Food Storage Lessons Learned From Gardening

Today I want to share with you a story (or confession) about my garden this year. As you may recall from my “It’s Garden Time” post and my “Jiffy Pots” post, I had high hopes for my garden this year. Well watch the video below to find out what REALLY happened!

So you can use me as an example, just because I wasn’t able to do what I had hoped I could do, I was still able to have somewhat of a success with my garden, and I will have more than NOTHING. You just can’t give up. If everything feels overwhelming take BabySteps and do it at your own pace. As long as you are progressing you are achieving success! I won’t have lots of tomatoes and cucumbers to can this year, but I am still planning to buy some peaches and apples so at least I can get a little of my canning itch to be satisfied ๐Ÿ˜‰

How is your garden coming along this year? Share your successes and failures in the comments below! And don’t be ashamed, at least your garden can’t look worse than MINE!

Please note: If you can’t get ANY sort of garden this year, all is not lost. You can still achieve success by getting some fresh veggies from friends or family, or even buying it from the corner stands or a farmer’s market. Julie has a story and recipe to share about that that she will be posting soon as well!


  • Hollybeth1974

    Depending on where you live you can have three seasons of gardening…cool weather in the early spring, summer corps and then cool weather crops again.ย  So get out there with some roundup and be ready for a fall crop.ย  Kale, turnips, acorn squash, spaghetti squash, peas, lettuce, spinach, more lettuce, mustard, collard and pumpkins

  • I only harvested tomatoes this year. Here is crossing my fingers for garden 2010.

  • I only harvested tomatoes this year. Here is crossing my fingers for garden 2010.

  • I only harvested tomatoes this year. Here is crossing my fingers for garden 2010.

  • Anonymous

    This past spring I planted 2 apple, 2 crabapple, & 2 pear trees, I would like to make sure I am taking proper care of them so they will one day produce delicious fruit. Can anyone tell me where to find this kind of information?
    Also, I am not a member of the Church of Latter Day Saints, so I hope you don’t mind that I follow your food storage baby steps, and follow you on facebook. With the economy this way it is, I believed we must be prepared for whatever we are faced with, and I think your site is great and very informative.
    Thanks Lisa

    • One of my favorite gardening websites is http://www.douggreensgarden.com/ his newsletter answers tons of questions from readers and has tons of great info. If you search around on his different sites you will find some tips on growing fruit and pruning. I haven’t done much with fruit trees yet so I haven’t found all the best resources for info yet I’m afraid. Hope that helps a bit though!

  • One of my favorite gardening websites is http://www.douggreensgarden.com/ his newsletter answers tons of questions from readers and has tons of great info. If you search around on his different sites you will find some tips on growing fruit and pruning. I haven't done much with fruit trees yet so I haven't found all the best resources for info yet I'm afraid. Hope that helps a bit though!

  • lisafortner

    This past spring I planted 2 apple, 2 crabapple, & 2 pear trees, I would like to make sure I am taking proper care of them so they will one day produce delicious fruit. Can anyone tell me where to find this kind of information?
    Also, I am not a member of the Church of Latter Day Saints, so I hope you don't mind that I follow your food storage baby steps, and follow you on facebook. With the economy this way it is, I believed we must be prepared for whatever we are faced with, and I think your site is great and very informative.
    Thanks Lisa

  • Anonymous

    Our cherry tomatoes were devoured by fruit rats , but my basil and rosemary have held up. TIP: When the basil or rosemary stems start to get “leggy” (all the leaves are near the top), I weight them down in the dirt to root. Within a few weeks fresh “starts” pop up along the stem producing another round of fresh basil or rosemary. I use this method to get starts for friends too. After well rooted, clip, pot up, and give as a green gift.

    The fruit rats also liked my eggplant. But we are blessed with a long hot summer so it looks like I have a second chance with them. Our citrus trees had a good bit of die back and had to be trimmed back a lot. Hopefully they will be encouraged into some new growth, same with the avocado (large green alligator pear that) . Our banana trees finally have a couple of hands , so we have those to look forward to in the next month or so.

