It’s that time of year again when we plan the garden, purchase seeds and get set up to start our seeds indoor. Each year we reevaluate what worked in previous years and plan to try something new. We ask ourselves 3 questions…
- What do we like to eat?
- Green Beans might grow great in your backyard, but if you don’t like eating green beans after they have been frozen and preserved…don’t grow 10 plants worth (ask me how I know…no don’t).
- What does our summer and fall schedule look like?
- The idea of 20 tomato plants might seem great, but keep in mind that making sauce and canning tomatoes takes time in the fall. Think about the time you will have to commit to preserving your harvest.
- Each plant will need different care when it comes to pest management, watering, weed control and harvest time. Making sure we are home and able to care for the garden at various times is important to a successful harvest.
- How much room do we have in the freezer?
- Many garden items can be frozen as an easier option to canning. However, you need a freezer big enough to store it all.
Wondering what we make from our garden? Here is a list of what we grow and how we use them. Our garden isn’t huge, anyone with 1/8 acre or more could grow the same amount.
- Lettuce – fresh eating
- Kale & Spinach – fresh eating, freeze for smoothies & hot winter dishes
- Carrots – fresh and freeze
- Tomatoes – fresh, can as sauce, diced, ketchup or salsa, freeze as sauce
- Brussels Sprouts – fresh and freeze
- Broccoli – fresh and freeze
- Strawberries – fresh, freeze and can into jam
- Peppers – fresh, freeze, can in salsa and hot pepper jelly
- Raspberry & Blackberry – fresh, frozen and can into jam
- Corn – fresh and freeze
- Asparagus – fresh and freeze
- Grapes – we just started last year and hope to produce grapes this year – fresh, freeze, can in jam and grape juice. Wine??? maybe…
- Apples – still in the beginning stages – fresh, can into applesauce and pie filling
- Sunflowers – decorations and treats for chickens
- Herbs – fresh and dried
- NEW THIS YEAR Snap Peas – fresh eating
- NEW THIS YEAR Pumpkins – fall decor, pumpkin seeds, and perhaps pie filling.
A NOTE ABOUT STARTING SEEDS INDOOR: We have tried to start various seeds indoors, but only tomatoes and peppers seem to be worth the time. Most of the other plants we started indoors would die once they were outside (even after hardening off) and replanting seeds right into the ground was just as successful. In fact, there have been years when we planted a transplant tomato right next to a direct seed plant and they both grew to be the same size at the same time. If your soil is warm (which will likely happen this year in PA after the mild winter) your seeds will germinate quickly anyway.
We can’t wait for another year of fresh backyard produce! What do you like to grow?