The garden suffered this summer from the weather and neglect. I didn’t make it out as often as I might have to really maximize production. I should be grateful we didn’t have a scorcher of a summer; I barely watered and things still limped along, more or less.
On the other hand, I did assemble a checklist early in the year to guide me through the various harvests so I would know how much of what I was planning on putting by for winter. I may have only coaxed three whole carrots out of the garden this year, but I’ve got a full pantry and a full freezer.
My checklist is broken down by storage method (dry, freeze, can, store) and includes a goal for how many jars of something to put away. This year I’ve been trying to note down conversions so that I’ll know for next year that, for example, 5 pints of of cherry tomatoes dries down to 4 1/2 pint jars or that 30 lbs of shelling peas shells down to enough quarts to last until next spring.
Sometimes I overshot. Caitlyn and I joined some friends and went strawberry picking. I had thought I’d only pick one flat, but the picking was good, the berries were awesome, the kids were happy, and we had driven something like 80 miles. So I picked a second. Even after selling off some of the berries I froze and making strawberry syrup, I’ve enough left for both baking and smoothies and a batch of jam (should I feel so inspired). (Love the way the sun shines through these jars!)
Our home blueberries put on a good show, despite starting late. We had berries with breakfast several times, and I think there are at least two quart jars in the freezer that are full of homegrown blueberries. Caitlyn liked packing frozen blueberries in her lunches last year; I think between the homegrown berries and the u-pick berries we have enough for both lunches and the occasional muffin.
I also put by some frozen rhubarb and a couple cobblers’ worth of homegrown cherries.
Despite my fears of rust, the onions did well. I’ll still need a box before the farmers’ market shuts down, but it’ll last longer than last year’s since it’ll be augmented with the homegrown onions. Must try to remember to get the onions on a different day than the 20 pounds of apples.
And the potatoes did really well. They are mostly small, but I’ve a good size box that’s full up, and there are some plants still hard at work out in the p-patch. I haven’t weighed the box, but I’d guess that the potato harvest this year is close to 50 pounds. For next year, I’m entertaining the idea of spreading the potatoes over more space (two back yard beds or more dedicated space in the p-patch); it’s a super-easy crop, and I think I might be able to increase the size of the individual ‘taters if I didn’t pack the plants quite so cozily.
The green beans have produced, despite my neglecting them. I won’t have extra to take to the food bank, but there are jars enough for us in the freezer. And the basil did better than previous years; we’ve had fresh basil to add to meals and I’ve got a dozen or so “basil cubes” in the freezer.
I canned a box of peaches and 4 boxes of tomatoes. I’ve blanched and frozen several jars worth of spinach (this time freezing the spinach directly in the jars, resulting in more tightly packed jars, which hopefully will keep us in spinach longer than last year), green beans, broccoli, zucchini, corn, peas, and roasted red peppers. I’ve dried a dozen pints of cherry tomatoes and an uncertain quantity of sweet peppers (4 bell peppers = 1 1/2 pint jar), both from the farmers’ market. In another week or two, I’ll move on to Asian pears before scrubbing the dryer out and putting it away for the year.
All that’s left, I think, are the whole things that will go directly to the pantry and fridge. I’ll need to get lots of carrots from the market (to make up for the small backyard harvest and my complete failure to succession plant new batches of carrot seed). I’m thinking I’ll get 3 or 4 butternut squash since this was not a good year for me in the squash department. I didn’t even get any homegrown zucchini, which, if you know anything about the general abundant nature of zucchini, seems rather surprising. I think the garden may provide a couple of petite pumpkins before the weather starts to freeze, but I might pick up just one at the farmers’ market. And, of course, the onions and apples.
Hmm. All spelled out like this, perhaps we did better, both the garden and I, than I thought we had.