A few weeks ago, we shared some thoughts about what the autumn means for preparedness.
Grown with Patriot Seeds - photo shared by fellow patriot, Shawn Martin
This week, let's shift to share some practical advice on one of fall's greatest blessings - harvest.
One of the most rewarding times for any self-reliant patriot is harvest. There's nothing like the feeling of waking up each morning and tending to the needs of a bountiful patriot garden.
Yes, it can be a lot of work to do right, but the kinship one feels with previous generations of self-reliant farmers and homesteaders makes it all worthwhile. We're proud to carry on this tradition, and want to share - in broad strokes - how you can make the most of this year's harvest. Follow these four principles and you'll be prepared for the seasons ahead, without an ounce of your efforts being wasted.
One thing that separates "hobby gardeners" from self-reliant gardeners is the way they harvest. A hobby gardener is content to pick a few leaves of lettuce and a handful of tomatoes for tonight's salad, while other neglected vegetables in the garden become overgrown or wither on the vine.
When is zucchini too monster-big?
Self-reliant gardeners must harvest methodically, picking when the produce is at its peak for eating. For example, a zucchini can grow as big as your leg, but it will hardly be good eats at that point. If you do end up with a monster zucchini or something like it, don't fret. You can make use of this situation too. More on that later, when we discuss harvesting and saving seeds.
Harvesting methodically also allows certain plants to continue producing, which extends your growing window. So, if you pick at the ideal time, you'll get the best tasting produce and increase your yields.
Not sure how to best harvest your plants? Check with your local extension services for more information specific to your growing area. That's the first place to start. Of course, our self-reliant gardening experts are happy to help as well. Call us at 866.229.0927 and we'll work through your harvesting questions together.
PRESERVE THE FRUITS OF YOUR LABOR
Chances are, you'll have more produce than your family can eat fresh. Congratulations! You have the same "happy problem" that generations of patriots growing their own food before you have had.
Bountiful harvest grown from our Survival Seed Vault veggies
Preserving the food you grow is the best way enjoy your hard work year round. There are many methods of preserving your food, including:
- Root cellaring
- Air, sun, and freeze-drying
If you can employ just a few of these methods, you'll extend the shelf life of your spring and summer produce far into less productive seasons.
Preserved food can often be preferred over fresh in many instances. For example, many Italian cooks prefer the rich, deep flavors of canned tomatoes in a "winter sauce," over fresh tomato sauce made in summer.
These preservation methods have been employed for thousands of years, much longer than refrigeration. Time has perfected them, which means that preserving food remains indispensable to any self-reliant patriot.
PREPARE FOR THE NEXT GROWING SEASON
Beyond harvesting and preserving, you'll want to prepare for the next growing season to ensure continued high yields.
Our Lincoln Sweet Peas grown by fellow patriot, Dianne Comeau Peyton
The first thing to do is harvest and save as many seeds as possible. Remember that monster zucchini mentioned earlier? These overgrown vegetables make ideal candidates for seed saving since they'll have the largest seeds. Harvesting and saving seeds vary from plant to plant, but most need to be dried and then stored in a dark, cool place.
Next, you'll want to prepare your garden's soil for the next season. Depending on the soil you're working with, you may want to:
- turn it over
- add nutrients
- plant winter cover crops to fix the nitrogen
- cover with a layer of finished compost and/or mulch
- plan for crop rotation
Finally, the beginning of fall is the perfect time to expand your growing capabilities. If you're considering growing through the winter, fall is when you want to build cold frames or a greenhouse. Once the ground freezes, it will be near impossible to put these structures together. Similarly, if you want to prepare other parts of your property for gardening for next spring, get it ready before winter sets in.
ALWAYS HAVE A BACKUP PLAN
Despite our best intentions, all of our efforts to make the most of harvest can sometimes fail. At My Patriot Supply, we always recommend you stock up on a rock-solid emergency food storage plan to get through any unexpected crises. Our freeze-dried food can last up to 25 years in storage, which can help you weather a bad growing season, natural and national disasters, job loss and much, much more.
Our new Garden Pouches of heirloom seeds, including 3 with all organics
Storing an extra cache of seeds in case your seed-saving efforts fail is also a great idea. All of our seeds are packed and sealed for 5+ years, so you can use them next season or when an emergency arises.
Our hopes are that this article has been helpful as you plan to make the most of this year's harvest. As always, if you need help or have questions, our preparedness experts are always standing by. Give us a call at 866.229.0927.
Have a great weekend and a blessed harvest, friends. And feel free to share your patriot garden harvest photos on our Facebook page!
Scott Kerrigan, MPS Preparedness Advisor