Labor Day for Today. What does Labor Day mean to you? If you live in Alaska, it means you’ve probably already experienced your first frost of the season. If you’re kid, it means that the school shopping is done and now it’s time to choose that first-day-back outfit. If you’re a parent you’re likely ticking hours instead of weeks off the calendar now. If you’re me….you’re questioning the sanity of the extra-large garden you grew this year.
I’d like to sit here and tell you that I totally blew it out of the water this year. That this garden of mine is some anomaly. I’d love to be able to tell you that this is the largest garden I have ever grown and that’s why I’m so overwhelmed but, let’s be honest, I grow this garden every year and every year I say to myself that I’m going to tone it down….next year.
Damn spring. With all its promises of new life and a chance to finally shed the winter skin for something a little less pale (for those that have the luxury of tanning…not I). The garden is so fresh and the dark dirt is begging for some green highlights. The plants are so little, and the garden is so great. I hate to see those tiny baby plants so overwhelmed with garden space. I just simply must add a few more sprigs here and there to keep my precious youngsters company for the season. But alas, the kittles grow, and grow, and GROW. Now, as adults, they are bearing the fruits of my labor and we do love those vine ripened goodies. As do our friends, co-workers, acquaintances, random strangers and pretty much anyone we encounter throughout the month of September.
Last year I had such a terrible time rounding up a green zucchini plant (who even knew that could happen) that this year I made it a priority to find one early. I bought it and bunch of other goodies at my local feed and seed and relished in the idea that the battle was won so the next time I was in the seed and feed it was a total surprise to me that I bought another one (Good Lord! What was I thinking?). Honestly, in my defense, I bought the second one because somehow my memory had reverted back one year, and I was sure that I didn’t already have one because I couldn’t find one. You know what that means! I’m overrun with zucchini!
At some point your friends start ducking you, the produce you’re leaving on the table in the breakroom is rotting there and you’ve eaten so much you’re now gaining weight on your produce-only diet. What do you do with all those over abundant crops? Here are eight things that you can do if you have too much to eat fresh:
- Freeze it – Vacuum sealing and freezing works great with lots of veggies. Pretty much if you have ever bought this veggie in a frozen state at your grocery store you can freeze it.
- Can it – Canning is not as hard as you think it is. It’s actually quite easy. It requires no independent thought from you because you have to follow the recipe exactly the way it is. Canning is not the time to let your creative streak shine. You must follow the recipe and the recipe needs to be safe meaning that it complies with all the food safety precautions related to canning. I have a Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving book that ha TONS of great recipes to choose from and they walk you through the whole process step by step. This is no time to dig out your great grandma’s recipe book.
- Dehydrate it – There are folks out there that love dehydrated fruits and veggies. Folks, I ain’t one of them. People love to be able to grab a handful of dehydrated veggies and throw them in a soup or stew through the winter or a scoop up some dried fruit chips for a snack, but I haven’t ever had success getting fruit to dry in the dehydrator. It may just be me. Maybe it’s your favorite thing in the world. I should actually give it another try with a dehydrator that doesn’t predate our 1979 ranch style home.
- Share it – Friends and coworkers often appreciate goodies from your garden. If you don’t know your neighbors, this may be a great way to introduce yourself. I gave some zucchini to a neighbor that I had a wave-only relationship with. She made me the yummiest zucchini cookies. They were amazing cookies!
- Donate it – I have donated lots of food to the food bank. They so appreciate it. In fact, some food banks will come and pick it up. You don’t even have to take it to the food bank. I also will hand a bag of veggies or fruit to a homeless person on the corner while I’m waiting for the light. They often appreciate the groceries.
- Sell it – Does your community have a local farmers market? Can you put a sign in front of your house that says you have veggies for sale? Check, of course, with the local regulations, but maybe you can get a little seed money for next year’s garden. Get it? Seed money? LOL
- Swap it – Check out sites like Nextdoor, Ripe Near Me and Craigslist to see if you can swap your overabundance of yellow squash for someone else’s too many ears of corn. It’s worth checking out.
- Compost it – As a last resort, and if all else fails, you can always add it to the compost pile for next year’s garden goodness. It’s a shame to throw away garden goodies but sometimes you just get to learn your lesson. Which, in my defense, I totally thought I had…..Maybe next year…..