2015 Garden Efforts

20150810_174548This year was definitely a learning year on the garden front. We planted several gardens and had varying success, from a good yield, to a zero yield, depending on the plot. Our main vegetable garden provided a robust harvest, but could have certainly been better if we had planned a little more effectively, weeded more consistently and managed the plant growth better. Overall though it provided enough to enjoy through the summer and also can and dehydrate a fair bit.

Our “animal garden” was a complete bust, providing no pumpkins or corn. I think that was a combination of soil prep (or lack of) and also inadequate sunlight.

The raised beds (we have 6) provided a crazy growth once they got started, but were very slow to start relative to the main garden. We are looking at a second harvest of peppers, tomatoes and a number of herbs. We also got a great crop of basil, mint, catnip and other similar crops.

Lessons Learned:

  1. 20150809_104807Soil amendment is key, especially in the first year.
  2. Mounding, or otherwise protecting from flooding pays dividends! (Jessica’s idea and it saved our garden in heavy rains)
  3. Properly staking fruit heavy plants early is a must before they get away from you.
  4. Watch the full sun path and plan for the canopy of near by trees to fill out if you are looking in early spring.

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Dehydrating Tomatoes & Making Chips

We had a decent supply of tomatoes from our garden this year, and decided to experiment with different ways of preserving them. One of the ideas I had read about was making chips, that are good just as a snack, or re-hydrated in meals. 20150810_174738

We took a couple of buckets of tomatoes and made a combination of types to see what works best.

For the dehydration process, we sliced them and used salt, garlic and Italian seasoning lightly sprinkled on them, then into the Excalibur dehydrator until crispy.

The final 20150809_101133product was delicious, and we stored them in glass mason jars that we also use for canning. They make a great snack and are a project we will be repeating.

Lessons learned include:

  1. Use meaty tomato varieties
  2. go light on the salt as they are concentrated when they dry
  3. do not slice too thick if you are making chips, but ensure you have enough to have a body to the finished product. I find under 1/4 but more than 1/8th is generally good.

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