The 2022 growing season has brought with it all kinds of exciting new adventures! Initially when I heard about BIU, I thought, “I’m not a new gardener so I don’t know that I would benefit from this all that much.” Boy, was I ever wrong! I have been gardening for about 7 years so I’ve learned a thing or two over the years. That being said, since I didn’t have any support or encouragement, I rarely branched out and tried something new and usually had to learn things the hard way. By being in this group, I have learned so much about garden planning, pest control, etc. I have attempted to grow plants that I may not otherwise have experimented with. I’ve learned how to water bath can. I’ve learned how to harvest seeds. I’ve learned how to keep powdery mildew under control…to some extent anyway.

One thing I have learned a lot about this year is freeze drying. When overwhelmed with produce, it is nice to have methods to preserve the harvest. I don’t like the flavor and mushiness that canning causes so I have always frozen what I could but that takes up a lot of freezer space and always makes me nervous when the power inevitably goes out in the winter. Freeze dried foods can be stored at room temperature for approximately twenty years. Since all of the water is removed, everything is much smaller and lighter when freeze dried. It also retains almost all of the nutritional value and flavor that the food had to begin with. What could be better? The problem with this method is that a freeze dryer is required and those machines come with a pretty hefty price tag. However, I found a couple of people kind enough to let me take up some space in their freeze dryer so I could experiment. It’s like magic!

In addition to educating myself on freeze drying, I took the class on water bath canning. While I don’t like canned vegetables, I do like using canned tomatoes for my spaghetti and I have been up to my eyeballs in tomatoes! I’ve bought the canning supplies but have yet to try this method out. I’ve been too busy with other things so have just been tossing my tomatoes in the freezer until I get a chance to get around to canning. I’m excited to see how it works out!

This year has been my best gardening year by far! There is nothing more satisfying than sitting down to dinner and being able to proudly say, “Those green beans and potatoes on your plate are from my garden.” I get so many compliments from guests when they come over for dinner! I am really excited to see what my fall harvest brings!