A Gardener's Preserves
Backyard gardens can be a great way to yield fruit and vegetables that you have grown yourself. You get a feeling of joy and accomplishment from growing your own foods. Another added bonus, you can plant what your family eats in abundance, to save you some money and trips to the store. I found growing my own, is a fun way to try new heirloom varieties to spice up my eating routine.
For some of us, gardening can be an overwhelming thought. Feeling lost with having no idea where to start tends to lead many to not starting at all. Well, let me let you in on a secret... it's a failure-free zone. Sometimes you succeed at growing one item one year and the next years you don't. Maybe Mother Nature decides to throw in an early frost, well there goes your peppers! Maybe you find a tucked away spot to grow your zucchini but then nothing grows because it was too shaded. All you can do is learn from year to year. Yet it is not all frustrations, maybe you planted 8 tomato plants assuming 4 will likely die. Turns out they all love the spot and now you are overrun with tomatoes! That is a good problem to have. You make tones of friends with fresh produce!
Gardens are great because they are always changing, you are always adapting and since the majority of vegetable plants are annuals, every year you get to start with a blank slate.
When you have success with the plot of produce you will notice that you go from having nothing ripe to basket loads. Yet how do you utilize all of that beautiful harvest without letting things go to waste?
This is where pickling, dehydrating, drying, freezing and canning comes into play.
Personally, this year has been my busiest year for preserving my crops. I feel like a squirrel. I am experimenting with new recipes and methods with the hope of enjoying my produce into the winter months. Some might be great, then I will make sure to save these recipes for next year and some might be mediocre. If you have fun doing it and get to reap the rewards of your hard efforts year round, there is no downside!
Now lets talk about ways to save some of your produce.
I didn't stop there though. I also dehydrated some raspberries and blueberries to add them to baking, trail mix or oatmeal when the fruits are out of season. Other fruits that dehydrate really well are apples, peaches, pears and strawberries.
|Fire Roasted Salsa|
If you decide ahead of time what is going to be made that day and divide up the ingredients for people to bring an item to two, or if each person brings the ingredients for their recipe the host can provide the cans and lids. The second option allows everyone to experiment with a recipe never tried before.
Gardening is all about having fun and experimenting. No on knows exactly what will thrive and what won't, but it is a great feeling to go out and harvest some of your own produce. When you create something that starts so small into a luscious green space with edible items, it encourages you to eat more of what you grow and have an appreciation for what goes into farming fresh foods.
Besides watching things grow, sometimes it feels like over night, I also found it was a great space to sit and clear my mind after a challenging day. Just watching the bees jump from flower to flower and admire all the labour of love you put into the space really helps clear your mind. There has been many studies looking at the correlation between gardening and a person's mental health. The articles are easy to find but if you want one example of a community garden in Toronto and how it helped in various ways the residents you can read up on it here .
So, next time you are at the farmers market pick up an extra bag of produce and give preserving a try.
If you are intrigued by some of the ideas here, I encourage you to start with some raised boxes or a few planters and see what you can grow.
|August 20 2018|
|June 3 2018|