As an urban gardener (or suburban, with a small yard) I get small harvests across the season. Aside from herbs, which I grow a lot of and harvest a lot of, I’m not ever going to get massive crates worth produce each time I go to my garden…..like my parent’s do from their huge garden that gets 8-10hrs of sun each day.
Not only do urban gardens often have sun limits (I get the bare minimum of 6hrs on my sunniest spots), but they always have space limits.
My harvests day to day look more like this.
I don’t record the herbs and greens I harvest since I got out before each meal and grab a few leaves. There are many sources of fresh produce right now though. I have a great hook up with my family since they give me overflow from their garden but I also go to the farmer’s market because there’s a really large variety of things there.
Harvesting and eating seasonally is one thing but preserving is a great way to have these flavors year round or make things from them that you can’t have any season without doing it now! Pickles, for example….homemade pickles are the BEST.
My mom came over and taught me her ways (she has the MOST amazing pickles) and after that batch I couldn’t stop giving them away/eating them so I made another ten pints to hold us for a bit. You can’t buy pickles like these, and most people can’t even make them so I have to do what I have to do to get them! This means pickling, during the cucumber season.
Know your seasons so you can capitalize on deals. August is high season for tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers and you can get large crates at the farmers market for a discounted rate that are perfect for preserving. At our market I can get a twenty pound case of tomatoes for fifteen bucks. Peaches are ending and also on sale right now. Don’t be afraid to get blemished fruits for preserving. The discounts are worth it.
Also, when you plant your urban garden, don’t be afraid to plant a higher producing plant to enjoy a large harvest. I did this with spaghetti squash. It took up a whole garden bed but I got many many pounds of squash.
This is about 2/3 of my crop with weights ranging from nearly five pounds down to two pounds. It’s fun to get that much of something from a little garden. Also a good idea to plant varieties that have bigger fruits and some with very little fruits. My boys love picking the cherry tomato varieties (which is why I never picture very many at once!) and it’s nice to get huge tomatoes from the large variety plants.
I’ve had my share of garden issues this year from bugs to rodents to soil and it’s affected my variety of harvests as well as my volume but I’m still feeling incredibly blessed as I go to my garden each morning and still always find produce.
Aside from tomato products and pickles, I decided to do a lot less canning this year than last year because we don’t normally eat canned foods. I buy tomato paste and diced tomatoes but otherwise, no other canned goods. From those I make our salsa, sauces, marinara and such. So I’m going to try and can salsas, sauces and marinara so that I’ll have an easier to access and no BPA option for our diets over the winter. Apart from canning, I am also dehydrating tomatoes since they’re amazing in marinara sauces and soups. Aside from dehydrating tomatoes I am also focusing a lot on drying herbs for medicinal, culinary and tea uses throughout the winter. Quite frankly, it’s taking over my dish cupboard.
Of course I’m also freezing things but I currently have limited space for that.
Do you preserve foods in season? How do you choose what preserving project you’ll take on?