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When the garden has finished producing

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posted on Jun, 23 2008 @ 12:43 PM
The plants are all dried up, the fruits are gone, and the last reward for all the hard hours of labor are realized. The ground is cold and barren, perhaps buried under the snow and ice of the cold dark winter months.

I wonder, have we forgotten the last part? I hope not.

Recently I saw and posted on quite a few threads about gardening. A fabulous subject, and the best way (IMHO) to get the food stores you might need for survival should supermarkets get too pricey or too nonextant for use. But there's more to surviving than simply throwing seeds into the ground...

What do you do with all those wonderful foodstuffs when there are no more to be found, due to layers of snow or ice. For centuries our forefathers (or more aptly, our fore-mothers
) have managed to get us through the cold winter months by preserving those fresh vegetables and fruits. So my question, and the reason for this thread, is:

Do you have any canning/preserving tips to share?

I know there are no doubt quite a few new gardeners reading these forums that are new to gardening and even moreso to canning (including me on the latter). So let's all get together on the tips and tricks, shall we? Spread the knowledge!


posted on Jun, 23 2008 @ 06:59 PM
Hmmm, no replies. Maybe we have forgotten how to store food?

I'll bump it just this once, on the chance someone missed it.


posted on Jun, 23 2008 @ 07:28 PM
Good post topic and an important one.

Canning some of the veggies is easily done and just takes care and common sense.

Do a search on canning a particular veggie.
There are lots of good sites out there and do a little reading before you settle on a method.

We've always turned our Zuchinni into relish, better than store bought to say the least.

This year the hot peppers are doing ok, but coming in at different times so my plan is to freeze them as they become ripe and can them later.

Going to can tomatoes for the first time this year.
Maybe, when they get ripe we use them at every meal.
Fried eggs, toast, diced potatoes and sliced fresh tomatoes makes an excellent breakfast.

The canning equipment isn't too costly, take a look on Ebay, there's quite a bit of it available over there since folks don't can like they used to.

I'd like to hear how folks put their garden to bed for the winter.

My plan is simply to till everything under, add a little gypsum and forget about it till next March.

I do plan to add gypsum and manure to the areas I'm going to expand out into and extend the fence so my Doxies don't dig it up.

So far, we're getting a quite a few cherry tomatoes on and have eaten the ripe ones.
The regular tomatoes are on, but still green.
Starting to get some beans as well.

The watermelon plants - three of them - are really taking off.
A recent addition.

Kattrax's recomendation to plant some Beefsteak tomatoes - which I've never grown, but have grown quite a few other types - are really taking off.
Thanks Katt.
Got nine of them and need to thin them out to three for the space they're in, re-pot the others and pass them on to friends.

Did that with some Sweetie cherry tomatoes, gave a big pot with three plants in it to our friends and the wife is thrilled to see lots of cherry tomatoes coming in.

I'll bet next year she takes me up on my offer to till a small garden for her.

Gardening is fun and getting other folks interested is fun as well.

Good for all of us methinks....

posted on Jun, 23 2008 @ 08:50 PM
reply to post by Desert Dawg
I can sympathize abolut the tomatoes, seems no matter how many I plant each year, we eat them as fast as they come in. beefsteak are a great choice for slicers, large, meaty, juicy, and delicious. I have some of them, plus a rare find around here that I got this year, yellow Jubilees. No fruit so far as I got a late start, but the plants are looking awesome.

We are now besieged with yellow squash. I planted 100 feet of the things and now we have about 15 per day to harvest (for those who are wondering, it takes about three or four to make a 'mess'). Plenty to go around to friends until their crops start coming in, then we'll start canning.

Thanks for the reply, I was wondering if anyone was gonna notice.


posted on Jun, 23 2008 @ 08:59 PM
reply to post by TheRedneck

The Italians would hang tomatoes still on the vine to dry them like apples.

I smoke and then dry my own homegrown japalenos.

I also string and dry my cayanne peppers and seed and dry in my dehydrator my roma tomatoes.

I never grow enough to can but each year I buy bulk on our local farmers market and can fruits and vegetables, usually enough for a case or two so when the winter rolls around and my electric bill is the highest (electric heat) I can stretch my meager income with canned food.

I highly recommend "Putting Foods By" and "Stocking Up" as the two essential primers for storing foods.

[edit on 23-6-2008 by grover]

posted on Jun, 23 2008 @ 09:03 PM
I planted too many tomato plants this year. I've never canned them before, but I remember my grandmother canning all her garden veggies. It seemed like a lot of work, especially in the heat.

I wonder, if instead of canning my tomatoes, if I just cooked them down a bit, like stewed tomatoes, cooled them off, and then used my food saver on them and throw them in the freezer.

I have tried this with just zip lock bags before and it didn't turn out so great. I had a layer of crystallized ice on top, so I ended up pitching them.

I'm gonna have green beans to deal with, too.
On a side note, I can't wait until my tomatoes come in!! Woo hoo! I can eat them breakfast, lunch and dinner!!

