If you have ever grown a garden, you understand that it can be feast and famine. If you have a productive year, you will be eating well from spring to the first frost in the fall. After that, it is back to the grocery store. Unless you can grow during the winter you will again have a food bill for your vegetables.
What started me on this storable food thing from my garden was a Waltham Squash. I had grown some and also purchased a couple at the grocery store because my wife makes a wonderful squash soup. Then I did a little reading on the Waltham Squash and found out that they have very good storage qualities. One of the things I did as a test was to make sure the ones I had purchased were ready for storage. That test was seeing if I could puncture the skin with a fingernail. The two from the store failed the test, but the one I had left outside in the garden in the sun after picking passed. Winter squash like potatoes and sweet potatoes must be condition or heal their outer skin before storage. The Waltham I grew was stored in a box wrapped in paper in a room in our house. That squash was perfectly good seven months later. It looked as good as the day I picked it and the flesh was firm and sweet. Note, when harvesting winter squash, make sure that you leave an inch or two of the stem. Pulling off the stem exposes the internal working of the squash to the outside and may cause rotting.
So what are some things that you can grow, store and eat when its icy and cold outside and your garden is a fond memory?
There are many more, but I don’t like five mile long blogs, so ill just start with the above.
Dry beans will be ready for harvest and depending on the cultivar could take from 60 to 120 days after planting. When the plants have matured and the leaves become brown or are falling off, you need to test to see if they are ready to harvest. The pods should be dry and have a withered look and the seeds in the pod should hardly dent using the fingernail test. If the seedpods have withered but are still moist, pick them and then spread them out in a warm location to dry completely. Fully dry pods will split open to reveal the dried beans. Dry beans can be shelled by threshing in a sack or by hand.
There are many types of dry or shell beans that you can grow.
Below is a short list.
Beans that are Red, purple, spotted and so on
White shell beans
Great White Northern
Suggestion: visit my two recommended seed providers here and browse the many types of shell beans than can be grown.
Dried shelled beans can be stored in a cool, dry place from 12 months to many years. After time, dried beans get harder to cook quickly. Beans should be placed in water overnight and then cooked. You can store your beans in a airtight jar.
From the internet:
Winter squash can be harvested whenever the fruits have turned a deep, solid color and the rind is hard. Harvest the main part of the crop in September or October, before heavy frosts hit your area. Cut squash from the vines carefully, leaving two inches of stem attached if possible.
Once harvested make sure that you cure your winter squash by letting it outside in a warm place. Once dried, do the fingernail test (on some) to make sure they are ready for storage. Some winter squash store better than others (see below).
Johnny’s Seeds does a better job of describing how to store winter squash then I ever could. Click here for their winter squash page. Note: look on the left side of their page, there you will find all kinds of info in their VEGETABLE LIBRARY.
There are amazing amounts of how to store vegetables from your garden on the internet. Below are PDFs on winter squash you can download or view:
Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes
Potatoes and sweet potatoes are much alike, but mostly started differently. Well that is how I do it. Potatoes are started from seed potatoes and sweet potatoes from slips.
How to Grow Sweet Potatoes From Slips
Sweet potatoes are grown from cuttings called slips. Slips are the leafy growth on the sweet potato on the left on the above graphic. Glowing slips can be fun especially for kids. If you’ve never grown sweet potatoes slips before now, its time to try. You can get started by purchasing some sweet potatoes from the grocery store. Many people Place about 1/4 of the end of the sweet potato in a small glass jar which is held up with tooth picks. You can grow many slips just from one sweet potato. Once they develop leafs and are about 7 inches or so high, clip the slip from the sweet potato and place in a glass jar of water. Eventually the slip will develop roots. You can then plant the slip in your garden. Most good garden centers will have slips for sale in the spring, but that is not as fun as growing you own.
