If you are thinking about filling your pantry with foods, now is the time to start to plan your canning garden. The whole idea does get a little bit meta, but you will love the results! Even after a lifetime of putting up food, I have never been exactly on the number of jars or packages of any foods, but by planning out what I hope to have stored, I do come close. Don’t forget that anything you can pull from your own pantry or freezer is one less thing that you have to buy at the grocery store. Reducing your food budget is just as satisfying as attempting to live solely off of your own food storage.
How to Plan What to Grow
Planning the canning garden means organizing how much of a certain vegetable, fruit, or meat you would like to have on hand until the next harvest. Because I put up foods as ingredients instead of entire meals (think meat, vegetables, broth, not jars of stew), I can break this down pretty efficiently.
Some of my gardens start with seeds and some from plants. In order to know which you need and when to plant them, you have to know what garden zone you are in. This allows you to know when the plants (or seeds) can safely go outside and they won’t be affected by sudden cold weather or even too hot weather. I recommend using an online site to find out your zone as well as your first and last frost date. When you garden, it’s important to know how many days of gardening you have to choose the right varieties of plants you can grow. Yes, there are ways to extend your growing season on either end, but knowing these baseline dates is essential for planning.
In my location (Zone 5a) I have roughly 168 growing days. I wouldn’t trust the number to be completely accurate but it gives me an idea of when I should start my seeds indoors and when I can plan on putting plants into the ground. If I want to plant something that has a much longer growing season, I start it in the greenhouse or buy the plant. If I have time for it to ripen, I grow it from seed.
How Do I Choose What to Grow
I know what my family likes to eat, so my focus is to grow the ingredients for the recipes I always seem to be making. I also grow plenty of greens to dehydrate and powder. My garden produce can be frozen, dehydrated, and canned. That way, I have a variety of choices for making into recipes. I can’t grow 100 things, but I can grow 25 things and do at least 100 things with them all. Plan for a small, efficient garden to begin with. Your variety can grow as you learn what it takes to grow in your location.
Organize Your Canning Garden
The first step to organizing your canning garden is to write down what you would like to grow. I created a printable for you to do just that. Download it for free here: Canning Garden 2021