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Feb 07

Garden Planning – 7 Tips for Stocking the Larder Shelves

Himself and I are about as different as any two married people can be.

Gardening Jones looks at planning a garden with storing the harvest in mind.

A sure sign of Spring - the onion drawer is almost empty.

He's coffee, I'm tea. He's salty, I'm sweet. If it is a choice between going left and going right, we won't go the same way.

For years after we got married we would buy two different brands of toothpaste.

You get the idea. And so it is with the gardens. He thinks the priority should be fresh eating, I lean more towards stocking the shelves for the winter.

So our harvest ends up being a compromise of both; something we have gotten very good at these last 40 years.

Here are some of ours (my) thoughts on planning a garden for stocking up:

  1. Check out this book review on Preserving Food Without Canning or Freezing. There are so many ways to safely hold your harvest that you may not know of.
  2. Consider growing plants for Lacti Fermenting. These are the real probiotics you hear about. Pickles, kimchi, and sauerkraut are the best known examples, but you can preserve many veggies this way. We're adding napa cabbage , for his stir frys and my kimchi.
  3. Plan your garden according to what you expect to use. This planning chart from Johnny's Seeds is a wonderful way to figure it out. Of course, hands on experience is the best way to learn. We know for example that one baby watermelon plant is enough for us, but it takes a full tower of dry beans to meet our needs.
  4. Although there is nothing like a veggie freshly picked to eat, there are ways to hold your produce that comes quite close. Did you know you can store carrots fresh in sand? Read about that here. Besides carrots, we also store onions, potatoes, winter squashes, cabbages and other coles, without preserving. If you have the room to grow corn, perhaps with your squash and beans, consider trying Stowell's Evergreen. It can be hung upside down and picked as needed for months after harvesting.
  5. Short on holding space for your veggies? With no basement and no garage, we got creative. This spare corner can hold a lot.
  6. Wherever possible, grow up. Many vegetables can be grown vertically, or at least have a variety in their arsenal that can. Consider growing Tromboncino zucchini instead of the more typical bush varieties. Bonus: It's squash vine borer resistant.
  7. Read the seed descriptions carefully, both online and in catalogs. Look for terms such as 'prolific' and 'abundant', also 'stores well' and 'good keeper'. If you intend to do succession planting, look for 'early', 'late' or 'fall' and 'short season'. All of these terms indicate that you can get more bang for your gardening buck.

So this summer he'll have his fresh snow peas and salad greens, and next winter I'll have squash.

And of course, we both get tomatoes.

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