Monday, May 9, 2011

Mary Mary Quite Contrary.....How Does your Garden Grow..

Last year I really wanted to plant a garden for the first time in my life! My awesome dad helped me build it and the result was exactly what I had envisioned. Around this time last year I posted about my garden. I was shocked and amazed at how wonderful the garden did throughout the summer and how gigantic (literally) my vegetables were! 
This year my plan was to take it to the next level! I even have a journal that I have been planning everything in since January. I know..I know.. a little too obsessive! But lets be for real... who else still has fresh frozen zucchini in their freezer that makes the most delicious zucchini blueberry bread... I thought not... hehe
First of all the success of my garden stems from:
1. Buying the ready to plant vegetables instead of starting from seeds. I just don't trust myself to start from baby seedlings yet. 
2. Turning over the dirt in the area you want to plant and adding fresh garden soil and/or fertilizer
3. Keeping them out of the frost. Last year I had to cover my baby plants a few times with a bed sheet to keep them out of the frost. (Note for this year: plant my baby plants the weekend of Memorial Day)

Next it was time to plan! Keeping in mind that I love canning, and that my wonderful husband bought me a pressure cooker for mothers day (Love Him!). The purpose of the pressure cooker is so that I will be able to can veggies, stocks and soups. The plan is this year to focus on tomatoes so that I will be able to can whole tomatoes and make a sauce. (Hint: tomatoes are just about the only vegetable you can use the boiling water method with, all other vegetables should be canned with a pressure cooker) 

Plans to Plant:
*3-4 Roma tomato plants (to yield enough to make sauce and can whole tomatoes. Plant them 18-36 inches apart)
* 1 Beefsteak tomato plant ( I love fresh tomatoes in the summer)
* 1 Cherry tomato plant
* Lots of Green and Yellow beans ( These are the only plants that I do start out with seeds and the beans are really easy to freeze which comes in handy when I had beans coming out of my ears last year!) 
* 2 Eggplant plants
* 1 Zucchini plant (my mistake last year was planting 2 of the zucchini and 1 yellow squash because I had no idea how gigantic the plants would get.. so beware!! Last year they took over my eggplant because they got so massive
* 1 green pepper plant (this one will be new this year. I'm hoping it does well!)

A Guide to Canning
As I said before I love love love to can. So in order to keep track of when everything comes into season I made a list in my journal so that I wouldn't forget anything. Just knowing when things come into season is great because if I don't grow it in my garden I can either take the girls to a local farm and have a great time picking the vegetables ourselves or go to the nearest public market and pick up what I need fresh from there. Below is a list of what I enjoy to can and when I can them.

Here goes: (I'm going to be busy this summer!)
June: Strawberries- strawberry Jam
July: Blueberries- blueberry Jam, and I also flash freeze them and store  
        them in the freezer for later in the year.
August: Pears- I will can them whole and or make J's Pear Honey
            Peaches- can them whole and make peach jam and raspberry
            peach jam
September: Raspberries- Raspberry Jam
                  Tomatoes- can them whole, make sauce and salsa
October: Apples- applesauce (my apple of choice is the 
               golden delicious)
               Cranberries- cranberry sauce
*Thoughout the summer and fall I also want to make soups and can them so that I will have fresh soups throughout the winter*

Some of my vegetables from last year:

Garden Before: (this picture is from last year)

Garden After: can't wait to start planting!

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