    August and September are the beginning of our planting season. So I’ll have to try again for some greens, and some cooler weather crops like kale that can be picked a few leaves at a time and last through the winter.

  • kdonat

    Our cherry tomatoes were devoured by fruit rats , but my basil and rosemary have held up. TIP: When the basil or rosemary stems start to get “leggy” (all the leaves are near the top), I weight them down in the dirt to root. Within a few weeks fresh “starts” pop up along the stem producing another round of fresh basil or rosemary. I use this method to get starts for friends too. After well rooted, clip, pot up, and give as a green gift.

    The fruit rats also liked my eggplant. But we are blessed with a long hot summer so it looks like I have a second chance with them. Our citrus trees had a good bit of die back and had to be trimmed back a lot. Hopefully they will be encouraged into some new growth, same with the avocado (large green alligator pear that) . Our banana trees finally have a couple of hands , so we have those to look forward to in the next month or so.

    August and September are the beginning of our planting season. So I'll have to try again for some greens, and some cooler weather crops like kale that can be picked a few leaves at a time and last through the winter.

  • Anonymous

    my garden looks pretty good. BUT for next year – I MUST raise my plants (around here – folks don’t even bother to try selling plants until May – I’m talking about cold weather hardy plants btw!) Next year want to start with cold weather hardy plants about mid-March – reserving beans and corn (NOT happy with cold weather – seed will rot in ground) and of course, hot weather thriving seeds until May. Also want all garden beds READY to go by spring – as in dug, etc. AND have compost in place ready to go as well! Mulch? yup – definitely needed although with intensive garden bed raising – not as much

  • helenkoenig

    my garden looks pretty good. BUT for next year – I MUST raise my plants (around here – folks don't even bother to try selling plants until May – I'm talking about cold weather hardy plants btw!) Next year want to start with cold weather hardy plants about mid-March – reserving beans and corn (NOT happy with cold weather – seed will rot in ground) and of course, hot weather thriving seeds until May. Also want all garden beds READY to go by spring – as in dug, etc. AND have compost in place ready to go as well! Mulch? yup – definitely needed although with intensive garden bed raising – not as much

  • Great site you guys! You’re really an inspiration!

    Having studied and practiced wilderness survival for over 10 years, I’ve always felt pretty confident if things got bad, however since recently becoming a father and husband, a lot of those wilderness skills are difficult supporting someone besides yourself (my wife isn’t too keen on living in a leaf hut with me out in the middle of nowhere with our baby daughter) Hence the need for other types of knowledge/skills (food storage, gardening etc.)

    With that in mind, this year has been a first for me and gardening as well. It’s so far been pretty successful thanks to having first read a book called, “Gardening When It Counts: Growing Food in Hard Times”. Check it out if you have a chance, the guy knows his stuff.

    – Erich

  • Great site you guys! You're really an inspiration!

    Having studied and practiced wilderness survival for over 10 years, I've always felt pretty confident if things got bad, however since recently becoming a father and husband, a lot of those wilderness skills are difficult supporting someone besides yourself (my wife isn't too keen on living in a leaf hut with me out in the middle of nowhere with out baby daughter) Hence the need for other types of knowledge/skills (food storage, gardening etc.)

    With that in mind, this year has been a first for me and gardening as well. It's so far been pretty successful thanks to having first read a book called, “Gardening When It Counts: Growing Food in Hard Times”. Check it out if you have a chance, the guy knows his stuff.

    – Erich

  • We planted one square foot garden (4×4) this year to test out the method. HolyNoWork! No weeding! Love it. We haven’t had to defend our tomatoes or peppers from morning glory or grass.

    Weeding has always been the reason my husband didn’t want a garden again. But with this method, we will add two more boxes next year!

  • We planted one square foot garden (4×4) this year to test out the method. HolyNoWork! No weeding! Love it. We haven't had to defend our tomatoes or peppers from morning glory or grass.

    Weeding has always been the reason my husband didn't want a garden again. But with this method, we will add two more boxes next year!

