Sunday, April 11, 2010

Winter Lessons - Bang for your buck veggies

At the end of each season of vegetable gardening I like to put what I learned. My lessons this year tie in to my goal of being able to eat from my garden all year round.

For my birthday a month or so ago my husband bought me a freezer. This may sound strange to some, but I was so excited. I immediately envisioned freezing peppers, tomatoes, green beans and okra. I didn't think of spinach, carrots and onions. I didn't consider the winter garden as a source that I would draw from all year until now. I had to clean out the carrot bed to plant the peppers, and the onions to plant the green beans. Well, it was more than we could eat so I looked into how to freeze them. Onions are extremely easy, just chop and freeze. (I use my new Foodsaver, which I highly recommend). Carrots were a bit more work since you have to add blanching to the process. It still only took my an hour or so to do 4 batches. I plan on doing the spinach this week, so I don't know the details yet.

This leads back to what I learned ... I use carrots, onions, and spinach all year round and as plants go, they really don't take up too much room. Cauliflower and broccoli, on the other hand, take up huge amounts of space and aren't really a family favorite. Next winter I'll be changing my mentality to year round eating rather than trying to plant some of everything. I plan on having 2-3 beds of carrots 1-2 beds of spinach and other greens. Kohlrabi and radishes are also small, and would be great to freeze and add to all sorts of summer dishes. We love cabbage and brussel sprouts, so they'll make the cut, but in limited quantities.

I did a poor job of preserving my winter herbs as well. The cilantro has already bolted and been pulled. The parsley is just about finished. Next winter I really should pick and dry enough to use throughout the summer months.

Types of veggies I liked and didn't

- Purple Haze - Yum! My ultimate favorite and so pretty
- Carnival - Don't like the white ones, not great flavor, won't do again

- Golden - They don't stain and taste just like the red, need I say more? I will only be planting golden beets.

- Multicolored - Purple and Green are really pretty for Crudite, but not so great for mashing. They do taste just as good as the white.

- I've only had luck w/ leaf lettuce.


Caroline said...

Great post! I would love to have an extra freezer for this purpose. I hate to waste food, especially food I've grown myself, and I don't think the Food Bank wants my week-old beet greens now!

LindaCTG said...

This is FABULOUS info! More people need to analyze their space and use this way. And your birthday present sounds supreme. Way to go!

LindaCTG said...

And forgot to say: leaf lettuces are definitely the most reliable for us. I have about 6 different kinds going. Am fending off bolting here & there but looks like I'll get another month or so. Next year I'll plant more again in Jan.

Sandra said...

Thank you for posting your lessons learned from gardening. I try to do this as well. May I ask, what seed vendor did you purchase your carrots and spinach from. I have not had luck with either since I started gardening in 2009. Thank you in advance for your reply.

Happy Gardening