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Ah, the harvest; there’s nothing like the feeling of bringing the fruits of your labor (literally), to the kitchen. But before you get your pruners ready, there are a few things to understand about harvestings, such as time and other environmental factors.

Firstly, it’s crucial that you understand when the best time to start harvesting is. This not only depends on when your crops ripen or not but the complete period of growth and whether the upcoming frost will have an effect on your yield.

Despite the sound of the word frost, it can actually have a beneficial effect on certain crops such as parsnips, cabbage, carrots, and kale. These veggies have an improved, sweeter taste after a light frost and can remain in the ground without getting damaged.

On the other hand, certain crops can’t really stand the cold temperature and a frost would mean risking your entire yield. If the fruits and vegetables aren’t ripe enough for picking yet, you can simply cover them with burlap sacks or old sheets.

If you live in an area where the winters start early, you may want to look after your tomatoes, considering that almost every home garden has them. An early frost means that your tomatoes won’t be ripe enough for picking so you should pay close attention to their size. If they’ve almost reached the desired size but are still green, you can pick them and let them ripen on their own.

However, you should only use the aforementioned approach if a heavy frost is coming; covering your plants with row covers or sheets will be helpful in keeping them safe from a light frost through the night.

After the harvest, you’ll be worried about how you’ll preserve every fruit and vegetable. The great thing about growing your own crops is that you’ll be reluctant to lose even a single fruit to spoilage, so you take extra care that nothing goes to waste.

Three methods come to mind. You can either store your yield in the fridge, can it or dry it. To store yield in your fridge, make sure that the temperature is cool to prevent the crops from losing moisture and exposing them to attacks by fungi. Make sure to keep the fridge well-ventilated since the crops require oxygen to breathe and retain flavor.

Another way to use up your home-grown fruits and vegetables for a long time to come is to simply put them in sanitized jars for canning. Lastly, you can dry them, a way to preserve your yield without worrying about them spoiling. This method had been used before, numerous times because of the benefit that it doesn’t require extremely high or low temperatures. Plus, dried foods taste better since the flavor is concentrated as well.

You’ll also be getting the same nutrition with regard to minerals and vitamins. Remember that you can only preserve the freshest food and be careful that you aren’t using crops that are over-ripe and bruised. Happy Farming!

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Four Frugal Homesteading Tips

Homesteading isn’t the easiest job in the world, and it often comes with unexpected costs. To make the most of your homesteading efforts while guarding your finances, it’s important to put everything to use. Here are a few of my favorite tips for keeping homesteading easy on the wallet. Add yours in the comments!

Get outwheygeous

I’ve been making my own yogurt for several years. I like to strain the whey from my yogurt for a thicker, Greek style yogurt. But what to do with the strained whey? Don’t toss it! You can use whey as a substitute for water in bread recipes (hint: it also results in a nicer crumb structure and rise). Livestock like pigs adore snacking on whey and will eat it up.

Snout to tail

I’m sure I don’t have to tell you this, but if you raise animals for food, it’s so important to use every bit of the animal. It respects the animal’s sacrificed life and ensures you get the most bang for your buck. For example, all parts of a chicken, including the feet, beak, and feathers, can be repurposed.

Deep freeze

Canning and preserving are fantastic ways to enjoy your summer harvest all year round. But freezing is also a great option to preserve your food, particularly if you raise animals for meat. Invest in a high quality vacuum sealer to preserve your ham hocks for next Easter with zero problem. You don’t want to go through the trouble of raising an animal, only to have the meat ruined by freezer burn!

Think scrappy

Do you have vegetable scraps left over from making dinner? Great! Don’t throw them away. You can compost vegetable scraps, as well as feed them to chickens or turn them into homemade vegetable stock. Don’t let one carrot shaving go to waste; every cent matters on the homestead.

The bottom line

There are so many ways we can keep costs low when raising animals and plants on the homestead. Use these quick tips to rein in costs while enjoying the simple life!

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