Preserving the Harvest

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The evenings are getting darker just a little bit earlier then last month and the mornings are cooler. About a handful of trees between Madrona Ave and Pringle Creek Community are beginning to show hints of orange and red in what has been a sea of green all summer. In your best “Game of Thrones” character voice you can hear the whisper…”Fall is coming.”

Fall means more work for this Urban Farmer. The garden is changing once again; crops are finishing, new crops can be planted, and other year ending chores need to take place before the weather turns cold and wet. Preserving the last of the summer basil, digging up spring planted potatoes and processing extra summer squash and tomatoes for use this winter are tasks on my to do list.

This year was the first year I ever tried planting potatoes. We had two varieties growing in pots in the greenhouse, German Butterball and Mountain Rose. I overturned the pots this week and harvested about 40 pounds of yellow and pink colored tubers. The smallest of the harvest will be added into the menu items at Painters Hall Cafe over the next few weeks with the bulk of the harvest to appear in this winter’s menu. The Mountain Rose variety grew larger sized potatoes then the German Butterball but both were a successful addition to this year’s garden.

 The fruit trees in the orchard are becoming more bare as the cherries, peaches, pears, plums and apples have ripened. The last of the plums are being preserved for use later this fall and winter. While fresh produce is used in the Painter’s Hall Cafe menu daily, we strive to save the best tastes from the garden and orchard for extended use. Through preservation practices such as dehydration, freezing and canning we can look forward to offering comfort foods in the winter utilizing what we save now.

 One of the many unique elements found at Pringle Creek Community are some of the original buildings to the Fairview Training Center that once occupied the location. Along with the vintage 1930’s era greenhouses restored and in use today, we are using the old root cellar to cure and store our harvest for later use. Pears and apples from the orchards and winter squash from the garden will be stored until we are ready to use them. The original structure still maintains a constant, cool temperature without the use of fossil fuels.

The garden tomato harvest has begun! Many cherry tomatoes have already made appearances in Painters Hall Cafe salads and sandwiches, and can also be purchased in to-go containers in the Pringle Creek Harvest Stand. The greenhouses will allow us to move unripened tomato vines inside for final ripening once the weather turns to wet and cold. Look for our summer tomatoes to appear in our winter menu as warm soups and oven dried tastes of summer.