Veggies All Winter: Tips from Carol

Posted: November 20, 2011

Mexican sour gherkin cucumber

There are three basic ways to eat from your garden throughout the winter:

  • Plant hardy plants that will overwinter in the garden (sometimes with help from coverings)
  • Choose “good-keeper” variety vegetables for the summer/fall garden and store them correctly
  • Preserve your produce by various means for later use

Sow True Seed sells a number of books with suggestions for all of the above. Here is a basic guideline:

Overwintering

Depending where you live, many brassicas (the cabbage family) will overwinter. Kales, collards, mustards, broccoli, brussel’s sprouts will withstand deep cold. There is something magical about picking greens from the garden with ice and snow on them.

Recommended reading: The Four Season Harvest by Eliot Coleman
This classic shares how North American gardeners can successfully use the winter sun to raise a wide variety of traditional winter vegetables in backyard cold frames and plastic covered tunnel greenhouses without supplementary heat.

Storage

Cabbages, winter squash, pumpkins and many root crops like potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots and beets will store for a long time. Don’t wash vegetables beforehand and always store in a cool, dry place. Leave a 1 – 3” stem on squash and pumpkins and store where there is air circulation. The acorn type squashes last 1 – 2 months, butternut types 2 – 3 months and hubbard types 3 – 6 months. It is wise to eat them in that order. Leave root crops in the ground as late in the fall as possible before the ground freezes and then cure by drying with plenty of air circulation before placing in bags or boxes.

Recommended reading: The Resilient Gardener by Carol Deppe
An optimistic and realistic book about how gardens can flourish even during challenging times. Gardeners will learn through Deppe’s detailed instructions on growing, storing, and using the five crops central to self-reliance: potatoes, corn, beans, squash, and eggs.

Preserving

There are many tried and true methods for preserving food. Some of the best are some of the easiest. Drying in general is an easy, safe and long lasting way to preserve many foods. Salting, fermenting, pickling, storing in alcohol or with sugar in addition to canning and freezing are all methods easily learned. See our book selections for excellent resources.

Recommended reading: How to Store Your Garden Produce by Piers Warren
This completely revised edition is the modern guide to storing and preserving your garden produce, enabling you to eat home-grown goodness all year round. Covers freezing, drying (from oven to dehydrator), vacuum-packing, salting, bottling/canning, pickling, relishes & sauces, jams & jellies, and fermenting.

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