This time of year is so much fun…Our freezer is filling up with goodies from the garden. Our garden is quite small yet produces enough every couple of days to preserve what we don’t eat for our meals. Here in the Northeast the window for gardening is a small one so if we are to have access to our own grown veggies what is produced now must be preserved for future use when the garden is frozen solid. Around here it’s called putting up or canning. Preserving here at the farm is mostly in the form or dehydrating and freezing. Canning is another option and one I don’t tend to use all that often. I don’t have a pressure canner and usually borrow my sister’s when I need to. Although I have been watching ebay lately for one of my own. (I gave mine away a few years back…because someone else needed it more than I did at the time)
I recently picked the last of the snow peas and the last of the green beans. Not enough by themselves to fill a bag and these are quite large as I should have picked them earlier. So I had a choice, to give them to the chickens right away, to freeze them for the chickens later in the year or to freeze them and use in soup stock over the winter. The chickens will end up with them anyway after they have been made into stock.
Since my food ladder tells me to feed my family first I processed them and froze in a plastic bag labeled for soup stock. I also froze the water they were boiled in for soup stock. The freezer is just about full of goodies for soup stock that will make many warming meals come winter. I also use this water in my baking and I use it to boil pasta in. An unsuspecting person might find bags of frozen colored water a bit strange, but everyone here knows what they are and are used to seeing them.
I would urge you to freeze all the water you boil your veggies in too. Why dump those vitamins, minerals and tasty goodness down the drain?
I was talking about this ongoing method of freezing to a friend the other day and she made the comment, but I didn’t grow a garden. That’s okay I told her, when you go to the farmer’s market or even the grocery store pick up what you need for your meal and a bit more to freeze. Even better if you pick up extra while they are on sale to freeze. The little bit at a time method works very well for this.
Another form of putting up I am going to try this year is to leave the fall grown carrots right in the ground and cover them well with mulch. Over the winter I will shovel off the snow and be able to pull a few at a time. I did the same last year in the garden up by the barn only I never took the time to climb through all the snow because it was just far enough away I didn’t have the gumption to do it. This spring when we moved the garden I found several rows of nice carrots that overwintered just fine right in the ground.
To take that discovery one step further I can start carrots this fall, cover them well and when the ground warms up in the spring they should finish growing. I should have fresh carrots several weeks earlier that if I started them from seeds. That is the plan any way and am excited to see how this turns out. I know it is done all the time with leaf lettuce and other cold tolerant varieties. There are entire books dedicated to this subject and I plan on reading a few of them over the winter. I can’t seem to find any nice row cover locally so off to the internet and Johnny Select seeds or Fedco to place my order this week along with the garlic I will be planting.
So how is your putting up going so far this year?