Week 20: September 16 to 20 – More Pickling, Harvesting, and Putting the Garden to Bed

Topics:

  • Pickling techniques
  • Curing sweet potatoes

Summary of the Week:

  • Putting the garden to bed
  • Dug sweet potatoes
  • Harvested the first of the winter squash

The days are getting colder, dusk is coming earlier, and we are starting to prepare the garden for the winter. There is still plenty of work to be done in the garden though before the season comes to an end. The Wednesday-Saturday class got to learn about pickling and putting up vegetables for the winter. We talked about cold-pack and hot-pack pickling methods and the techniques used in pickling that reduce the risk of the vegetables being spoiled during storage. Our pickling recipe can be found here  (http://www.rodalenews.com/pickling-cucumbers) but there are a HUGE variety of pickling recipes available if you wanted to branch out.

Here are a few ideas:

 

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Digging sweet potatoes

 

Later in the week we began harvesting sweet potatoes and winter squash. Denise told us that sweet potatoes should sit in a warm, dry place to cure for a few weeks and develop sugar before being put in a root cellar or other cool dry place for storage.

 

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The prize sweet potato

We have also been starting to put the garden to bed for the winter. Most of our plants, except for plants in the brassica family and a choice few that still look like they might produce something, have been pulled out of the garden bed and composted.

 

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Talking about putting the garden to bed
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Week 19: September 9 to 14 – Pickling, seed saving, and even more harvesting!

Topics:

  • Seed saving
  • Pickling

Summary of the Week:

  • Lesson on seed saving taught by Julia
  • Pickling demonstration by Denise

As the autumn weather moves into Burlington we are starting to talking about how to preserve foods for the winter and plan for next year’s garden season. Julia from the UVM Farmer Training Program came by the Community Teaching Garden to teach us a little about how to save seeds from this year’s harvest to plant in the coming year. We learned all about what seeds to save and how to select seeds to make the next years harvest as successful as possible and even got to play an interactive game!

Julia teaching us about saving seeds for next year.
Julia teaching us about saving seeds for next year.

We also got a hands-on lesson on pickling from Denise (for those of you in the Wednesday-Saturday class, you’ll be pickling this upcoming week, sorry for the spoiler!).

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Cucumbers soaking in salt later before being made into pickles.

While pickling we talked about the different methods used through the ages to put food up for the winter and about the science behind canning and pickling. Our pickles still wont be ready to eat for a few weeks since they have to sit and develop flavor, but already my mouth is watering to try them! Recipes to come next week, stay tuned!

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Finished pickles!

Week 17: August 26-31 Rooftop Gardens and spicy Nepali Chutney

Topics:

  • Edible weeds and flowers
  • History of the Intervale
  • Worm Compost
  • Rooftop Gardening
  • Rice paddies

Activities

  • Student Presentations
  • Tour of Fletcher Allen Hospital roof top garden
  • Potluck
  • Tour of New Farms for New Americans

The new phrase of the week has been “zucchini fatigue”. That feeling that most gardeners can empathize with, when the abundance of zucchini causes you to groan at the sight of yet another, baseball-bat-sized squash.

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This week was our last of student presentations where gardeners had the opportunity to learn about a remarkable variety of topics. We learned about the history of the Intervale from Elizabeth, whose grandfather ran a dairy farm on the land that we were sitting. She offered fascinating documentation and anecdotal story about the changes that the Intervale has gone through over the past hundred years. We watched part of a documentary about the Intervale, which is definitely worth checking for at the library. Other presentations included:

-Edible weeds and flowers, their uses and characteristics,

-A conversation on vermi-compost also known as worm compost (http://home.howstuffworks.com/vermicomposting.htm),

-Plans to build a garden at Burlington college,

-Container gardening and growing food in the winter.

Many thanks to all presenters!

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On Thursday, gardeners had the opportunity to go on a tour of the rooftop community garden at Fletcher Allen Hospital. Staff at the hospital have the opportunity to apply to be a part of a subsidized garden program. Each participant will have a raised bed and attend a weekly garden class and cooking class taught by a dietician. As we stood on the roof, surrounded by sunflowers, herbs, and vegetables, we learned about the method of gardening called square foot gardening. Square foot gardening is a technique of planting that breaks down the space into square feet, and maxinmizes production. Gardeners at Fletcher Allen told us that they could plant 16 carrots into 1 square foot!

To learn more, check out the website: http://www.squarefootgardening.org/?page_id=1605

Thank you Lisa Hoare and the community gardeners for sharing your space with us!

ImageThe teaching garden ended an abundant week with a potluck at Ethan Allen Homestead. We were joined by some Bhutanese refugees who grow food with New Farms for New Americans. After being stuffed full of delicious chapatti and chutney, we had the opportunity to have a tour of their farm. After several years of flooding at the Intervale, New Farms for New Americans decided to adapt- they planted rice! Expert rice growers in Nepal and Bhutan, we have a lot to learn from these farmers. We extend our gratitude to Rita and the wonderful farmers who gave this inspiring tour and shared the meal with us! To learn more about New Farms for New Americans, visit their Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/pages/New-Farms-for-New-Americans-Vermont/143021789091958.

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