With planting season in full swing here in Ohio (between rain showers), it is a good time to think about ways to add a little extra to our gardens. With increasing food prices, gas on the rise and other uncertainties in our world, it is a wise time to enlarge our backyard food production.
During my Thursday garden demos at Lehman’s store in Kidron, I recently talked with a delightful couple from Michigan. He was originally from Germany and remembered living on a farm during WWII and the blessing of having enough to share with others during hard times. This couple in their 70s is planning to add two new garden beds to their backyard so they will have extras to share with their neighbors this summer. I think they can be a good example to the rest of us around the country.
Here are five reasons to stretch your garden this season:
Food for summer eating. Gardening will offer even more of an economic advantage this summer as grocery store prices surge. We can be thankful that we are receiving ample warning at a time when we can plan and prepare. To garner the most fresh eating from your garden, be sure to plant crops like lettuce, beans andÂ corn in succession to ensure a continual source. When a crop is finished, put in a new one to make good use of space. A good planting plan can provide fresh eating into November even from a small space.
- Food to preserve. Planting extra for canning, freezing and dehydrating is another way to combat rising prices. Sit down with a good preserving book and look for something new to add to your food processingÂ repertoire this summer. Having a pantry full of preserved goods is a good way to enjoy the taste of summer in the middle of January and serves as wise food insurance.
- Food for gifts. Why not use the bounty of your garden to help celebrate special occasions this year. I love filling a basket with a selection of lovely veggies and a fresh bouquet and to welcome a new neighbor, remember a summer birthday or say thank-you. Homemade salsa and jams are thoughtful holiday gifts that can be created using your overflow.
- Food to barter. Turn those extra zucchinis and tomatoes into cash by swapping with a fellow gardener for crops you didnâ€™t grow. Your extra produce can also earn you babysitting, cleaning and a myriad of other services if you connect with willing folks. I would vouch forÂ the value of potatoes and cucumbers over dollar bills any day.
- Food to share. Not everyone has the space or ability to garden, and there will always be folks that will be thankful for fresh produce. There are programs like Plant a Row for the Hungry, and our local Salvation Army has a Green Pantry that will accept donations of fresh produce. Like the Michigan couple, letâ€™s all plan ahead so we can be generous when it counts.