Thursday, March 6, 2014

Spring Planning Begins (& Harvest Tally 2013)

As I write this post, there are still three inches of snow on the ground from our last snow/ice storm.  But! According to the weather folks, temperatures will soar into the 60's this weekend.  Will this be the last we'll see of snow this year?

We've had more nice-sized snow events this year than I can remember and I've loved every single one. While I also adore spring, spring means work and work goes much smoother around here with planning.

Just the other day, I spent a while shut-up in our cool pantry reorganizing the jars (bringing the full ones to the front and shifting the empties to the back).  This gave me a good idea of what still needs using and what I need to not use as fast.  It also helps me think about adjustments I want to make for next year.  But before I can start planning for 2014, I need to wrap up 2013 and tally our totals for the record- a task that escaped me in the fall.

If you haven't designated a simple, cheap notebook as your canning/preserving journal, do so now.  You likely won't have time when you're knee deep in green beans.

2013 Harvest Tally (all grown by us unless otherwise noted)

23 pints snow peas, froze
7 1/2 quarts, crushed and froze, and 1 pint, dried, strawberries
2 1/2 pints mulberries, froze
2 pints sour cherries, froze (tree was damaged from a wind storm, very few cherries on)
2 quarts mixed berries (mulberries, black and red raspberries), froze
12 quarts green beans, froze
8 3/4 quarts blueberries, froze, from my Great Uncle's farm (we ate handfuls of our blueberries but not enough to freeze)
1 quart wineberries, froze
15 loaves zucchini bread, froze
27 quarts corn, froze (ours) and 28 (3-cup bags) corn, froze (from Jamey's parents)
2 cups pesto, froze
5 gallon bags New Zealand spinach, froze
10 pints red raspberries, froze
1 pint and 6 (2 1/2-cup) containers beet hummus, froze
2 1/2 gallon bags bell peppers, froze
25 pints chopped/stewed tomatoes, canned
22 quarts peaches from a local orchard, canned
69 pints and 5 quarts tomato sauce, canned
8 pints salsa, canned
18 quarts tomato soup, canned
19 quarts pears, canned
5 jelly jars apple pie jam, canned
10 quarts chopped broccoli from an Amish road stand, froze
165 quarts applesauce, canned with Tattler Reusable Lids (our first experience)
4 (2 1/2-cup) bags ground cherries from my parents, froze
1 1/2 pints Shittake mushrooms, dried

Some things to note:
~ I put up very little jam because we still have a lot from years past.  We're eating less jam as we're replacing it with local honey.
~ I still had pesto and bell peppers left from last year, so I preserved less.
~ I came into possession of a lovely used pressure canner (thanks to a reader, no less!!) so next year, we hope to freeze less of certain veggies and can more.
~ Our pears are very tart and I made the mistake of using the same strength syrup for them as I did as when I canned peaches.  The kids don't like them as much because they're a bit sour, so I've been using them in pear-based desserts.
~ Our two sweet cherry trees produced about 5 cherries, which the birds promptly ate.  Maybe this year, I'll get the nets on so we can eat them instead.
~ We were very happy with the New Zealand spinach and will be growing it again/letting it come up (we hear it re-seeds itself).
~ Less is more- not in quantity but in the number of kinds of things put up.  The more experienced in this I become coupled with the busy-ness of life means less smaller, just-for-fun projects and more effort focused on putting up large amounts of what we eat a lot of.

Jamey and I are going out to dinner (just the two of us) this weekend and will be taking our garden and canning journals along.  This will be a working dinner as we plan for the coming year's garden and projects.

It's time to shake the snow off our boots and gear up for spring and summer!

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  1. Hello! I tried to can some salsa last year, and it was wimpy, probably because I used a recipe not designated for canning. Do you mind sharing the recipe you use for canning? Thank you.

    1. Here's one of our favorites...

  2. So fun! I have also started planning my garden. I love this time of year, and the anticipation for all the wonderful things that will soon be growing in our yard! A couple questions, how do you freeze your bread? I mean, how do you package it for long term storage. In the past I have just wrapped in aluminum foil, but it seems like there must be a better way. Also, where did you get your New Zealand spinach seeds? Thanks and happy planning!

    1. To freeze loaves of zucchini bread, pumpkin bread, etc, I wrap the completely cooled loaf in plastic wrap and then in a layer of aluminum foil. I have no problems with frost bite this way and while I don't love plastic on my food, it's being frozen not heated. I don't remember if we were given some New Zealand spinach seeds last year or if we bought them. Johnny's Seeds has them here ( under a different name. Happy planning to you, too!!

    2. I like freezer paper with tape to completely seal the seams and contents written on. L use for breads, cake layers, poultry, other meat.

  3. We're in deep mud mode here. It keeps snowing on us, but it's too warm to stick, so we slog around in muck. I'm still enjoying myself by reading gardening books and planning my garden.
    I'm dying to know from you, what tomato growing method do you like best? I know you have tried different things and I'm curious if any one method has asserted itself as the best.

    1. Hi, teekaroo:-). Too bad mud pies aren't really edible! As far as tomatoes go, we've done cages, the Florida Weave and trellises. I started typing out a response but it became pretty lengthy. You've inspired me to write a separate post since it might be helpful to others as well. I hope you don't mind! Look for it in the next week or so:-).

    2. Sounds great! I'll watch for it.


  4. You will love the pressure
    canner.It makes canning tomatoes much quicker and cooler in the kitchen. Our fav is chicken breast. It makes a quick lazy pot pie using noodles instead of crust. I also like to make stock 4-5 gal at a time and freeze it. When I want soup I put the frozen stock in a pot,add veggies,jar of chicken,chopped spinach and tortellini. Yum!

  5. Your pictures are beautiful! Looking forward to spring as well!

  6. I canned a ton of jalapeños & peppers this year because I had so much. Thought it would be a complete waste of time. However, we've seriously enjoyed the peppers in our soups, stews, chills, etc this winter so it was a huge success. I will definitely do it again.

    Enjoyed your list. Need to write my stuff down this upcoming year. You always *think* you'll remember but you don't!


Just a friendly reminder, if you know me personally please try to refrain from using my name. There are those who may try to locate me, break into my pantry and steal my pickled beets. Thanks:-).

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