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Storing Garden Produce in a Small House

Storing Garden Produce in a Small House

We finally had our first real frost. At 8,000 feet here in Colorado, our average date of the first frost is about 12 days ago. Every extra day has been precious, but this morning the outdoor thermometer said 28 and the leaves of many plants were drooping. I had done a good bit of harvesting this week and I did more today.

But where to put it all? Our winter squashes went on the bookcase in the hall, on a high shelf just out of reach of the dogs. It isn’t as cool as I’d like there, but we’ll just have to eat them sooner this year. Maybe by next year we will have some sort of root cellar, maybe even combined with the possible chicken house we talk about.

Our dehydrator gets used a lot. That bowl is not actually full of snakes… it contains our favorite summer squash, an heirloom called Zucchino Rampicante from Baker Creek Seeds. We grew it for several years in the highlands of central Mexico, and it did well for us this year too, our first year gardening at this house in Colorado. I highly recommend it — instead of getting fat like zucchini, it goes long and curvy.

I like this picture of me wearing one of these in the logo of this website, even though several people told me they thought I was wearing a snake! Anyway, although the zucchino rampicante is easier to give away than plain ol’ zucchini, it can still get out of hand now and then. The larger of the two canning jars there contains dehydrated zucchino chips. and I haven’t decided yet if that will be the fate of the ones in the bowl. They are also excellent in stir-fries.

The other jar contains some of our tomatoes, dried. Sure cuts down on the space. I’ve had the 4-tray Excalibur dehydrator for so long that they don’t make it anymore, but when it needed a fan replaced last year, Excalibur had the part. Kudos to them. Recently a gardening friend of mine asked my advice about whether to get the 5 tray or the 9 tray model. I said it depends on what size batches you like to do. She got the nine-tray one and has been very busy with it since. Here it is; click on it to see it at Amazon.

Not that my trays would look that neat if my life depended on it!

The tomatoes were in some baskets but it was too hard to see if they were turning color or going bad, so I pulled out a couple of cafeteria trays that are very useful to have around. Now we can keep up with the tomatoes, or if not, I will dry more of them. Some years I’ve wrapped them in newspaper and put them in a cool place and we have been able to eat fresh garden tomatoes well into winter, but this house just doesn’t have any cool places that aren’t already full of other things.

Our carrots will be fine in the ground outside; we may dig a pit to store the potatoes…

Ah, it’s really fun to be wrapping up a satisfying gardening season!

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