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The Best Crops to Harvest for Beginning Homesteaders in August

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August is a bountiful month for homesteaders, as the garden overflows with an abundance of fresh produce ready for harvesting. For beginning homesteaders, this time of year offers a rewarding opportunity to enjoy the fruits of their labor and learn valuable skills in food preservation. In this article, we will explore the best crops for beginning homesteaders to harvest in August. From vibrant vegetables to succulent fruits, these crops will not only provide nourishment but also inspire a deeper connection with the land and the joy of self-sufficiency.

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Tomatoes

Tomatoes are the star of the August harvest, coming in a rainbow of colors and sizes. From cherry tomatoes to beefsteak varieties, these versatile fruits are perfect for fresh salads, sauces, and canning projects.

Peppers

Sweet bell peppers and spicy chili peppers thrive in August’s warm weather. Harvest them when they reach their desired size and color, and enjoy their flavors in a variety of dishes or preserve them through pickling.

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Cucumbers

Crisp and refreshing cucumbers are abundant in August. Harvest them when they are young and tender for salads, pickles, or cucumber-infused water.

Zucchini and Summer Squash

Zucchini and summer squash seem to multiply overnight in August. Harvest them while they are still small and tender, and use them in dishes like stir-fries, fritters, and grilled kabobs.

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Melons

Watermelons, cantaloupes, and honeydews are juicy delights of the August harvest. Ripe and sweet, these fruits are perfect for enjoying on their own or adding a refreshing twist to fruit salads.

Green Beans

Harvest green beans while they are still young and tender. They can be blanched and frozen for later use, or enjoyed fresh in salads and stir-fries.

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Corn

Sweet corn is a highlight of late summer. Harvest ears when the kernels are plump and milky, and enjoy them boiled, grilled, or incorporated into various dishes.

Herbs

August is an excellent time to harvest and preserve a variety of culinary and medicinal herbs. Basil, oregano, thyme, and mint are just a few examples that can be dried or frozen for use throughout the year.

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Okra

Okra thrives in hot weather and is ready for harvesting in August. Use it in soups, stews, or breaded and fried for a delightful treat.

Eggplant

Eggplant is at its peak in August, showcasing a variety of shapes and colors. Harvest them when they are glossy and firm, and prepare dishes like eggplant parmesan or roasted eggplant dip.

For beginning homesteaders, August brings an exciting opportunity to reap the rewards of their gardening efforts and experience the satisfaction of self-sufficiency. The best crops for August harvesting offer a diverse array of flavors, colors, and culinary possibilities. From vibrant tomatoes to sweet melons and versatile herbs, each harvest presents an opportunity for creative cooking and food preservation projects. By embracing the August harvest, beginning homesteaders can deepen their connection with the land, nurture their self-reliance, and savor the taste of fresh, homegrown produce.

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August Harvest Checklist

  • Tomatoes
  • Peppers (bell and chili)
  • Cucumbers
  • Zucchini and Summer Squash
  • Melons (watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew)
  • Green Beans
  • Corn
  • Herbs (basil, oregano, thyme, mint, etc.)
  • Okra
  • Eggplant

With this checklist in hand, beginning homesteaders can confidently embrace the August harvest and revel in the abundance of fresh, homegrown produce on their land. What are you harvesting this August? Let us know in the comments below!

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Growing Your Own Food Can Save Your Family’s Life

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In times of crisis or uncertainty, having the ability to grow your own food can be a game-changer for survival and sustainability. Whether facing food shortages, supply chain disruptions, or other emergencies, cultivating a survival garden provides a reliable source of fresh produce and nutritional sustenance. In this guide, we’ll explore the essential steps and strategies for establishing a survival garden to feed your family during challenging times.

Assess Your Space and Resources

Start by assessing your available space and resources for gardening. Whether you have a spacious backyard, a small balcony, or even just indoor space, there are options for growing food in various environments. Consider factors such as sunlight exposure, soil quality, water access, and climate conditions to determine the most suitable gardening approach for your situation.

Choose the Right Plants

Selecting the right plants for your survival garden is crucial for maximizing yield and nutritional value. Focus on high-yield, fast-growing vegetables and herbs that are well-suited to your local climate and growing conditions. Some excellent choices for survival gardening include tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, beans, leafy greens, carrots, radishes, and herbs like basil and cilantro.

