The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Harvest 2013 begins


The harvest is upon us!  After a week of simply gorging on the fruits, the strawberry harvest has grown beyond even my ability to consume it.  So I cleaned up the food dehydrator and started the first gallon drying.  I figure we may need to do a load a day all week to keep up with the bounty.

Testing garlic

Meanwhile, the Italian Softneck garlic (on the right) is ready to dig.  Music (on the left) and Silverwhite Silverskin are slightly slower to mature and aren't quite ready to harvest yet.

Garlic bulb size

I'm a bit disappointed in the size of our garlic heads this year.  Unlike last year's XXL heads, these are only large.  I suspect the difference is the sawdust our horse manure source started using as bedding last summer instead of straw --- lower-nitrogen compost means smaller vegetables.  On the other hand, we always have far too much garlic, so this year we simply won't give any away.

Curing garlic

The curing rack is back at work, drying up the Italian Softneck garlic.  These racks stayed busy nearly all of the warm season last year, and I suspect they'll keep plugging away all this summer too.  Every year, things are just a little bit easier!

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Awesome harvest! Do you wash your garlic before you dry it?
Comment by AverageDude Tue Jun 4 07:55:04 2013
I know we'll harvest the first handful of strawberries today.... I'm beyond excited!
Comment by Katharina Tue Jun 4 09:27:35 2013

I love that you said it gets a little easier each year! What a nice thought to start the morning with.

It's especially nice since we are in our 2nd year of our tiny urban backyard, and have been feeling overwhelmed with weeding in our vegetable beds.

Maybe you could do a post on how homesteading is getting easier?

Comment by SideStep Tue Jun 4 09:50:52 2013

Regardong AverageDude's question--I know one doesn't wash garlic pretty much ever, definitely not before curing. More likely to get fungi and bacteria going than get the garlic clean. (not that it was my Q to answer)

But really, I have my own questions! How many strawberry plants do you estimate you grow? I know you mulch them over the winter, so presumably you don't rotate the berry patch location. I've read mixed info about whether or not to rotate berries. It's my first year growing strawberries, and they are starting to send out runners and root them. Trying to decide how many plants to grow next year and where to grow them.

Comment by jen g Tue Jun 4 10:59:14 2013

AverageDude --- jen is right --- we don't wash our garlic before curing it. We actually don't wash any of our storage vegetables since they seem to keep better without the skin abrasions you inevitably get if you wash off all the dirt.

SideStep --- I'm not sure I have enough for a post on that topic, but the short version is this: 20% of the jobs take 80% of the time. So, if every year you make one of those problematic jobs easier, eventually your workload has declined drastically. Now, if only I didn't take all that extra time and expand our boundaries. :-)

jen g --- We do actually have our strawberry plants on a 3-year rotation, meaning a bed is strawberries for three years, then something else for at least three years before being strawberries again. I try to keep runners snipped, so keep only about six big plants per bed. With about 14 beds, that gives us 84 plants. I'd recommend starting with maybe a third of that (and strawberry plants tend to come in 25-plant bundles), then expanding if you don't mind the fiddliness of such a large planting. It's also useful to try to plant early, mid-season, and late varieties --- this year, we don't have the latter, so we've got a bit of a deluge of fruit at the moment. You can read my summary of our strawberry and bramble growing methods in this lunchtime series.

Comment by anna Tue Jun 4 12:56:51 2013

Storing them under UV-B (LED) light in the fridge can keep strawberries free of rot and mold for nine days.

Comment by Roland_Smith Wed Jun 5 13:13:21 2013

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