Five years ago we moved to the country; just outside of Waverly, Iowa. I planted my very first garden that summer when my oldest child was only 9. Now it has become a family tradition that just keeps growing. The first year we only had enough to eat on for a little while. The next few years I was able to get some beans and tomato sauce canned and some corn frozen. But we went all out this year since there are now 4 children aged 14 down to 7 who are able to assist with all of the gardening duties. The garden is at least triple the size of past years. Growing up we did not have gardens or fields around the house. We had blacktop, concrete, and the farmers’ market in a city parking lot. Because of this, I am taking extra time to research canning methods and decide which method fits our lifestyle best.
Our first set of potatoes yielded us approximately 40 pounds of large baking potatoes. We have found that keeping your garden potatoes covered in dirt until you are ready to cook them will help preserve them longer. Also, placing them in the basement in an old burlap or onion sack will keep them from sprouting roots too soon. I learned that trick from my step Father.
I have utilized so many sources in the course of my gardening and learning how to can. I also enjoy freezing corn off the cob. It is the best sweet corn to have in the winter. Nothing beats opening a quart jar and having fresh garden green beans or peas. Plus, I even learned that canning carrots and tomatoes are very simple as well. I tend to like tomato sauce versus diced tomatoes when I do my canning. We are harvesting banana peppers, jalapeno peppers, bell peppers, chili peppers, garlic, and onion. We hang these out to dry and then grind them up to make seasonings.
My favorite part of harvesting the garden is being able to have entire meals that we grew. It is very satisfying to feed my family and know that we are eating tonight because the entire family worked together to ensure a bountiful harvest regardless of the weather each year.
The following is a list of websites about harvesting and canning fruits and vegetables from the garden.