Last year, we grew our first “garden.” It wasn’t much, just a couple of pepper plants, tomato plants, peas and carrots (oh, and some failed lettuce). Now that I’m looking at expanding our garden, I want to keep in mind my meal plans as I choose which vegetables to grow. Here are a few ideas I’m going to try!
Create a List of Favorite Summer and Fall Recipes
No sense in letting all of my fresh produce go to waste! Freezing and canning is great but doesn’t taste quite as good as fresh, so I want to use up as much as I can while keeping my family from eating sliced cucumber every night. By using lots of cookbooks, Pinterest and recipe websites, I’ll have lots of ideas for using garden-fresh veggies at my fingertips. Coordinating this list with the types and amounts of food in my garden will help me to make good use of our bounty.
Make Plans for Freezing and Canning the Vegetables in my Garden
As I’m considering garden ideas, I know that a lot of tomato plants will (hopefully) produce a great crop of tomatoes. So I need to make sure I have enough canning supplies and freezer containers to make my crop last through the year. Not all vegetables are easy to freeze, but I’m hoping to blanch and freeze my tomatoes whole and as homemade spaghetti sauce. You can freeze zucchini to use in zucchini breads and tomato-based sauces. We also enjoy freezer salsa!
Find New Winter Recipes to Try Using Frozen and Canned Vegetables
Once I have all of my wonderful frozen produce, I’ll need to know what to make with it so I don’t find a science experiment formerly known as “diced green peppers” in my freezer ten years down the road. Having my kids and husband help me to come up with new recipes we’d like to try as well as asking my mom for some of her favorites should provide me with lots of ideas! Speaking of ideas…
Know What Vegetables Your Family Will Eat
I’m looking at trying some new vegetables this year but I want to be cautious! It’s no good to grow three rows of cauliflower if your family doesn’t like it at all. Some good garden staples are tomatoes, cucumbers, potatoes, peas, carrots and onions. Depending on your climate, you could grow any number of new and exciting veggies. It may also be a good idea to check out a farmer’s market and try some new-to-you food before growing it in your own garden.
Here’s hoping for a bountiful garden this year!
I’m sort of terrified of canning! I haven’t had any crops that were large enough to actually have a successful canning season but hopefully this year. Have you done any experimentation with vegetables growing in raised bed versus the ground versus containers? I’m trying to strategically plant herbs and nitrogen fixing plants as well but would love any insight if you’ve had some success with different plants coupled together. Thanks for your post!
We’ve played around a little bit with combinations – especially plants that mature at different times.
I grow the majority of my vegetables in raised beds .. square foot gardens. I do keep my tomatoes and peas and beans seperate since they dont fit so nice and tidy in a square foot. I am actually ising the double bucket system for those (this is a system where one 5 gallon bucket is inside another and you create a self watering container this way). That is actually working out great since tomatoes deplete the soil. After I have grown a tomato plant in a bucket, I then grow a “soil fixing” bean plant in the bucket, and then after the beans are done I dump that soil into the raised beds with some compost and grow a leafy or rooting plant … and start all over in the buckets with another tomato. Viola!! Crop rotation made simple.
I find the raised beds and the buckets (or containers) have been the whole reason I can use VERY little or almost no fertilizer (organic of course), and keeps the bugs to a minimum.
Catherine Smith says
Don’t be afraid to try canning. It’s just another cooking/preservation tool, my dear. You might check with your local extension office, many give free classes in How to Can.
There’s really no difference between veggies grown in raised beds as compared to regular soil. Raised beds make it easier to grow for many people who have lousy soil to try and work with. It allows you to fill the bed with good growing medium.
I would like to encourage all to reach out to your neighbors who are experienced gardeners, We love to share information and experience and most are delighted to “mentor” beginners. It’s a way of passing along valuable skills and “paying forward” to thank those who took the time to teach us. ^-^
i am not doing typical row garden i have decided not to plant my vegetables together. I have my tomatoes in there own section as well as my grapes and my peppers i have them all segregated. would you say this is a good idea?
I would agree with keeping “buggy” tomato plants seperate. I have peppers can coexist with any plants. Grapes like alot of room, so trellising them seperately is probably also a good idea. That’s just my two cents 😉
Catherine Smith says
There’s no reason why you can’t plant this way. However, do not plant potatoes where you have planted your tomatoes, as they are both members of the nightshade family and share common fungi, which can lead to wilt and blight in tomatoes especially. It’s very important to rotate your veggies crops, keeping good records is key. With these digital cameras, that job is no longer such a “job”. Take pictures of your garden at various stages and make notes, so you know what works and what doesn’t. Trust me, you will not remember… LOL I have over 30 years of gardening journals, and have found them to be an excellent reference for ideas and reminders of things that went wrong. Sometimes you learn more from the goofs than you do from the whole experience.
I now use a program from the Brits called a Garden Way Planner. I am in love! Not only can you lay out your garden in advance, you can keep pictures and notes all in the same program. I’ve looked for something like this for ages and it fits the bill. And it’s very inexpensive, the support in great, even though most are based in England. They’ve been doing this a lot longer than we have in the states and they certainly know their stuff, plus they are normally working with a much smaller area than most of us here. It’s extremely interesting.