Gardening can be fickle sometimes. One year you grow enough for seven families and the following year, you barely have enough for your own family. Many factors can play into this like weather, watering, and neglect. Some years you will have the perfect growing conditions as well as plenty of time to weed, water, and tend to your plants. The following year could be a year of drought or you have more planted than time to work on the garden.
When we start planning our gardens, we do so with big dreams while trying to remember the lessons we learned from the year before. We plan for fresh eating as well as canning and preserving our bounty. We put many plants in the ground, hoping to lose only a couple. Then growing time hits and we sow many seeds in hopes that they will come up.
As the garden starts producing, you start eating and preserving the bounty. We are excited to start canning, freezing, dehydrating, and fermenting our bounty. Since winter, we have been planning for this moment, and we can’t wait to preserve everything!
However, we tend to run out of steam to preserve our bounties at the end of the gardening season. We are leaving zucchini on doorsteps and can not think of another thing to do with tomatoes. We are done canning. We are out of room, had to buy more jars, and are just done with it all.
The common thing I hear is that people think they have enough for the next year by this time. However, that is not quite the attitude to have, especially in this day and age.
You should be looking to grow enough food in one year to preserve for two years. That may seem a little extreme, but in the event of a lousy gardening year, you will wish you had done more the year before. You will be happy that you preserved everything you could that year in lean times. When the grocery stores are in short supply, you will be glad to have food at home that comes fresh from the garden. When listeria and salmonella are reported, you will be happy to know that your preserved produce doesn’t have that issue.
You may think that you never have an issue with your garden and everything grows no matter what. Every year, your garden is on point and you always have more than you can use. That’s great, but our climate is changing a little. The weather is in a pattern of more extreme temperatures and conditions. And what happens if you are not healthy enough to tend to your garden? Life happens and you may not be able to grow food that year. Then you will be happy to have the excess from last year on your shelves.
Let me tell you about my garden from last year. I’m accustomed to not having some things grow in my garden. Every year, something decides to not take off for whatever reason. One year it was zucchini. One year it was my squash plants. Another year, my cucumber and zucchini seeds kept being dug up and eaten.
However, this last year was my tomatoes. All twenty plants struggled in the garden. The two grape tomato plants didn’t even bother to live despite watering and love. Several factors play into this, with the big one being in a severe drought for most of the summer. Even though I watered plenty, nothing compares to a good soaking rain 1-2 times a week.
In my canning plans, tomatoes figure in prominently. We make several jars of salsa, pizza sauce, pasta sauce, diced tomatoes, and crushed tomatoes/tomato sauce. I only got a couple of tomatoes this year. Not having any tomatoes this year was hard but not devastating because I already had made more than what we needed from the previous year (or three). A great friend did allow me to pick a couple five-gallon buckets of tomatoes from her garden which I mainly turned into salsa and crushed tomatoes. However, I had plenty canned from the year before to ride out this year’s garden failure.
That may not have happened though if I did not preserve the excess from years before. I do get to the point of being seriously sick of canning tomatoes. I will just start cutting them up and throwing them into jars to get them processed. Trust me, they still get used. I have to remind myself that next year may not be a good year and I’ll be happy to have these on the shelf. I was this year!
Another factor you need to consider is the supply chain. We have been short of a few items here and there. We are still seeing more empty shelves than we used to see. Panic buying has wiped out stores. If you take responsibility and become your own supply chain with your garden, you will be further ahead than many people who do not see that far into the future.
Having shelves and freezers full of preserved food can help you ride out many storms. If you can become your own grocery store, you can see yourself through supply shortages, job loss, financial setbacks, and more. However, the effort is 100% on you to make it happen. You are the only person who can take care of you and your needs. If you plan ahead and prepare for those things, you will be ahead of everyone who did not think to grow or preserve their own food.
You can grow food for one year and preserve it for two years intentionally. You can enlarge your gardens, grow more than you know you need, and put away twice as much food. You can do this every year, knowing that you are covered if you have a terrible year. You would also be able to help out family and friends in need and support your community in their times of trouble.
There is no better feeling in the world than to know that you can provide and take care of yourself. While having a community is nice, too many people rely on the kindness of others and depend way too much on government entities to take of them. That kind of thinking needs to stop and that needs to start with you. Grow your own food and plan ahead for the future. That means growing more than you need and preserving more than you want to for more challenging times ahead.
Thanks for reading,