Monday, August 18, 2008

Planning and Planting for Fall

Our summer garden is nearly tapped out. We've had an amazing bounty of tomatoes, zucchini, green beans, cucumbers, & peppers. But, our harvesting is slowing down and it's about time for us to put our Winter Garden in the ground. We started the seedlings several weeks ago and they're off to a great start.

We're pretty lucky that Georgia weather allows us to grow things well into fall/winter. Our winter garden includes: lettuce, radishes, green beans, peas, carrots, cucumbers, squash, onions, and, of course, pumpkins. The girls are so excited to grow their own Halloween pumpkins and I can't wait to see how big they get!

One of the things I've got to learn is how to can if we're going to keep growing our own food, 'cause our tomato crop was out of control and we ended up with tomatoes everywhere!

Though I can't can (yet) we did learn about freezing tomatoes (and other veggies). It's an easy and fast way to preserve tomatoes for later use in sauces and soups. These tips work for freezing a variety of veggies, though you'll probably forgo the whole skinning and squeezing seeds out for most.

1. Boil a pot of water and drop your firm red tomatoes in (they can't be too soft) for a 2-3 minutes.

2. Transfer them quickly to an ice bath and peel off the skin.

3. Cut them in halves or quarters and squeeze out excess water and seeds. (Don't worry about getting all the seeds. Just try and get as much done as possible.)

4. Place them in ziplock bag and squeeze out excess air.

5. Stick them in the freezer for quick and easy sauce!

Thomas had read something about sucking the air out of the bag through a straw to make sure you don't get freezer burn and gave it a try when freezing our first batch. He wants me to let you know that you should NEVER do that unless you feel like passing out from hyperventilating disgusting tomato air. Instead, you might opt for one of those Reynold's Handi-Vac systems from the grocery. They're cheap, easy to use and get rid of any air in the bag that could cause problems in your freezing.

So, we've now got a whole freezer of good veggies for winter and a winter garden ready to plant! Our eggs should be coming along soon or else we'll be eating some really lazy chickens (totally kidding - can you see me killing and plucking pet chickens? Not that hardcore yet!)

I'll be sure and post more when our winter garden gets productive!


Jen said...

Hey Jen,

How timely! Our garden just starting producing tomatoes, and I think I need to can either tonight or tomorrow. This is a new venture for me, and it's intimidating. I just did my first canning last night (peaches), and I was so excited when the cans sealed! Good luck!!

marigold said...

*giggle* (sees Thomas sucking a baggie through a straw)


(T passes out)


Kim N said...

Yum! I have a large box of tomatoes on my kitchen table waiting for me to can. This is the first year I have ever canned and I have blueberry jam, a large pot of salsa waiting to be put into jars, and the tomatoes. It is a lot of work, but has been fun to learn. I will for sure be trying some freezing, I love quick and easy frozen veggies.