How to Hibernate with Your Fall Harvest

How to Hibernate with Your Fall Harvest

Having grown up in relatively mild climates, where fall = rain and winter was a rare snow day, celebrated with pancakes, hot chocolate, and a sad attempt to push an inch of snow into a squat snowman, I never really understood what it meant to winter.  After moving from Oregon to Southern California, I now understand it to mean wearing warm socks, turning on lights a bit earlier against the shorter days and longer nights, and breaking out the knit hat on a night out.  It was only when I moved to Kosovo for one of their coldest winters on record that I discovered that “winter” could actually be a verb, and I needed to learn quite quickly how to do it.  To stoke a dying fire that was the only source for cooking and heat in a place where the electricity was off for most of the day, to balance on icy sidewalks and shovel snow from the drive.

While it’s not *technically* winter until Solstice on December 21st, after our Halloween rain here in L.A., it finally feels like fall!  It’s time “to autumn.” What does that look like for you? Beyond eating soup and wearing my favorite boots, I don’t know how I’d define it that verb.  So I took to the interwebs, and learned that if you’re already feeling the chill of fall frosts coming, canning your veggies or storing them for the winter is a perfect way to welcome the colder weather.  And for those of us in warmer areas, you can still plant cold-weather veggies, like lettuces, radishes, or carrots.

The other cool thing I learned while online boot shopping visiting MotherEarthNews.com is that storing your wintery veggies like beets, cabbage, and turnips is in keeping with their biennial nature (“plants that flower and set seed during their second growing season”), so they’re accustomed to hibernating for the winter.  In addition to those root veggies, it’s easy to store celery, leeks, brussels sprouts, peppers, and citrus fruits for anywhere from two to eight weeks in a cool room, and MotherEarthNews says that onions, pumpkins, sweet potatoes will last ‘til spring if you keep them dry and cool.  According to GrowVeg.com, late-harvested apples store best in trays with shredded newspaper, straw or special padded cardboard liners, in a cool, but not frosty, room.

Are you canning your fruits and veggies for the winter?  Picking proper storage for your harvest? Tell us how you “autumn” in the comments or over on Twitter @TheCityFarm.
(Photo Credit: ChugachFarm.com)

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