Plan What Seeds To Buy Before You Are In The Store!
1. The first step in preserving your food is not at harvest time. It is when you first plan your garden and decide which seeds to buy. Buying the best quality seeds for your area is the most important step. Regardless of whether you can it, freeze it, dehydrate it or just store it, you must have a plan in mind when choosing seed varieties. Choose plant varieties that are known for storing. The seed companies know which seed is good for what.
Heirloom Squash Seedlings
2. Build your seed supply of heirloom seeds that you can save. Those seeds will provide your future gardens. Save a few of your best plants, don’t harvest them. Let them dry up and save the seeds. If they are green beans I let them just about die then harvest the seeds inside of the pods. If they are plants like tomatoes, pumpkin, cucumbers or squash, I save the seeds as I prepared the vegetable for cooking or eating. Dry the seeds really good and then put them in a jar that has a tight top, like a canning jar. Put a label on the jar so you know what it is and when you harvested it.
3. Plant foods that produce a lot. I know, some people will tell you that you don’t need that many zucchini, yellow squash or green beans. I have found that by canning a large amount of those foods, in the winter or even years later, that food as been essential in keeping us fed. If you have a time where money is tight or someone looses their job, this canned food will feed your family. I advise people to can as much as possible. A freezer can break down or a power outage for an extended amount of time can cause you to lose all that food.
4. Set up a couple of nice beds that are waist high for your lettuce and salad greens garden. That makes them easy to harvest quickly for a nightly salad. Being up higher, they don’t get so dirty in a rainstorm. Most important little critters like rabbits or chipmunks don’t get into them so much. Mine are critter free.
5. Plant a few beds of plants that are annuals. Meaning that once you get them going, they come up every year and you don’t have to plant them. Like asparagus, rhubarb or strawberries. Less work is always welcome at gardening season.
6. Plant vegetables that can be stored fresh in a root cellar or other cooler room. Cabbage, carrots, potatoes, winter squash and others can be stored to be eaten fresh. Even green tomatoes can be harvested late in fall just before your first frost. Wrapped in newspaper and stored in a cool room they will ripen slowly. Just be sure to check them at least once a week.
7. Plant some berry bushes instead of decorative hedges around your home. Berries can be canned as jam, jelly or juice. But they can also be dehydrated as well as frozen. Again though, I like to remind people, do not put your whole amount of berries or anything else for that matter, into a freezer. Just in case.
Potatoes In 50 lb. Bags
8. Potatoes can be grown very easily also. If you do not grow them, buy them from a local potato grower, produce market or even a local restaurant supply store (where they are available in fifty pound bags). I like to buy two bags if I haven’t grown any myself. If I grew some, I still buy one bag and can them, in slices and cubes. That way I have them for quick meals or to add to stews, soups or casseroles.
9. Tomatoes are of course, an important food to grow and can. They can be used for so many recipes. If you have a lot of tomatoes coming, my method is to can them all as whole tomatoes. Make sauces, salsas, ketchup, stewed products later on when you aren’t so busy. I usually grow some and buy some, since we need a lot to get through the year.
10. Herbs are expensive in the store. It is so easy to grow them at home in your garden. Bring some inside in pots for fresh herbs in the winter. I like to dry a good amount for cooking and for making teas and infusions. Wild herbs such as dandelion, burdock, plantain and various fruit leaves are good for teas or infusions as well. They can be found growing wild. Take a walk around and I am sure you will find many foods growing right near you.
Copyright © 2012 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2012 Kathleen G. Lupole