  • Brandy, Your garden and harvest look amazing! Plus I just have to say I am so jealous of your photography skills. Another thing I vow to work on SOME DAY. hehe. Great job and thanks for sharing )

  • My garden has had 2 main problems– rats (and other rodents) and heat. Also we’re in a drought, with mandated water use restrictions. County won’t do anything about the rats because they aren’t in the house… traps aren’t all that effective as a control.

    I MAY have some apples this year– they’re almost ripe, and I don’t see chewed ones in the tree (some of ones that fell have been). Pomegranates still unchewed and uncracked. Got lots of lemons– and more still are ripening; juice is in the freezer. Still have oranges to pick, but need a taller ladder or something. Guavas are still hard and green. Dragon fruit did not bloom this year, so no fruit; ditto for the pineapple plant. Hoping the lime tree doesn’t lose its set (again); tangerine tree lost all its set at marble size.

    Snow Peas– got too hot before they really got going, so got maybe 10 peas out of a dozen plants. Something ate the string beans– both the ones I direct seeded and the starts I got at the garden center. Tomatoes– rats got most of them; they chewed some of the eggplant fruit, too. For all my vegies: have had problems with water– even though I do water, the heat/dryness is such that the plants lose water (through their leaves) quicker than they can absorb it; lost about half my spaghetti squash because of this. A lot of my plants are in pots– and those dry out quickly, so have lost herbs and “starter plants”. Apricot tree– only had ~ 20 fruit– winters have been too warm, and the rats got most of the fruit that did develop; dwarf peach– started with a dozen, got one (and it was still pretty green). An unknown pepper plant (planted 2 years ago) has been going crazy– fruit look sort of like jalapenos, but they aren’t hot (seeds are a bit spicy, though).

  • My garden has had 2 main problems– rats (and other rodents) and heat. Also we're in a drought, with mandated water use restrictions. County won't do anything about the rats because they aren't in the house… traps aren't all that effective as a control.

    I MAY have some apples this year– they're almost ripe, and I don't see chewed ones in the tree (some of ones that fell have been). Pomegranates still unchewed and uncracked. Got lots of lemons– and more still are ripening; juice is in the freezer. Still have oranges to pick, but need a taller ladder or something. Guavas are still hard and green. Dragon fruit did not bloom this year, so no fruit; ditto for the pineapple plant. Hoping the lime tree doesn't lose its set (again); tangerine tree lost all its set at marble size.

    Snow Peas– got too hot before they really got going, so got maybe 10 peas out of a dozen plants. Something ate the string beans– both the ones I direct seeded and the starts I got at the garden center. Tomatoes– rats got most of them; they chewed some of the eggplant fruit, too. For all my vegies: have had problems with water– even though I do water, the heat/dryness is such that the plants lose water (through their leaves) quicker than they can absorb it; lost about half my spaghetti squash because of this. A lot of my plants are in pots– and those dry out quickly, so have lost herbs and “starter plants”. Apricot tree– only had ~ 20 fruit– winters have been too warm, and the rats got most of the fruit that did develop; dwarf peach– started with a dozen, got one (and it was still pretty green). An unknown pepper plant (planted 2 years ago) has been going crazy– fruit look sort of like jalapenos, but they aren't hot (seeds are a bit spicy, though).

  • The first year we were living on our food storage, our garden was new, and did poorly. The second year, it did much better, and we had things to supplement our food storage, which was a huge blessing.

    This year–our third year–the garden is doing much better. We had more tomatoes than ever (I also planted twice as many plants). We had a longer spring, so the tomatoes set longer (they don’t set fruit above 90ยบ, and we usually get 6 months of hotter than 90ยบ weather).

    We had over 100 artichokes this year. We had lots of lettuce, turnips, sugar snap peas, and spinach from our winter garden. This was our first year to harvest our asparagus. We harvested four quarts of blackberries.

    Our fruit trees (33 of them) started producing this year; by next year they will be an even greater blessing to us. We are looking forward to harvesting pomegranates this fall, and I’m preparing to plant a fall garden soon. I am planning on planting a lot more in my fall garden this year, and I am going to plant earlier (I learned that January is too late for broccoli; I will be planting it in October this year).

