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In Food We Trust, part III

October 5, 2008

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I’ve been trying to hang onto summer for as long as I can, but these guys are telling me to let it go.  Yesterday, at afternoon chore time we counted 6 different flocks heading south.  Later at night we could still hear more flocks – today the same.  What do they know, that we don’t?  Or are they just doing the same as us, preparing for winter.

In the garden it seems like we are always planning for winter.  Most of the crops we will eat this winter were planted as soon as I could work in the soil.  The root crops for the milk cow were some of the first things I planted this spring.  I need them to reach maturity for an ample winter supply for her.  A full year from seeding to the last parsnip pulled out of the ground, that is a long time.  Added benefits to growing roots crops for the family cow, she is healthier, I don’t have to buy grain, and I can store those roots in the ground and dig as needed.  No special storage area, no processing, just harvest once a week. 

But, I have a weakness for warm season crops, I love sweet corn, and sweet peppers. 

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We’re still eating cucumbers, kohlrabi, green beans, radishes and salad turnips but those crops are waning fast.  Now begins the transition to cooler season crops. 

We eat as many fresh vegetables and fruits as we can.   And, we can and freeze the surplus for winter eating.//" target="_blank">View Raw Image</a>
Italian prunes ready to be canned.


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Still plugging away on the tomatoes, 

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and eating as many sweet peppers as we can.  Sweet Pimiento ripens every year here, some of the others aren’t as consistent.  We saute and freeze diced peppers, and pick several boxes to keep for fresh eating and cooking.  They will keep sometimes until January.

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Paprika –  these will be dried and can be ground as needed. 

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It looks like the zucchini is trying to hang onto summer too – I’m glad. 

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Celery –  this will stay in the garden and freeze back, but should make it through and set seed next year for celery seed.


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Celeriac or Celery Root – this root stays in the garden too, like the other roots. 

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The last of the cauliflower.  After the heads are harvested, the plants are fed to the turkeys, hens or pigs. 

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The deer and I have the same view from outside the greenhouse – most of our winter brassicas and salad greens are in the greenhouse.  In June I was worried I would not be able to keep up with the extra growing space if I planted in this greenhouse.  Here is my disclaimer:  A greenhouse is not necessary to grow these crops in most of the US.  The kale and all the salad greens I’m growing for winter can be grown outside.  Read the Fedco or Johnny’s seed catalog and really read the descriptions.  Look for winter hardy crops.  This is the first year for us to grow most of my winter crops inside and we are doing this because of deer pressure.  But, I have to say, this is peace of mind for me, I have more control and won’t be surprised (I hope) some morning when I go out to the garden area to harvest.  Our greenhouses aren’t heated, so the temperature is only about 1 degree different from outside temperatures, but what the cover provides is some protection from our constant rains.  I do consider the greenhouse a necessary tool for our food supply.

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But, I know how to work the door, and the deer don’t. 😉  I planted the coles in July and battled the weeds, I still have weeds, but it is too cool for many more to germinate.   This kale will overwinter, providing us and the poultry with greens throughout the fall and winter, and then in the spring when it bolts we will eat the shoots like broccoli.  I don’t plant spring broccoli anymore, the kale provides us with enough, until we can’t stand eating anymore. 

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These greens were started in July and transplanted in August.  Some of these will make it through winter, some won’t.  And, that’s OK – eating seasonally means that.  It is a different eating calendar than when you shop at a store.  We eat carrots all fall, winter and into spring.  I haven’t eaten more than 3 carrots this summer, likewise I’m now just wanting some winter squash and getting tired of zucchini.


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Cabbage  is one of our staples, it likes our cool, damp climate and it is a great cooking ingredient.
We make lacto-fermented kraut, and eat a lot of cabbage in stir-fry’s and salads. 

