The August garden is a glorious sight to see. More importantly, it holds a large amount of the vegetables we'll be eating over the next several months. Everything is growing and getting bigger right now, and yet there is only so much time to pace out the harvest before the frost and snow come. Unfortunately I have not found a way to store food in the garden here as so many of you are able to do in more temperate climates. So everything has to come out, even the kale and cabbage will freeze and turn to mush by the end of October. We have an area under our house that we heat to above freezing to keep our water and water pipes working. The last couple years I've tried with various success to store potatoes, onions and garlic there. The biggest issues I've had are that the temperature and humidity fluctuate depend on the outdoor conditions. The floor is just bare earth, so what I'd like to do is dig a large hole or a couple holes in this area that we can cover, so the conditions inside the hole would be more consistent.
Last year the onions, garlic and potatoes kept downstairs until February, and by then we had used them all up. We stored beets and carrots in our back up fridge until December. They would have kept much longer but I needed the space so we rushed to eat them up, making lots of vegetable juice and blended soups. I've been making a couple gallons of sauerkraut each fall which gets us through most the winter. I've also been making lacto-fermented veggie pickles which store in the fridge, lasting us till spring. Other than that, most of the vegetables have been going into the freezer. Last year I blanched and froze more broccoli, kale, swiss chard and beet greens than we needed. So I've been a little reluctant to start a greens blanching and freezing spree.
I tend to push my luck with the harvesting and the inevetable frost. Unlike some gardeners I know who are on top of their fall gardens and have everything safely stored away, all the vines and stalks in the compost pile and the soil turned and ready for spring...I tend to go into winter with stalks and vines still in the garden and wait until that day where it starts snowing and the ground is mostly frozen before I finish digging the last of the potatoes and carrots. This may be my last year for leaving stalks and vines in the garden, as I'm more on top of the garden this year with our farm helper preferring garden work to stall mucking.
Soon here I'm going to put together a list of the different varieties we grew this year and how they performed. In other news, we'll be harvesting twenty-eight Cornish Cross in the next couple weeks. They are about nine weeks old right now. I'm looking for a good number of seven to nine pound birds in the freezer. We've got four turkeys that will join the chickens in the freezer in September sometime. We've also got a whole pig coming to us, and I'll be having a hand in the processing. So I'm starting to research what cuts I want to do what with.
Last night I stayed up reading about making sausage. We'll be buying an electric meat grinder in town soon, so I probably don't have many options. I'm hoping to find one that can easily process large amounts of meat, and that also has a sausage stuffer attachment. I'm feeling like I should be putting the garden into the freezer now, to make time for all the upcoming meat processing...but it is so hard with everything just growing bigger. If you have any tips for dealing with a whole pig, or opinions on meat grinders let me know. Fortunately we've got someone who supposedly knows what they are doing that is going to kill the pigs and help with the initial butchering process. I'm hoping to cure and smoke some bacon and the hams, make some sausage and hot dogs, render lard, and I'd really like to make some salami and cured meats but I'm not sure if I'm up to the task yet or not... I checked out three books at the library on meat curing and sausage making which I'll be pouring over in the following weeks to come.
On a side note, I made a quiche last night for dinner with our own zucchini, onions, tomato, basil, eggs and goat milk...and we gobbled it up. I thought it would last a couple mornings, but I was mistaken. I love making meals with almost all our own ingredients.