Month: October 2021

5 Ways to Use Your Extra Garden Vegetables

If you grow your own vegetable garden, you’re likely familiar with end-of-season surplus. As harvest time approaches, you may find that you have more vegetables than you can use. 

It seems like a shame to throw away produce, especially when you’ve worked so hard to grow it. Fortunately, there are quite a few ways to make sure your extra garden vegetables don’t go to waste. 

1) Preserve Your Produce

Pickling is a simple (and delicious) way to keep your extra produce from going to waste. You can pickle your vegetables in a couple hours, and once sealed, they’ll last on your shelf for up to a year or more. There’s also a lot of room to get creative with flavors when you pickle. 

You can start pickling today with a few Mason jars and some basic herbs and spices. 

2) Vacuum Seal and Freeze

A vacuum sealer is an invaluable tool for the harvest season. If you vacuum seal and freeze your extra produce, it will be almost completely protected from moisture, oxygen, and heat. As a result, it will keep almost indefinitely. Vacuum-sealed, frozen produce stays good for years. 

You can find a vacuum sealer at your local home improvement or general retail store. All you have to do is wash and chop up your produce (if it’s larger, like squash; smaller produce like green beans can be frozen whole), put it in a bag, seal it, and place it in your freezer. That’s it!

3) Give Produce to Neighbors

Extra fruits and vegetables are also a great way to get closer to your neighbors and foster a stronger local community. 

Put together little bundles of fruits and vegetables and take them over to the houses in your neighborhood. It’s a great way to introduce yourself (and it may come in handy the next time you need help jumpstarting your car). 

4) Sell Your Veggies

Why not make some money off your extra produce? Many local farmer’s markets will rent out a booth for a nominal fee, giving you a chance to sell excess fruits and vegetables for profit. 

Most farmer’s markets will also let you sell homemade baked goods, preserves, and other food items, so if you’re handy in the kitchen, you can turn your surplus produce into premade goods and bring in more money. You may even find that you really enjoy selling your food, in which case a farmer’s market booth can turn into a nice little year-round side business. 

5) Make Your Own Compost

If all else fails and you find you have produce that’s no longer edible, your best bet is to make it into compost. 

Composting is a simple, low-effort, inexpensive way to ensure that next year’s garden is exceptional. Homemade compost is one of the best ways to enrich your soil and provide your plants with the nutrients they need to grow. 

You can compost in your backyard with minimal investment of time and money. You can also compost through winter if you start in autumn. You’ll have nutrient-dense compost ready by the time spring arrives — perfect to start off strong with the first crops of the year. 

Pickling and Preserving Your Fall Vegetables

Garden City Harvest

Spring and summer get the most love, but fall is a surprisingly good time to grow a vegetable garden. The cooling weather favors hearty root vegetables, including:

  • Turnips
  • Carrots
  • Beets
  • Radishes 
  • Parsnips
  • Yams
  • Sweet potatoes

 

Fall is also the ideal time to plant vegetables from the brassica family:

  • Broccoli
  • Kale
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Kohlrabi

 

When you finish harvesting your garden, you’ll likely have a surplus of vegetables. The good news is that many fall crops are ideal for pickling and preserving. Here’s how to make your fall vegetables last through the winter (and a couple recipes to get you started). 

 

A Simple 4-Step Guide to Pickling

Pickling means preserving something in a brine — a combination of salt and liquid. You’ve likely had pickled cucumbers before, but you can pickle all kinds of vegetables. 

Quick pickling will keep vegetables for about a month, but in this article, we’re going to focus on shelf-stable pickling. By following these steps, your vegetables should be preserved and good to eat for well over a year. 

There are a few short steps to pickling just about anything. You will need:

  • Mason jars (or other canning jars)
  • Fresh vegetables
  • Salt
  • Sugar
  • Vinegar
  • Herbs, spices, or other flavorings

 

Step 1: Prepare Your Veggies

As a general rule, the firmer the flesh of a vegetable, the better it will stand up to long-term pickling. Leafy greens like kale are better eaten fresh, but beets, carrots, turnips, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts are all great choices for pickling. 

Chop your vegetables up into roughly 1-inch pieces and set them aside. You’ll also want to prepare any herbs and spices you plan to use. Good choices include:

  • Bay leaf (1 leaf per jar)
  • Whole black peppercorns (1-3 tsp per jar)
  • Celery seed (½ tsp per jar)
  • Whole dried chili peppers (1-3 per jar)
  • Cumin seed (½ tsp per jar)
  • Dill seed (½ tsp per jar)
  • Coriander seed (½ tsp per jar)
  • Caraway seed (½ tsp per jar)
  • Mustard seed (½ tsp per jar)
  • Fresh dill (2-4 sprigs per jar)
  • Habanero peppers (1 sliced pepper per jar; remove seeds for less heat)
  • Sliced garlic (1-2 cloves per jar)
  • Oregano (1 sprig per jar)
  • Sliced shallots (½ shallot per jar)

If you aren’t sure where to start, try the recipe at the end of this article!

