The newly made raised beds in the tunnel house are filled and growing with carrots, Swiss chard, beets, turnips, and garden peas. As the next beds are made, they will be planted with more fall crops allowing me to have an extended harvest all the way into mid-winter. It is always better to grow only what I need in each planting so my waste is minimal.

The newly made raised beds in the tunnel house are filled and growing with carrots, Swiss chard, beets, turnips, and garden peas. As the next beds are made, they will be planted with more fall crops allowing me to have an extended harvest all the way into mid-winter. It is always better to grow only what I need in each planting so my waste is minimal.
When I had nine kids living at home, it was common to can 800 quarts or more of produce each season. Today, I give away some of the excess to these adult children, but I’ve mostly cut back on how much I plant each time and use succession planting for fresh vegetables all season long, a luxury I never had before.
Called sustainably gardening, using succession plantings makes the overabundance of produce almost obsolete. There is so much more to sustainable gardening; going organically, mulching, growing some of your food, using lawn area for gardens, using less water, even saving your own seeds by growing open-pollinated plants. In time, I hope to be completely sustainable in my gardening practices.
To me, sustainably is using the excess produce in some way. Most of my family has never been that big on sweets. Making lots of jelly or jam is a waste of time and money. We’re not much for exotic or elaborate foods. But we do like our down-home comfort foods like fermented tomatoes and salt pickles.
Several years ago, I decided I needed to find ways to preserve my ‘too much of a good thing’. Every year, I have an abundance of something and while something I really wanted is on the lean side. This year, the Swiss chard has outdone itself. The sweet corn has been very sparse. I have close to a bushel of winter squash, but the cabbage was a complete loss.
I make my own sour kraut, so the loss of my red cabbage will be felt since I have to purchase kraut. I love sweet corn, but not enough to buy corn that is just sweet with almost no corn flavor. Swiss chard has been used with lamb’s quarters in place of spinach. It’s excellent with purslane when added to salad and the colorful stems are added to the fermented vegetables.
Our neighbor had a bounty of winter squash. He offered me his excess. After talking to his wife, I made potato and green squash casserole. Then I sliced, dipped, and fried squash. Both are wonderful, but I have more than I need to eat with all that butter, cheese, and frying.
Anyone that must purchase gluten free flour knows how expensive they can be and how difficult it is to find them in most stores. That is why one of my new projects this season was to grow more of my own gluten free flours. I haven’t seen squash flour in the store, but it had to be similar to sweet potato flour. I’ve made sweet potato flour for several years and used the same method to make squash flour. I shredded and dried eight medium sized squash. That amount of squash now fits into a quart jar and I have safe flour to cook with.
For the next few days I’ll be busy peeling, shredding, and drying winter squash until the bushel or so of squash is safely stored in jars. Along with the squash abundance is the ripening tomatoes and peppers. I’ve already canned enough tomatoes for the coming winter, but I love fermenting some of them as a sauce. The flavored is fresh and intense. Along with the fermented sauce is pickled vegetables. The way I make pickled vegetables is closer to fermenting since I allow the vegetables to make their own vinegar.
If you haven’t tried squash flour, fermented tomato sauce, or fermented vegetables, maybe you could use some of your ‘too much of a good thing’ in a new flavorful way.
Happy Gardening!


Linda Simmons writes a column for the Neosho Daily News.