    We have 1/4 of an acre, and yet we are able to grow quite a bit in our garden.

    You can see pictures of my garden and some of my harvest here: http://theprudenthomemaker.com/thekitchengarden.aspx

    • Brandy, Your garden and harvest look amazing! Plus I just have to say I am so jealous of your photography skills. Another thing I vow to work on SOME DAY. hehe. Great job and thanks for sharing )

  • The first year we were living on our food storage, our garden was new, and did poorly. The second year, it did much better, and we had things to supplement our food storage, which was a huge blessing.

    This year–our third year–the garden is doing much better. We had more tomatoes than ever (I also planted twice as many plants). We had a longer spring, so the tomatoes set longer (they don't set fruit above 90ยบ, and we usually get 6 months of hotter than 90ยบ weather).

    We had over 100 artichokes this year. We had lots of lettuce, turnips, sugar snap peas, and spinach from our winter garden. This was our first year to harvest our asparagus. We harvested four quarts of blackberries.

    Our fruit trees (33 of them) started producing this year; by next year they will be an even greater blessing to us. We are looking forward to harvesting pomegranates this fall, and I'm preparing to plant a fall garden soon. I am planning on planting a lot more in my fall garden this year, and I am going to plant earlier (I learned that January is too late for broccoli; I will be planting it in October this year).

    We have 1/4 of an acre, and yet we are able to grow quite a bit in our garden.

    You can see pictures of my garden and some of my harvest here: http://theprudenthomemaker.com/thekitchengarden

  • Anonymous

    My husband does the planting. I just help with the harvesting. I get to can most of what I can. This year was good for blackberries, tomatoes, cucumbers, green beans, purplehull peas, bell peppers, corn & hot peppers. Our orchard was a bust. Some kind of funges came up with Rita & Ike & we lost the peaches & Plums. The concord grapes are getting bigger each year. I was able to get a case of 1/2 pint jars of jellie. My husband does a raised bed garden on a large scale. Visit myspace site for pictures of last year & this years gardens.

    http://viewmorepics.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewPicture&friendID=373581474&albumId=527610

  • LGCS

    My husband does the planting. I just help with the harvesting. I get to can most of what I can. This year was good for blackberries, tomatoes, cucumbers, green beans, purplehull peas, bell peppers, corn & hot peppers. Our orchard was a bust. Some kind of funges came up with Rita & Ike & we lost the peaches & Plums. The concord grapes are getting bigger each year. I was able to get a case of 1/2 pint jars of jellie. My husband does a raised bed garden on a large scale. Visit myspace site for pictures of last year & this years gardens.

    http://viewmorepics.myspace.com/index.cfm?fusea

  • Anonymous

    The lasagna gardening method would work very well for you and it would help you get control of the weeds/morning glories. Just go to my site and click on left side lasagna garden series. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Anonymous

    I did better then I expected. I used a new technique called lasgna gardening. It worked well. I got zucs and tomatoes that I was able to freeze. I picked fresh blueberries and froze them too. I am working on going to get some peaches to freeze as well.

    Now the bad part. some of my garden just didn’t do well or went to waste. Lettuce just never got used. I had broccoli and califlower that went out of control. And my green peppers got smothered. My green beans had a few tiny harvest but nothing to write home about.

    Over all it was a good learning experience and I know what I want to plant more of and less of next year. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • paulahohl

    The lasagna gardening method would work very well for you and it would help you get control of the weeds/morning glories. Just go to my site and click on left side lasagna garden series. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • paulahohl

    I did better then I expected. I used a new technique called lasgna gardening. It worked well. I got zucs and tomatoes that I was able to freeze. I picked fresh blueberries and froze them too. I am working on going to get some peaches to freeze as well.

    Now the bad part. some of my garden just didn't do well or went to waste. Lettuce just never got used. I had broccoli and califlower that went out of control. And my green peppers got smothered. My green beans had a few tiny harvest but nothing to write home about.

