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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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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. 

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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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Emergency

Preserving Food for Winter: Time-Tested Methods for Flavorful and Nutrient-Rich Pantry Staples

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Winter is approaching, meaning the summer and fall harvests are just about done. Still, that doesn’t mean saying goodbye to fresh, delicious, and nutritious homegrown food until spring blooms anew. 

You can harness age-old techniques of food preservation, filling your pantry with flavorful, nutrient-rich staples to keep your winter meals healthy, hearty and satisfying. With food preservation techniques from smoking and canning to fermenting, you can savor the tastes of summer even in the coldest months.

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Preserving Food For The Winter: The Art of Smoking

Smoking is a time-honored method for winter food preservation, infusing foods with rich, smoky flavors. Many people would smoke foods likemeats, fish, and cheese even if it didn’t keep them longer, just for the taste.

A quality smoker won’t cost you too much and it doesn’t really matter if it’s n offset smoker, electric smoker, or a traditional charcoal smoker. Choose your wood chips or chunks based on the type of flavor profile you want to infuse your food with.

You should also understand the difference between cold smoking and hot smoking. Cold smoking imparts flavor without cooking the food, making it the perfect choice for cheese and cured meats. On the other hand, hot smoking cooks the food while it flavors it.

Preserving Food For The Winter: Canning Your Food

You don’t have to rely on food canned from the grocery store. You can also can your own food at home. There are a number of different ways to do this for various kinds of food you’re looking to keep fresh for the winter season.

Homesteading Handbook

For example, water bath canning is the perfect choice for highly acidic  foods such as fruits, tomatoes, and pickles. On the other hand, pressure canning is the right choice for lower acidity foods like vegetables, meats, and poultry. 

You’ve probably never thought of it this way before, but pickling is also a form of canning. In this case, we will use vinegar or brine to preserve and flavor vegetables, fruits, and sometimes meats. You should experiment with various pickling recipes to create unique flavors for you and your family to enjoy. 

Preserving Food For Winter: Fermentation Of Foods

Fermentation is a natural process which can enhance the flavors and nutritional value of foods while also preserving them for long-term storage. Sauerkraut, kimchi, and sourdough bread are some of the more common kinds of fermented foods.

Beginners should invest in fermentation kits with airlocks. As you gain more experience, consider exploring more traditional methods, as well as the use of crocks and jars. Fermentation is both an art and a science. So you have to be patient while you experiment with different ingredients and techniques.

Preserving Food For Winter: Dehydration For Long-Term Storage

A food dehydrator is an excellent investment for removing moisture from fruits, vegetables, and herbs if you find that you enjoy those kinds of foods. However, you don’t need one to get started. You can also dehydrate foods right in the oven you already own or, in some cases, by air-drying.

If you want to dehydrate fruits and vegetables, slice your produce uniformly before arranging them on your dehydrator trays. Fruit leather can be made right at home by puréeing fruits and spreading the mixture thinly before drying.

It’s important to store dehydrated food properly. Store dehydrated foods should be stored in airtight containers or vacuum-sealed bags, which will prevent moisture from re-entering. Keep your dehydrated foods in a cool, dark place for the best preservation.

Preserving food for winter isn’t just about extending the shelf life of your favorite ingredients – though it is about that. However, it can also be a way to expand what you keep around by introducing new flavors into your pantry using the food preservation process. 

Homesteading Handbook

Smoking, canning, fermenting and dehydrating will offer you different options to ensure your pantry is stocked with a variety of food your family will want to eat. It can also be a fun hobby for the culinary master looking to break outside of just cooking on the stove – many of these are basically just “cold” cooking techniques. So, embrace the age-old wisdom of food preservation for winter and fill your pantry with unique tastes all winter long. 

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