This time of year is really exciting for the fruit and veg growing gardener. You’ve put in the hard work, sweated through spring, nursed your seedlings and seen them survive and then thrive. Now you’re about to reap the rewards of all of that hard work. But if all of your plants are about to be harvested at once, how are you going to eat your way through all of that delicious produce?
1. Grow Veggies that Store Well
It might be a bit late for you to do it this year but next year you could try growing crops that store well. Here are a couple of examples:
- Choose maincrop over early potatoes which store well in paper sacks if you make sure you exclude all light. Remove any rotten or damaged tubers and you’ll have potatoes right through autumn.
- Hardneck varieties of garlic store better than softneck or elephant garlic. Select a hardy hardneck variety and it will keep through the winter in a dark, cool, and well ventilated space (a garage or garden shed is ideal).
If you have a freezer you have a powerful food preserving tool at your fingertips – the trick is to prepare your produce correctly.
Legumes and green veg will benefit from being blanched first for a minute in boiling water and spread out on a baking tray for freezing (just collect up and bag once frozen).
Fruits like apple and pear, can be peeled and quartered with a little lemon juice, and bagged ready for making into puree or sauces. You could make a batch of your favourite dish like soup or moussaka, and freeze individual portions for later in the year.
3. If At First You Don’t Succeed, Dry Again
This is a new one for me but last year I invested in a food dehydrator (think food dryer). It is basically a small electric oven that ‘cooks’ food at a very low heat over several hours but this opens up huge possibilities for all kinds of fruit and vegetables.
Got a glut of courgettes? You can slice them thinly, dry, and have as a snack or add to stews later (they’ll plump back up in the liquid). Mushrooms work really well as do loads of different fruits. Our own prunes were incomparable with shop bought and delicious in porridge with maple syrup. Apple rings work really well and the kids loved them.
4. Jam, Preserves, and Jelly
A few hundred years ago some clever people discovered that if you added sugar to fruit and then boiled it for a bit you got something incredible – jam. Now in the present day, you can tap into the same science.
You can buy special jars but recycled honey and jam jars are great. Try making apple or plum jam, or a rich redcurrant jelly for the next roast leg of lamb. Jars of homemade jam make great gifts for friends and neighbours too – that’s Christmas sorted then!
Neil M. White lives in Perthshire with his wife and three children. He has worked in horticulture as a landscape gardener and in a tree nursery. Now a ‘hobby’ gardener, he spends most of his time growing fruit or veg. Juggling gardening, family life, and a day job, Neil also finds time to write – his latest book on gardening ‘The Self Provisioner’ was published in April 2020. Catch up with Neil on his Twitter feed.