Another side note---My family always served sliced tomatoes with every meal in the summer. We'd have a big ol' serving plate sitting on the table. I still do this, but everyone who eats here always questions the tomatoes. Sliced tomatoes and pork chops. Sliced tomato and eggs. Sliced tomato and fish, etc. They act like they've never seen a plate of tomatoes

edited to add:

I found this site a few months ago. It's the National Center for Home Food Preservation. It not only tells you how to can, but to smoke/cure, freeze, pickle etc.

Here's the link.

[edit on 23-6-2008 by virraszto]

posted on Jun, 23 2008 @ 09:11 PM
My tomatoes are looking good. I have one cherry tomato that just turned red. I study that puppy every day, just waiting for the perfect moment to pluck it and eat it. Maybe tomorrow. The rest of my tomatoes are still green but coming along nicely.

The jalapenos would be doing great as well, but every time one gets about an inch long my son eats it. I'm hoping in another month there will more than he can eat, but I doubt that.

I really don't do canning but have some great memories of when my grandparents did, when I was a child.

I may just have to have a go at it.

posted on Jun, 23 2008 @ 09:14 PM
reply to post by virraszto

That's one approach but if you want to can and you are concerned about it add a tablespoon of store bought lemon juice and a teaspoon of kosher salt to each quart of tomatoes.

posted on Jun, 23 2008 @ 10:46 PM
From the point of someone who has limited living space preserving food in jars isnt economical space wise . Another option is to dry food and place it in vacuum sealed bags. Putting a label on the bag would allow you to record an expire date. Note to the reader Home Canning is an American term when I first heard it I literally thought it referred to people putting food in cans .

Forgot to add that if you have a Glasshouse you may be able to grow produce all year round .

[edit on 23-6-2008 by xpert11]

posted on Jun, 24 2008 @ 08:50 AM
Virraszto, great link on canning, thanks.

How can you hve too many tomato plants?

Once upon a time I had 16.

I have more than 12 right now and that's not including the beefsteaks that I'm thinning out.

Share em with friends and family, they'll love them and think highly of you....


When I was in Central California, I thought very seriously about expanding the garden to the maximum, which would have been about 50' x 100' and growing nothing but tomatoes.

I knew a restaurant owner who would have been amenable to buying vine ripened tomatoes and we had a nice Saturday morning farmers market.

There's a farmers market here on Saturdays as well.


Since this is the first year I've had real success with hot peppers, I'm wondering if I should pick them by twisting them off or cutting with a pair of hand pruning shears?

(Edited for spelling)
[edit on 24-6-2008 by Desert Dawg]

[edit on 24-6-2008 by Desert Dawg]

posted on Jun, 24 2008 @ 09:19 AM
Hey Redneck, thanks for the thread, this is a great topic and helpful, as well. I'm also glad to have the link to the food preserving site.

I've never canned before but my husband has and a neighbor has offered to help us can this summer. Here is a simple recipe that I use for pickling. You have to refrigerate the pickles until they're gone, so they're not really canned, but you could easily add canning to the recipe. Here it is:

1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
2/3 cups vinegar

Heat all until dissolved, it doesn't take long. Slice cucumbers, squash, asparagus or green tomatoes (my favorite). Place veggies in a large jar and pour the hot mixture over it until jar is full. They will be ready to eat in about 10 minutes, but are best if chilled. You could easily can the pickles after doing this recipe. They make a kind of bread and butter pickle, but the best thing is that you can use so many different kinds of veggies, almost anything your heart fancies.

I was just told the other day by a Cherokee lady who lives way back in the Appalachians, that if you peel ripe tomatoes by dipping them in boiling water for about 30 seconds, you can put them in a jar and can them. This sounds fairly easy. She also told me that you can preserve green tomatoes to fry, by slicing them, putting in jars and adding hot water with salt (1 tsp salt per quart water) and freezing them. Then when you're ready to cook, simply coat them with cornmeal and fry. If you've never had fried green tomatoes, you're missing a great treat.

I have a book that is wonderful called, "Country Wisdom and Know-How - Everything You Need to Know to Live off the Land." From the editors of Storey Books, which has alot of books about country living. It's wonderful and has instructions on all kinds of things related to country living such as building a chicken coop, home canning and preserving, how to build a root cellar, etc. Root cellars are good things, they don't require much maintenance or work once you've made one and many veggies will last up to 6 months in a root cellar. I have another great book, too, but can't find it at the moment, will post the title if I can find it.

You can also make gazpacho and can it. It's a cold soup with tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, onions, olive oil and tomato juice. It's delicious, you can can it and it's very healthy - restores your electrolytes in hot weather or after heavy exercise. It is kind of like salsa but with more veggies in it. It's delicious and healthy, it originated with the Roman soldiers, as it kept their strength up and electrolytes from being depleted.

You can freeze most veggies by parboiling for 2 minutes and then storing them in plastic bags in the freezer. Beans, squash, peas and carrots are especially good this way.

