Three Easy Ways to Preserve the Food From Your Garden

When you put all that hard work into your garden it can be really depressing to watch the fruits of your labor rot away. With some planning and a bit of work, you can preserve your garden harvest and have fresh from your garden fruits and veggies all year long. These three easy ways to preserve the food in your garden will do the trick.

Three Easy Ways to Preserve the Food From Your Garden

Three Easy Ways to Preserve the Food From Your Garden

Freezing to preserve your garden

Freezing the produce from your garden is the easiest way to preserve your harvest. Wash your fresh produce and lay it out in a single layer on a cookie sheet in your freezer. This will allow each piece to freeze individually making it easier to get the produce from the freezer bags that you will place them in after the initial cookie sheet freeze. A great way to save time later is to prep your fruits for your favorite smoothies and freeze in single serving packs. Chop your veggies for soups and stews, freezing them together and label well so you can grab and go for a meal on a busy weekday. A food saver is a great way to prevent freezer burn and make your frozen produce last longer.

Drying to preserve your garden

Drying produce takes up less space than the other popular preserving options. when drying your fruits and veggies you are taking out the water and much of the bulk of the food. A good dehydrator is a great way to make your food last longer, make treats for your family, and prep for long term storage. Fruits make a great snack dehydrated while veggies reconstruct better for soups and stews than eating as a side dish. It is vital you are sure all water is out before storing. To check this, place in a plastic baggy and let it cool. If there is condensation in the bag, your food is not ready to store.

Canning to preserve your garden

Canning is one of the most traditional ways to preserve food from your garden. While it takes up more space than drying, canned foods have a longer shelf life than frozen foods. Many of us have fond childhood memories of watching our grandmothers can produce from the garden but never really thought about doing it ourselves. The good news is, canning is easy to start, inexpensive and costs less with each round you do when you reuse the glass jars over and over. Quality jars are a great investment.

Which method should I use to preserve my garden?

When choosing which preservation method you must consider:

  • Space you have for storage.
  • What the end use of the food will be.
  • How long you need to store the food.
  • Supplies you have on hand.

Protecting your food storage from pests and environmental issues is vital to make preserving your garden worth your time and money. Make sure all stored food is air tight and sealed in rodent-proof containers. For most families, combining these methods of food storage gets the best results across the board and leads to more stability. Canning fruits and veggies so they are ready to go, freezing produce prepped for meals, and drying fruits and meats for snacking is a great way to balance it out.

10 Tips for Drying and Storing Herbs

10 Tips for Drying and Storing Herbs

Garden season is off to a strong start! If you planted any herbs this year, you may already be seeing an abundance of the tasty things since they can grow with a vengeance.  Wondering what you can do with all the herbs you have without letting them go to waste? This post should definitely help you decide what to do with them!

Using herbs in your home is a wonderful way to incorporate not only the beauty they provide but the health benefits. You can use them for so many things. From making potpourri and sachets to making herbal remedies and of course cooking.

If you are new to using them and need a little help, here are 10 tips to help you dry and store herbs that will make it easier on you and help prevent you from ending up with non-usable product.

But first, here’s the two step process to get your herbs ready for drying:

Step 1: Gather your herbs. The best time to do this, is in the morning before the sun is shining on them. It’s also best to pick the herbs before the plants start to flower.

Step 2: Wash your herbs and pat them dry with a towel. Or, if your herbs look pretty clean, you can just shake them gently to get rid of any dust or dirt. At this point, you can also pick off any leaves that are yellowed, spotted, or discolored.

Now on to the tips:

1. Find a nice, dark place to dry them.

They will need good ventilation and air, but if they are exposed to too much light, it will dry them out too quickly and they can become too brittle and fall apart too fast on you. You can use a fan on a low setting or put them near the air conditioning vent for the ventilation, but just not in a window. Another suggestion for location is to place them in an attic type space if you have it. The top of the refrigerator works too, if you are limited on space and just drying a few. Or on the top of a water heater. Those closets make a good ventilated place most of the time.

2. If possible, use drying screens to lay them on.

The screens will catch the smaller, loose pieces if they lose any and they get good air flow from both sides this way, which is ideal. Using the screens for thicker herbs, like rosemary that are more woody in nature, is perfect.

3. Hang them upside down, in bunches

Hanging them upside down, in bunches is another alternative to the flat screens. Use a rubber band around the stems and keep the bunches fairly small. The thicker they are, the longer they will take to totally dry. The ones in the center can still be damp, even when the ones on the outside look fully dried. Thicker herbs, like lavender for example, can take a couple of weeks to totally dry.

4. Using an oven to dry them will speed the process.

Put them on a baking sheet type of tray and set the temperature as low as your oven will go. You will need to move them and turn them every so often to keep them drying evenly, so the best way is to set the timer for about 30-40 minutes and then flip them when it goes off. Repeat until you feel they are dry enough, which may take up to 6 hours, but could be done in 3.

5. Plant them early.

If you are growing your own herbs and are able, plant them so they can be harvested in the summer time. So, early spring. The flavor will be better than in winter, according to avid gardeners.

6. When storing them, avoid letting them get dusty.

One way to do this is to use a paper bag hanging over them, when they are in bunches, with the stems poking out of one end. Or if they are loose, use a thinner weight cardboard box, and punch holes in it. Cut flaps in the sides to help air flow and ventilation but folded in enough to cover and keep off the dust particles.

7. Use airtight containers.

For storing your herbs, you can use airtight containers, like glass jars with seals, similar to a mason jar or ones that have the locking lid and rubber seals. Make sure the containers are very clean and sterile. Any other chemical residue can contaminate the herbs and affect their scent and health benefits.

