One big crop to harvest and store, or succession sowing?


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I'd be interested to hear how others use the food that they grow. I struggle a bit with this - either I have a big crop that I fail to process successfully else I end up with stuff going to seed in the ground because I forgot it was there or because too much is ready for picking at once.

I'm wasting too much of what I grow.

I'm interested in the pattern that works for others. I guess I'm kind of asking what your daily/weekly routine is like when it comes to actually eating what you grow?
 
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Freeze, can, dehydrate or eat fresh. There should be no waste. Even when I have a larger than expected crop of something it is all utlized in some way. An investment in a large canner is essential. And sometimes a lot of time and work is involved. Vegetable gardening is not just about knowing how to grow something. As far as a routine is concerned, most vegetables have similar harvest dates. It can be rather hectic processing numerous vegetables at the same time but once you know how it is nothing insurmountable.
 

Meadowlark

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Failure to plan is planning to fail.

Our plan is tailored to each veggie. Those veggies that we eat fresh like the brassicas broccoli. cabbage, cauliflower, etc. I stagger plant to provide a continuous supply for fresh eating as long as the climate enables. Others like various beans are planted to mature at the same time as they are either canned or frozen or dried. With a veggie like corn, I plant in stages so that I only have 100 ears to process at a time plus have continuous supply of fresh during the growing season. Similarly on tomatoes.

A little planning goes a long way to make things easier and more efficient in the garden and in life.
 
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Freeze, can, dehydrate or eat fresh. There should be no waste. Even when I have a larger than expected crop of something it is all utlized in some way. An investment in a large canner is essential. And sometimes a lot of time and work is involved. Vegetable gardening is not just about knowing how to grow something. As far as a routine is concerned, most vegetables have similar harvest dates. It can be rather hectic processing numerous vegetables at the same time but once you know how it is nothing insurmountable.
Canning isn't a 'thing' in the UK. I think public health might be opposed to it as you simply cannot buy the equipment here. You really struggle to find it and when you do get your hands on it, it's prohibitively expensive. So for example, the lids for canning are extortionate here. Also, we tend not to have cellars or cool places where we can store produce. Nor do we have huge amounts of land. I have a huge garden by UK standards, but the entire plot is probably only 1/4 acre.

The norm here is to have big chest freezers and we freeze anything we want to store. People make jams and pickles for short term storage, but there's no canning involved.

But that said, I have purchased a water bath canner and some new style canning jars with reusable lids. Experiments thus far have gone well. The trouble is, even with water bath canning I understand that you need plenty of sugar and or acidity. Diet gets a bit unhealthy when everything is preserved in sugar and vinegar!! Although I know some argue that the dire warnings are overkill. I know my mum used to make jam and if it got a bit of mould she'd just scrape the top off. No one got botchelism.

Energy costs are going through the roof here. Hard to explain in terms that would make sense to you, but electricity has always been much more expensive than the US, and it's more than doubled this past year. Also threats of power cuts. So keeping things cool in summer and frost free in winter is tricky. Our houses aren't built to accommodate storage of food.

But absolutely you've nailed the problem I'm having. Not helped by the government announcing the latest crisis just at the moment when I need to be concentrating on my veg! Another problem in the UK is we're all very much plugged in to the infrastructure.
Mentally we're not as independent as I think many in rural parts of the US are. That's what I'm trying to overcome. I don't want to be thrown by every shock wave that hits the country!
 
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Failure to plan is planning to fail.

Our plan is tailored to each veggie. Those veggies that we eat fresh like the brassicas broccoli. cabbage, cauliflower, etc. I stagger plant to provide a continuous supply for fresh eating as long as the climate enables. Others like various beans are planted to mature at the same time as they are either canned or frozen or dried. With a veggie like corn, I plant in stages so that I only have 100 ears to process at a time plus have continuous supply of fresh during the growing season. Similarly on tomatoes.

A little planning goes a long way to make things easier and more efficient in the garden and in life.
I plan, but my plans are dire and things tend not to work out as I imagine them!!! But next year will be my third/fourth season so hopefully I'll start getting better. Another problem is that we've been doing this whilst taking on big projects - so building new beds, polytunnel, workshops etc. Too much on our plate. Then there's the two beagle pups added to our existing two beagle family - chaos!! But I'm really determined to do better next year.
 
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I do canning.
One of the beauties of canning, or preserving in general, is that it helps get two different crops out of the same ground.
I followed my peas & broad beans (loads of both in freezer) with red cabbage & swede, both of which I'm just beginning to crop now.
 
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Canning is such an integral part of gardening here. I really can't imagine not using it as a preservation means.

