3 Questions to Ask Yourself When Considering What to Plant

4 Recipes at the End.

If you are just getting started and you don’t know what to plant or how much, you’ll be glad to know that there are 3 questions you can ask yourself that will simplify the process.

1.  What do I like?
2.  How muchtime will it take and how much time do I have? (To prepare, to plant, to harvest, to freeze or store.)
3.  How much can I keep and for how long? (This question assumes you want to keep it.)

The three questions go hand in hand and each depends a lot on the other.

Following are some experiences that will elaborate on the three questions above.

Example #1 :Tomatoes in various forms are a staple in my kitchen all year long.  We love them fresh in season and usually have them fresh from July thru December.

As the season passes I make tomato essence and freeze at least half of the batch in quart sized freezer bags for winter use.  When winter is upon us I have 25 to 30 quarts frozen.

I need 3 or 4 garden rows (approximately 3′ x12′) to accommodate 36 to 50 plants.  I harvest tomatoes at least every other day during the season. The return on my investment is great and I can handle the time involved.

Example #2 – We love peas and how heavenly it would be to have 50 pints in the freezer after the season was past.  It isn’t going to happen here though.

I limit myself to planting three rows of peas because they are so work intensive.  Three rows gives me fresh eating during the season plus about 12 to 15 pints for the freezer.

The planting part for me — as with all of my vegetables — is easy.  My gardens are always pretty much ready to plant and planting doesn’t take that long. Harvest and what is going on at that time is what I look to.

Peas come in the first week or so in June when other things including strawberries need to be harvested as well.  I harvest the peas every other day and sometimes every day.  And that’s not the end of it.  To get the best quality out of your efforts they should be immediately shelled and then prepared for the freezer.

Bill and I think we are in garden heaven when we take a pint of peas out of the freezer in mid winter to go with our meal.  They bear no resemblance to frozen peas purchased at the store.  As work intensive as they are – I have to have some, but I do limit them.

Example #3 -Fresh Carrots and cabbage are staples for us especially in the winter when fresh vegetables are few and far between. We use about 10 lbs of carrots and 2 heads of cabbage a week.

To grow all the carrots and cabbage I use I would need more land and time than I have —-not to mention the problem of storage. Although I have grown them in the past, I no longer do. Fortunately for us, organic carrots and cabbage are available at the grocery store most of the time.

What you grow depends mostly on what you like and how much time you have. How much time it will take depends on whether you plan to eat fresh only or plan to freeze and/or store.

Recipe Ideas:

*Carrot and cabbage finely chopped and then tossed with dressing, compliments avocado in a pita pocket when other fresh vegetables are not available.

*Lightly sauteed  carrot and cabbage in olive oil with ginger as a spice is a great filling for egg roll wraps. Brush filled wraps with oil and bake in 375 degree oven for 40 minutes or until golden brown.  Serve with a sauce made from mayonnaise, poupon mustard, and tamari sauce.  Delicious!

*Whole or cut carrots tossed with olive oil and sprinkled with dried thyme make a simple but delicious vegetable dish to accompany any meal.

*To make tomato essence I start with a two gallon pot. Have your tomatoes clean and dip a few at a time in pan of boiling water for a minute of so and then place to cool in colander.  Core and remove peels and place tomatoes in your pot until pot is full.  (Allow a small space at the top because as the tomatoes cook they will expand at first and you don’t want the pot to over flow.)

Cook until tomatoes are reduced by one third or one half. Use as is to make sauces or mix with tomato paste for a more homogenized sauce. Easy — and you’ll have all the taste of fresh tomatoes for your recipes.


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  • Funny how reading this post has me laughing out loud! This year, we planted 33 varieties of tomatoes, and I have culled the transplants to 3 of each more or less. Our neighbor (who initially made great fun of us and our organic ways) has come to rely on us to grow his tomato transplants, so there is one of perhaps 6 or 7 types that he will grow, but the rest will not all find homes here. My husband may take orders from his co-workers for the orphans, but I’m thinking we will have at least 33 plants, and extras of some of the extra early varieites like Stupice or Early Siberian in our garden. I was thinking that was a little crazy, but reading your post has left me feeling “right normal”!



  • Hi Gail,
    Glad I got you laughing out loud!
    I know quite a few folks (myself included) who would be interest in what varieties you plant and which ones you like the best. If you have a chance let us know “the rest of the story”.
    Thanks so much for taking time to comment!

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