|Sunflower heads that Ryan and I harvested from our back field
to feed the birds this winter
The Season of Autumn…
This is Neil’s and most of the children’s favorite season… I like it too, but I am all about Spring and Summer. I do love Autumn for the harvest though… the smell and crunch of the leaves under foot… the caa-caa of the Blue Jays feasting on the sunflowers in the front garden… the sound of the wind whistling through the leaves still hanging onto the branches… not quite ready to sail away…watching our can shelves, freezers and root cellars start to fill up to over flowing… Oh the bounty of Autumn, how thankful are we! The children enjoy the slower pace that Autumn leans into… once the fields are plowed and all that is left is the hoop house and animal care duties, life seems to take on a slower pace… more relaxed and peaceful. Now the boys and Neil are in full swing of making firewood to both heat our home and to sell at market. I love to hear the chainsaws roaring and the smack of the axe. I get to start using the cook stove again now… oh that smell of wood burning so close lends to a feeling more cozy than words can describe. I love our cook stove… it reminds me of when we would go way up North into Canada to visit my dad’s folks. They didn’t have electricity or indoor plumbing until I was about 12 years old… I loved the smell that rose into the upstairs when grandma was frying up fresh eggs and bacon for breakfast… covered and cozy under her quilts… not really wanting to venture out into the cold… the heat would start to move slowly through the old farm house upstairs and then I would jump out of bed and quick get dressed and run downstairs. Everyone else was always up and moving long before I. It was a happy feeling… a cozy, homey feeling that I had there. Now I have a cook stove of my own and although I only use it in the cold months, I can’t think of doing without it.
Harvest time is in full swing for most farmers right now. We are expecting some freezing temps here the next couple days so many of us are picking all the tomatoes~ green and all and everything else that will not sustain a frost or freeze. Ryan and I got all the sunflower heads harvested from the back field this past week. They are drying out nicely in the barn (see photo’s on my blog spot or web site). The back field is ready to be plowed up now for the season. We still need to get all the herbs from the Sausage Garden in though… Much of the Fennel is still green; I need to harvest the heads that are dry to save the seed. This will be what Neil uses in our farms Italian Sausages; Parsley will be harvested for our Italian Herb & Cheese; Sage will be dried for our Breakfast; Marjoram, Summer Savory and all the others will need to be brought in as well. Garlic needs to be planted within the next two to three weeks for next years harvest; spinach, lettuce, sorrel, and parsley need to be transplanted into the hoop house for winter production. Life keeps us busy, even in our slower time.
As I have been mentioning for the last several months, I will be discussing how to keep all this beautiful Autumn bounty in Root Storage as well as drying and freezing herbs. The bulk of the info will be taken and adapted from “Root Cellaring- Natural Cold Storage Of Fruits & Vegetables” by, Mike and Nancy Bubel; published by Storey Publishing. This is the best book out there and gives the most concise information on this topic. It is a must have for anyone looking to store what they have grown. Be sure to check my blog spot at http://www.fordragonfliesandme.blogspot.com for lots of great photos to go with this post!
There are several aspects to consider when planning for a root storage crop and keeping it. Much of this planning is done in January and February for the home gardener when the garden is being planned. The seed catalogs are abounding in the mail box and it is a thrill to sit with notepad and pen and jot down all the new things you want to try to grow… but you must take into consideration what you want to do with your crops~ simply have a small garden that you can snack on through the season or are you planning on feeding your family all that good stuff through the miserable cold days of winter when that beautiful garden is layered with white stuff and stone hard frozen. Well, if the later is your intent, then planning is key & crucial… plus it’s just plain fun to page through those beautiful catalogs and plan that garden. Before I had my green houses and hoop house this was my only way to keep it together through the non-gardening months… now I am happily spoiled!
Here is a list of the considerations that are crucial:*Choose crops that are meant for winter storage along with all the fresh eating crops during the growing season.
*The amount of moisture required for each particular crop.
*Temperature required to hold the crop.
*Where are you going to store your crops?
*Learning what can & can’t be kept together.
Today we will look at what crops are Good Keepers and Temperatures and Amounts of Moisture Required for crops.
~So here is a list of vegetable that keep well; I have not listed anything that I have not tried myself, the above mentioned book has a much more extensive list of thier successes.
