Time for squirreling away food

September 29, 2015

So many ways to preserve and store fall fruits & vegetables

Whether you’re a gardener or not, this is a wonderful time of year for foodies, or for anyone who eats, really! So many fresh veggies, so much fresh fruit. If you’re like me, perhaps you’re now reaping the results of overzealous planting; our little garden plot has yielded more tomatoes and beans than ever.

Whether you have a surplus from your garden or you just like taking advantage of the low prices of produce at this time of year, here are a few options for squirreling away some of that delicious food to enjoy over the winter:

  • Freezing: many fruits and vegetables can be frozen without any loss of nutrition, and freezing is not complicated; this page has some advice and two simple guides.
  • Pickling/canning: you can pickle a lot more than just cucumbers, and pickled food doesn’t even need to be refrigerated. This page provides simple instructions.
  • Prepared food: you can even use up surplus produce by making and then freezing things like chilli or pasta sauce. I’m afraid my chilli recipe is a family secret, but here’s a nice pasta sauce recipe my son and I made over the weekend with some surplus tomatoes.

Enjoy the bounties of fall, the contentment of a full pantry and great taste all winter!

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Keep those fall leaves for your gardening

Just this week, I’ve started seeing traces of fall colours in the trees in our yard; can raking be far behind? But wait – instead of bagging those leaves and placing them at the curb, why not save them for next year’s gardening (and avoid the emissions of trucking them away)? Here are three options:

  • To make true compost, mix leaves with a ‘green’ material like grass clippings. For faster composting, shred the leaves beforehand.
  • But if you prefer a ‘minimal effort’ option, you can just collect all your leaves into a pile and leave them – at least for the winter, and perhaps longer. Eventually, they’ll turn into a material called leaf mold, which can be used as mulch around shrubs.
  • Finally, if you’d prefer the ‘least-effort option’, you can just get rid of your leaves by spreading them onto a nearby forest floor. The nutrients they release over time will enrich the soil there.

Enjoy fall – and remember, those leaves are too valuable to place at the curb! Read more about composting and leaf mold here.

Keep the cat inside

If you ask the average person what the biggest threat to birds is, you’ll likely get an answer like wind turbines or hunting. Good answers, but the biggest single threat to birds is much closer to home. According to a 2013 study conducted by Environment Canada, the leading causes of bird mortality in Canada are:

  • Wind turbines: 16,700
  • Communication towers: 22,000
  • Commercial forestry: 900,000
  • Agriculture: 3.7 million
  • Hunting: 5 million
  • Vehicle collisions: 14 million
  • Collisions with homes or buildings: 25 million
  • Power line collisions and electrocutions: 25 million
  • Domestic and feral cats: 200 million, or more than all other categories combined

So what’s the best thing you can do?

  • Try to keep your cat inside, especially around dusk and dawn
  • Consider putting a bell on your cat’s collar to give birds a warning
  • Keep bird feeders well out of range of cats

Learn more here!