Tomato Avalanche!

August is in full swing, and by now many of our gardens are producing abundantly—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 neighbors’ cars, what’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.

Store it.
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 option—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 garden’s bounty all year round.
Some foods, like tomatoes, can be frozen for later processing when you have more time.

Plan ahead for the holidays—jars of jam,  salsa or apple butter make lovely gifts dressed up with some ribbon and a pretty label.

Swap it.
Even the most energetic gardener rarely grows everything they need. Ask a gardening friend if you can swap your extras for something you didn’t grow this year—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 don’t have time to preserve your excess, look for a friend who will do the canning or freezing in exchange for part of the final product.

Sell it.
Take your extras to the farmers market, or just set up a table by the road with a hand-lettered sign.

If you consistently have an overabundance, consider starting a small CSA. Test it out with a few family members or friends.

Share it.
Many food pantries welcome fresh produce; particularly familiar, easy-to-prepare fruits and vegetables. This probably isn’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. Don’t overdo it with the zucchini, of course, but most people appreciate fresh, homegrown produce. If it’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.

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Diana Haering
12 years ago

Never thought of sneaking bags of zucchinis in the neighbor’s car. I usually put the bag on their porch, ring the bell and run!

12 years ago

Just shared 20lbs of summer squash and Zucchini with the food pantry. I’m sure they will get a few tomatoes too.

Ever wonder why schools and churches water expansive lawns… then beg for funding? Why don’t they grow food instead of water sucking grass? Even the smallest yard can produce an amazing amount of vegetables. This year Zucchini, Summer Squash and a Butternut all went into my flower beds out front. They’ve produced like crazy…. and add an interesting touch of green.

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