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
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.
Best 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.
Getting herbs ready for drying
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 drying and storing 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, they will dry out too quickly and 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 drying 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 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. Use a food dehydrator.
A food dehydrator is especially beneficial if you tend to grow a lot of herbs. It’s even great for drying other produce like tomatoes, apples, pears, bananas and so much more. Dehydrators are great because the trays allow for great airflow that results in an even drying without overheating ensuring the perfect long-lasting dried herbs.
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 flavored oils
Another great option for storing herbs is to create flavored oils for cooking! Place your desired herbs in a glass jar that has a good seal, cover them completely with olive oil and keep them stored in a dark place. The herbs will infuse the oil with delicious flavors, creating a perfect addition to your dish.
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 the herbs that you grow. Let me know in the comments!
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20 Reasons to Plant a Garden
Spring is under way which means it’s time to start thinking about getting the gardens planted! There are so many great reasons for planting a garden. Whether it be for fresh produce, exercise, or even just a way to pass the time peacefully.
If you have never planted a garden before, there is no better time to start than now.
To motivate you, consider these 20 reasons to plant a garden, so you can see everything that growing a fresh garden can provide! Believe me when I say it provides so much more than just fresh tomatoes! Here is what you need to know:
1. You can enjoy chemical free food.
When you grow a garden, you can enjoy produce that is grown without chemicals or pesticides. It is a great way to know what is in your food so you can enjoy safe and natural food choices.
2. You know where your food comes from.
Do you really know where your food comes from when you buy it from a market? When you garden, you know exactly where it comes from because you grow it and pick it yourself.
3. Children will enjoy assisting with gardening tasks.
Children love digging in the dirt, and will enjoy helping you with your gardening tasks. They can pull weeds, plant seeds, and even help pick the harvest when you have a backyard garden.
Related: Make this Milk Jug Watering Can that the kids are sure to enjoy!
4. Your meals will be made with the freshest produce around.
Do you love fresh soups and salads? When you grow your own garden, you will have the freshest produce choices around. Enjoy fresh recipes each night thanks to your garden. Who wouldn’t love that?
5. Gardens bring about beautiful wildlife.
You will notice that gardens bring all sorts of wildlife to the yard. This means hummingbirds and butterflies especially. It is fun seeing all the colors, sights, and sounds come to your yard as they investigate your plantings and take sips from your plants.
6. Gardens provide a chance to meet your neighbors.
When you grow a garden, you spend more time outdoors. This might mean being more visible to your neighbors and striking up a conversation or two. You might even find another neighbor who gardens, and get the chance to trade produce or plant starts.
7. You can assist people in need with your produce.
Chances are you will grow more produce than you need. You can always donate your extra produce to local soup kitchens or shelters where they can serve it to people in need. That’s a great reason to plant a garden!
8. Gardening tasks provide exercise.
Digging, weeding, watering, and planting can all provide some amazing exercise. If you need to be more physically active, gardening is a great way to do it.
9. Gardening provides quiet time for reflection.
Many gardeners love planting a garden because it provides them some time for reflection and meditation. If you need a little down time in your life, gardening may provide the perfect opportunity.
10. Gardening provides a chance to learn something new about nature.
When you grow a garden, it gives you the chance to learn new things about the plants you are growing. We are never too old to learn, and gardening gives the opportunity to let that happen!
11. You can enjoy active and fun gardening communities.
Online, you will find many active gardening groups, where gardeners exchange tips and tricks of the trade. You might also find local gardening groups, perfect for making friends and learning more.
12. You will always have fresh flowers for your home.
You don’t have to grow vegetables to have a garden! Enjoy fresh flowers in every room of your house when you grow a flower garden. Picking your own flowers each day will be fun and add so much color to your décor.
13. Gardening provides inexpensive gifts for family and friends.
Gardens provide the materials you need to make homemade jams, salsa, and so many other homemade gifts. This is a great way to provide inexpensive gifts for family and friends.
14. Gardening provides aromatherapy.
The smells of a garden can help you feel more relaxed and at ease. Forget lighting a candle for aromatherapy, just go to the garden.
15. Gardening is inexpensive.
You don’t need to be rich to plant a garden. Most of the items you need can be found around the house or even at your local dollar store. Seeds, soil, and pots can be found for cheap, which means you can grow so much food for less.
16. You can save money on your weekly grocery bill.
When you grow your own food, you will be saving heaps of money on your weekly grocery bill. You can grow items like tomatoes and cucumbers at pennies per pound, which is way less than most markets.
17. A garden can be an extension of your home.
A garden can feel like another room of your home. Place a small bistro table and chair in your garden so you can enjoy dinner or drinks in it.
18. Fresh food can be grown well into the Fall months.
Some plants can thrive well into the cool months. This means eating fresh and saving money even as winter approaches.
19. Gardens add curb appeal.
A garden can make your landscaping look nicer and add some curb appeal to those passing by.
20. Gardening helps the planet.
Flowers in your garden can help bees and butterflies pollinate our planet and keep it looking lush and beautiful!
Are you inspired to get growing? Consider these 20 reasons to plant a garden and start harvesting your own produce and reap the health benefits too!
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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.
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.
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?
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.
Here are 10 things you should grow in your garden this year:
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!
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
When it comes to quick growing veggies that can help feed your family in less time, radishes are a great way to go.
I’d love to know what you like to grow in your vegetable garden every year. Let me know in the comments below!