Well, hopefully everyone is having at least some success this year. As with most seasons, we’ve had some things work out spectacularly and have faced challenges in other areas. Pretty much “par for the course” growing things in the extreme north. If you’re a fellow northerner, though, the reality is that our season is rapidly coming to an end!
With just a week left before our average first frosts, our mindset is definitely starting to shift towards fully harvesting and putting up whatever food we can. Although we try to keep on top of preservation throughout the season, as it’s a ton of work, there’s always a lot left to do at this time of year! We’ll share our general harvesting strategy as it’s the only sane way to tackle large gardens without becoming overwhelmed!
We always start with our most frost sensitive, outdoor grown crops first. These are most prone to frost failure, once they start coming in. We’ll often let the first frost kill off our squash, since it makes hunting them so much easier. This won’t harm the fruit, so long as you harvest it soon after that first frost that knocks out the plant.
We can usually let our greenhouse ride out the first few frosts without troubles, despite exclusively growing frost sensitive foods within it. We will prioritize this harvest based on what the weather is doing. If it’s looking like imminent cold (mid to high 20’s), or even snow is on the way, that’s when we escalate its priority. Otherwise, we’ll sneak in other things until the time of “imminent doom” is upon us.
For anything frost tolerant, it goes to the back of the line. These crops, especially when mature, can easily withstand those early seasonal frosts. There are zero issues with letting them go into the first few frosts, with the point of no return being hard frosts we start seeing around mid-20’s Fahrenheit. We prioritize leafy anything over root veggies, those roots will be just fine surviving low 20’s and even snow fall.
Don’t dilly dally too long! In the north, some winters come on like a two ton heavy thing. We suggest picking off a few things at a time while we still have the time. Leaving everything “just in case” we get a nice, long fall can be a recipe for disaster some years.
Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t get to everything, the fact that you’re even trying to produce for yourself is honorable enough!
Good luck with those harvests, people! If you need a little primer on what’s frost sensitive and frost tolerant, we’ve got a linky for you down in the comments!