*Beets- Detroit Dark Red and Long Season
*Brussels Sprouts- Long Island Improved
*Cabbage- Late Flat Dutch, January King and Danish Ballhead
*Carrots- Danvers and Chantenay
*Kohlrabi- White Vienna and Purple Vienna
*Leeks- American Flag, Lexton and Bandit
*Onions- Copra and Red Zeppelin
*Parsnips- All American
*Sweet Potatoes- Beauregard
*Potatoes- Russet (White baker), Yukon Gold (yellow), Kennebec (white) and Red Norland (Red)
*Rutabaga- Laurentian and Purple Top
*Winter Squash- Acorn, Sweet Dumpling, Buttercup, Butternut and any Hubbards.
*Turnips- Purple Top White Globe
*Apples- any late season hard apples will do well.
~ This is such a minute list of what is available, but I don’t feel comfortable telling you things that I haven’t personally experience. You can get really good details about crops and their holding qualities in Johny’s Seed Catalog along with our topic book. Have fun with your garden and try two or three varieties of each crop to do your own testing and see what you & your family like.
The next important factor to take into consideration when you are planning your crop choices is your location for storage and the amount of Moisture and Humidity that you are going to be dealing with. This will help you determine which crops and varieties as well.
Here is the list of “Storage Requirements of Vegetable and Fruits” that is in the above mentioned book which can be found on page 51-52. (I have adapted slightly).
*Cold and Very Moist- (32-40 degrees F and 90-95 % relative humidity):
Carrots, beets, parsnips, rutabagas, turnips, celery, Chinese cabbage, celeriac, salsify, Winter radishes, kohlrabi, leeks, collards, broccoli (short term), Brussels sprouts (short term), horseradish, Jerusalem artichokes, Hamburg rooted parsley.
*Cold and Moist- (32-40 degrees F and 80-90 % relative humidity):
Potatoes, cabbage, cauliflower (short term), apples, grapes (40 degrees F), oranges, pears, endive, escrole, grapefruit.
*Cool and Moist- (40-50 degrees F and 85-90 relative humidity):
Cucumbers, sweet peppers (45-55 degrees F), cantalope, watermelon, eggplant (50-60 degrees F), ripe tomatoes.
*Cool and Dry- (32-50 degrees F and 60-70 % relative humidity):
Garlic (keeps better in even lower humidity, around 50%), onions.
*Moderately Warm and Dry (50-60 degrees F and 60-70% relative humidity):
Dry hot peppers, pumpkins, winter squash, sweet potatoes and green tomatoes (up to 70 degrees F is OK
In the next post I will go into more detail with where to store all this wonderful bounty… keep posted!
1 recipe Flaky Pie dough (below)
8 slices bacon (Off course Garden Gates!)
1 medium yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
Salt & pepper
3/4 pound butternut squash, peeled, halved and very thinly sliced
8 large eggs
1/2 c whole milk
1/2 c heavy cream
6 fresh sage leaves
1. Preheat oven to 350 digress. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough to an 11×15 inch rectangle. Transfer to a 9×13 inch baking pan. Fold edges of dough so sides are about 1 inch high. Prick dough all over with a fork and freeze until firm, 15 minutes. Press on dough, draping over rim of pan. Bake until crust is firm and edges are lightly browned, about 35– 45 minutes or until bottom is dry and light golden.
2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook bacon over medium until almost crisp, 10 minutes, flipping once. Drain bacon on paper towels. Add onion to skillet, season with salt & pepper, and cook, stirring often, until golden brown, 10 minutes. Spread mixture evenly in crust. Top with squash, overlapping slices and adding a piece of bacon every few rows.
3. In a bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, and cream; season with salt 7 pepper. Pour enough egg mixture over filling to just reach top of crust. Top with sage. Bake until set in center and puffed at edges, 45 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes.
Asian Chicken Slaw
2 chicken breasts, deboned & skinned, cooled & diced
4 c cabbage, thinly sliced
1/2 c onions thinly sliced
3 tbsp rice vinegar or regular
2 tbsp peanut oil
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 tsp sugar
1. in a large bowl, combine chicken, cabbage and onions.
2. Add remaining ingredients and toss to blend. Add salt & pepper to taste.
3. Serve as a salad or fill pita pockets