Here it is September already, a turning point month, here on the homestead. The deep green of high summer is passing and we’re beginning to see more color changes with the yellows and golds emerging. My thoughts turn to making sure as much as possible gets preserved and planning for the upcoming cold weather.
In New Orleans, where I visit my baby brother there is a place in the French Quarter called Preservation Hall where amazing jazz is played. That’s what I’ve been thinking it’s like around here. It’s “Preservation Kitchen” where I’m really jazzed, getting all the food squirreled away.
I’ve been freezing, canning, dehydrating and pickling all summer, but now it’s like a non-stop production line, the pressure is on. I have to keep to a rigorous schedule so that I can balance the freshness of the harvest with what I’m capable of preserving in a day. Whew, but who’s complaining? Surly, not me, especially come deep snow and cold and when I am able to taste and benefit from the sunshine and warmth of summer.
I am also thankful that most crops are on their own schedule too. They all aren’t maturing at the same time. Strawberries in June followed by black raspberries, blueberries and red raspberries. It’s great for having a succession of fresh fruit on my cereal and for having the time to preserve each in turn. The tree fruit start in August and will be staggered thru November.
The first big pesto making and freezing fits in, in early summer. It’s also a good time to take a short vacation!
The garlic gets pulled in late July/early August and I have time to dry and move them before the onions need that space. Then it’s tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, green beans and summer squash maturing together and in succession with some wiggle room for harvest. I try to leave the greens like kale and collards until late fall when nights are colder. They become much sweeter after the frost plus I have more time to deal with them then.
I wrote this draft a couple days ago and now I’m noticing that I may have to re-think my timetable. The apples aren’t supposed to be ripe yet! What with the changeable weather patterns and the increased overall heat, both fruit and vegetables are adapting faster than I am. Good reminder not to get stuck in the past. Trying to adapt my thinking and activities to these changes is a challenge.
The other focus in September is winter planning; how and when to remove the old plants and when to and plant some cover crops; when to under-sow some oats & field peas beneath the tomatoes, peppers, tomatillos and other tall crops; what soil amendments need to be added; …..
So friends, it’s not too late to stock-up on some summer for your own family. Read the latest The Natural Farmer and learn the multitude of ways to save that sunshine. Don’t have the TNF? Renew or join NOFA/Mass now so you don’t miss out. Hope you get as Jazzed as me in your own Preservation Kitchen! Have fun.