Summer, with all of its blue skies and seasonal tastes that come with it, won’t last. If your summer garden is busting with produce, we’ve got some great tips to keep that flavor throughout the year. If you didn’t quite find the time to plant this spring, don’t worry…we’ve got some ideas that can save your fruits and veggies game!
Pick, enjoy, preserve
As we roll through July, prime strawberry season is nearing its end. Vegetables are coming on strong and you may need to thin some of the plants to help them achieve optimal performance. So let’s get started.
U-pick operations are wrapping up strawberry season and raspberries are starting to take center stage. As delicious as fresh berries are, they are a short-lived crop. Berry season will be gone before you know it but there’s no reason that sweet flavor needs to go with it.
Strawberries and raspberries can be frozen whole for later use. Simply wash, drain and freeze. If you’re a jam lover, both make some of the best freezer jam you’ll ever taste. It’s simple: You’ll need two cups of crushed strawberries or raspberries, 4 cups of sugar, ¾ cup of water and one box of fruit pectin. Mix the water and pectin together, bring to a boil and stir for about one minute. Then add the hot mix to the strawberries and sugar. Stir another three minutes and that’s it! Pour into mason jars and freeze.
Tomatoes are starting to develop with gusto and it’s time to stake them for improved production and quality. If you need guidance, Michigan State University’s Extension service has plenty of information on its website to get you started. Your county Farm Bureau can also serve as a great resource. County Farm Bureaus are made up of local farmer members who have a wealth of growing knowledge along with great relationships with extension offices and other highly qualified resource professionals. Reach out with your questions!
If your garden is especially bountiful, consider trying your hand at canning or freezing so that produce can be utilized and enjoyed throughout the year. Again, MSU Extension can serve as a great resource. Most vegetables must be blanched prior to freezing (don’t worry, it’s easy). Check out this link for detailed instructions.
Canning vegetables is another popular method of preserving and isn’t difficult. If you’re interested, there’s even an online course in canning and preserving available here.
Still time to plant
If you missed out on the spring planting, fear not. Now is the perfect time to prep for a fall harvest. Radish, spinach, lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower and brussel sprouts are all popular fall-harvested vegetables that can be planted in late July or early August.