On days like this, it can be hard to picture those warm, sunny times out tending a full and healthy garden. But it’s never too early to start planning ahead! If you’re starting a garden for the first time, or if you just weren’t satisfied with your garden’s yield this past season, now is a perfect time to start laying the mental groundwork for next year.
An easy way to do this is by simply noticing the fresh foods you find yourself missing this time of year. Not everything you crave in December may be a reasonable expectation for your garden next season (personally, I wish raspberries were an all-season fruit) but you can certainly plan to, say, grow a few more pounds of carrots than you did this year, or perhaps another bushel of green beans for canning. Imagine not having to buy produce at the store because you have your own homegrown supply stash waiting to be used!
In their book “Root Cellaring”, Mike and Nancy Bubel outline what a year of eating from your own garden can look like when properly planned. For example, while in August you may be enjoying all fresh veggies and fruits straight from the garden, in January you may be eating fresh kale and chard, but also frozen broccoli and canned tomatoes. If well-thought out, your garden can provide you with everything you need for delicious dishes in the winter, such as the Bubels’ recipe for winter ratatouille:
3 medium onions, sliced
2 sweet peppers, chopped
1/3 cup olive oil
1 large, firm eggplant
4 medium tomatoes, chopped
3-6 cloves garlic, crushed
Sautee onions and peppers in part of the oil. When nearly tender but not brown, add other vegetables and heat briefly. Then pour into shallow baking pan and bake at 350 degrees F for 40-60 minutes, adding remaining olive oil just before putting vegetables in the oven. Excellent with rice, and good as a cold spread, too.
High Rocks’ first Grow Appalachia meeting for the 2017 year will be during the week of January 22nd – 28th. We will be creating garden plans/maps as well as ordering seeds for the year, so it would be a great idea to take some time in the coming weeks to notice which veggies and crops – and in what amounts – you wish you’d had this time around! If you would like to register for the 2017 year, please shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 304.653.4891.