BLUE SPRINGS, Mo. – Instead of tending to a garden that will only provide fruits and vegetables during the season, consider growing enough to preserve, suggests a University of Missouri Extension horticulture specialist.
“By planning now to preserve the harvest of the garden, you will be able to enjoy the fruits and vegetables from the garden far beyond the growing season,” says Marlin Bates.
MU Extension’s Vegetable Planting Calendar (http://bit.ly/MUExtG6201) provides a quick guide for gardeners to decide how much to grow for fresh and processed consumption.
“For instance, a gardener who is interested in growing tomatoes strictly for fresh consumption might consider growing three to five plants per person,” Bates said. “But if the gardener were also interested in preserving tomatoes, the guide recommends growing five to 10 plants per person, depending on the extent to which they intend to preserve.”
Because actual consumption and year-to-year production levels can vary greatly, planting on the higher end of the recommendation is a good way to ensure a sufficient harvest. You can give any excess produce to friends and family or donate it to the local food bank.
Today’s gardener has many options for preserving food. “From canning salsas, pasta sauces and whole tomatoes to pickling cucumbers and peppers and making jams and jellies, the possibilities of preservation seem limitless,” he said.
More than just canning
Food preservation is more than just canning. It also includes freezing and drying. Many fruits are commonly frozen for easy access far beyond the productive period of the plant. Many herbs are easily dried for later use. MU Extension has a series of publications (http://bit.ly/MUExtFoodPreserve) that introduce and explain these preservation methods for various crops. Additionally, MU Extension nutrition specialists conduct food preservation workshops throughout the harvest season. These hands-on demonstration workshops have been increasingly in demand over the past few years and fill up quickly.
For information about upcoming food preservation workshops, contact your local MU Extension center.
MU Extension’s Vegetable Planting Calendar (G6201) is available for free download at http://bit.ly/MUExtG6201 (http://extension.missouri.edu/publications/DisplayPub.aspx?P=G6201).
Many MU Extension publications on food preservation are available at http://bit.ly/MUExtFoodPreserve (http://extension.missouri.edu/main/DisplayCategory.aspx?C=194#publications).
Feature articles on food safety and preservation are available at http://missourifamilies.org/features/foodsafetyarticles/index.htm.