 

Step 2: Sterilize Your Jars

Sterilizing is the most important step in pickling. You want to make sure that you kill bacteria and molds so your food doesn’t spoil while on the shelf. 

The easiest way to sterilize your mason jars is by boiling them. Submerge the jars and tops (both the lid and the screw collar) in boiling water on your stovetop for at least 10 minutes, then remove them to a clean kitchen towel or paper towel and let them dry. 

 

Step 3: Create a Brine and Fill Your Jars

Creating a brine is easy. You need:

  • 4 cups water
  • 4 cups vinegar
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • ½ cup kosher salt

Mix everything together in a saucepan and bring it to a boil. Fill your jars with your vegetables and flavorings, then pour the brine into the jars so that it completely covers the vegetables. Wipe any residue off the rim of the jar, then put on the lid and screw the collar tight. 

 

Step 4: Boil Your Sealed Jars

The final step in preserving pickled vegetables is to boil your jars of veggies. Put them in boiling water for 10 minutes, then turn off the heat, let the jars sit in the water for another 10 minutes, and remove and dry them. 

This step forms an airtight seal, ensuring that your pickled vegetables will stay good for months. 

At this point, you can set your jars on a shelf in your pantry. Your veggies will keep at room temperature almost indefinitely — although they will get softer as the months go on, so if you like a snap to your pickled vegetables, you may want to eat them within the first three months or so. 

You can use this method to preserve all your fall vegetables and keep them throughout the winter. Looking for a place to start? Try these pickled carrots. 

 

Recipe: Pickled Dill Carrots 

Ingredients:

For the brine:

  • 4 cups white vinegar
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • ½ cup kosher salt

 

For the pickled veggies:

  • 4 lbs carrots, peeled and sliced or halved
  • 6 sprigs of fresh dill
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp dill seed
  • 1 tbsp coriander seed
  • 6 32-oz mason jars

 

Follow the steps outlined in the article above. Each mason jar should contain:

  • 1 sprig of fresh dill
  • 1 whole garlic clove
  • ½ tsp dill seed
  • ½ tsp coriander seed

Do Watering Needs Change During the Fall?

Fall is here, and with it come several changes to your garden. 

Fall is the perfect time to grow hearty late-season vegetables and compost autumn leaves for the upcoming spring season. 

That said, if you’re going to continue working in your garden throughout fall, you’ll have to change your approach a bit. As the weather cools off, it’s important to adjust your watering habits accordingly. 

 

Your Garden Needs Less Water During Fall

During summer, plentiful watering is one of the most important parts of a gardening routine. The summer heat means a lot of water will evaporate from the soil in your garden. In addition, plants are getting lots of sunlight, and you want to give them enough water to take advantage of that sunlight and grow. 

If you don’t water regularly during the summer (maybe every day, depending on your climate), your plants will go thirsty and their growth will be stunted. 

During fall, however, your plants’ watering needs change. Cooler weather means less water evaporates during the day. Your plants are also getting less sunlight and growing more slowly, so their roots will take up less water. 

If you don’t adjust your watering schedule accordingly, you risk overwatering your plants, which can rot the roots and cause fungal diseases to take hold. Both can be devastating to your garden. 

 

How Often Should You Water During Fall?

If you’re in a rainy climate and you get at least an inch of rainfall per week, you won’t have to water at all during autumn. 

Otherwise, you’ll want to keep watering your garden until the ground freezes. If the weather is warm (60) and you aren’t getting rainfall, water 2-4 times a week. 

As the temperature drops toward 40℉, you can reduce watering to once a week. 

The first hard frost in late autumn will likely kill most of your summer plants, but hearty fall plants like root vegetables can survive frosts. As long as the temperature is still above 32℉, you can continue watering once a week. When freezing temperatures arrive, it’s time to stop watering and begin winterizing your garden. 

 

Simplify Watering Year Round

If you want to make watering as simple as possible, we suggest using a B-hyve Sprinkler Timer.

B-hyve is a smart watering system that uses WeatherSense™ technology to deliver the perfect amount of water to your garden, based on local temperature and weather data. You can even check your water use and program B-hyve from your smartphone or computer. 

To date, B-hyve has saved more than 30 billion gallons of water nationwide. It’s not just good for the environment; it saves you money on your water bill every month and ensures that you never have to think about watering again. If you want to simplify your watering routine, give B-hyve a try.