8. Freeze them.

You can also freeze herbs as an option for storage instead of glass jars. Use Ziploc bags that have a tight seal, and be sure to push out all the air before sealing them tight.

9. Storing for culinary use.

For herbs that are for cooking and culinary uses, crush the herbs well before storing. For herbs that will be used for teas, use the whole leaf and any blooms and do not crush them.

10. Create flavoured oils

You can keep herbs well when storing them in an oil base. If you place them in a glass jar that has a good seal, cover them totally in olive oil and keep them stored in a dark place. They will infuse the oil, flavoring it and giving it their benefits too.

I’m pretty certain that these tips will help you use up your abundance of herbs that you will see this year. I’d love to know how you use your herbs that you grow. Let me know in the comments!

 

How to Earn Money from your Garden

Odds are, when you started your garden you were not thinking about how you could earn money from it. Over time you may have seen a bit of potential and started to think about how you could make money from your garden. Even a small thriving garden can earn a bit of extra money. If you are skilled or have plenty of space you can earn even more.

Today, I’d love to outline some ways that you can Earn Money from your Garden.

Earn Money from your Garden

Sell extra produce

Often, the first issue that makes you think about how you could earn money from your garden is an overabundance of produce. You may be wondering just how you could ever use up that many tomatoes. Selling that extra produce is a great way to earn some cash and help save someone else some money. First, offering the produce for sale to friends and family will definitely help you reduce your overabundance. If you still have produce leftover, post a sign in front of your yard advertising produce for sale. You may have many neighbors stopping by!

Selling canned goods

Check your Province or city’s food laws to see if you can earn money from your garden by canning extra produce and selling the jars. Selling homemade jams, jellies, and other canned goods just might be the answer for you. Due to law, your sales are often limited to a few thousand a year, but that’s perfect for using up the extra food from your garden. Homemade canned jams and jellies make great gifts around the holidays and can end up selling very well.

Sell plants

Are you a whiz at getting seeds to sprout into strong thriving seedlings? Do you have plants in your garden or pots that need to be thinned out? Selling plants to other gardeners in your neighborhood is a great way to earn extra money from your garden. If you do not have plants to sell how about seeds? Cuttings from that prize plant your neighbors all love?

Teaching others gardening skills

Have you been gardening for years and have a beautiful thriving garden that neighbors admire? Why not offer to teach gardening classes in your home garden or even at the local library for a small fee? Depending on local interest, you can earn a good bit of money running classes on the topics of caring for plants, propagating cuttings, and keeping plants alive for the not so green thumbs. Often a bit of education is all that stands in the way of a thriving garden. Many parents are looking for summer activities for their children and learning to garden could be a great use of time and energy.

The important part of making money with your garden is to not allow the focus on earning to take the joy out of your garden. If you lose the joy that made your garden thrive in the first place, your garden will suffer. So start out small, have fun, and make the most of the opportunities that come your way.

Have you tried making some extra money from your garden? How did you do it?

10 Things You Should Grow in Your Garden This Year

As spring rolls in, the garden can go in with it! This year, start your garden off right by planning for success. Some plants are a must for a productive garden that you will love as you feed your family from your own hard work.

10 Things You Should Grow in Your Garden This Year

Here are 10 things you should grow in your garden this year:

Lemon Grass.

Lemon Grass should be at the top of your list for your garden this year. This ornamental plant can be grown nearly anywhere in a pot. It keeps bugs away, bringing you peace from those pesky things. It can also be used to season and add flavor to foods. This Fresh Lemongrass Tea looks so refreshing!

Tomatoes.

This versatile plant can be used for so many dishes and even as a snack. (Sprinkled with salt and pepper…yum!) Tomatoes are packed with vitamins and are easy to grow. I especially like growing cherry tomatoes in containers.

Bell peppers.

With more vitamin C than an orange and plenty of flavor, bell peppers are a great addition to your garden and freeze well for later.

Bush beans.

Bush beans can be grown under plants that grow tall. Beans put nitrogen into the soil making them perfect companion plants to Carrots, Beets, Broccoli, Brussel sprouts, Cauliflower, Celery, Corn, Cucumbers, Eggplant, Kale, Peas, Potatoes, Radishes, Strawberries and Swiss Chard.

Pumpkin.

Pumpkins make a great ground covering plant that can shade the roots and stems or taller plants helping them thrive in the summer heat while providing you with great food in the fall harvest.

Basil.

This herb repels bugs and other pests helping to protect your garden while providing you with a tasty food for your table. Basil also makes a great edible edging plant for flower beds, helping maximize space. This Cold Pesto Pasta Salad is a great way to put basil to use.

Strawberries.

You will find in most areas the selection of fruit you can grow is limited. Strawberries are a great fruit that will grow nearly anywhere making it the perfect addition to your garden. They keep coming back better year after year and make a great potted plant.

Spinach.

If you’re looking for a green filler plant for your garden, spinach is just the plant for you. Spinach is high in vitamins and minerals, grows well in shaded areas with just a few hours of sun per day, and has nearly limitless ways to use in the kitchen.

Oregano.

Oregano is a classically Italian herb packed with medicinal qualities as well as a potent flavoring for your favorite dishes from pasta to pizza. This plant also makes a good filler plant that provides great food for your family.

Radishes.

When it comes to quick growing veggies that can help feed your family in less time, radishes are a great way to go.

Looking for more recipes to help you use all the yummy produce you’ll grow? Grab the Ultimate Homemaking bundle for tons of excellent recipe ebooks!