By Susan Marquesen ©2014
Penn State Master Gardener
This year, consider planning your garden with an eye to preserving the harvest. Evaluate past successes and failures when selecting seeds. If you plan to purchase vegetable plants in the coming weeks do a bit of research into which local nurseries have the best selection.
We most often think of vegetables growing in raised beds or traditional vegetable gardens, but many edible plants add design interest throughout the garden. Consider intermingling edibles within perennial beds, herb gardens and containers. You’ll be freeing up space for plants that require a lot of real estate in a traditional garden.
Raised bed gardening
Preserving your own food brings lots of benefits: eating locally-grown foods all year long, saving money, and knowing what is in the food you are preparing for your family. While I preserve for all of those reasons, I especially enjoy preserving delicious and sometimes unique foods that can’t be found in a market.
What to preserve depends on the answer to the question, “What do you like and want to eat?” Growing and preserving your own food requires planning and a commitment to caring for the plants throughout the growing season. In choosing which plants to grow and which to purchase, consider factors such as space limitations, timing, expense, availability, quantity, and quality.
If your goal is to preserve do your homework as to which varieties of a fruit or vegetable lend themselves best to the task. For example, bush beans and determinate tomatoes tend to ripen at the same time, making it easier to get a canner load. A canner load is the capacity of your home canning equipment, either a boiling water or pressure canner.
If the idea of preserving the bounty of your home garden appeals to you, now is the time to select the varieties that answer the question posed above: “What do you like and want to eat?” While your vegetables and fruits are doing their job of growing and bearing fruit, be sure to investigate the proper techniques for canning and preserving the harvest. Long after our growing season is over you will be rewarded with the flavors of summer preserved from your own garden’s bounty.