Garden season is coming to a close (cue the sad violins)…
One of the things I love most about summer, is the fewer groceries I buy from the store. I supplied all my own herbs, vegetables, and blueberries all summer.
When fall comes strolling in, I know my days are numbered. However, there are a few ways you can hang on a little longer to those homegrown goodies.
Last year, we felt as though we had to eat everything before it went bad, or put them into a recipe that could be frozen and thawed out later. I didn't simplify it enough. Green beans can be frozen as is. And peppers. And just about any other veggie that you might find in the freezer section at the grocery store. I also froze many containers of our blueberries.
So, this year instead of eating zucchini 3 meals a day, I'm allowing myself to space it out a bit, and save some of the harvest for special meals during the winter months. I'm excited to break out homegrown produce for holiday dinners, to go with a homestead raised meat.
I am also drying (air or dehydrator) more herbs - the batches I did last year got us to about May, but I used them sparingly, as I treasured them so. I am hoping to save enough herbs this year to not have to replenish any from the store until we grow them again the following summer. Drying is also great for hot peppers, and fruits such as apples.
Canning wise, we did more last year... This summer we weren't home as often as we needed to be to keep up with that schedule. In addition, our tomato plants suffered a bit... I had big goals for making ketchup, and more pasta sauce... but alas.... Other areas of the garden bloomed instead. Take what you can get. Canning is definitely the way to go though, if you are looking to preserve your harvest for the longest. Instead of canning pickles this year, the plan is to throw together some quick fridge/freezer pickles in their place.
Last fall, when all the canning was done, we put up some shelves in our cool, dry basement. This is where we stored our homestead-made goods, with the bigger plan to make it a root cellar area for proper food storage (think pumpkins, onions, gourds, carrots, and garlic). Pumpkins and gourds in particular can last in a cool dark place, if washed and rinsed in a bit of water and white vinegar. Having a space for these items, would allow us to continue feeding fresh, chemical-free produce, all year long. As we continue to clean out our excess junk to simplify life some, the root cellar will slowly come to life.
Reflecting on all of these options, and what is pertinent for each produce variety, you sometimes have to pick and choose what you'll actually consume, versus making just to make. The year prior, we made boat loads of pickles - truthfully, while fun, we don't actually consume THAT many pickles per year. There are better uses for cucumbers for us. We grew mint the first year, but only had a couple of uses for it - this time we dried a lot of it to use in the chicken coop as a bedding freshener, as well as for mint tea.
Homesteading has encouraged us to find dual uses for many things, and provided us with simplicity once we gained the awareness of how many uses one item can have. We need less, because we can make more, by thinking outside of the box.