Start with Seeds and Seedlings

Begin your survival garden by acquiring high-quality seeds and seedlings from reputable sources. Starting from seeds allows you to save money, customize your plant selection, and develop self-sufficiency in seed-saving for future seasons. Alternatively, using seedlings can provide a head start and ensure a more predictable harvest, especially for beginners or in short growing seasons.

Prepare Your Soil

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Prepare the soil for your survival garden by loosening it with a shovel or tiller and removing any weeds, rocks, or debris. Amend the soil with organic matter such as compost, aged manure, or peat moss to improve fertility, moisture retention, and drainage. Conduct a soil test to assess nutrient levels and pH, and adjust as needed to create optimal growing conditions for your plants.

Implement Sustainable Growing Practices

 

Practice sustainable gardening techniques to conserve resources, minimize waste, and maximize productivity in your survival garden. Utilize mulch to suppress weeds, retain moisture, and regulate soil temperature. Practice water-saving methods such as drip irrigation or rainwater harvesting to minimize water usage. Incorporate companion planting and crop rotation to deter pests, improve soil health, and optimize plant growth.

Maintain Your Garden

Regular maintenance is essential for the success of your survival garden. Monitor moisture levels, weed diligently, and inspect plants for signs of pests or disease. Provide adequate support for vining or heavy-bearing plants to prevent damage and maximize yield. Harvest fruits and vegetables promptly when they reach maturity to encourage continued production and prevent spoilage.

Save Seeds for Future Seasons

As your survival garden matures, save seeds from open-pollinated or heirloom varieties to preserve genetic diversity and ensure a sustainable food source for future seasons. Allow some plants to bolt and set seed, then collect and properly store the seeds for long-term viability. Learning seed-saving techniques empowers you to maintain your garden independently and adapt to changing conditions over time.

Adapt to Changing Conditions

Be prepared to adapt your survival garden to changing conditions and unforeseen challenges. Stay informed about local weather patterns, pest outbreaks, and other factors that may impact your garden’s performance. Experiment with different planting strategies, varieties, and techniques to optimize resilience and productivity in response to evolving circumstances.

Survival gardening offers a practical and empowering solution for growing your own food and enhancing your family’s self-sufficiency during times of crisis. By following these essential steps and strategies, you can establish a thriving survival garden capable of providing fresh produce, nutritional sustenance, and peace of mind in the face of uncertainty. Start planning and planting your survival garden today to reap the benefits tomorrow and beyond.

Does your family keep a survival garden? Do you plan to start? Leave your thoughts in the comments below. 

 

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Homesteading

Harvesting the Cold: A Guide to Winter Foraging for Edible Plants

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Foraging has come to a temporary halt with cold weather coming into the picture… or has it? Those with a keen eye and no fear of the cold winter landscape can still find a surprising variety of edible plants from now until the opening day of baseball season. 

It’s just another skill set to learn. For family survivalists, it can be an excellent way to not only find food in your backyard but also to spend time with your family and learn more about the local ecosystems. Learning how to identify and locate edible plants during the winter months can uncover hidden gems, adding a touch of freshness and unique flavor to your winter dishes.

First, however, you must understand how winter foraging is different from foraging during other seasons. It will require a deeper connection with the landscape and a great deal of patience. You must also prioritize safety and warmth, dressing in layers, wearing insulated boots, and carrying emergency supplies, such as extra clothing, first-aid essentials, and navigation tools.

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Essential Tools For Winter Foraging

You’ll need more than a pair of gardening shears to do winter foraging. Any winter outdoor or wilderness activity requires that you carry a certain amount of survival equipment in the odd chance that you get lost or otherwise stuck out in the wilderness for longer than you planned to. 

First, you’re going to need a reliable field guide specifically about winter foraging or use a smartphone app offering detailed information on plant identification. One of the most dangerous things you can do with any kind of foraging is selecting the wrong plant. 

And, of course, you’re going to need a pair of pruners or scissors for harvesting. You should also carry some kind of digging tool so that you can access root vegetables. You may also need a digging tool to remove snow from areas, whether it be so that you can access a plant, clear yourself a path, or build an emergency shelter in the event that you get caught out in the cold. 

