Gardening is one of my very favorite things to do. We choose to use the square foot gardening method. We have raised beds that are built with 1X6s. The soil, we mix 2-3 different composts (mushroom and manure), vermiculite, and peat moss. This method we have found lessens weeding and is easy to maintain the size of the plants. Also every year our soil is ready to use and the boxes weather great.
Every plant or seed we have used is fail-proof. Not only does gardening give me benefits of saving money on grocery bills, it keeps me active. It’s a daily activity that requires attention, keeps your mind off of being lazy or eating. I put a lot of effort into planting this garden, I should be enjoying what I have grown. What better reason
to eat healthy food!
Not only do we eat fresh foods out of our garden, I also can with the cucumbers, grapes, salsa, spaghetti sauce, whole tomatoes and jalapenos. I freeze corn, green peppers, zucchini, and green beans. I dry my herbs. We are still using grape jelly I canned in 2011!!
One thing I think about when I want to start a garden is, what I want to have on hand all the time. So I think of things I buy at the grocery store weekly. Lettuce, cucumbers, radishes, carrots (I haven’t had good luck with carrots yet, hopefully this year), this pretty much takes care of my salads for the summer. I love the salsa recipe I have used! Here is the link: Best Salsa EVER! I make sure to plant all of the ingredients I am going to need to make this recipe. With the exception of a couple of spices and the vinegar this should all come
from the garden and cost next to nothing.
We have jars and jars of pickles and relish. Cucumbers are very hearty to grow and do really well here in Ohio. I had so many cucumbers last year I was searching for recipe to use cucumbers, I made cucumber jelly. Um, I would not recommend this, it tasted like jellied pickle juice. Was not tasty.
Zucchini is a wonderful vegetable. I shred it up, put it into storage bags (usually measured with 2 cups per bag) and freeze. Freezing it in the 2 cups measurement helps to be able to pull them out for batches of zucchini bread. I make bread, muffins and cakes. I have made a quiche in the past but wasn’t really impressed (though my son loved it). There are also really healthy recipes for zucchini bread this one is my favorite: Zucchini Bread. Sometimes I will make a regular recipe if I don’t have all the ingredients on hand and substitute the oil for coconut oil and cut down the sugar. Coconut oil is wonderful! I also love to put sliced zucchini in my spaghetti sauce!
Tomatoes, I usually plant a couple different kinds of tomatoes. This year I decided to go with roma and cherry. I don’t have big fans in my house with the bigger tomatoes. Because I am using them for mainly
canning, romas are best for spaghetti and salsa. I planted the cherry tomatoes because I like tomatoes and would never eat the amount that a beef or big boy tomato crop gives. For my spaghetti sauce I really just put in whatever I want. Very basic, garlic, onion, rosemary, oregano, thyme, salt, pepper and maybe a little sugar to take away the green taste of the tomato. Sometimes I have to add tomato paste to thicken.
I have lots of left over jalapenos and green peppers from last year. I use the green peppers for fajitas and stir fry. The jalapenos I throw into corn bread or poppers.
We have raspberry bushes and they are finally taking off! Very
excited about these! Can’t wait to make raspberry jam!
This year we planted strawberries, they take time so we won’t see a hefty crop for about 3 seasons (maybe less). I did go to a local farm last weekend and picked my own, we have 19 jars of strawberry preserves. This is not as cheap to have our own to pick, but it tastes better than store bought. Fun too! Recipe I used: Pioneer Woman.
I always plant herbs to put into my salsa and spaghetti sauce. It’s so much cheaper to plant seeds or pay the 2.50 for the plant and let it grow. The more you trim them back the more they grow. I take a handful at a time, rinse them off, wrap a rubber band around the stems and hang them upside down in my laundry room for a week to 10 days. When they are dried I crumble them up and put them in a ball jar. This works best for rosemary, oregano, thyme, basil and parsley. I have tried cilantro, but it didn’t yield as much because the leaves are so spread out, so I just use it fresh. Most of them come back every year if you treat them right. Herbs (especially fresh) can be costly.
Something new I tried this year was onions and garlic. My plan with them is to can garlic in olive oil, this is an expensive item to buy at the grocery store. The onions I will use in canning salsa and spaghetti sauce, as well as freezing in storage bags for later. Hoping they work out, so far so good!
In the past I have tried broccoli, it did good except I can’t seem to beat the worms, yuck I know. Just can’t eat something that had a worm on it. *Shivers*
Even though I live in Ohio, I have a three year old lemon tree. We have received about 5 lemons so far, which isn’t a lot. With fruit you have to be patient. We have about 15 on the tree now that are very
small but have been pollinated, so hopefully this year it will be fruitful! I bring it in during winter months and keep it in the sun as much as possible. It has been cool seeing it grow. It was only about three branches when we bought it.
So if you’re looking for a way to be active this is a great hobby that you can eat well, save money and maybe help others by sharing.
For those who love to garden send me pics of your fabulous gardens or ideas that work for you! Also if you have any great recipes, I’d take those too! J