    Over all it was a good learning experience and I know what I want to plant more of and less of next year. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Anonymous

    Keep trying. It does get easier. Try a fall garden. Great for cabbage, onions, chives, & different types of lettuce. Visit my web site for pictures of raised bed garden on a large scale. Our orchard did great (I though) last year, but this year it was a bust. Esp for the concord grapes.

    http://www.myspace.com/smallwoodlisa

  • LGCS

    Keep trying. It does get easier. Try a fall garden. Great for cabbage, onions, chives, & different types of lettuce. Visit my web site for pictures of raised bed garden on a large scale. Our orchard did great (I though) last year, but this year it was a bust. Esp for the concord grapes.

    http://www.myspace.com/smallwoodlisa

  • I live in a senior/disabled apartment in the NY Adirondacks. We have had lows of 35 and 42 this month, with 30’s expected later this week. LOTS of rain this year. I had a stroke in January. Dug the garden while weak, wimpy and on 24/7 oxygen. I grew the seedlings in my apartment with fluorescent lights. My weak point is a freezer. I plan to buy one first thing in September.

    Here are pics…
    http://wendyusuallywanders.wordpress.com/2009/08/19/my-patio-today/

    http://wendyusuallywanders.wordpress.com/2009/08/18/garden-growth-comparison/

    http://wendyusuallywanders.wordpress.com/2009/08/18/all-the-rest/

    http://wendyusuallywanders.wordpress.com/2009/08/18/peppers/

    http://wendyusuallywanders.wordpress.com/2009/08/18/cabbage-family/

    http://wendyusuallywanders.wordpress.com/2009/08/18/various-raised-beds-in-the-garden/

    http://wendyusuallywanders.wordpress.com/2009/08/18/pictures-of-herb-beds/

    http://wendyusuallywanders.wordpress.com/2009/08/18/garden-thoughts/

  • Krysta

    Don’t feel too bad. That is what happened to my garden last year. The Hubs and I had high hopes when we plants it in the spring, but then I became pregnant…with twins…which kindof put me out of commision as far as laboring outside in the heat (we live in the South), and The Hubs was gone for a portion of the summer with the Army, and well, one thing lead to another until one day we came home from our summer vacations and discovered our entire garden choked to death with weeds. However, I was able to save quite a few cherry tomatoes, which gave us quite a bit of Spaghetti Sauce, and about 2 quarts of Raspberries and Wild Blackberries, which I froze before they went into my Raspberry Peach Jam THIS summer. SO, like you said, at least it wasn’t a TOTAL failure!

    However, I confess I didn’t even attempt a garden this year. With The Hubs deployed, and twin infant boys to take care of this summer, I knew I wouldn’t be able to do it on my own. I’m hoping some friends will pass on a bit of their harvest.

  • Thanks Jodi. I harvested two zucchini’s and lots of tomatoes. I am going to the farmers market to buy the green beans, basil, and cucumbers I killed. I know what you mean by needing to can.

  • Krysta

    Don't feel too bad. That is what happened to my garden last year. The Hubs and I had high hopes when we plants it in the spring, but then I became pregnant…with twins…which kindof put me out of commision as far as laboring outside in the heat (we live in the South), and The Hubs was gone for a portion of the summer with the Army, and well, one thing lead to another until one day we came home from our summer vacations and discovered our entire garden choked to death with weeds. However, I was able to save quite a few cherry tomatoes, which gave us quite a bit of Spaghetti Sauce, and about 2 quarts of Raspberries and Wild Blackberries, which I froze before they went into my Raspberry Peach Jam THIS summer. SO, like you said, at least it wasn't a TOTAL failure!

    However, I confess I didn't even attempt a garden this year. With The Hubs deployed, and twin infant boys to take care of this summer, I knew I wouldn't be able to do it on my own. I'm hoping some friends will pass on a bit of their harvest.

  • Thanks Jodi. I harvested two zucchini's and lots of tomatoes. I am going to the farmers market to buy the green beans, basil, and cucumbers I killed. I know what you mean by needing to can.