Everyone is running around purchasing plants and seeds. Spring has sprung and the garden is the first thought on your mind. I love to watch the gardeners. Off the store to buy whatever plants the growers put on the shelves. Where I live we are very fortunate we have 2 growing seasons with the time from last spring frost to first fall frost. I hardily ever see these people looking for tomatoes to plant in July or potatoes to set. Most of our gardeners are spring gardeners and for they second crop they grow weeds. It truly amazes me.
Daddy had garden all year around. The slowest season was winter. That was the time Momma worked on finding the recipes she would be trying next summer. She had things which were always canned and dried. Momma made cloth bags to store the dried fruits and vegetables in. In early spring she took inventory of what was left in the basement. The garden would be planned, seeds ordered and planted.
I learned from Momma, I study my recipes and decide what I want to store for next winter. If we enjoyed something I try to preserve more this year so we will not run out. Momma would say we use 30 quarts of green beans a year and she would can extra just in case there is a crop failure the following year. I try to do the same. The summer of 2010 I do not think anyone around our area had a lot of tomatoes. The season was not good. The summer of 2011 I canned tomatoes, made juice and tomato sauce. My goal was 40 quarts and they have lasted for the winter. I, also, dried tomatoes and they lasted all winter.
I keep a list of everything that I can. Jellies, pickles, vegetables and dried goods were canned last year. I will refer to my list, count my remaining inventory and decide what I need to do this year. I did complete this task when I was ordering my seeds. I need the seed to plant so I can fill in the voids. When I hear of a new item or some new to can I add this to my seed list for next year. I make one batch and if we enjoy it I will make more.
If yout family will not eat Swiss chard why are you planting 50 plants? It is very important to use your land correctly. Plant what you enjoy, store what will be used. Picking and canning is labor intensive and there is no reason to process items you will be throwing away in the future. I have found if I make the things my family enjoys it keeps me busy. I could make pickles everyday because everyone in the family likes a different kind of pickle and I like all of them.
I do plant again as my land allows the fall garden. I love the extended season and fall greens are wonderful. Daddy always stored tomatoes and we would, sometimes, have a sliced tomato from our garden on Valentine's Day. The fall potatoes can be graveled just like the spring potatoes and added to the late beans. We are so very lucky where I live to have the long growing season. I do enjoy gardening in Virginia.
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