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Fall is a Busy Time of Year

Fall is a Busy Time of Year

Fall is always a very busy time around our little homestead! This is the time we see the results of our hard work planting, weeding, and watering our greenhouse and gardens. The wild berries are also ready to pick and process...that is if we don’t eat them all as we pick!

Our main garden plot is about 6 years old, and it is still not as good as we want it to be. Each year we put in mulch and till as well as add some black dirt from a nearby farm. The ground here has a lot of clay and that is hard to deal with as far as making it into a productive garden. This year I chose to grow only peas, beans, onions, and potatoes in the garden. Though the soil is still not where I would like it to be, I have a higher yield than ever before!

We also have a small greenhouse that is on its second year. I love it, but the next one will be built differently. It was getting too hot with the high temperatures that we are getting in my area of Alberta. We needed to put another fan and opening as well as paint some of the plastic. Planted in the greenhouse are swiss chard, cucumbers, beets, a few carrots, cabbage, and broccoli. In there, the cucumbers are growing like crazy, and we eat all of them as soon as they are a nice size. The swiss chard has produced so much that I have taken several batched throughout the summer and they are still producing. The greenhouse is also where I planted herbs this year and they are thriving! I have harvested two batches from all of the varieties already and there will be two more harvests before winter! Because we have raised beds in the greenhouse, the soil is not full of clay and is much nicer to grow in. I did learn a hard lesson this year - do NOT leave the screen door open! Because we left it open - the cabbage moths got in and decimated the cabbage and any related plants. I got one bunch of broccoli, (which we ate), before the moths got in, but no cabbage. As soon as I realized what was happening, I chose to pull and dispose of the plants instead of trying to treat them as there was a large infestation. We now have a “no open screen door” policy for next year!

Another experiment here is outdoor raised beds.  This is our second year with these as well. Strawberries are doing better in these than they did in the garden, there are no strawberries left to freeze because we made strawberry/rhubarb crisp...yum! Spaghetti squash was planted in a raised bed as well and they are doing very well. I just picked two that are the right size and there will be many more throughout the next few weeks! It has been three years since I have been able to harvest these tasty squash. I will be putting up more of these beds next spring and trying to grow onions in them. The onions in the garden do not grow to any size due to the compacted soil.

Now for the processing of the bounty!

I have dehydrators, vacuum sealer, and new this year, a freeze dryer. The peas were shelled, blanched, and frozen in meal sized portions. If you want to freeze in a large bag, I suggest you first freeze them after blanching on a cookie sheet before bagging so they don’t freeze in a clump. For the beans I take the ends off and cut them smaller.  Peas I also freeze on cookie sheets before bagging to reduce clumping.

The potatoes should sit separated for a week or two to dry before putting them in the pantry or cold room. We will do that with the larger ones, but this year I will be trying for the first time to can the small ones. I have friends that do that every year and assure me it is a wonderful way to store small potatoes. I will also be trying to freeze-dry mashed potatoes, but that will come later as the leafy vegetables spoil faster – leafy veggies take priority! For storing onions, remove the dirt but do not wash, cut the green off and put the onion in a well-ventilated area to dry a bit before storing. This year I dehydrated the greens after cutting and will grind them into onion powder. I keep the mesh bags from any store-bought produce to store my garden items in – I find that this helps to organize until we have a proper cold room.

The beet leaves, swiss chard, and herbs were dehydrated as well as several batches put through the freeze dryer. I am using plastic or mylar (with oxygen absorbers) and vacuum sealing.  My desire is to transition to more reusable options. I recently purchased a dry canning vacuum sealer and will try to use canning jars instead. I have not tried it yet so the success with that is yet to be determined. Because there has been amazing growth, I do not always have enough room in the freeze dryer or dehydrator so with some of the herbs, I hang them with string in my kitchen to dry.

We will keep changing the way we do things until we find a way that works best for us as a family and the soil and climate we have. It is a lot of work, ever changing, and I LOVE IT!


May God bless you and your families,
Good2GoCo Family