August is in full swing, and by now many of our gardens are producing abundantlyâ€”in many cases, more than we can eat. No one wants to see perfectly good produce rotting in the garden. Aside from sneaking bags of zucchinis into the neighborsâ€™ cars, whatâ€™s an overwhelmed gardener to do?
Although it may feel frustrating at times, this is actually a great problem to have. Here are a few ideas for dealing with an abundance of garden produce.
If you have the time and energy, many foods can be stored for the winter. Canning, freezing, and dehydration are the three primary methods of food preservation. Lacto-fermentation is another optionâ€”making your own sauerkraut or other ferments. Some crops, such as cabbage, apples, potatoes and carrots, can be stored in a cool place for months. Preserving or storing food for the winter allows you to enjoy your gardenâ€™s bounty all year round.
Some foods, like tomatoes, can be frozen for later processing when you have more time.
Even the most energetic gardener rarely grows everything they need. Ask a gardening friend if you can swap your extras for something you didnâ€™t grow this yearâ€”strawberries for corn, tomatoes for green beans, etc.
Take this idea a step further and organize a swap group. Gather a group of friends and have everyone bring along some excess produce to swap. Divide the spoils evenly, go home and enjoy the variety!
If you consistently have an overabundance, consider starting a small CSA. Test it out with a few family members or friends.
Many food pantries welcome fresh produce; particularly familiar, easy-to-prepare fruits and vegetables. This probably isnâ€™t the place, however, for exotic or highly perishable items. Other ministries or agencies that serve low-income clients may welcome donations as well.
Set out a box of free veggies at your place of worship, workplace or at an assisted living facility. Elderly people on fixed incomes often particularly appreciate the produce, especially if they are no longer able to garden.
Bless your non-gardening neighbors and friends. Donâ€™t overdo it with the zucchini, of course, but most people appreciate fresh, homegrown produce. If itâ€™s an unfamiliar food, you might want to share a recipe as well.
Throw a party! Cook up a huge pot of corn or salsa or whatever it is that you have in abundance and invite your friends to bring a complementary dish to share.