Gardening for the Pantry

Just what do we garden for? For some of us, it’s to beautify the yard; for others, it’s to eat fresh salads and bits of things during the summer. For me, it’s to fill the pantry. When I plan and plant the gardens, my planning is how to fill the cupboard for the winter months. That’s what makes me so interested in what others are growing around here. 

This past week, I visited three farmers’ markets in the area and the range of produce that is being grown locally is amazing. From peas to kohlrabi, there is a huge list of potential  foods that grow here, and grow well. Every jar and bag of garden produce you grow is one less jar or bag you have to buy from the store. 

Growing right now is a little harder than the rest of the season. All the vegetables are producing, and it can be difficult to keep up with prepping everything for storage. Some tips for keeping control of the garden bounty: 

1. Have a plan. When you know that your produce is almost ready, assemble the proper items you need to freeze, can, dehydrate what you have. There is nothing more frustrating than to have the carrots ready, and need more lids for your canning jars. 

2. Store what you will use. Just because you can get a bushel of peas doesn’t mean you should take advantage of it. My family will eat raw peas all day long, but cooked? No one touches them. I only grow enough for fresh eating. 

 

3. Use the growing guidelines as an estimate. Keep replanting and growing until it’s absolutely too late in the season. I know when my last and first frost dates are, but I don’t give up until the frost sticks around.