Spring is in the air and many of us are planning our gardens. We enjoy the fresh tomatoes, peppers, peas, onions and more from our gardens. This spring, with a little more effort and planning we can create a garden to enjoy all our fresh items as well as plan for canning, freezing and dehydration of our harvest to feed our friends and family all year-round.
One of the best ways to plan your garden is make a list of what you and your family like to eat. This sounds simple, but it is easy to overlook your favorite things to cook with or eat during the winter months.
- Consider fresh produce that you and your family like to eat from the garden.
- Review your pantry for the items you canned from your garden or farmers markets.
- Check out your freezer for items you froze or your pantry for dehydrated products from your garden.
- Make a list of items that you could grow in the garden that you like to eat during the winter and early spring.
- List what you like to have readily available from your pantry to cook with.
At our house, nothing beats a fresh garden salad or fresh salsa from the garden. However, Jack and I use tomatoes all year round for cooking, appetizers or as a base for stew. Our favorite tomato product is salsa or diced tomatoes. On average we can go through a pint of salsa every other week and average a pint of diced tomatoes a week. That works out to us needing 26 pints of salsa to get through until the next canning season and 52 pints of diced tomatoes. With this information I know that we will be needing a dedicated area for growing tomatoes. We will be using these for slicing, canning and salsa. Last year we put up 26 pints of green salsa, 8 quarts tomato soup, 26 pints of red salsa and 20 pints of diced tomatoes.
Tomatoes take up one section of our garden. Last year we had slicing tomatoes, canning tomatoes and Roma tomatoes. We plan our garden around tomatoes and other fresh items that we like to eat with tomatoes such as onions, peppers, squash and peas. Many times we still have tomatoes on the plants as the first freeze is coming. We pick the green tomatoes and make green tomato salsa and pickled green tomatoes as special treats. Contact your local Extension Office for assistance from a Colorado Master Gardener to assist you with selecting varieties of vegetables that grow well in your area.