A green thumb is something I lack, but I have been able to grow a garden with a fairly good rate of success. Last year we grew tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, green beans, broccoli, lettuce, and squash. Basically, I used the garden for fresh vegetables for the gardening season, and now I am back to purchasing fresh vegetables weekly. As I have been reading online and looking at my Ball Canning & Preserving Book, I have come to realize I should be growing as large a garden I can afford time and money to grow. My plan is to grow more of each vegetable, and can or freeze it for use during the rest of the year. Now, I am not going to get carried away and grow 40 tomato plants (I hope), but I am going to grow enough so that we can make our own homemade pasta sauce, bruschetta, and possibly ketchup for at least a half the winter. As far as squash and peppers go, I will be freezing those on cookie sheets and then bagging them up and storing them in the freezer until needed. The best part of that is being able to prepare them the way I want, so I can have diced peppers in my eggs, or strips to make fajitas, or slicing the zucchini into thin rounds to make Zucchini-roni Pizza by Rachel Ray, mmmm.
Now is probably a good time for you to begin making a plan for where your garden will be, how you will set it up, and what you want to grow, how much, OK OK,you get the point. My plan is to assess how much we need for our family, and then see if we have space for any extra, so that we can make extra to give as gifts. Don't forget to factor in the cost of any seeds.
Once you have this part figured out you will want to start looking for sales and coupons for the containers you will need to adequately store these items for the winter. I am thinking I'll be stocking up on plastic freezer and sandwich bags, and canning jars in various sizes, and wax & other accessories that go along with canning. Canning jars can often be found at Goodwill, yard sales, etc.
You can draw advice from around the web, including this post at Frugal Family Fun Blog, and this website by Ball. I do recommend purchasing the Ball Blue Book or at least borrowing it from your local Library. Don't forget about the experience you have around you, your mother and grandmother probably have canned and preserved before!! I will be asking Mom for help, I remember her making jam when we were kids.
If you don't have much yard space for gardening, get creative and use your Library and the web to find alternate methods. Type container garden in to your search engine- mine found over 1200 sites. Grow fresh herbs in pots around the house- they do not have to stay in the kitchen. Also, you can buy items on sale at great prices and still freeze and can the items for future use, as you would if you were making meals for Once a Month Cooking, see more about that here. I was considering doing the same when our local grocery store had bags of onions B1G1F.
So, for homework, start checking out books from the Library, check prices on canning supplies on your next store trip, and plan out what your needs are, and get ready to play in the dirt!!!!
Posted by Stephanie