As a vegetable farmer at Humble Hands Harvest, I get asked a lot what I do during the winter. I remember asking the same question of my farmer mentors before I got started on my own, and hearing them laugh: the job never lets up. It just changes over the seasons! Continue reading →
As a vegetable farmer, all season long I’m confronted with too much abundance — it’s absolutely overwhelming. In winter, though, it can feel like the opposite if I don’t prepare. So the question for me is, how can I manage the abundance of summer so that I can enjoy it into the winter?
Organic Gardener Karen Geiser enthralls a crowd at Lehman’s May Daze Celebration this past spring.
Organic gardener, author, blog contributor, and mother of five, Karen Geiser, is no stranger to country living. She shares her expert advice with customers just as if they have pulled up a chair on her front porch. . . and all the while shelling peas, pitting cherries, or churning butter (depending on what is in season on her farm).
We always enjoy hearing about fascinating customer connections that happen in our store. And Karen certainly has the pleasure of interacting with many visitors and hearing their stories!
Here are some recent tidbits she reports:
Last week I met folks from Colombia, Costa Rica and Brazil (Must have been Latin America day).
A fellow from Pennsylvania visits frequently and always tells me about his garlic (which he got from me) that has won several blue ribbons at the county
Karen Geiser demonstrates our Dazey Butter Churn, which she uses to make butter with cream from her family’s Jersey cow.
This week there were many good conversations over edible weeds – around the table were an herbalist from New Mexico and a family from West Virginia who really knew their plants.
An interesting couple from Virginia who has lived off grid for many years visited the store to finally buy the luxury of a gas refrigerator – mainly to have ice. It’s hard to believe they could live without a fridge for so long, and they described how they can their butter.
This week a lady said she was there from Robinson, IL because she heard me speak at the Master Gardener conference over a year ago. She had no idea she would run into me, and we had a good laugh together as she told me about the things she grew because I recommended them (like mouse melons). I helped her figure out other places to hit for her first adventure in Amish country. She said some of her girlfriends have visited Lehman’s after the conference, too.
Stop by Lehman’s on Thursdays, from April through early November to visit Karen and learn from her wealth of hands-on knowledge.
It’s easy to eat local in Massachusetts in August. Sweet corn, vine ripened tomatoes, tender green beans, creamy milk and abundant eggs make consuming local food a treat. But come the dark days of January, that local diet is a lot harder to manage. That’s what food preservation is all about. You take what’s cheap, plentiful and delicious at the peak of its freshness and preserve it for later use. Preservation is all about manipulating the environment of food so it retains its goodness for months or even years.
Food has a lot of enemies. Microorganisms (mold, yeasts and bacteria) are enemies of food. So is physical damage (one bad apple really will spoil the whole bag). Enzymes that cause food to ripen don’t halt their work when food is harvested. They continue to work until that lovely cantaloupe becomes a sodden mass destined for the compost heap. Food preservation works by controlling the temperature (freezing and root cellaring) removing moisture (dehydrating) or killing mold, yeast and bacteria and then protecting from further contamination by removing and excluding air (canning). You can also change the environment of food by adding salt, sugar or vinegar. Continue reading →
It has been cold here. It isn’t really out of the ordinary, -10 degrees in January is pretty typical but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. My root cellar doesn’t like it either. It’s a fine dance we do, keeping the door open just enough to keep the temperature above freezing but not so high as to trick the carrots into thinking spring is here and it’s time to sprout.
It is so important to check the food down there. Today I find that I have cabbage and carrots that must be seen to and apples that must be used up. The apples are easy. We love apples and onions caramelized with some butter and maple syrup and poured over pork chops. The cabbage and carrots are going to be fermented. We are kraut crazy around here. I got one of those dandy little air lock tops and lids for my ½ gallon Mason jars and now I can make kraut without getting the brine all over. Bruce bought me a mandoline for Christmas so I’m going to break that in too. I do love my little gadgets! Continue reading →
A perfect butternut squash–make sure yours are this clean when you put them in cold storage.
It is hard to believe that summer has wound down, and we’re all looking at fall gardening chores already.
One of those fall gardening chores is the harvest and proper curing of my Butternut Squash. Butternut Squash is one of the most popular types of winter squash.
Don’t get confused with that term. By no means does that mean that you plant or harvest your squash in the winter. It simply means that the squash was bred to be harvested late in the season, and eaten throughout the winter. Continue reading →
It’s been a tough year at Barefoot Farm for all things in the squash family. But things are starting to look up. Who knew gardening could be this much fun?
We’ll wait and see how well this little guy does!
Apparently, when I added some compost in the herb garden this summer, I included a pumpkin seed. I discovered this one tiny pumpkin, hiding in the herbs. It’s small and, as I have no way of knowing what the variety is or whether it’s the result of random fertilization, I don’t know what to expect as far as edibility goes. It looks good and I’m assuming the best so now I need to decide what to do with it. Continue reading →
By Francis Woodruff, Editor and Publisher, The Dalton Gazette & The Kidron News
Reprinted with Permission
When temperatures drop below zero in the wintertime, there are few outside activities that many of us can do. But for several Amish families this weather presents the perfect conditions to cut, pack, and store ice in their ice houses for the coming summer months. The Amish, who live without electricity, use the ice for food refrigeration.
Recently, Joe Miller watched as his son David J. Miller and his family slid the heavy blocks of ice down a wooden plank board into a room designed for ice storage. “This is perfect weather for cutting ice,” Joe Miller said. “The colder the better.” He explained the colder it is when the ice goes into the storage room the better, because it stays colder longer. In addition to refrigeration, the room can also be used to freeze other foods, he said – like a giant freezer. Continue reading →