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Steps from seed to seed

 
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Location: Ohio, USA
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One thing that gets crazy is what happens around harvest.  You see, getting seed in the ground-I got that down.  Getting the harvest and seed back into the house in an orderly fashion, that's insanity.  Things need to be processed and stored and in an orderly enough way to not get confused or ruined.  So, I'm writing the steps for my own sanity and possibly others.

1. Plant seed + fertilize; possibly protection
2. More fertilizer, adjusting, removing or adding protection,  weeding, maybe watering but not likely here.
3. Harvesting produce. ...

4a. Air drying or curing produce: herbs, garlic (need a dry spot,  like a paper towel, hanging basket, or dry vase)

4b. Freezing produce ( can blanch first, but more likely just bag and place in freezer.  May need to be spread  on a tray first)

4c. Fresh eating (goes in kitchen like store-bought stuff, just need to have a bag ready.

4d. Pickling (need jars, an acid, and/or salt plus air lock or slightly loose old canning lid.
4e. Brewing (need proper acid content, sugar content, container,  cloth cover+proper sized rubber band.
4f. Heat drying: fruit leather, dried meat (need a hottish spot + tray, like a car windshield, maybe a thermometer)
4g. Waterbath canning (hot, needs to be acidic, multistep process)
4h. Pressure canning (extra hot, no acid needs, just timing)
4i. Grain processing
4j. Early harvest to continue ripening

5. Harvest seed head and dry.
6. Seperate seed from chaff and store for next year.

Fresh eating is ideal, but since we have a dormant season we have to also choose one of the other methods to keep yummies for the winter. Because freezer storage space is limited, the most ideal (due to speed, ease, and energy use) is drying.  I used to just lay it around the house,  but that method is also used in seed saving, so I have ended up with a huge mess, which should partly be solved next year with more drying shelves.  However,  certain things I want to dry but the need a heat source.  My wind shield would be ideal, a cut box from my friend Amazon and some tape aught to do just grand.  

Then there's certain things best as wine or vinegar.  These require attention and space where you can remember to give them attention for about a week.  The vinegar less so than wine.  Right now these are randomly in the kitchen.  The wine is in our good soup pot. Since I started this process,  I think I will be primary fermenting something from about  two months a year, so I maybe should invest in a proper location and an official pot. I then have secondary fermentation,  which is mostly in carboys needing less attention but still off  gassing.  So they shouldn't go in the cold storage room. And,  some will be in the primary vat while the carboys are in use, yet another  thing to put some where. Oh, and I have small kids,  so not the kitchen floor. Maybe a corner of the basement?

Pickling takes more time because now you have to chop stuff.  Food processors can help. They also need that counter time and not next to the vinegar,  which is not next to the wine.  These jars also tend to overflow.  I pickle about 3 weeks a year. I tend  to keep  things in the fridge once their week of counter time is up. I think that will just have to be the way it is.  3 weeks is a small blip of insanity.

The canning is not a summer thing to do,  so I tend to wait for produce to build up before I use it.  I therefore need a proper produce storage basket, sizeable. Any ones really superb?

Grain processing is totally time consuming.  It's best to store it least processed possible, lasts longer.  The problem with this is you could accidentally store buggies that will eat it (acorns). There are oxygen deprivation packets that could solve the bug problem,  maybe? Or maybe the old suck-the-air-out of the plastic bag trick?  Then I can move these quickly to vats for later processing,  during winter and not when your also trying to figure out where to hang the lettuce seed.

Early harvests happen to avoid predation or frosts. I have a string in the basement for tomatoes.  It's reserved for that purpose from Nov-Jan. It is too moist there to  be a good drying location during summer,  it's dry during winter (n. Hemisphere). Apples can go in cold storage, and so can some other things. It's relatively simple, since I have a designated area for recieving.


Am I missing anything? Any suggestions?



 
steward
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Location: Northern WI (zone 4)
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Looks like you have it down

I find having a solar drier like the Walk radiant drier really speeds up that part of the process.  We put a ton of herbs in there and they're dry in a day (2-3 for sage).  A batch of apples dries down in 2 days.

Another thing I learned to do last year is partially process tomatoes and put them in the fridge and then 4 days later pick more and can up the whole batch.  This year I'm changing it up and I made a big batch of salsa last week and froze it (due to worries about it getting funky in the fridge for 5 days).  When I have enough tomatoes to make more salsa, I'll thaw out that batch and add it to this second batch.  Then I'll can up a ton in one shot.  After that it's catsup for the next two rounds.

I'm finally learning to can up multiple years of a given thing.  Last year I did 50 pints of tomato soup thinking it would get me through the winter.  Turns out it will get me through next winter as well.  I hope to get to the point where I plant a lot of tomatoes every other year and those are the canning years.  In between I can grow more of something else in those spaces.
 
Amit Enventres
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Location: Ohio, USA
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Yeah, I started out trying to can tomatoes as they came in and sort of naturally drifted to throwing them in the freezer until I get enough to make it worth it.  Do you do skin on or off? Does the solar drier eliminate some fly issues?
 
Mike Jay
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I keep forgetting to worry about the skins.  I've heard if you freeze the tomatoes whole, when they come out you can run them under hot water to get the skins off easily (haven't tried it myself yet).

I haven't noticed a fly problem but I haven't looked...  It gets pretty warm under the metal sheet so I'm guessing flies wouldn't go in there on purpose.  I'd only put in wet stuff when it has a decent part of a sunny day to do the initial drying.  If I was worried about it I could come up with an insect screen for the air inlets.  
 
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