Time to plant?

>> Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Well ... here in the chilly northeast, it's probably better described as time to dream about planting. Here and there some brave plants are poking their heads out of the ground. Wandering around our yard the other day, I snapped a few shots and began thinking about what I would plant in our raised beds this summer.

Most of what I plant we either eat fresh, or I can/freeze to take us through the winter. While we're still enjoying our delicious homegrown produce from the pantry, there's nothing quite like enjoying those vegetables when they're fresh.

Here's what I usually plant and how I use each one:

  • Carrots - a couple of long rows of carrots allows us to enjoy some fresh during the summer, but they also store quite well for a few months. I usually harvest them after the first frost (which makes them sweeter), clip off the green tops and scrub them clean. Then I store them in my refrigerator crisper drawers where they stay fresh for about 3 months.
  • Green Beans - I stagger my plantings of bush-style green beans. That way we can enjoy a constant supply of fresh beans (steamed and sprinkled with crispy bacon bits!), and still have a good amount to can later in the summer.
  • Cucumbers - while I know there are lots of wonderful things to do with cukes, we grow them to eat fresh. We just can never get enough! When I was growing up, my mom and I made dill pickles one year, and sweet pickles other years. Too much work IMHO!
  • Pumpkins - I love to grow small/pie pumpkins. They are a hearty vine plant and are ready for picking and storing late in the fall ... in plenty of time for holiday baking. Pie pumpkins are easy to cook up and freeze for lots of delicious winter pies.
  • Zucchini - this is the plant that produces more than any family can use, no matter how many or few plants you put in. We chunk and grill zucchini in foil packs along with fresh carrots and chunked onions. Delicious! I also shred and freeze 1 and 2 cup portions for winter cakes and breads.
  • Green Peppers - these we eat fresh.
  • Onion - I plant 1 or 2 lbs of onion sets every year. Long about late July or early August it's time to thin out the green onions (great for adding to grilled veggies) so the rest have room to expand and grow. Before the first frost I pull the onions, clean off the greenery and lay the onions outdoors on a flat surface to dry. Then I store them in a mesh bag in the basement for 3-4 months of winter.
Every year I experiment with other new plants ... some are successful and others aren't. I tend to plant herbs and a cherry tomato plant or two in containers near my kitchen door.

So dream with me! What plants are you planning on for this summer? Do you just plant for fresh eating, or do you also store for the winter?

Watch here for some veggie recipes!


Anonymous March 31, 2009 at 5:05 PM  

I've been dreaming for months now! I can't wait to get my veggies in, we love peas, zucchini, tomatoes, squashes, lettuce, garlic and then whatever I feel brave enough to experiment with, last year I tried broccoli and brussel sprouts, the broccoli worked but the sprouts were a confusing mess for me! I also have some herbs which I dehydrate, lemon thyme, chives, spearmint, and this year maybe dill. I'd love to talk gardening with you sometime. Love you, love the site! Julie (Bennett) Woodring

Sharon April 4, 2009 at 5:43 PM  

Here is the Easter weekend plan: Build raised beds.
Go to Home Depot and buy a grow light.
Install grow light above ping pong table.
Start veggies indoors.
Make a garden plan. =)

We will definitely have rows and rows of cukes. I made about 18 qts. of dill pickles last year. I did something wrong. =( I think I left out the sugar. What a waste of time! They just don't taste right! I have a super easy (and never fail) recipe for Crisp Bread and Butter pickles. If you think they take too much effort, this recipe will make a believer out of you! =)

Sheila DelCharco May 20, 2009 at 11:02 AM  

My garden is quite small so all I have this year is tomatoes (big and small varieties) 2 zucchini plants, green (yellow) peppers, banana peppers and (in a different part of the yard) hot peppers: cayenne, dat'l, and jalapeno. In my herb garden I have this year: thyme (huge patch!), marjoram, parsley, basil, peppermint, spearmint, sage and oops! lamb's ear (I thought it was sage). We use ours fresh. I do buy tomatoes from the farmer's market in March and can those, but I never have enough of my own to can.


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