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More cabbage…   Ruby Ball

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and more cabbage.  This is Danish Ballhead, and this planting confirms my belief, that a weak seed or plant at transplanting makes the plant susceptible to insect predation.  These cabbages are all planted together.  This variety is the only ones with any significant damage.  Same conditions for all, the only difference is that these looked weaker from the get go.  I say these seeds were saved from a improperly rogued field of seed stock.  I see the same thing in our livestock, some just never do as well, under the exact same conditions.  That is why you don’t treat every plant in a “crop” the same or every cow in the herd with the same remedy or plan of action.  Sometimes, culling is the answer, not spraying for bugs.  Ask yourself, why did the cabbage moths zero in on this row of cabbage, it is in an entire planting of brassicas, or why do some of the cows in my herd always have more flies??  As a farmer and gardener I need to think these things through – the cabbage answer is easy for me, these seeds came from Fedco, who now has pulled this seed lot of Danish Ballhead.  I need to get a better seed source before saving seed for this variety.  I have a harder time culling my cattle, I know each one, so it takes me long time to decide who has more check marks on the bad side.  So as you walk your garden or pasture, look, really look at what is in front of you every season of the year, and ask yourself questions, and never stop doing that. 

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More cabbage…   Melissa

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Finally, the last of the cabbage – this is January King, and it will form heads and be ready in about February through March.

These last three posts show you can grow most of your own food.  I mainly covered fruits and vegetables, but we raise our own meat too, which is detailed in other posts.  It is a full time job, but soooo satisfying.  I would say it is the best job I have ever had, besides being a parent!

20 Comments leave one →
  1. October 6, 2008 5:17 am

    so inspiring!

  2. October 6, 2008 7:14 am

    You food looks so yummy. I will miss the going out to the yard a pick a fresh veggie. But I am already planning next years garden. Thanks for sharing the pictures. Have a great day.

  3. October 6, 2008 8:14 am

    Lots and lots of work! Out of curiousity, as I’ve never fed a cow root veggies, does it ever “taste” the milk? I know we avoided turning our cow out on crested wheat grass and anywhere there were wild onions growing because it made the milk taste horrible.
    My kraut is just about ready to freeze. The Bossman has been eating it out of the crock now for a few days:(

  4. October 6, 2008 8:19 am

    How do you store your peppers? I picked all of mine yesterday, along with the last of the cukes and the rest of the tomatoes, due to the wind storm bringing in rain and snow on the foothills tonight.

    I’ve got a full 2 flats of green bells (no ripening this year) that I was going to saute and freeze. If I can store them with the potatoes or something that would be better!

  5. October 6, 2008 8:40 am

    I think I need to move to Oregon. My garden is pretty much done already — except for the cool weather stuff.

  6. October 6, 2008 8:45 am

    Inspiring, beautiful, food for thought!

  7. October 6, 2008 9:00 am

    I would like a cold frame or better yet a heated greenhouse so I can grow winter greens but I am afraid it will not happen this year. A goal for next year for sure but we will plant garlic again soon. Something to look forward to! Growing your own food is very rewarding, I agree!

  8. October 6, 2008 10:38 am

    Your cabbages look so great; I especially like the crinkly leaves of the Melissa. I love cauliflower. It’s on the list of veggies to grow next year. Your tomatoes and peppers look terrific!

  9. October 6, 2008 11:01 am

    Oh you show off! I’m so envious of your tomatoes! We had such a lousy summer this year they simply didn’t produce, not even in the greenhouse. You obviously have lots of experience with leaving things in the ground to over winter. I was planning on trying that with our carrots…any suggestions???

  10. October 6, 2008 11:07 am

    Beautiful garden! Paprika, wow, I have been looking for seed. It must taste so much better freshly ground.

  11. October 6, 2008 11:12 am

    And, do you take all those photos yourself? They are lovely.

  12. October 6, 2008 6:43 pm

    Wow, looking good. I wish I had enough land to have a cow & some other animals. I may be able to sneak in a few ducks next year and maybe a bee hive. All your veggies look fantastic! So inspiring to know people are doing what you’re doing.

  13. October 6, 2008 6:52 pm

    WOW! Such a bounty of delicious-ness!

  14. October 6, 2008 10:48 pm

    Heidi, thanks.

    Grammy, I know what you mean, I can’t wait for next year already…

    Linda, I’m only feeding parsnips and carrots, and NO plants from the cabbage family.

    I haven’t started my kraut yet, but soon.

