The writer in me gratefully welcomes October. During the primary food growing season, my time is so full that I can hardly find any energy to spare. In my head I’m exploring themes and composing paragraphs, but getting any of it down on paper seems just too exhausting. So after the Thanksgiving Day Family Feast, which truly celebrates our abundant harvest, I am once more ready to record some of my experiences.

A Life Rhythm Dictated by the Seasons

Ironically I am a back-to-the-lander who doesn’t own any land. We live in a strata complex of townhouses, so my husband and I rent community garden space. We currently tend 1280 square feet, some public and some on private farmland. Add to that the rich proliferation of wild edibles we find in nature’s garden and we have plenty of fresh organic food to last us year round.

Many people have come to realize that eating local food is important. There are so many reasons. I also believe that eating with the seasons is the natural and logical thing to do. By eating seasonally we enjoy a wide variety of produce that changes as the months pass. Experts suggest this will provide maximum health benefits and help stave off food allergies and sensitivities. It certainly ensures a level of freshness and nutrition that can’t be found in chain store produce aisles.

From spring through November, our meals are based almost entirely on what the gardens are producing. We eat fresh food, never more than a day or two old. Springtime gives us rhubarb, greens, radishes, cabbage family crops, and abundant salads as well as our much loved sugar snap peas. Summer is a never ending cycle of planting, picking and processing. The starring role in daily meals is taken over by main season vegetables such as beans, summer squash, beets, onions, New Zealand spinach and cucumbers. Early autumn brings peppers, tomatoes, basil, parsnips and other roots, more cabbage, and the first of the winter squash. Finally around mid-October, we “raise the song of harvest home. All is safely gathered in.”

The pace slows. Trips to the community gardens become less frequent. Now, in the dark months of the year, only the winter vegetables need to be seen to. Instead we spend our food production time getting creative about preserving and using what we’ve grown. 

Keeping the Harvest

We are kept busy “putting by” our surplus garden production in a variety of ways for winter eating. We have two freezers. As of now, both of them are full. We have a five-tray Excalibur dehydrator that runs for many, many hours during weeks of heavy garden production. Dried culinary and medicinal herbs, zoodles, hot peppers, sliced apples and other goodies sit in glass jars on the pantry shelves. We don’t have a root cellar, but we have dedicated our single car garage to food storage (and woodworking). Our not-a-garage houses garlic, shallots, onions, potatoes and five varieties of squash.

This October, new projects happening at the moment are crab apple hot pepper jelly and lacto-fermented garlic. I’ll keep you posted!

Squash stores for winter