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Garden Planning with Food Preservation in Mind

| 2/28/2013 11:12:46 AM


With the first day of Spring only a few short weeks away, momentum is gaining for ordering gardening books and seeds. I’ve received our first two orders of seeds and just ordered a new skin for our greenhouse. So, I’m obviously anticipating the coming growing season. And, for me, that means planning for what I want to can, dry, and otherwise preserve when harvest time rolls around. In order to have enough stores to last through the next winter, one must know the quantity of product that will be needed.

The possibilities are mouth-watering and tempting. Tomatoes, apples, string beans, carrots, peas, okra, parsnips, rutabagas, turnips,  berries, pears, cherries, apricots, peaches, plums, pickling cucumbers, grapes, greens, beets, garlic, onions, potatoes, asparagus, peppers, herbs, squash, and other items all lend themselves well to canning, drying or freezing. Some methods work better for certain items than others. In this instance, we will focus on vegetables designated for canning, and the quantities to plan on growing for “putting up the harvest.”

Standard canning recipes will state the number of pounds or cups of a prepared item, i.e., tomatoes, cucumbers, etc., needed to produce a given number of finished jars of product. And you need to make sure you have enough product to prevent a shortfall when canning time arrives. Several variables, including soil composition, weather, and moisture, will influence how well your plants grow. To assure success (as much as one can) choose varieties that are disease-resistant. Many seed packets or information stakes in potted plants will indicate how many ounces or pounds the fruits of healthy, mature plants can potentially yield. For example, certain tomato varieties may weigh over a pound each at harvest. Knowing approximate plant yields will guide you when growing produce intended for canning.

Don’t forget the herbs and plants needed for flavoring: basil, dill, oregano, thyme, marjoram, sage, parsley, cilantro, etc.. Plant sufficient quantities of onions, garlic, celery, various peppers, and other any special items for sauces, salsas, relishes, and so on. If you usually dry these plants for use later on, too, be sure to plant sufficient seeds for a bountiful crop.

Here are a few canning quantity guidelines:

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