Common Edible Winter Plants

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There are a number of plants that grow in the winter that you can safely eat. Some of these include:

  • Cattail: Cattails grow abundantly next to wetlands and have edible parts just about year-round. During the winter months, you’ll want to look for their roots, which you can then harvest, peel, and cook.
  • Rose Hips: Rose hips are the fruit produced by wild roses. They’re an excellent source of vitamin C. You can make teas or jams with them, or add them to food for extra flavor.
  • Pine: Pine trees offer edible parts year-round. During the winter, gather the new, light-green growth at the ends of branches to add a citrusy flavor to food.
  • Dandelion: Dandelions are extremely hardy and can survive in very cold climates. Their young leaves are less bitter when harvested during the winter, making them perfect for salads or sautéing.
  • Chickweed: Chickweed thrives in cool winter weather. In fact, you can find it growing underneath snow patches. Its tender leaves and stems are excellent for salads.

Conclusion

Winter foraging may be a lesser-explored endeavor than foraging in the other seasons. However, it can be a rewarding and educational experience for those unafraid of the cold and willing to discover the hidden bounty of edible plants. For homeschool families, it can be an excellent way to do science classes during the winter for kids of all ages. 

Remember always to thoroughly identify a plant before you eat it. Eating the wrong thing is far more likely to cause you trouble than the cold weather. And always forage responsibly, respecting nature and leaving something behind for future generations.

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If you remember all of that you can feel free to venture into the winter wonderland to unlock hidden treasures of winter foraging.

What are some of your favorite edible wild plants for the winter months? Does anything cool or interesting grow in your neck of the woods? Share your favorites in the comments below.

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Family

Getting More From Your Garden: Preserving Your Home Harvest

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Home gardens are fun, but they can also be delicious if you’re growing things that you and your family can eat. Too many home gardeners, however, are content to have a ton of tomatoes that last a week and then give the rest away – or worse than that, throw them out when they go bad.

It doesn’t have to be this way. 

Homesteading Handbook

You can keep as much of your garden harvest as you like, give as much away as you like and throw out as much as you like. All you have to do is know how to prepare and store your harvest for long-term preservation. Once you learn how to do these, it’s going to make your harvest time much more satisfying. 

It’s Your Jam

If you’re growing fruit and not making jams, jellies and preserves out of it, you don’t know what you’re missing. Like a lot of other freshly grown foods, eating homemade jams and comparing them to what you’ve been eating from the supermarket is like you’re eating a completely different food. 

For those entrepreneurially minded, jams and jellies are great for selling at the local farmer’s market. So if you want to make a few bucks off of your home garden, this is a really easy way to start doing that.

Cure Your Vegetables

Your vegetables aren’t sick, but they might need a cure regardless. It’s not hard and doesn’t take it a lot of time, which makes it a very easy lift for someone who has a lot of veggies but not a lot of time. 

You have to wait until your vegetables are fully ripe before you cure them. Otherwise, they’re never going to get ripe. If you cure your vegetables properly they can last for weeks or months even if you don’t put them in the refrigerator. 

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Dehydration Is Actually Your Friend

The main engine of vegetables going bad are fungus and bacteria. You can prevent this process by dehydrating your vegetables before they go bad. Some produce is much easier to dehydrate than others: If you want to dehydrate tomatoes, just slice them up, throw them on a sheet pan in the sun for a couple days, then store them.

For other fruits and vegetables you might need a dehydrator. Fortunately, these don’t cost much these days and can easily pay for themselves with all the produce that you save through the process. 

Can It Up

Canning is a great way to preserve just about every kind of food. You can can in either metal cans or in glass jars. The choice is yours, but the main thing you need to remember is that the main threat to canned food is botulism – and that can kill you or at least make you and your family extremely miserable. 

The good news about canning is that there are hundreds of centers across the country run by the Church of Latter-Day Saints where you can learn how to can without buying any equipment. Membership in their church is not required – all are welcome.

Ferment and Pickle Your Vegetables

One way to turn your veggies into something a little different is through fermenting and pickling. In the case of fermentation, there are also health benefits – fermented vegetables are great for your gut health. 

Unfortunately, however, fermented foods taste weird to some people. So pickles might be a better choice for you if you’re not into the taste of fermented foods. 

The Easy Way: Freezing

Of course, there’s always freezing your veggies. Your space might be limited here, however you probably already know how to freeze foods. You’ll want to prepare them specifically for the fruit or vegetables you plan on preserving. For example, some should be cooked, some should be chopped and others can just be thrown in the freezer. Look up whatever you’re looking to freeze before you freeze it.

Homesteading Handbook

There’s no reason for you to give away or waste your veggie garden when it’s time for harvest. With a combination of these methods, you can enjoy fresh-ish veggies all year long. 

What’s your favorite method for preserving your home garden for the long-term? What secrets have you picked up? Leave a comment below to help other homesteaders. 

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