Planning a pantry garden? Canning for the year? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 6 Old 03-14-2005, 12:21 PM - Thread Starter
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I'm starting to plan for my garden this year. Typically my food garden has been a "weekly produce" kind of garden. Enough to eat what's there and maybe have a little extra to share w/friends and family. Considering my changing pantry habits, and my hope to become more frugal and natural this year I was thinking of doing a pantry garden...dedicated to those things that I can preserve somehow for the upcoming winter. I've never canned before, so I'm really just starting to consider this. I guess my biggest motivator would be diced tomatoes and green peppers. But now that I think about it we have so many candidates for this in our family...we rely heavily on canned and frozen peas, green beans, carrots, zuchinni, winter squash, brussels sprouts...the list goes on. I'm not talented in fresh get's lost at the bottom of my fridge quite often so I've learned to by looong lasting fruits and veggies .

Does anyone else do this, or are you planning on it this year? How much canning do you do, and how much garden is needed to do it? What other preservation methods do you use? I'm getting ready to start my cold weather crops (not just yet...I'm practicing restraint) and wondering what to plant, for a realistic non-wasteful crop. Also, I have to purchase canning "stuff". I've been eyeballing a pressure cooker/canner but want to make sure that I can justify the cost of that. I think with the ability to preserve food for future use, along with the increased liklihood of purchasing dried beans over canned, as well as time savings I could do it. Sorry so , spring fever is bad for me right now!
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#2 of 6 Old 03-15-2005, 05:00 PM
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Right now in the city, on rented property, (in Saskatchewan) we do as much as the small established garden space will allow for. It's about 20x25 ft. I can get enough tomatoes and potatoes to last into the winter. I usually can the tomatoes, hot peppers, and several varieties of pickles, and just keep the potatoes somewhere cool. Carrots will keep quite a long time too if you have some extra fridge space. I usually freeze rhubarb, some spinach, along with things given by generous family and neighbours like berries, apple and pear puree, peas, etc. I think my favorite method of preservation though for most things is freezing. I just have a small chest freezer now, but if we had the space I would invest in a large deepfreeze. I got a pressure canner last year (someone found one for me from a garage sale), but I haven't used it yet. I thought it would be nice to buy a big bag of corn at the end of summer and can it, because we usually buy it canned. Lately I've been reading about salt brine preservation, like making salt brine pickles and sauerkraut, amongst other things. If you have a taste for these, I think it's well worth learning a little about. Wild Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz is a great place to start.

I hear what you are saying about a "pantry garden"- we keep trying to do more and more in order to save money, and enjoy our own fresh organic produce, and every year, it we are getting a little better at it.
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#3 of 6 Old 03-16-2005, 08:14 PM
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I don't have a lot of experience with growing food for year-round use but about 2 years ago I did begin making some forays into doing it. This year I'm planning on putting in 3 "extra" tomato plants for canning and also extra sweet peppers. I'm also planning on many more winter squash since that's a vegetable that keeps well. I'd like to store potatoes & onions, but our house doesn't have a suitable spot and building a root cellar isn't an option for us. I think I'll put in some basil -- currently the only herbs I dry are mint & lavender.

I can many fruits, jams & spreads but generally I do this by buying the fruit in bulk when it's cheapest (this year I'm going to try U-pick) rather than growing it myself. We do have a pear tree that showers us with gallons and gallons of pears!

I mainly stick to canning, although I do dry some of the tomatoes, for storing in oil, and some Bartlett pears (they are wonderful ). Because I don't have a steam canner, this means mostly I preserve tomatoes & fruits. Low-acid foods like most vegetables aren't "safe" to can with the boiling-water method. I know, I know, many people scoff at this. My sister & B.I.L. think I'm a wuss for being so cautious, but they gave me some boiling-water-canned grean beans and they were rank. Turns out their whole batch was bad! No, thank you.

Anyway, I stick some things in the freezer, but we only have a little one so it's more along the lines of tucking away a lb. of snow peas to enjoy when snowpeas are expensive, or saving some spinach before it goes bad, yk? I think a bigger freezer may be on the horizon for us. I would be THRILLED.

I would say, start with one food at a time, at least one food you grow yourself. This takes a lot of the pressure off, especially if you're not sure how much to plant. My first year I wayyyy overplanted on tomatoes, which was enough of a hassle (canning 2 quarts a day in hot weather!) but imagine if I'd also overdone the beets, say, and the beans and the peppers! You could always preserve some stuff you buy cheaply, along with "your" one crop for preserving; when you buy it, you're more in control of how much you have & when.

Good luck, hope some more experienced preservers will chime in!
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#4 of 6 Old 03-16-2005, 08:31 PM
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I have done canning for several years now. Its a small investment and well worth it.

I agree w the PP. Start small and figure out one thing to can. We do tomatoes and tomato sauce only. The best in this zone (5) is the plum tomatoes for canning. We do about 3 other varieties and we usually have about 30 plants. In August we will average about 50-100 tomatoes a day depending on the weather- the hotter, the better. They love the heat and sun. We divide them out among friends and family- the more you pick, the more you get.

For canning- the boil method is the best for a canning virgin. You buy a large canning pot- I have seen them go as high as $20 and I'm sure you can get them at garage sales or someone can lend it to you. I use the same mason jars over and over. You just need to buy new lids every year and they are 12 for a $1. Masons are 12 for about $8 new.
This whole canning process takes us about 4 hours for a 10 mo supply of canned tomatoes and sauce.

"The true joy of life is the trip. The station is only a dream. It constantly out distances us."
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#5 of 6 Old 04-08-2005, 04:09 PM
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my mom and I have kind of made it a new tradtion to do canning every summer. It's something we really look foward to and love eating our crops all year round. Last year we borrowed a neighbors pressure cooker and canned 21 quarts of beans. We water bathed 15 quarts of tomatoes, some salsa, some just juice. but i think just juice is wastful. the year before that a diiferent neighbor gave us full acess to their grapes, so we made 30 quarts of grape juice that was soooooooooooooo good. i'm keeping my eye open for pressure cookers @ yard sale, goodwill, ect. good luck
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#6 of 6 Old 04-14-2005, 11:58 AM
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When DS was a baby I didn't have a garden but we participated in the SHARE program and I canned all the excess fruit. Since I didn't have a pressure cooker I froze the excess veggies.

This year DH and I have a very ambitious garden planned. We're building raised beds and using the square foot gardening method. We have 246 squares to fill!

We're planning to buy a pressure cooker and would like to can pickles, tomatoes, a stewed tomato mix with onions & peppers, make some basic vegetable soup to can (we can add in the meat when we reheat), and maybe try canning salsa.

The veggies we have planned so far include:

-peas (for canning - might eat a few)
-green beans (for canning - might eat a few)
-tomatoes (for eating & canning)
-hot, mild, red, & green peppers (for eating & canning)
-summer squash (primarily for eating)
-cabbage (for eating & canning)
-lettuce (for eating)
-radishes (for eating)
-cucumbers (for eating & for pickling)
-onions (for eating & canning in stewed tomatoes & salsa)
-carrots (for eating & canning)
-eggplant (primarily for eating)

We're also planting herbs - parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, oregano, chives, and dill. I'll use a lot during the summer but also want to dry some for fall/winter use.

Our plan is to sequence the planting so that ideally harvest times DON'T overlap too very much. If that doesn't work out then DH, DS (he'll be 14 in Aug) and I will be VERY busy prepping produce and canning.

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