DRIFT-FREE HOME AND GARDEN: plan your garden to keep your garden

There’s nothing more satisfying than seeing summer’s bounty stored away in colorful jars in the pantry or cold cellar. Canning has become more mainstream as many people have taken up the art, institution, and practice of canning during pandemic shutdowns. That’s why canning lids alone are as rare as gold nuggets in stores these days. When they are spotted, they are quickly torn off.
As people embark on another growing season, this may be the year to plant a garden to enjoy canned goods year-round. It’s easy to do and can certainly be life saving to avoid last minute trips to the store for commonly used pantry staples, or simply reduce waste of fresh vegetables from harvest by preserving them at their peak.

The passion for preservation
I first started canning small crunchy summer cucumbers that magically turn into tangy pickles. Over the years I’ve worn the corner print of my favorite Kerr Canning Guide and have experimented with canning a wide variety of vegetables: corn, beans, tomatoes, small potatoes baby land, home-grown pepperoncini peppers (for salads and Italian roast beef). recipes) and our own jalapeno-tomato mix from garden supplies. I have canned salsa and sauces, homemade vegetable juice and a full assortment of pickles and corn relish – thanks to Marlys Lien and Jan from Fayette Lumber for sharing their age-old recipes so many years ago. ‘years.
Our family has canned venison, beef, and chicken (dressed and plucked straight from the butcher chain) as well as vegetable casserole and chili medleys. There were bushels of canned peaches and pears – and I confess that I was late to discovering the joy and creativity of fruit jams, preserves and compotes. The options of what to put in the jar are only bound by imagination and favorite recipes and flavors.
Instead of planting on a whim, think of this year’s garden as “the personal grocery store of the future” and plant what the family likes to eat most, thinking more about when to eat it and storing it – a growing shopping list. When planning to canning, look to winter month cravings for special meals or holiday foods the family can’t live without when it’s cold. Planning ahead means the supply is there and the quality is excellent, packed with vitamins and minerals from the summer garden.

First, make a plan
Pull out the family’s favorite recipes used most often and review the vegetables needed. My vegetable soup calls for corn, green beans, tomatoes, and potatoes. Can these grow in this area? Can they be canned together at the same time and at the same temperature? Can we plant them to coordinate the harvest? Then add them to the garden list this year in addition to any vegetables planted for fresh consumption.
Then think about the amount needed and make sure enough seeds or plants are planted to produce the amount needed. Some vegetables are easy to plan, such as canned tomatoes, green beans, and corn. These are used in a wide variety of dishes and can be canned individually in pints or quarts as needed.
Feeling adventurous? Take this year’s garden to the next level and plan canning soups, stews and casseroles. Vintage canning books and online resources offer recipes for preserving blended vegetables in easy-to-use sizes for easy meal preparation of your favorite vegetable soup, chili, curry, or hot vegetable blends.

Control the domain of time and space
It is especially important to time each planting in succession and observe the average growth time of planned vegetables in successful canned vegetable mixes to ensure that corn, beans, carrots and any other combos are ready to go. harvested at the same time – at the peak of freshness. It works well with relishes, salsas and ketchups.
Along with the list of what to plant, next comes the mapping of garden space to maximize the growing season and harvest potential. A four-foot section can hold up to 144 green bean seeds planted four inches apart and produce up to 35 pounds of tender, crisp beans per planting. Or use that same space to plant carrots three inches apart and harvest up to 30 pounds of vision-enhancing roots.
Successive planting of certain elements can also maximize soil productivity. Planting radishes and early lettuces in a smaller space, over three weeks, ensures that a little fresh crop will be produced each week. Planting tomatoes or pepper plants in the same space after the first harvest allows the space to be productive even when the last of the radishes are gone. Broccoli is a great plant to plant in mid-summer, utilizing the early grow space.
Plantmaps.com is a wonderful resource for really narrowing down the best growing seasons and understanding the region we live in from a growing perspective.
Larger gardens can use a more traditional row layout, but be careful with more space to avoid planting too much too soon. Those wide open spaces and the springtime excitement for digging in the dirt could lead to too much of one thing – throwing a spanner in the careful plan, timing, and canned storage space. From experience, 99 tomato plants is too much for a family of five, as is 68 potato hills. Just because the yard or garden has space doesn’t mean it has to be full – stick to the plan!

keep it clean
For best results after so much hard work, be sure to sterilize any reused stands, cages, stakes, or shears to eliminate potential disease. Once harvest arrives, take time the weekend before harvest to prepare canning equipment, jars, and make sure there are enough canning lids of the correct size for the expected harvest.
The most beneficial effort for a great garden is still weeding – unfortunately. Allowing garden plants to absorb the lion’s share of nutrients from the soil and get all the water they need means eliminating the competition – the weeds. Regular and consistent weeding will ensure that this year’s harvest is as successful as possible.
For better economy of effort, coordinate with neighbors or family to divide and conquer garden production, garden A will grow beets, corn and green beans for both households, and garden B will concentrate on tomatoes, potatoes and cucumbers for both households. It can be much easier when the load and the harvest are shared.
Incorporating extra help with canning produce is a great plan once harvests start rolling in. Even those without a garden can help with the transformation and ensure that everyone can enjoy the richness of the garden all year round.

Garden smarter for maximum results
Planning a garden? Think a little more critically about available space and needs for the coming year to plan a garden and can a garden to fill the pantry. One of my canning books dates from World War II and encourages its readers to plant a victory garden. Although times have changed, the personal victory of a well-planned garden and a beautifully stocked canned pantry is within reach each year.

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