A lot of people that I know keep wonderful gardens every summer and have quite a green thumb. They tend to these gardens all summer, and have great yields in the fall, as the seasons change. Then, after this harvest, they have absolutely no idea what to do with all the wonderful food they have grown.
Sure, it is easy to figure out what to do with a couple things. Sunflower seeds last all year. It isn’t hard to figure out what to do with lettuce and spinach, a few of the tomatoes, peppers, a watermelon or two, a cucumber.
The problem is, plants often yield far more than we are prepared to deal with. In addition to that, sometimes we grow things that we just don’t know what to do with. We grow them because they smell good, look good in the garden, or maybe it is just fun to tell people that you grow them. But just how many ways can you make eggplant or cabbage, squash or cauliflower?
What about all the herbs we grew just so we could make a pot or two of our favorite tea? What do we do with all of that extra chamomile or lemongrass, spearmint or rose hips?
Well, here I present a few ideas I have tried myself. Different ways to cook foods that you may not have thought of before, or ways to use your herbs that seem maybe just a little outside of the box. Gardens are more than just iceberg lettuce and a couple tomatoes. They can provide sustenance in multiple ways throughout the year, sometimes in more ways than just foods.
Let’s look at some soups, food toppers, soaps, and tinctures that might have escaped your mind before throwing away all your extra produce, or perhaps giving it all away as early holiday presents.
Soups and Food Toppers
So I cheated a little bit with this one: food toppers are essentially soup without the broth or cream base. But how do you decide what goes in a soup? Well, first it is important to take stock of what you have in your garden for vegetables and herbs.
In my garden, I have a variety of peppers that range in spiciness; peas, onions, carrots, a bunch of beans and different types of squash. One of my favorite things to make is black bean soup. For this, of course, you need plenty of black beans, but I’ll also use pinto beans. I throw in some roasted tomatoes and jalapeno peppers with the beans and let that simmer a while.
Then I add some corn and diced carrots. If I’m making soup, this will all be in a base of vegetable broth. If it is as a food topper, I just leave the broth out. Finally, I mince some garlic
and fresh onion over the soup or food topper. Viola. I’ve managed to use just about everything I have in my vegetable garden.
Making your own soap is cool in a lot of fun ways. Not only do you learn a little about chemistry when mixing the ingredients, but you can also learn a little bit about microbiology and germs. It is a great way to use some of the herbs in your garden.
This is one of my favorite hobbies, growing herbs and making tinctures. This kit has a great guide and several recipes to get you started on natural cures for anxiety, depression, lack of energy, and a bunch of other things.
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