Homesteading Reflections: Autumn Harvest, Winter Over

Our correspondent inventories the fruits of a mostly successful autumn harvest and plans for spring while she winters over.

| January/February 1972

Here in our peaceable kingdom there's never a shortage of things that need doing from March to October. It's only in the other four months — after the autumn harvest, and while we winter over — that I can relax, reflect, take stock, and plan. We have reached that time.


As we pull the curtains early after supper to shut out the dark these days, I see the wide old window sills piled high with gourds. They're all volunteers from the tired gourds we tossed out on the snow last January (Some are bumpy. Those are the ones I like best) and the sight starts me summing up the year's harvest.

Our vegetable garden did well last summer. We have tomatoes, beets, applesauce, rhubarb, relishes, pickles and jams jarred to last the winter. There's corn, peas, beans, broccoli, and green soybeans in the freezer. The old dirt-floored root cellar in the basement holds six bushels of potatoes, three bushels of beets, and smaller amounts of carrots, rutabagas, parsnips, and turnips. The potatoes are heaped in the cellar and covered with dirt. The other vegetables are stored in big cans set on the floor. We'll concentrate on eating the root vegetables while they're still good and move on to the frozen ones when the beets turn flabby and the carrots start to wobble.

We filled our home freezer long before we ran out of good things that we wanted frozen, so we rented a six cubic foot freezer locker in town for $8.00 a year and keep our extra vegetables and meat there.

Notice I didn't mention pumpkins and squash. We did plant them but the squash borers and beetles came early and stayed late. Maybe next year!

We also lost our entire crop of garlic when we turned our backs and the weeds took over that row of the garden. Crabgrass can really zap an easily-overwhelmed crop like garlic. Next year we'll get that grass out while it still looks innocent. Really. We will. We may neglect something else, but we can't afford to lose another crop of garlic!

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