A Simple Solution for Excess Garden Produce

A noted author proposes a simple problem beyond canning, freezing and giving food away to that annual grower's problem of excess garden produce.

| July/August 1985

The author proposes a simple solution to that annual grower's excess garden produce problem known as gardener's glut. 

A Simple Solution for Excess Garden Produce

About this time of year, almost all vegetable gardeners face the same old problem: what to do with all that food they've grown. Besides eat it, that is (which in late summer might use up a quarter of what the garden insists on yielding).

There are, of course, a number of standard solutions. You can can the stuff. You can freeze it. You can give it to friends. You can resolve to have a smaller garden next year.

The standard solutions all have problems, though. Canning, for example, is a great deal of work for a very small reward. All that preparation, all that high-pressure processing, all the new lids to be bought for the jars—and you still get nothing better than canned string beans. In 1905 home-canned vegetables were standard winter fare, and doubtless worth the effort. In 1985 they amount to little more than acting out the hoarder's instinct.

Freezing's quicker, though you still have to blanch the damned beans; you can't just impulsively toss them in the freezer compartment. It is also quite expensive—starting the moment garden overproduction forces you to move from shoving a handful of packages into the freezer section to buying a real freezer. Quite a small garden can precipitate that move.

As for unloading your surplus on friends, it's not for nothing there are all those zucchini jokes. Giving away garden produce in August or September can be almost as hard as selling it, without even the solace of being paid. Earlier in the season it was not so; the first peas and lettuce were quite easy to give away. It's the late-bearing vines that are so relentlessly productive. If zucchini weren't such a picturesque word, I think there would also be cucumber jokes, tomato jokes, even melon jokes.

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