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Get motivated for fall, winter chores with images of a well-stocked pantry

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By Cheryl Steenerson

Can you believe it’s almost the end of summer? The stand is now closed and I’m spending Labor Day laboring in the kitchen.
It’s the time I finish my canning, freezing and drying of the harvest, and it’s the picture of a beautifully stocked pantry that motivates me. Well, that and the knowledge that I know what I’ll be eating, where it came from and how it was grown.
My mind always travels back in time when I store the harvest. I think of my pioneer ancestors and how much work they had to go through in order to stock up for the winter. In those days food processors came in the form of children, neighbors and relatives. Everyone got together to help each other. It was the only way to survive.
When the pantry is finished, I’ll start prepping machines and tools for the winter. Oiling tools keeps them from rusting or drying out over the winter. Sta-bil is poured into all gas tanks to keep gas from gunking up moving parts over the winter months. Seed and plant trays are cleaned and disinfected with white vinegar before being stored away for use next year.
Just as soon as the growing beds are cleaned and covered, I’ll move right into wood cutting. As you all know, I like my heat and the wood stove is my solution. Before fall officially arrives on Sept. 23, I’ll have thoroughly cleaned the stove and pipes. I’ve already started saving my potato peelings.
A half-gallon of potato peelings, that have been dried, are always used in the first lighting of the wood stove.
There is something in them that helps coat the pipes and keep creosote from building up inside the pipes over the winter. In other words, it reduces the potential for fire hazards. Living out in the country as I do, I take fire safety very seriously. I have three fire extinguishers.
I’ll wait a while before putting all the hoses up for the season. New trees and shrubs need regular watering in order to get plenty of roots established before winter sets in on us. A mulch of thick grass clippings is also spread around the base of each plant. Any mulch will help serve as a blanket to keep the newly formed roots warm over the winter.
The newly planted garlic bed will also be covered with a thick covering of straw or grass clippings for the winter. The citrus tree and other potted plants will be fertilized, washed and newly potted before coming inside for the winter. I failed to wash my rose tree thoroughly last year and boy, was I sorry.
Keep an eye on your pumpkins, kushaw, and winter squash now. Watch for the vines to start to die back. If you plan on storing them for the winter, please be sure to wash them with water and white vinegar.
Dry them off with a towel and then store them in a cool, dry and dark place.
Let’s get those rakes ready.
Happy growing.

Cheryl Steenerson is a gardening columnist for The Anderson News.