The thing is that by growing your own food, you will have more nutrition, alot less, if any, pesticides, and you know what you're eating, especially if you don't use GM seeds. I feel pretty sure that there's not very much nutrition in our food these days.

posted on Jun, 24 2008 @ 09:30 AM
Our garden is doing well aside from the cucumber plants, which the deer are chewing up. They haven't bothered anything else.

I'm putting up a fence today to keep them out.

posted on Jun, 24 2008 @ 09:37 AM

Originally posted by LLoyd45
Our garden is doing well aside from the cucumber plants, which the deer are chewing up. T..

Mystic Meg here..
I can see a LARGE venison and cucumber grill in your near future..

Do you get bothered by a large number there?

posted on Jun, 24 2008 @ 09:46 AM
About where in the ripening cycle do pick tomatoes for Fried Green Tomatoes?

posted on Jun, 24 2008 @ 09:55 AM

Originally posted by AGENT_T
Mystic Meg here..
I can see a LARGE venison and cucumber grill in your near future..

Do you get bothered by a large number there?

Right now we have dozens of them, and they're fairly tame. They don't even run when they see you. LOL Come hunting season they get scarce though.

I wonder if it's legal to shoot them as garden pests.. I own the property.

posted on Jun, 24 2008 @ 10:53 AM
reply to post by LLoyd45
I can help on the deer problem; we have them here, too, and now we have no green peas because of them.

I got some 2" schedule 40 PVC pipe and cut it in half. It comes in ten-foot lengths, so each piece was five feet long. I dug some holes and tamped them in tight. Then I drilled two 1/8" holes through them, one 3" from the top, the other 15" from the top.

I spaced them out so they were 20 feet or less apart and ran electric fence wire through the two holes I drilled. I picked up a new fence charger for $32 from our local farmer's co-op (small, indoor only model, but it works great for a garden) and connected it to the wire, and added two plastic gate hooks in one corner so we could go in without ebing electrified ourselves.

The whole set-up cost maybe $150, probably less, and no more problems with deer. I had to pick some hair off the wire one time, but that seemed to do the trick. I have been told that the deer can sense when the electric field is on, so once they get a dose of it, they will avoid it as long as it is there. Oh, and my dogs can go underneath the fence this way, so if one does get brave enough to jump the fence, they can have a shot at him.

As far as shooting deer on your own property, I think it varies by state. In AL, you can get a farmer's permit to do so, but they won't let you use the deer; you have to leave it laying, which to my mind is a ludicrous idea... I mean, that's good meat lying out there rotting! So I decided this way was better. I can get the meat if I wait until deer season to shoot them, and that's the only way I would ever shoot a deer. They're magnificent creatures.

Oh, another benefit of using the PVC... nice and white, almost like a picket fence look from a distance. I'm wondering now about making one around my house, with a couple of horizontal sticks for looks.


posted on Jun, 24 2008 @ 11:16 AM
I'm a gardener and a canner. I good read for techniques in gardening and preserving is The Buffalo Bird Woman's Garden, Native American. Here's a link;

Also if you are going to get into canning please take a look at this website:

It's the National Center for Home Food Preservation. I also recommend getting a copy of the Ball Blue Book. Lots of good info & recipes for proper preservation. There are not many people that die of botchalism each year in the US, but over half of those are caused by improper canning. It's entirely preventable.

posted on Jun, 24 2008 @ 11:39 AM
Well we have fried green tomatoes and that is a treat I am currently waiting on, as we got ours in the garden late this year. You can also can these green tomatoes for frying in the winter.

I also wash and freeze small bags of the little tommy toe tomatoes or miniature tomatoes every year, they are great to toss into a pot of soup or chili in the winter, they pop open on their own from the heat, they add a hint of fresh flavor to a pot of soup or spaghetti sauce. in the winter

You can also pickle zuchinni easily by buying the pickling mixes in the store or making your own. We also freeze sliced zuchinni and fry it in the winter.

We also bury half of our potatoes deep in the garden and on a warm day in the winter they can be dug up and got to, often we only take half and cover them back up, this way they keep just like you have a dairy or cold space for them. You can also do cabbage and carrots the same way, I'm sure there are directions online for this, I've never buried the cabbage or carrots, but we do the potatoes every year.

Squash keeps well in a cool dry place, I love the butternut squash, cut it in half, scoop out the seeds and put the halves in the oven as is and when done (tender) sprinkle with butter and sugar.

posted on Jun, 24 2008 @ 12:05 PM

Originally posted by Desert Dawg
About where in the ripening cycle do pick tomatoes for Fried Green Tomatoes?

I generally fry them just before they start to turn color, you can fry them even after they have started to turn color as long as the tomatoe is still very firm, either way is fine.

posted on Jun, 24 2008 @ 12:26 PM

Originally posted by goose

Originally posted by Desert Dawg
About where in the ripening cycle do pick tomatoes for Fried Green Tomatoes?

I generally fry them just before they start to turn color, you can fry them even after they have started to turn color as long as the tomatoe is still very firm, either way is fine.

Many thanks.

(I was hoping there would be an easy way.)

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