Follow me into my organic garden and country kitchen through photo illustrations and text, as I share tips and how-to information focused on growing and preparing delicious and nutritious food, all from our 120 acre family farm in central North Carolina.
I love fresh strawberries from my organic garden in the spring. September is time to start preparing for these delicious berries. First I till the area where I want my strawberry bed. The photo on the left above shows the area and the raised bed I have partially built. I pull two lines down the length of the area spaced three feet apart to mark the area for my raised bed. I shovel soil from outside this area onto the bed area to create my raised bed. When the bed has been built I place two drip water lines on top of the bed about nine inches apart. In the center photo above black plastic has been pulled across the bed and is being secured by shoveling soil onto the edges. Chandler Strawberries have been planted in the bed in the photo on the right above. The first two weeks in October is the ideal time to plant Chandler Strawberries in this area. They do well when planted in the fall but not so with all strawberries. The raised bed and black plastic help warm the soil early in the spring which hastens plant growth.
Winter cover crops can be planted in October or the first of November. I usually plant Rye and sometimes Vetch and Austrian Winter Peas. Cover crops protect the soil and prevent erosion. When turned under in the spring they add organic matter to the soil.
Garlic can be planted in November or December. I have found that this advice concerning garlic works well for me - plant on the shortest day of the year and harvest on the longest day of the year. Garlic does well in a mulched bed as it does not compete with weeds very well.
Cucumbers, peppers and onions from the home garden make a great pickle.
Bread and Butter Pickles 8 medium onions 6 red sweet banana peppers or other sweet pepper 1/2 cup coarse Kosher salt 1 gallon unpeeled cucumbers, thinly sliced 2 1/2 cups sugar 2 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar 1 tablespoon mustard seed 1/2 teaspoon ground tumeric 1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
Slice onions in thin rings. Cut pepper in thin rings or strips. Dissolve salt in 1 cup water and pour over sliced vegetables, including cucumbers. Put some ice on top of cucumbers (about 1 quart crushed ice: it is the ice and salt that gives a very crisp pickle). Let stand 3 hours, weighted with a plate: drain. Combine remaining ingredients and bring to boil. Add drained vegetables and heat to boiling point (don't boil). Pack in hot sterilized jars and seal. Makes 6 pints.
Fall is a great time to plant those green vegetables. In our home garden we plant broccoli, collards, savoy cabbage and Chinese cabbage plants in August. Lettuce plants can be planted as well. It is also a good time to sow seed for mixed greens such as kale, mustard and turnip. We should be able to harvest these vegetables through mid-winter.
This is also the time we plant tomato plants in the greenhouse for fall tomatoes. These tomatoes should begin ripening in October and continue through December. Vine ripened tomatoes for Christmas, what a treat.
[N]either the wisest constitution nor the wisest laws will
secure the liberty and happiness of a people whose manners are universally corrupt.
(Source: William V. Wells, The Life and Public
Service of Samuel Adams (Boston: Little, Brown, & Co., 1865), Vol. I, p.
22, quoting from a political essay by Samuel Adams published in The Public Advertiser,
It is pepper season; time to take advantage of the many varieties and flavors of peppers as well as the nutrition they provide. They are rich in vitamins A and C plus various other nutrients. While they can be enjoyed fresh, preserving the harvest of peppers from our organic garden is done by canning, dehydrating, freezing and fermenting.
Fresh peppers can be used in slaw, salads, salsa, spaghetti sauce, and for stuffed peppers.
A Mediterranean condiment can be made with red bell peppers by the process of lacto-fermentation. In her book, Nourishing Traditions, Sally Fallon provides a recipe for delicious Pickled Red Peppers, preserved by lacto-fermentation, that is well worth the time it takes to make it.
Fresh Salsa, what a treat! Our favorite recipe follows.
Salsa 1/2 cup cooked black beans 1/2 cup chopped onions 3 1/2 cups chopped red tomatoes 1 1/2 cups chopped green tomatoes 1/4 cup chopped sweet pepper 1 1/2 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro 1 1/2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley 1/8 cup apple cider vinegar 1/8 cup honey 6 ounces tomato paste 1 teaspoon red chili pepper Mix all together and enjoy!
Judy's Bookshelf: recommended reading For additional information on gardening, cooking, baking, health, nutrition and more you will find great selections on my bookshelf. I invite you to browse, read, learn, and enjoy!
John Ikerd articles and books Thought provoking articles and books addressing the sustainability of our food supply, the real cost of food, the importance of home cooking and more, by John E. Ikerd, Professor Emeritus of Agricultural Economics, University of Missouri .
Local Harvest Find locally grown produce, anywhere in the country.
ATTRA National sustainable agriculture information service.
Eatwild The #1 site for grass-fed food and facts with a state-by-state listing of farmers who sell grass-fed meat, eggs and dairy products.