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Planning the Garden to Preserve the Harvest

iStock_000017358071_MediumSpring is on its way and now is the time to plan what produce you may want to plant in your garden. In order to get the most out of your garden space, it’s important to plan what to put in the ground, and also plan how to preserve the bountiful harvest. Careful planning and careful attention throughout the growing season can provide your family with delicious home grown fruits and vegetables throughout the year.

Two resources can help with your planning. The first is the Alabama Extension publication “The Alabama Vegetable Gardener”. It gives vegetable yields per 100 feet of land – an essential planning tool for the home food producer. For example, 100 feet of tomatoes should yield 100 pounds of tomatoes. The publication also contains information about planting, soil fertility, weed control, disease control, and insect control.

Based on what is planted, plans can be made to preserve the produce. To can the tomatoes in the above example, the 100 pounds of tomatoes will make about 35 quarts of whole canned tomatoes. A yield chart, canning recipes, and freezing instructions can be found in the Alabama Extension Home Food Preservation book. More information on canning and home food preservation can be found in ACES Publications or by visiting the ACES Food Safety website, including food storage charts showing how long you can safely keep different foods in your pantry, refrigerator, or freezer. Additionally, there are recipes and resources can be found online at the National Center for Home Food Preservation hosted by the University of Georgia.

Want to plant more and provide your local community with fresh fruits and vegetables?  Think about selling some of your excess at a Farmers Market?  It’s a great way to earn a little extra money this summer and help build our local food system. Farmers markets are located throughout the state. For more information on farmers markets, for both farmers and consumers, or to find a farmers market near you, visit the ACES Farmers Market website. If you are interested in selling prepared foods such as baked goods, sauces, jams & jellies, etc., see our publication on Cottage Food Law in Alabama.

For more gardening and food preservation information, or call Amelia Mitchell, Regional Extension Agent, at 251-574-8445 or mcgreaj@aces.edu.