Potatoes are grown from seed potato. See the above graphic. The seed potato in the graphic has developed eyes which are on the right and left of the potato. Usually seed potatoes are cut into pieces each having a couple of eyes. Note, your seed potatoes do need need to be sprouted as above but it is better that the potato has started the process. I wrap my seed potatoes in a paper sack or wrapped in paper and out of the light. Just make sure each cut piece has a couple of eyes before planting. After cutting up into pieces, let them set out in the air and heal for about a week. See how to plant both of these in a Ruth Stout garden in one of my previous blogs Here.
Storing potatoes and sweet potatoes.
My wife tells a story of when she was a small child on her dad’s farm. It was her job to go out in the shed where the potatoes and onions were stored and bring some to her mother to cook. She has bad memories of picking up a spoiled potato and onion and getting the stinky mess all over her hand. Potatoes can be kept in storage until needed for next years crop. Her potatoes were stored in a shed and were placed on top of dry sand. They lasted all winter (in Central Texas) and there were enough left for next years planting. You can store both these potatoes in a cool dry place. Sweet potatoes must be cured for about 10 days. Never wash them unless you are going to eat them. When harvesting eat the ones that you have cut or damaged right away. Note: The Russet potato is best for storage because of it’s thick skin. All those fancy ones not so much.
I personally like Dent Corn for dry storage. Dent corn or feed corn is not only yellow but can be red, blue and other colors. This corn has a real down to earth taste and dries into something you can make amazing cornbread with. But what you grow and dry is up to you. It is getting hard not to get GMO corn seed anymore and there was just released a GMO sweet corn. Bring on the weed killer!. You can be almost be absolutely sure when you eat any product that uses corn, it would have been made with a GMO product. Corn grows best in air temperatures from 60° to 95°F. Corn can take from 60 to 100 days to reach harvest depending upon variety and the amount of heat during the growing season. Here is your chance to grow non GMO corn right in your home garden. Just be careful when purchasing cord seed that it is not GMO. After the corn is ready to be harvested, probably the best way to store dried corn is in the corn shucks.
My wife tells me that her fathers corn was stored in their barn. The corn was still in the shuck and was really dry before it was brought in from the field and stored. Her job was to shell corn with a hand powered sheller. The corn was used for the animals and some of the shelled corn was taken into town and ground up into cornmeal. The miller got some of the cornmeal for his services. You can do the same with your own hand mill. Shelled corn can also be stored in jars and in a dry place in sacks if you wish. Make sure to keep some back so you can plant next year.
Note: I have made cornmeal from pop corn. Do not use sweet corn. Sweet corn is for eating and cooking. Common field corn and pop corn makes the best cornmeal. Field corn can be cooked and eaten when it’s sugar content has peaked. I personally like the taste.
OK, you watch the weather and its getting cold as the Grand Solar Minimum is getting ready to dump some very cold freezing climate right over your garden and on your head. As you look out the window, there must be thirty-five pounds or more of green tomatoes still on the vine. Quickly you rush out and pick all thirty-five pounds of the green tomatoes. Once in the house, you place them all in cardboard boxes and place them by your large patio window. Then in the next two months you will gradually eat those tomatoes as they redden. Tomatoes saved! Or you wife will cook her famous fried green tomatoes for dinner that night.
Well that is all for this blog. There are many more storage vegetables like carrots, cabbage and other root veggies like artichokes that can be stored.
If you are worried about food security and the high prices at the grocery store, you might just start thinking about growing your own garden. As I like to say, please do not be or remain a food slave. As the Grand Solar Minimum continues to destroy global crops and as 64 million Chinese people are trapped in their cities with food running out and the Coronavirus outbreak killing thousands what would you do? I am not a doom and gloom type of person, but I do love and want to protect my family. Having my own garden is a no brainier.
My recommendations are to:
Get your seeds and start a garden.
Look after your family, friends and neighbors.
Take care of the poor and those who have less than you.
Thanks for reading my blog
I eat an all plant diet and have for about a year. I am now 77 and have as much energy as I did when I was much younger. This book (PDF) is free. To get this Book go HERE.