Growing & Preserving Food

Growing and Preserving Your Own Food

The cold, blustery winter days will soon give way to spring time.  As I forge my way through another cold season, I have begun considering how I could cut back on costs during the warmer months of the year.  Growing up in West Virginia, many families were poor and helped compensate through growing large gardens and putting up a large portion of their food each year.  My family was no different, so I have decided to try my hand at growing my own garden this summer.

I began my little project this week with the purchase of seeds, small cups, potting soil, and a spray bottle.  Now is the time to begin growing your seedlings.  I spent an entire afternoon putting a small hole in the bottom of each cup, filling it with soil, then seeds, and finishing it off with a spritz of water from my bottle.  I then placed each group of seeds on their own tray, which I labeled with what I am trying to grow.  I made sure to place them in an area where they won’t get too cold and will get enough sunlight to sprout each young plant.  When the weather finally turns warm, my tiny plants will be ready to be transferred to their summer home (where I am hoping they produce well).

I am also beginning to stock up on canning jars, lids, and rings.  Initially you can accrue a decent sum of money in purchasing supplies, but the great news is after the initial investment in the rings and jars, they can be reused for many years to come.  Additionally, it will be necessary to invest in a pressure canner that comes equipped with a pressure dial.  This makes canning simple and easy.  In times past, some people merely used a hot water bath when preserving food, but I do not recommend this as it carries a significant risk of spoiling and making you sick. 

You can typically pick up canning supplies at a True Value store, Walmart, or Tractor Supply, as well as other hardware stores.  If you begin this process early, you can look for sales and coupons to help make this endeavor more affordable.

I planted green beans, peas, lima beans, tomatoes, and peppers to begin starter plants.  Not every seed will need to be started ahead of time.  Some vegetables such as potatoes, corn, and onions will need to be planted directly into the ground at the beginning of planting season, typically early spring (but after the frost is done for the year).  I decided to begin small and see if my thumb is green enough to make a garden expansion worth it next year.

Be sure to properly prepare your garden with a good rototilling.  In Colorado, it is generally best to grow a raised garden.  I have never done this before as the soil was quite favorable to planting back in West Virginia.  A good friend of mine has grown many successful gardens in Colorado so he will be helping me begin this journey as soon as the weather warms up!Happy Planting!