Can you feel the change in the air? The cool mornings and evenings, the stirring of a season, the slow shift as we bend away from summer and into the fall. For Natalie Bogwalker and her crew at Wild Abundance, the shift in seasons represents a change of pace.
“In the fall we harvest, we start to settle down, we offer our gratitude, we feast with our family and community,” says Natalie.
Here in the Appalachian Mountains, it’s time to focus on harvesting sweet pears and wild apples. It's a time to start closing the garden beds, to select a winter cover crop and secure against the cold season that swells at the beginning and the end of the day.
Here is a guide to making the most of this harvest season, compiled by the life experiences of Natalie Bogwalker with contributions from Chloe Lieberman and Zev Friedman.
Wild and Woodland Harvest
• Harvest feral apples and pears
• Prune ginseng leaves to circumvent poachers (use leaves for tea and medicine!)
• Check on persimmons, autumn olives and paw paws to see if they’re ripe
• Keep looking for mushrooms
• Begin to collect black walnuts; fruit/outer layer for dye and medicine, nut for food
• Find wild beaked hazel groves and harvest when nuts are ripe
• Begin harvesting air potatoes
• Clear areas where you are planning to plant next year, sheet mulch or cover crop them
• Dig holes for squash mounds before ground freezes and hunting season begins
• Plant cover crops.. Austrian winter pea and winter rye
• Harvest winter squash before first frost (when skin cannot be broken with fingernail and pressure
• Harvest sweet potatoes before first frost
• Select and/or secure garlic seed stock
• Set up winter covering if you choose to do so (row covers, hoop house, etc.)
• Harvest field corn when it is dried down in the field
• Harvest sorghum cane for pressing molasses
In the Orchard• Harvest lots of apples and pears
• Harvest some varieties strawberries and raspberries
• Harvest cultivated filberts and chestnuts when ready
• Press cider to drink, ferment, freeze, can
• Dry apples, can applesauce and butter, bake pies
• Dry pears; make pear sauce
• Make mead, cyser, and pyser with excess fruit and honey
• Start sauerkraut and other winter veggie salt-based ferments
• Cure winter squash and sweet potatoes in warm, dry place for several weeks
• Press sorghum cane and cook down juice into molasses
• Buy straw for winter apple and garlic storage
• Practice shooting
• Begin thinking about/finding breeding stock for dairy animals
• Don’t forget to create an Earth altar, in honor of all that we receive. Adorn it with sunflowers, with goldenrod, with apples, grapes, and offer it back with humility and gratitude.
• Wild Abundance will be hosting two fall workshops on hide-tanning and scared animal slaughter. To find our more about these weekend intensives in Asheville, NC go to wildabundance.net.
Aiyanna Sezak-Blatt is a writer, student of permaculture design, and is an organic topbar beekeeper in Asheville, NC. Read other articles featuring the work of Natalie Bogwalker and Wild Abundance, published by MOTHER EARTH NEWS here.
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