The canning tradition goes back generations in my family history. No one has ever reported any safety problems with it.

Unfortunately, my grandparents and their processors forgot more than I ever knew about canning.

It is truly becoming a lost art....but one day will see a huge resurgence, I predict.
 
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I know my mum used to make jam and if it got a bit of mould she'd just scrape the top off. No one got botchelism.
:) My dad would have said 'A bit of penicillium won't hurt you.' He was a biologist. Th real nasties need protien, not carbohydrates and sugars, and when they take them from veg like beans they cause a stink. If it smells okay and isn't meat it is probably fine.
 
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It all gets reduced to preservation. I have most of the tools to freeze, dehydrate, refrigerate and PRESSURE CAN. Pressure canning is my main method. It takes effort as does most methods of preservation. My growing season is max 4 months.

For off season use, there are about 350 liter jars of pressure canned produce so far at room temperature. Also potatoes, garlic, onions in the small cold room. I will get a bit more before freeze up. Grow vegetables and buy others. Lentils, beans, peas, and grains dried. Frozen only meat in small quantities. I eat little meat. .

During the growing seaon I eat as much fresh produce as possible.
 
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My grandparents canned food. That was 30 years ago at the least. I was too little then to care or see how they done it but they had a lot of food stored. I do remember the cellar of food and papaw telling me to get out of his apple tree before I broke it.
 
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Vacuum bagging and vacuum canning dry or dried foods is a thing. Even though canning kinda tastes bland after a couple years if you make too much. Trading around is fun. I do a lot of freezing. I would rather have a variety of things to enhance the staples than go a mile deep into one thing. And I have learned to enjoy foods that give multiple preserved forms. Tomato, fresh, whole skinned, diced, pureed, pasted and juiced gives a kitchen some depth. Spices and herbs, with a variety of flours helps run the gamut from pasta to pastry and other bread. Mostly its just what you like to eat. For me, garlic and onions are always running low
 
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It all gets reduced to preservation. I have most of the tools to freeze, dehydrate, refrigerate and PRESSURE CAN. Pressure canning is my main method. It takes effort as does most methods of preservation. My growing season is max 4 months.

For off season use, there are about 350 liter jars of pressure canned produce so far at room temperature. Also potatoes, garlic, onions in the small cold room. I will get a bit more before freeze up. Grow vegetables and buy others. Lentils, beans, peas, and grains dried. Frozen only meat in small quantities. I eat little meat. .

During the growing seaon I eat as much fresh produce as possible.
The problem here in the UK is the cost of jars and lids for that 350L of produce. And the energy cost of processing. Even if you have the money, in the current climate what happens if you can't import the lids? We have to import them from the US, but as shipping costs go up the price can only go higher.....possibly with imports stopping altogether.

That's what put me off going further than a large pan for water bath canning and about 20 jars with reusable lids. It would simply make home grown food too expensive.

The other difficulty is creating a cold room. We have a biggish house so have spare rooms but it's very hard to keep them cool enough. We don't have cellars and as we're a cold climate the houses are designed to stay warm.

Even an extra freezer is becoming questionable due to the cost of running them now that energy prices are so high. We have solar, but not in the depths of winter. We have a shed, but that gets oven hot in the summer and sub zero in the winter.

We do have a food dehydrator and that can run free of charge on solar in the summer months.

American (and perhaps European?) houses were built with food storage in mind, but our houses are built with easy access to a big supermarket in mind!!
 
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Food preservation is seldom practiced in Canada in my experience. Produce gardens are few and far between. I had to obtain utentials from scratch. They are mostly reusable meaning a one time expense. I grow and preserve for one person. Fortunately I was raised on a homestead,virgin land. It gave me a bit of a head start. But trying to be self sufficient still takes effort and a bit of expense. It is so much easier to go the fast food route, which is the norm. And it shows on the people.

There are many relatively good tools that have simplified preserving. Hand blender, butterfly strainers, simple pressure canners, larger aluminium pots. I fortunately live in or near the Niagara growing area so have access to produce that I do not grow.

People are still using or trying to use the old methods,which were never very good. Most canning was abysmal if I remember correctly. Freezing has its merits and works for meat, but is poor for most vegetables. I like my slurry/juicing method. It has short cummings as most preserving methods, but is the best for my purposes. I am always experimenting and trying to simplify.
 
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The problem here in the UK is the cost of jars and lids for that 350L of produce. And the energy cost of processing. Even if you have the money, in the current climate what happens if you can't import the lids? We have to import them from the US, but as shipping costs go up the price can only go higher.....possibly with imports stopping altogether.

That's what put me off going further than a large pan for water bath canning and about 20 jars with reusable lids. It would simply make home grown food too expensive.

