This is my third year gardening and I have had some awesome crops and some big fat flop crops. I live in northern Wisconsin and our area has sandy soil which can be good and bad. Good for drainage, but not so good for nutrients. Because of the sandy soil, my husband made me a raised garden bed. It has three sections, one deep square section, and two shallow rectangular sections. He also installed some amazing solar lights. The lights aren’t necessary but it looks awesome at night!
I know there are recommendations for which crops work best together in a raised garden bed. I didn’t realize that when I first started and I picked some aggressive, viney crops that took over! One year I had cucumbers and sugar pumpkins. They did awesome but took over my other poor plants. Now that I know there is some great information out there regarding what to plant together, my garden is doing much better.
Now, as much as I love going out each week and coming inside with a big tray full of crops, I sometimes find myself overwhelmed and not sure what to do with it all! After all, I am only cooking for myself and my husband. Our baby boy is still on that all milk diet. Below is a list of things I do with my harvest.
- Share with Friends & Co-workers! It feels good to give to others without expecting anything in return. Also, you get to show off your awesome crops you grew! I usually just bring in excess crops (rinsed) to work and put up a sign that says, “Help Yourself!”
- Prep & Freeze Depending on which crops you have, some of them might freeze nicely. I currently have bags of chopped zucchini, grated zucchini, and chopped peppers in the freezer. These are so handy to grab and through into a meal. I grab the chopped peppers and throw them into an omelet for the morning. I recently grabbed the chopped zucchini and threw it on the stove top with a mix of other things and made delicious veggie melts. My husband was hesitant at first but ended up loving it!
- Rinse, Chop & Enjoy If you know you can eat the veggies within the next few days, give them a good rinse and put them in the fridge. Today, I picked poblano peppers, banana peppers, tomatoes, and a green pepper. I gave them all a good rinse and chopped most of them. With the chopped mix I made some individual baggies that I can throw on a salad, in an omelet or pasta dish. I also made salsa by adding some salt, pepper, cumin, and garlic to the mix.
*Bonus Tip* I was so frustrated this season because my tomatoes were not turning red. At first I thought I was just being impatient but when I saw my fellow gardening buddies posting about their delicious red tomatoes I decided something was up! It had been well over the amount of time that species of tomato was supposed to become ripe. I discovered that because we had a significant amount of rain this summer and we have an irrigation system, they were getting too much water. Fortunately, the rain let up and we turned off the sprinklers. I finally got my red tomatoes!
Now, I will leave you with an adorable picture of Axel next to a giant zucchini!