Preparing Your Garden for What You Really Need
The holiday season always involves lots of cooking. Each time I’m shopping for food I find myself thinking, I could have grown that. A big winter squash cost me $5 the other day. And paying $2 for parsley that practically grows itself suddenly seems crazy. As I think about January resolutions for dieting and really like the Plant Nutrient Dense Diets, I’m kicking myself for not having more vegetables still harvestable or in the freezer. So next to my grocery list on the refrigerator, I’m making my list of the vegetables I’m buying so that I have a more rational way to make a list of seeds to buy to grow for next year’s vegetable garden.
Things I wish I coulda woulda shoulda grown more of:
Beets. Several parties I’ve been to have had roasted beet dishes. So yummy and easy. And beets are nutritious and great juicers. With a little extra mulch protection, they survive most of the year I should have at least two beets per person per week of the year. I need at least a hundred beets for me.
Carrots. Such a good juicer as well as cooked vegetables…I need at least three carrots per person per week. 150 carrots just for me.
Onions. Duh, Another easy to grow plant that I use almost every day….4 onions per person per week is 200 onions.
Tomatoes. It wasn’t a great tomato year so it’s not surprising I’ve gone through most of my stored tomatoes already. I didn’t notice how often I rely on diced or stewed tomatoes in my recipes. I need at least 2 16 ounce cans of chopped tomatoes per week. 100 “cans” of chopped paste potatoes.
Cooked Greens. This year I preserved kale and chard and collards by steaming them and then freezing them already cooked. I’m eating twice as many greens now than usual because they are already cooked and ready to be served as a side dish or added last minute to soups. Cooked, frozen greens: At least 3 pounds per person per week. 150 pounds of greens.
Peas. I love peas. Why don’t I have more in the freezer or dehydrator? One pound of peas per week. 50 pounds of peas.
Fruit. Frozen and dehydrated fruits are my favorites in winter. I’ve gone through all but two jars of my tart cherries. I was tired of picking and pitting cherries in the summer….but now I’d happily do that work since I can’t buy any tart cherries now. I should have a pound per week of fruit preserved for the winter per person.
Parsley and Celery. I love cooking and juicing with both of these. I’m completely out of both and they are just great sources of nutrients. I need at least 50 “bunches” of parsley and celery chopped and frozen or celeriac in the frig/root cellar.
Rosemary. For the first year, I have enough rosemary. I bought one of those rosemary Christmas trees. I love to roast vegetables with rosemary….so now I pick up the plant and use the scissors to keep snipping the plant back into the Christmas tree shape. I get at least a couple of tablespoons per trimming…finally enough rosemary.
So that’s my lesson this week. If I want a diet full of plant nutrients and I don’t want a huge grocery bill, I need to think of my vegetable garden as a source of HUNDREDS of vegetables and plants. I’ve never really noticed how many vegetables it takes to have a nutritious diet.
Another way to think about it is…let’s modestly say you need five vegetable and fruit servings per day. Here in Colorado, we have about 4 months of non-growing seasons. So five servings per day x 30 days x 4 months means I need to have at least 600 servings of vegetables and fruit PER PERSON preserved in cool storage, cans or the freezer by December 1st if I want to grow my own food. WOW. All I can say is thank you to all the farmers who have been providing this for me my whole life!