The other difficulty is creating a cold room. We have a biggish house so have spare rooms but it's very hard to keep them cool enough. We don't have cellars and as we're a cold climate the houses are designed to stay warm.

Even an extra freezer is becoming questionable due to the cost of running them now that energy prices are so high. We have solar, but not in the depths of winter. We have a shed, but that gets oven hot in the summer and sub zero in the winter.

We do have a food dehydrator and that can run free of charge on solar in the summer months.

American (and perhaps European?) houses were built with food storage in mind, but our houses are built with easy access to a big supermarket in mind!!
I would not say that a cool room is a specific problem. I am in Alabama USA along the 33 latitude and our house just has normal closets here we store some jars, like pickles or tomato jars. We do have air conditioning as it gets very hot and humid here.
 
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I built a small cold room. Insulated walls and ceiling. Size about 3x6 by 8 feet tall. Ran a 6 inch pipe to outdoors for a bit of cool air. Vent outlet in ceiling. It probably gets to10 -15 C, cooler in Winter. Light and door. Better than nothing. It keeps garlic, potatoes and onions reaonably well.
 
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I built a small cold room. Insulated walls and ceiling. Size about 3x6 by 8 feet tall. Ran a 6 inch pipe to outdoors for a bit of cool air. Vent outlet in ceiling. It probably gets to10 -15 C, cooler in Winter. Light and door. Better than nothing. It keeps garlic, potatoes and onions reaonably well.
That's something I've been thinking about doing.

We have two options. We use one small bedroom as a food store. It is South West facing so would get very hot in the afternoon. But we've set up shelves in the window and enclosed it all in insulated silver fabric. So essentially it creates a nice sunny grow room in the window but the rest of the room stays cool. Our generators are in this room (which need to stay cool), as are our freezers - so that makes them more efficient to run. But it tends to hover around 17 degrees C all year.

We also have a big walk-in cupboard in our utility room that we could insulate. It has no windows and the only external wall is north facing.
 
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I would not say that a cool room is a specific problem. I am in Alabama USA along the 33 latitude and our house just has normal closets here we store some jars, like pickles or tomato jars. We do have air conditioning as it gets very hot and humid here.
It's not hot enough for air-con here. Houses are built to stay warm - not cool. But I'm sure there is a way to turn a room into a cool room - I need to put a bit more thought and research into this.
 

Meadowlark

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Here's my "cold" room Texas style. I just try to get the stored onions through the Texas summer ...and after that it really isn't a problem keeping them nice. This is a 200 plus pound crop of red/yellow onions harvested last mid-May. We have eaten about half of the crop and lost a few in storage but the remaining should carry us through to next harvest.

By the way, the "book" says you can't store sweet onions more than 2 months at most.... proof the "book" is wrong!

I also store potatoes this way, but I use them first out of open storage ahead of the canned potatoes. Out of a 200+ pound harvest of red potatoes, all of the open storage ones have been consumed and still have about 20 jars of canned of potatoes and a fall crop in the ground.

This storage is an open-air covered equipment shed and produce is stored up off the ground on woven wire where air can circulate around it. Works for me in a very difficult storage environment.


onion storage 2022.JPG
 
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Here's my "cold" room Texas style. I just try to get the stored onions through the Texas summer ...and after that it really isn't a problem keeping them nice. This is a 200 plus pound crop of red/yellow onions harvested last mid-May. We have eaten about half of the crop and lost a few in storage but the remaining should carry us through to next harvest.

By the way, the "book" says you can't store sweet onions more than 2 months at most.... proof the "book" is wrong!

I also store potatoes this way, but I use them first out of open storage ahead of the canned potatoes. Out of a 200+ pound harvest of red potatoes, all of the open storage ones have been consumed and still have about 20 jars of canned of potatoes and a fall crop in the ground.

This storage is an open-air covered equipment shed and produce is stored up off the ground on woven wire where air can circulate around it. Works for me in a very difficult storage environment.


View attachment 93091

What kind of temperatures does your store reach - in summer and winter?
 
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Meadowlark

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In summer our air temps range from about 77 deg F at night to 95+ during the day...this from June through September. Humidity is also very high during this time period...often at or approaching 100%.

Winter is just not a problem with lows generally just above freezing to highs in the 70s and 80s.

If an onion makes it through the summer storage it generally will be very good through winter.

I might add, one can't just throw harvested onions into this storage. Water must be carefully managed at least a week before harvest and after harvest the onions must be allowed to dry in full sun for about 8 hours before moving them into storage. In storage, the onions must not touch other onions and any that go bad should be removed. Fortunately, not many go bad.
 

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