I still can’t wait for gardening season. The time for planting spring stuff in Indiana is almost here. My spring stuff always seems to do better then my summer stuff, probably because I’m more energized and dedicated at the start of the season. With hardly any obstacles, who wouldn’t be? But with droughts and super hot temperatures like we’ve had the past few years, I just end up failing.
Not this year, though! I’ve got plans for using and storing my harvest. Here’s what I’m looking forward to growing.
Heirloom Tomatoes. My dad grows them every year and always has tons of volunteers that he starts in his basement. By tons I mean around 100. Though the summer section of my garden met its demise due to poor planning, I did get lots of tomatoes from my parents’ garden. I used my tomatoes and green beans to do plenty of canning with my preserving pal, Mary. There’s nothing like us in the kitchen during canning season! Heirloom tomatoes in particular are a favorite of my family because you can do different things with the different varieties, and everyone has a favorite. Each batch of salsa Mary and I made turned out deliciously different. With my tomatoes this year I plan to:
- Eat them fresh (duh, so good)
- Make sun dried tomatoes to have fresh, in olive oil, and frozen
- Can salsa, diced and whole tomatoes, tomato juice, and maybe try spaghetti sauce
Peppers. All kinds! Green bell peppers, jalapeños, banana peppers. None of our peppers made it last year. Maybe I’ll talk about the incident later. Ahem. Anyway, I hope to do some green, some mild, some sweet, and some hot. This is how we’d like to use them:
- Eat them fresh (always.)
- Make stuffed green peppers and freeze some singly for lunches
- Can some for pickled peppers, and use some in the salsa
- Dry some for seasonings
Kale. I grew kale for a few years but haven’t for last two seasons. It tends to do well in the spring and fall, and growing it is fairly easy and very rewarding, as long as you have the patience to deal with cabbage worms. Kale is overlooked a lot, at least by me, but is delicious and super healthy; in fact, it is considered one of huge top ten leafy greens by WebMD. This is how I’ll be using my kale:
- Eat it fresh (yes, you’re gonna see this from me each time.). Kale is delicious with a little sea salt and extra virgin olive oil.
- Throw it in the juicer. I don’t juice often, but when I do, adding kale isn’t unusual for me. It. Is. So. Delicious. Also healthy.
- I might try making kale chips. I’ve heard both awesome and horrible things. We will see.
Mesclun mix. So easy to grow, and again, so rewarding. I literally take a salad for lunch every day in late spring, once my salad greens have come up. There is nothing like a home grown salad, especially with radishes and onions from the garden. That’s pretty much all I’ll do with the mesclun mix, though.
Onions. We mostly just grow green onions to use in salads, on baked potatoes, on tacos, etc. we just pop a few in the ground every week so ewe have a staggered crop each for harvest all the time. I let them get kinda fat and then eat them whole and raw in my salads.
Heirloom Green Beans. I love them! While I don’t grow them on my property (the downfalls of living on a quarter of an acre in a neighborhood) we do grow them at my grandma’s and I pick a couple times a week. The heirlooms are bush and pole varieties. This year I plan to:
- Eat them while picking. Fresh. So amazing and filling.
- Make and can green bean pickles
- Blanche and freeze them
Peas. Peas never do super-well for me, but they never do poorly either. We mostly just eat them fresh in salads, and the kids like them fresh, plus Trent loves checking for pea pods, so they’re worth planting for us.
Herbs. I love herbs, and plan to plant several kinds. I love rosemary, cilantro, spearmint, lemon balm, and dill. I hope to dry some herbs and look into other uses.
A really great website for gardening and produce questions and tips, check the Old Farmer’s Almanac’s gardening section.
I’m hoping to possibly plant potatoes, garlic, and squash for the first time this year. What are your garden staples? What are you planning to try for the first time? Come on, garden season!