With the leaves starting to change here in Colorado (so excited!) it’s about time to wrap up the summer garden. We had a pretty successful year and I wanted to do a quick rundown of what we grew and how we used it!
Also, for those of you interested, I will share links to some of my favorite books this year that got me through all of the produce. This turned out to be a long post as I went through my camera roll to get pictures of everything we did!
Peas – So this is an easy early season seed and one of the husband’s favorite veggies so we plant it right around St. Patrick’s Day (or the first week of lock down in 2020…). We don’t plant a ton because we want to leave room for other things, like the carrots that are right below them but we get enough to shell and freeze a few meals worth. Most veggies get frozen pretty quickly in our house to ensure that we don’t forget about them. The worst pain for me is throwing away fruits and veggies I grew myself!
Carrots – Another small crop for us. Just enough to enjoy for the week or so after they come out of the ground. This year it was raw and roasted for us. Next year, we have a plan to add more carrots to the rotation. They are an easy seed and you can plant and harvest them all summer.
One new thing I did this year was a carrot top pesto! I really enjoyed it as a sandwich spread but the Husband thought it tasted, well, not like a pesto… I guess it will be my go to spread during the cold months.
Zucchini – This is the plant that you can’t kill! I worked really hard at trimming and maintaining my ONE plant this year. In the past, I have planted two of these and then we drown in squash. Since we can’t eat this much zucchini, I make bread and freeze tiny loaves. I also pop it in the food processor with the grating blade. The grated veggies go into quart freezer bags with about 2 1/2 cups to 3 cups so I can pull it out for egg cups or zucchini bread later on! I have found that freezing everything flat on a cookie sheet really helps to keep your freezer organized!
Peppers (HOT!!!) – Does anyone know what these are? They are tiny hot peppers. I thought I had grabbed some shishitos but based on the crazy reaction when the Husband ate them, I think we were wrong… Anyway, small plant that we didn’t really pay much attention too.
Coolapenos (jalapenos) – This plant was really successful this year. I don’t like hot peppers so we tried a new variety. All of the flavor of a jalapeno with absolutely no punch. I liked them but I think we will go back to traditional jalapenos next year.
With these, I did a mix of frozen halves, frozen jalapeno poppers (great for parties!) and this great Jalapeno Salt recipe which is great for popcorn!
Tomatoes, Tomatoes, Tomatoes… Between the tomatoes I bought to put up, the romas from the garden, and the gifts from friends I think I processed about 55 pounds of tomatoes. I did marinara and pizza sauce as well as a beautifully rich tomato jam! I also can quartered tomatoes for sauces later in the season and I tried my hand at freezing some halves to see how they hold up. I love tomatoes in just about everything so this is a no brainer for me!
Green Beans – Another quick grower like the peas. We actually take out the peas and plant beans right away to get them both in! We get enough for a few meals and are in the middle of the harvest now. We have been pulling in enough to steam the last few days and tonight I will blanch, shock, and freeze the rest. Quick process and this will get us a few more meals! If you ever see them on sale at the store, it’s a great one to freeze!
Grapes – This was our stellar crop this year! Because of the snow, we had to bring them all in at once and we got about 60 pounds! I don’t know the varieties but we know they aren’t wine grapes. We had a few bird problems during the summer but we were able to chase them off! So last weekend, we started our first batch of homemade wine… no guarantees here but a great way to use up a lot of grapes. We have been sending them home with friends and making raisins this week! Next is a grape blend fruit leather on the dehydrator (it needed a break!) and freezing up whatever juice we have left for smoothies and cocktails!
Eggplant (FINALLY!) – That’s our first wee eggplant with the frost cloth behind it! We were going to get things go with the snow until a saw this little ray of sunshine! We had so many eggplants last year and this year, I didn’t think any were going to bloom. We kept getting the beautiful purple flowers and then they would rot away… Now, we have this guy and maybe 2 more so I am going to babysit and hope we can have some eggplant parm with homemade marinara and pasta before the next snow.
And the final honorable mention is the basil… I use quite a bit of this throughout the summer and have loved having basil infused lemonade but once the season is over, I tend to just let it go. This year, I am going to pop it on the dehydrator and see if it gets used over the winter. No promises.
What’s next… new garden bed for garlic and then root vegetables! Next to our covered patio, we have a space that is nothing but river rocks. It gets a few hours of hot sun but not a ton! I am dying to put in a pretty good size garden bed to plant garlic and root vegetables. We have stayed away from these in the past because most of the veggies that I want to put in take a lot of time and space! So, hopefully before the first hard frost, we can get something set up! I will share as soon as we have plans.
And finally, as promised, my go to books for the dehydrator and canning. When canning, it’s important to use tested and approved recipes to make sure your food stays safe to store and eat!