Are You Eating From Your Garden Right Now?

IMG_4738Prepping tomatoes for freezing last summer.

In Wisconsin and other cold climates unless you overwintered spinach or have a greenhouse, cold frame or hoop house, you are likely not eating straight from your garden quite yet. But, you could be eating food from last year’s garden right now.

This morning I had a smoothie for breakfast with raspberries and strawberries from last summer. On tonight’s dinner menu is pasta with sauce made from onions and garlic stored in the basement, tomatoes from my freezer, and frozen broccoli from the fall garden. For a side we could make toasted pesto bread with a jar from last summer’s basil harvest.

There are beets in the fridge still, a half of a huge butternut squash to use up, and plenty of frozen veggies and tomato products in the freezer. While I am waiting impatiently for the spring harvest season to begin, I can have fun eating up the stores from last year. There’s a sort of joy in ticking things off the list as we eat the last one of a stored crop. Butternut squash – gone! Red onions – no more. Frozen kale – finished! Look, I think I can see the bottom of the chest freezer!

Spring is a great time to plan what you’d like to put away for winter eating. If it feels overwhelming, start with one crop you’d like to provide for yourself for the year. Tomatoes are an easy one because most of us grow more than we can eat during harvest season. They can be easily frozen and used in place of canned tomatoes or made into a pasta sauce in the winter. Basil is another easy crop to preserve. In one or two quick kitchen sessions you can freeze enough pesto to have a jar in your fridge year round for use on pasta, sandwiches and veggies.

The first step when planning to grow some crops to preserve is to think about what your family eats on a regular basis. Is pasta on the menu once or twice a week? Then grow extra tomatoes for freezing. Eat a lot of rice and beans? Plan to freeze salsa, peppers and corn. The second step is to think about what you buy at the grocery store each week. What on that list could you grow for yourself? It will feel much more effortless to incorporate stored vegetables into your weekly meal planning if they’re already vegetables you eat on a regular basis.

Last month’s session of Plan Your Garden So You Can Eat Locally All Year was full with a waiting list. I am teaching a repeat on May 7 and expect it to fill again. This is a hot topic! Register ASAP.

Plan Your Garden So You Can Eat Locally All Year

Ready to start relying on the grocery store less and your vegetable garden more for organic produce year round? You can eat food from your garden during all 12 months in Wisconsin – it just takes a little planning. Learn how to strategically plan your garden with easy to grow and store crops, how to elevate your garden production with simple maps and records, when to plant crops so that you are harvesting from your garden for Christmas dinner, and how to grow more food with less work.  The instructor will focus on simple and quick techniques – no fancy equipment or greenhouses needed!

Wednesday, May 7, 6-8pm. Willy St. Co-op West. $15 members/$25 others. Register in person at Co-op or by calling (608) 284-7800.

Learn how to get better results.

Let's starting with talking about the top 5 mistakes most gardeners are making.


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    Megan, last year I took a page right out of your playbook and decided that I wanted to try to have our own onions and garlic from harvest to the next harvest. We’re going to make it with the garlic, not quite with the onions, but like you said, it’s fun to try. Thanks for the great blog.

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      Hi Josh! Awesome job. I am so glad to hear it. We just finished our last fresh onion this past weekend. One thing I did last fall was to chop and freeze a few bags of onions for use in this time of year when most have sprouted or we run out. I may do this with garlic in the coming weeks as it starts to sprout, too. Hope all is well!

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