It’s crazy to think that we are already to the point of needing to plan out how we intend to use all that we harvest from the garden! Yet here we are with some tomatoes blooming and it is very apparent that lots more will be blooming soon! I have had a few ideas for a while on what exactly I intended to do with some of the garden but honestly some I may need to work on more ideas. When I started my plans I didn’t necessarily think I would have as many plants as I do but lets be real, I’m not complaining! Ive taken this chance to plant so many plants for seeing what we actually use and to give some away to others.
As a kid I remember my mother having a small garden in our back yard. She would have my dad till up the beds every year and she would plant the basics. When I say the basics let me also say I don’t fully remember everything she had but I remember tomatoes, zucchini, and beans. The staple item she made every year for my dad was zucchini relish. We had such a pile of that in our house that I always surprised that it seemed my dad barely made it to the following year with jars left! He truly timed it just right. So I’m carrying that on and always intend to make some zucchini relish for my family. But the thing is we don’t actually use it as much as my dad did. So this year we plan to skip that recipe as I believe I have at least 8 jars still on my shelf. Who knows I may actually end up changing my mind. But what do I do with everything in thE garden?
To start off let me add that my goal is to make as much of the foods that I can and to be able to know what goes into my families food. With a child having food allergies it always gives an added layer of comfort when you know its from scratch and their is no chances of allergy issues. But also I absolutely love to make different things all the time. For example I absolutely love making homemade yogurt and homemade gluten free granola. Yes I can easily go and purchase these items at the store but I also like that I can make some extremely thick yogurt just how my husband likes it. I also can make gluten free granola that has not been processed in a tree nut factory. The gluten free industry has so many alternatives to gluten but everything is processed in a tree nut facility or made with one of my child’s allergies. It’s hard to be gluten free at times so I try to make as many of the items for myself. Now with the garden that’s different than the gluten free world but as you can see I just truly love making food for my family.
When explaining my plans on what I will be making with each item there are a few different types of storage I plan to use. We have the good old canning method to which I can pressure can or water bath can. I also intend to use the dehydrator for some items to either make spice mixes or dehydrate vegetables to be able to use in soups. Freezing is another option incase I can not get to canning or just prefer to freeze the item. Lastly we intend to just eat straight from the garden. To which that is going to be my biggest struggle honestly because I am such a planner that I love to have meal plans laid out for the entire week. I plan to grow that skill to let loose and to just make something because the garden says its time to use the vegetable.
Now lets get down to talking about what we have in the garden and our intended uses! Lets start with corn. Corn will be used for canning, popcorn, polenta, and eating off the cob. Peppers, we have hot peppers to which I plan to use for spice mixes, canning into cowboy candy, and making jalapeño poppers. Mild or bell peppers will be used for drying, eating straight from the garden, soups, stuffed peppers, and pickling. Luffa, dish sponges and put into soaps for exfoliating. Radishes, pickling and roasting! Lettuce, well that was an easy one, straight eating! Celery, making chicken stock from our home grown chickens. Beans, dehydrating for soups, canning and eating right away. Watermelon, dehydrating and eating. Cucumbers, pickles and eating right away. Bitter Melon, this one is honestly one we are planting so we can learn about it. Tomatoes, paste, pasta sauce, salsa, dehydrating, soup, diced, and eating right away. Herbs for drying and for using right away. Flowers for pollinators and for making the garden look amazing.
These are all of the ideas we have at the current moment for all that we harvest. We plan to continue to look for ideas on how we can use the item even more but the biggest struggle will be to meal plan that night with what is available in the garden! I truly am excited to watch the garden grow this year and to learn so much as a lot of these vegetables and fruits are new to our family. We already have some ideas for the fall garden and next years Summer garden. We surely will need to update everyone on what all we manage to make, quantities and what recipes we use for dinners!