticks I munched on while I was canning…all with almost no carbon footprint.
Yes, we added labor and used a little energy, but a $110 value-added is pretty cool. We also "made" about $100 processing Kirby cucumbers into pickles and about $90 making our own jams & jellies (we grew the figs, strawberries & grapes – added sugar, etc). We also "made" $30 processing our neighbors' apples into pie filling (bartered for a sapling we grew) and $120 canning a neighbor's unwanted pears…
I estimate that, including fresh produce and other home-canned, home-dehydrated, and DIY frozen things we've consumed or "put" up we've saved over $1,500 again this year. Next year we should do even better, since the asparagus and sunchoke roots should really be ready and we will be concentrating on high yields, not experiments.
Meanwhile I am still gardening in our southern state, as there's been no hard frost yet. We still have onions, hot banana peppers, lettuce, cabbage, fennel, basil, and kale going. The lettuce is in punched wells in black plastic to keep the soil warm and cut down on weeds; so far our first experiment with the plastic mulch has gone well.
I'm clearing the rest of the garden beds for the winter, and when there's a frost forecast we are ready to transplant things to the cold frame. Most of the next week will be optimal growing weather. But the potted ginger plants are inside for the winter to make room for our stacked firewood on the porch. Winter is coming.