To make a summer garden last all winter long, plant a small variety of plants in large quantities. Planting small amounts of anything is not worth the preservation process, and will not be enough to last all winter long. Consider green beans, root crops, tomatoes and greens.
Home Grown Green Beans for Winter Food Storage
Green beans produce a large crop in a relatively small space. By re-planting every three weeks through July, the harvest can continue throughout the summer. One bushel of un-prepared green beans will produce between 14-20 quart jars. Canning a total of three bushels of green beans will provide more than 1 quart of home-canned green beans per week all winter long.
Add a quart of home-canned green beans to any meal all winter long. They can be added to any homemade soup or stew. Green casserole is a favorite of many during the holidays.
Home Grown Root Crops for Winter Food Storage
Root crops are very easy to grow, harvest, and store for winter food storage. Potatoes and carrots can both be easily grown, even in areas where the soil is poor. Potatoes grow well in old-tire planters. Fill an old tired with potting soil and plant the potato eyes. As the potato plant grows, add a tire to the tower, fill to the top with more soil, and continue as the potato plants grow. The potatoes are ready to harvest when the vine dies.
Potatoes can be home canned or stored in a cool, dry fruit cellar. Consider adding new (small) potatoes to jars of home canned green beans prior to processing. A jar of home canned new potatoes is a welcome addition to any roast, ham or chicken dinner. They can also be made into mashed potatoes straight from the jar.
Carrots are best raised in a raised bed if the local soil is poor. Baby carrots grow to a shallow depth, requiring less soil and they are easier to can than full-size carrots, making a nice addition to winter food storage.
Open a jar of carrots in February and add a bit of butter and brown sugar. Carrots can also be added to soups and stews, roasts and hams, all winter long.
Home Grown Tomatoes for Winter Food Storage
Tomatoes are perhaps the most versatile of all home grown crops grown for winter food storage. Approximately 3 pounds of tomatoes equals one home-canned quart for winter food storage. Each plant will yield approximately 25 pounds of tomatoes. One quart of home canned tomatoes every week for one year requires 156 pounds of tomatoes, or approximately seven plants.
Tomatoes can be canned whole, sliced or stewed. They can be pureed, sauced or juiced. Tomatoes can be added to home canned soups and stews. Can tomatoes as they are to be used as they are during the winter. The can also be canned for winter food storage with the intent to add them to recipes. Consider canning complete recipes which include tomatoes, such as soup, meat loaf or your favorite rice and bean recipe.
Home Grown Greens for Winter Food Storage
Fresh greens can be added to salads most of the winter. Greens such as kale, collards and spinach should be plant very early in the season, and again quite late in the season. They will not do well during the hottest part of the summer, but will thrive in the cooler spring and fall. Greens can also be canned for winter food storage.
There is nothing quite like fresh greens in a salad in late November, or early April. Cans of greens can be added to winter food storage and eliminate a trip to the grocery store.
Home Canned Winter Food Storage is Comforting
It is comforting to have winter food storage. Should a bad winter storm cause power outages or create a temporary shut-in situation, food is readily available. Home canned foods need not be cooked. And it is nice to have a taste of summer during the dark, cold days of winter.