Garden is in. Now What?
There is something refreshing about knowing that I grow most of the veggies we eat. I get SO excited when I see the seeds start to peak up under the soil! I love watching them grow. It isn’t all finished yet, I actually ran OUT of newspapers! This year I am trying to use newspaper as a biodegradable weed block; we shall see how it goes.
So what does one do with all these yummy veggies. Well I put them up as they come in. Tomatoes get turned into Tomato Sauce. I found trying to make spaghetti sauce and tomato sauce and all that jazz, is just too time consuming for me. I roast vegetables, Yes VEGGIES, I hide veggies in my tomato sauce. Not a lot, but some. Onions, green peppers, shhhh.. zucchini!, garlic, carrots. Tip: If you use carrots, it should eliminate the need to add sugar to your sauce as carrots are sweet to start with. I throw all that through my Victorian strainer which I don’t know how any house lives without. VOILA! You have tomato sauce. If you don’t like it that thin, cook it on the stove top on a low heat and let it reduce! Eventually, you will find your happy medium.
- Strawberries: They get turned into jam and jelly. As I am thinking about starting up a business making jelly and jams I don’t want to give away my secret to making these, but trust me, you won’t get a bad jam if you follow the directions on SURE-JEL label.
- Green Peppers: OMG! What not to do with these. You can chop them up and freeze them for use later in the year. You can roast them and put them in the spaghetti sauce. You freeze them with the making of stuffed peppers. You can roast them and freeze them. You can just eat them. I also use them in my bread and butter pickle recipe.
- Broccoli: I would blanch any fresh broccoli you get. Unless you use a lot of bug spray, you are probably going to find cabbage loopers in your broccoli. Let’s face it folks, veggies grow outside and as if you don’t use a lot of pesticides, you are going to have bugs. Blanching the broccoli doesn’t hurt it, but kills the cabbage loopers and they float to the top. Problem solved. Then you can steam the broccoli or freeze it or use it in a salad. Have you figured out that I FREEZE alot of my veggies.
- Cabbage: I blanch my cabbage just like broccoli. then I either leave the leaves whole for cabbage rolls, or I shredded it for fried cabbage later in the year. Which then gets turned into Colcannon. If you haven’t had fried cabbage, you are missing out. It isn’t like anything you have ever had! I have never been a cooked cabbage fan until I had it fried! so once I shred it, it goes in the freezer. You can also use it fresh for slaw in the summer time. just once it freezes, you won’t want to use it for a cold salad.
- Zucchini: Roast it! Yum. In spaghetti sauce. Yum! But for the most part, I grate it and freeze it. Then when I want to make zucchini muffins or bread, I have it already measured out and I just dump the thawed bag into my muffin mixture. There is a recipe on my blog for the muffins I make! Working on another tweak to remove ALL the oil all together from it!
- Cucumbers: Fresh! with onions and a bit of vinegar! Could eat that for ever! I know I am a bit of an odd nut. I also grate it and freeze some for Tzatiki Sauce which is a greek cucmber / yogurt sauce that is great on lamb, beef, pork, chicken. Hmmm.. to bath in… just kidding. I love the stuff. So when greek yogurt goes on sale, my frozen grated cucumber come out and voila, tzatiki sauce is born. I also pickle. I haven’t found a great dill cucumber recipe. But the bread and butter recipe I have is awesome. I don’t remember if I put that one on the blog yet. If not, it will be there shortly! I have TONS of cucumbers that come in daily. Like 20+ a day. However, I need around 40 to do a batch of pickles. And the saying goes: 24 hours from vine to brine. Which doesn’t leave me a lot of time!
- Corn: Eat it, freeze it! I freeze on the ear as well as off the ear! Not much to do, either cut it off the ear after it has been blanched or leave it on the ear, leave some of the husk on and try to remove as much of the tassles as you can. Then throw them in a freezer bag and Voila!
- Carrots: Eat / Freeze. Again if you are going to freeze, blanch first.
- Lettuce: Unfortunately all you can do is eat it!
- Cauliflower: Eat / Freeze. Again if you are going to freeze it, Blanch first.
- Pumpkin: Roast and then turn into pulp. Pre-measure for muffin recipe! Or cake recipes, or cookie recipes. Pumpkin is used A LOT in my house. Adding it to pancakes is OMGoodness too!
- Green Beans: Normally I snap them, blanch them, freeze them. However this year, I am going to leave them whole. My kids like them whole. I guess they are funner to eat than snap beans. Just omit the snap part and add cutting off the tips. Yes, I cut both ends as I don’t care for those bits.
It is amazing that you have all of these in your garden, I would love to see a picture of it. How much Time does it take to take care of it every week?
I will post pictures tomorrow of the garden. I am still working on it. But it is like a hobby for me. Some days I am in there all day long. Other times when kids take priority, meh… I will look at it and say.. Not today.
You have to understand that right now there isn’t much to do but wait. I go out and make sure there is nothing chopping on my plants. Cabbage loopers have made an appearance on my broccoli leaves. UGH. My arch-nemesis. Those are the white butterflies you see fluttering around your garden. They start out as leaf munching caterpillars.
When veggies are ready to harvest, I will be out there every day. Because that is when the weeds are the worst. If I am not in the garden, I am in the kitchen putting something up. Somethings are more time critical. So you just plan your week around what you have to put up. Tomatoes are very laid back. They don’t care if they get taken care of that same day. Pickles: Vine to brine in 24 hours. Meaning, as soon as you pick them, you need to make sure they hit the brine bath! Don’t worry, if you want directions and pictures of how I do all this, hopefully this summer I will be posting pics!
The pics of the garden will be up tomorrow as well as me putting up spinach (that I bought). It came in a HUGE tub and we won’t eat that much before it goes bad! So to the freezer it must go!
I am inspired! We tripled our garden size this year and you make me want to quadruple it. Great tips – thanks for sharing.
You are very welcome! I am hoping to put in a 3rd bed this fall so it is all already for spring. I am thinking about turning that bed into the strawberry patch!