Planning for the Garden and Food Preservation Starts Now

IMG_0242

Posted in my last blog regarding the garden, I mentioned all the seed catalogs that were flowing into our mailbox. My husband has now piled them up on the counter and has begun the process of researching what crops he’ll be planning for the upcoming seasons. The prior years have taught him what did well and what didn’t do well, in spite of recommendations from the seed growers. He also has various new recipes he wants to try, which will require planting of a few new vegs/fruits.

We live in a hot, dry climate and with irrigation, we can pretty much grow anything. My absolute favorite garden vegetables are the tomatoes which I like to preserve in various ways; one being to thinly slice smaller tomatoes, season with italian seasoning, a little garlic salt , then into the food dehydrator. They make the best, slightly chewy snack. All my family, including the dogs, absolutely love them. I also use them in the winter when making homemade spaghetti sauce by merely throwing a handful into the sauce as they greatly enrich the flavor. Another favorite way to preserve tomatoes is to cook up a large pot daily with a little olive oil, fresh minced garlic and some italian herbs and let it cook on low all day long until cooked down by at least 1/2. Delicious, thick and hearty. Once cooled, bag this up in ziplocs for freezing and take out whenever you have an inkling for some wonderful marinara or italian sauce.

My husband also contributes annually to the pantry shelves with his homemade canned sauerkraut, tomatoes and chutneys. There’s such a feeling of accomplishment and comfort when all preservation is done and pantry shelves are full. My husband and I have been doing this for 20+yrs. Its something you and your spouse or family can do together, as well as serves as wonderful teaching events for your children. They will learn skills they can use later in their adult lives when they have families.

To get started and to help cut down on costs of doing so, merely check our your local paper yard sale classifications,  for canning jars, a good water bath canner as well as a pressure canner, which will most likely need a new seal. These items will most likely be your main expenses in regards to canning supplies. Lids/rings aren’t that expensive and are commonly on sale during the canning season. I recommend starting to look now as they will most likely be cheaper off season than during.

We personally prefer to do the the majority of the canning outside on a gas (propane) stove cart (2 burners) with valve, which allows us  to regulate the flow of gas. We’ve found that canning in the house during the summer generally makes the house too warm,  which is usually being cooled by A/C  that time of year. When canning items such as sauerkraut or tuna fish, you’ll be much happier to leave those smells outside, rather than inside.

Since we do have a little time before planting outdoors, now is the time to start organizing your plan for gardening. Go online and search seed companies;  Twiley Seeds and Nichols to name a few, in order to request catalogs. You can review seeds online but I highly recommend doing it with the catalog in your hands; much easier for a beginner. Once catalogs arrive, spend time researching and determining your growing zone and what types of plants will do best in your particular region. Might take a soil sample from area you’ll be planting, into local county extension agent for analysis. This will also help you to know your soil type and if you will need to add things to correct PH or alkalinity for example. You will eventually need to plant your seeds for germination and keep in a sunny spot inside your house, prior to taking outdoors to plant in the ground once its warm enough.

It’s a fun as well as rewarding annual hobby, that will provide you, with effort, nothing but good things from spring through fall. Great teaching tool for your kids as well as will help with grocery/staple costs throughout the year. How can ya’ll go wrong?

 

Comments

  1. Good blog on planning your annual garden. What about where you garden in terms of physical space. Many do not have acres to garden on and space is limited. What plants do well in pots or in a hanging garden or in a garden with limited light.

    In our situation, we don’t have a garden space per-see and have a large concrete area that receives more direct light. To overcome the lack of gardening area we constructed planters (made from re-purposed wooden displays found at a Sportsmans Outdoor store that went out of business. The units were perfect for making planters and provided a considerable cost savings over buying new products to construct them). Because of the need to move the planters periodically we put heavy duty castors on them and can easily move them to locations for more direct light or just move them out of the way to clean or to bring equipment through. They also make an interesting architectural feature when planted in a small yard/space.

    There is an initial investment in buying pots and soil to place for the planters but once thats done one will realize years of use. To assist in cutting costs we added a compost bin to enable us to use up the garden and yard material and have an excellent source of organic material to amend the soil every year. A variety of vegetables can be grown in the pots and depending upon how much light you can grow just about anything. This year we experimented with hanging baskets of strawberries and found the venture quite successful, providing enough to have fresh fruit almost every day of the summer.

    For those with limited space this a great way to add a bountiful garden!

Speak Your Mind

*