Harvest food and winter

Get some valuable tips about how to prepare your garden crops for the winter from a homesteading neophyte.

Celebrate the sheer love of harvest food, while preparing for the winter, when it is harvest time at the homestead.

Celebrate the sheer love of harvest and prepare for the winter

Autumn is a busy time of year on the homestead. We are diligently winterizing the livestock housing and bedding. Our layers need to be bug free and their legs need salve applied to keep them from drying out in the winter. The geese need their wings trimmed to keep them from flying off with the flocks that pass over our land. And the goats need a good brushing to help keep them clean. It’s important to keep all your livestock healthy and prepared for the upcoming winter to help ensure that you get the best milk, eggs and meat throughout the freeze.

But it isn’t just our livestock we are busy with. Many fruits and vegetables have come into harvest. Sweet Potatoes need to be dug up before the frost. Peanuts need to be dried. The last of the peppers and tomatoes should be cleaned off their vines. We have a space in our barn dedicated to ripening our under-ripened tomatoes. If you have a vine, check your tomatoes before frost, if they are white in color, you can ripen them on your counter top.

Many fruits and summer squashes are ready to bring in and store. We do not have a mature apple tree, yet I was determined to find apples to store through the winter. I found an orchard, one U-Pick-It that was selling apples for .29 cents a pound. But through talking with others about my plan, I ended up with six bushels of free apples. Foraging for berries and other wild fruits is a grand adventure. Some incredible tasting desserts, jellies, jams and butters can be made by these finds.

Just be cautious about trespassing or breaking limbs and vines.

Sometimes you can approach the owner of a homestead and they will be happy to allow you to remove the extra fruit that might otherwise rot on the ground.

Now is also the time we head over to our local pumpkin patch. We have yet to be successful with growing winter squash. Lumina pumpkins make the best pumpkin pies, though they can be more expensive. Talk to the owner and see what the specials are, you could find some great deals.

Preserving your winter squash and tubers are simple.  Our cellar will be full of pumpkins and sweet potatoes. The sweet potatoes are wrapped in individual newspaper so that they do not touch. Rot will spread between them. As long as there is no bruising, the pumpkins can be stored out of the sunlight for winter. Apples do not spread rot as other fruits do. They can be stored together in a barrel out of the light. Just check the bottom once in a while to remove any that didn’t make it.

Working outside in the cool air is revitalizing. Wherever you are to harvest your own fall foods, you get to see the trees slowly change color, witness the small animals’ horde for winter, and watch as families laugh and tease while wondering around the homestead. Harvest is my family’s favorite time of year. It’s when we get to enjoy the fruits of our labor. Nothing beats the reward of freshly picked fruits, vegetables, tubers and gourds.

But it isn’t just our livestock we are busy with. Many fruits and vegetables have come into harvest. Sweet Potatoes need to be dug up before the frost. Peanuts need to be dried. The last of the peppers and tomatoes should be cleaned off their vines. We have a space in our barn dedicated to ripening our under-ripened tomatoes. If you have a vine, check your tomatoes before frost, if they are white in color, you can ripen them on your counter top.

Many fruits and summer squashes are ready to bring in and store. We do not have a mature apple tree, yet I was determined to find apples to store through the winter. I found an orchard, one U-Pick-It that was selling apples for .29 cents a pound. But through talking with others about my plan, I ended up with six bushels of free apples. Foraging for berries and other wild fruits is a grand adventure. Some incredible tasting desserts, jellies, jams and butters can be made by these finds.

Just be cautious about trespassing or breaking limbs and vines.

Sometimes you can approach the owner of a homestead and they will be happy to allow you to remove the extra fruit that might otherwise rot on the ground.

Now is also the time we head over to our local pumpkin patch. We have yet to be successful with growing winter squash. Lumina pumpkins make the best pumpkin pies, though they can be more expensive. Talk to the owner and see what the specials are, you could find some great deals.
Preserving your winter squash and tubers are simple. Our cellar will be full of pumpkins and sweet potatoes. The sweet potatoes are wrapped in individual newspaper so that they do not touch. Rot will spread between them. As long as there is no bruising, the pumpkins can be stored out of the sunlight for winter. Apples do not spread rot as other fruits do. They can be stored together in a barrel out of the light. Just check the bottom once in a while to remove any that didn’t make it.

Working outside in the cool air is revitalizing. Wherever you are to harvest your own fall foods, you get to see the trees slowly change color, witness the small animals’ horde for winter, and watch as families laugh and tease while wondering around the homestead. Harvest is my family’s favorite time of year. It’s when we get to enjoy the fruits of our labor. Nothing beats the reward of freshly picked fruits, vegetables, tubers and gourds.