    Laura, I store the peppers on our covered porch, which is cool and dry, and I check them frequently for mold. The mold seems to be the worst enemy. If a freeze threatens, I bring them in or if it isn’t going to be too cold, I cover the boxes with blankets. It doesn’t seem to matter if the peppers are green or ripe, they keep about the same. I think your barn where your potatoes are would be about the same temp and humidity as our porch.

    That’s great that you got two flats! It has been such a cool year.

    AMWD – I don’t know if you would like all the rain, it isn’t as cold here as the NE, but it does rain a lot. If we get a frost our warm weather crops will be shot too.

    EJ, thanks.

    Kim, I still have to get my garlic in too, but our soil is still too wet, hopefully soon. You guys have done a lot this year, maybe next year for your greenhouse and cold frames, 🙂

    Paula, thanks, Melissa is an easy cabbage to grow and very tender. We are enjoying the last of the toms and peppers, I know they will be gone soon… 😦

    HDR, It was a slow, cool summer here too, everything is at least 2 – 3 weeks later, even cool season crops.

    On the roots, I hill with soil, which seems to give me more protection from voles. I have tried straw but it seemed to keep the soil drier and that gave the voles a comforting and warm place to munch on our carrots and beets. Our soil rarely freezes more than 4″ – 6″, so you may need more protection, I think your straw bale idea would work, I always used loose straw. Maybe voles may not be a problem in your area anyway. If you can store them in the row, you will be surprised at the quality, they stay very fresh into late spring. Much better than if pulled and stored in sand or a root cellar, I think because the root is still attached so the plant is still alive.
    Hope this helps.

    Oh, I take about 1/2 the photos, my teenage daughter takes the other 1/2. But, I did take all the photos for these garden posts.

    Frieja, the paprika is good, this variety happens to be a hybrid, but it is so prolific I have kept growing it. I do need to find a reliable paprika pepper that will ripen here, so far no luck yet…

    Susy, thanks for stopping by. Bees and ducks sound great, we have neither, but I wish we did.

    Pamela, thanks.

  15. October 7, 2008 1:00 am

    Funny to hear you mention both FEDCO and Johnny’s, as they are both within 20 miles of us here in mid-Maine. We just got our new FEDCO catalog.

    I was supposed to build that new greenhouse this fall — been saving glass panes for three years now. We don’t have anywhere big or flat enough for an Elliot Coleman-style hoophouse, but we do have a south-facing barn wall on a terrace.

    I guess I’d better get to it!

  16. October 7, 2008 5:51 am

    Mick, another one I didn’t mention is Wild Garden Seeds here is Oregon, they have a great selection of winter hardy greens, too. But, people assume they can only winter garden in our climate but that isn’t true. Eliot Coleman is in Maine and he is using unheated greenhouses.

    In the maritime Northwest we deal with low light levels, which makes winter growing a slow proposition, most people assume it is the cold that plays a bigger part.

    The greenhouses we have, allow us to grow a more significant crop but, they are not necessary. I think everyone misunderstood the intent of my last three posts.

  17. October 7, 2008 7:39 pm

    You guys are lucky to have such a variety of crops. There must be pearly gates at the entrance of your place. I love to read about all the stuff going on there and I really love all the pictures.


  18. October 8, 2008 6:21 am

    Chris, I don’t know about the pearly gate thing…I think it is just the camera, it makes everything look so good 🙂

    You guys will be growing a bigger garden soon, I bet. It just takes time, and adding a little more each year makes it seem a little easier.

  19. October 8, 2008 3:11 pm

    I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed the last three posts. I enjoy all your posts but it is great to see the abundance you have created and to learn about varieties that work here in the PNW. So much of this growing stuff is so location specific – it is an incredible resource to have you and other PNW bloggers posting your experiences (and failures). We may be dealing with different microclimates (I’m up here on the windiest hill in Seattle) but it is still a lot more relevant than the garden notes of someone in Georgia! Makes our available pool of information that much larger. Keep it up!

  20. October 12, 2008 12:17 am

    Maya, thanks, I agree gardening in our maritime climate is different than most areas. We have that dreaded Columbia Gorge wind to deal with, and lots and lots of rain, we aren’t too far from PDX, but we get at least twice the rain.
    Thanks for stopping by.

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