Growing Your Own Food Is Like Nature’s Magical Show | Home & Garden

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Gardening and canning both saw a resurgence in the spring of 2020 as families were home due to the pandemic and sought activities to keep busy. Gardening and canning experienced such a revival that seed suppliers were selling out and canning supplies were in high demand. The last time there was a shortage of canned goods was in 1975.

Gardening, once done for survival, is now used for a multitude of reasons – the simple satisfaction of connecting with the earth, knowing that the food you are consuming is organic, non-GMO, and corn syrup free. high in fructose. Or maybe you make an average salsa and therefore dedicate your garden to growing only salsa ingredients. And if you just want the sheer pleasure of enjoying homegrown vegetables all winter long, you can set up a garden specifically for canning.

Although we still experience cold days, this is actually the best time to start planning your garden. First make a list of the produce your family likes the most, then make a list of the vegetables you buy the most during the winter. Compare these two lists and where they overlap becomes the list of vegetables you will plant in your garden.

Now that you know what you want to plant, you will then need to plan which seeds are planted first, which seeds can be planted in the house and transferred outdoors, and a few other details. You can keep it simple with a sketch, or you can go high tech and buy software. I recommend keeping it simple and searching the web for old fashioned worksheets that will help you move through the process. Look for: planting schedule, planting dates, harvest quantity worksheet and seed ordering worksheet to get started. You can do some real math and figure out how much garden space you’ll need, or if you have limited space, that’s what you’ll be working with.

Speaking of yield, the internet has resources to help you calculate the yield of vegetables and fruits. If you are planning to plant a few tomato plants, you will be surprised to learn that it takes three pounds of tomatoes to produce one liter of canned tomatoes. Search: pounds yield in quarters and Google will pull up a nice list for you.

If you don’t have enough land for a garden large enough to produce the pounds of vegetables to keep, don’t despair; see if there’s a community garden near you, or install a raised garden bed or two, or plant vegetables in terracotta pots on your back patio and consider freezing your produce. You can still go farm-to-table, but on a smaller scale.

If you’re so new to canning that you’ve never witnessed the process, you’ll need to do a lot of research before diving into the depths. Not only does this require equipment and dedication, but not storing food properly can lead to botulism poisoning. Foodborne botulism is often found in low-acid home canned foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and fish. Canning in a pressure canner ensures that foods reach a temperature of 240 to 250 degrees over a period of time which kills the toxin produced by the Clostridium botulinum bacteria. People who get this type of food poisoning become seriously ill; in rare cases it can be fatal. (It’s a buzz kill, but safety first. Don’t give up on your canning dreams just yet.)

This is a good time to mention the great resource we have at our local University of Illinois Extension office. There are knowledgeable educators on staff with the aim of teaching us how to grow our own food, how to handle food safely, and how to preserve food by canning it properly so that we can feed our families through the winter. . Learn more at

Plus, Springfield area nurseries have staff who know as much about growing food as they do about growing flowers.

Before the seeds are in the ground, do your research and know how you want to fertilize the soil and how you want to prevent insects from eating your vegetables before you do. Once the seeds are planted, water your garden as needed, celebrate the rain and watch the green shoots appear through the rich soil. As your garden grows, make sure your canning jars are sterilized and you have plenty of lids and rings on hand. The satisfaction of growing your own food is a feeling beyond compare.

Holly Whisler, a freelance writer from Springfield, in a family that had a large vegetable garden, a few fruit trees, and a trellis. Every summer she worked the garden and helped with the canning, freezing and jelly making process. It was a lot of work but the result was always delicious.

Brian L. Hartfield