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Year in Review: Harvest & Preservation

Happy New Year everyone.

Sorry about the two month break in making a new post. I think I just needed a break after a busy season.

I had a record harvest this year, just over 860 pounds of veggies, which is almost 400 lbs more than my largest previous harvest, in 2008. My garden has about doubled in size since then so perhaps the almost double harvest shouldn’t be a big surprise. But my garden is still only about 1,300 sq. ft, including paths, so I think that’s a pretty efficient use of space. Also, none of my growing areas would be considered full sun, getting 6-8 hrs depending on the specific area. So if you have more sun you can get a better harvest.

Garden Locations

My Garden Locations- Brown are Gardens, Green are Trees

So if you think your yard is too small for a decent garden, think again. And if you think your yard is too shady, take a closer look. You may not be able to put all of your garden in one spot, but you may well be able to find some areas that are good enough.

Your veggie garden can also save you a lot of money. Pay no attention to the guy who wrote The $64 Tomato, I averaged 41 cents/lb for my harvest (there were¬† costs for water and electricity that I can’t figure out specifically, but total is still definitely less 50 cents/lb), and would have spent $1,587 for conventional veggies and $2,708 for organic vegetables (which is what my veggies are, if not officially) versus the $453 I actually spent.

I was a preserving dervish this year. I “put up” 120 jars of different sizes with products including Bread & Butter Pickles (some which substituted Stevia for sugar), Kosher pickles, BBQ Sauce, Cocktail Sauce, Ketchup, Pickled Beets, Salsa (including Green Tomato and Mango). I also preserved by freezing BBQ Sauce, Beet Greens, Black Raspberries, Hot Peppers, Kale, Pesto, Pickles, Roasted Tomato Sauce, Pumpkin, Whole (plum-type) Tomatoes and Tomato Paste. I also made my first dried (oven) tomatoes.


Canning and Squashes from 2010

Most of these turned out great (I’ve spoiled my wife for any Tomato Sauce but my own) but I’m still searching for the holy grail of my preserving life, a great Kosher Dill Pickle recipe. When I get really good version of these, I can eat a quart in a couple of hours. I encourage any of you to send me recipes to help me on my quest.

The oven-dried tomatoes were a lot of fun. I discovered my convection oven, which I’ve had for 14 years, had a dehydrate setting. I ground up some of the dried tomatoes and incorporated them into a pizza crust. They made the crust very pretty. You have to use only the driest tomatoes in this application, otherwise your food processor will have a lot of trouble because dried tomatoes are very sticky unless they completely dry.

I found it’s easiest to use the whole frozen tomatoes when they are still frozen. They have a consistency sort of like a soft ice cube. I cut them into quarters and then chop them to a useable size. I found if I let them defrost first, the tomatoes are too mushy to chop easily. They still taste great though.

I completely recommend for everyone to try growing sweet potatoes if you have the room in your garden. They are as fun as regular potatoes and even easier. I hardly watered them, never fertilized and in a single 3ft x 9ft bed grew over 27 lbs of them. Just a warning, when you get your starter vines in the spring they will look almost dead, don’t worry they’ll be fine (most of them anyway, of 10 vines I planted 8 or 9 survived. The vines will almost certainly overflow whatever area you put them in but you can redirect them easily.

That’s it for now, but I’ll be back in few days with more.

One Response to “Year in Review: Harvest & Preservation”

  1. Jay says:

    Thanks for all the good advice. Funny that you should be looking for Claussen type pickles because what I want are ones that taste like Vlasics.

    I suppose in a lot of ways a non-cooked pickle is probably an easier pickle to make taste good, but I grow enough cukes that I’d need a separate fridge for them.

    I did have good luck with some Freezer Pickles I made this year, you can find the recipe on my Recipes page.

    Happy Pickling.

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