The freezer is full! Will need to grow less next year.

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

I've been toying with the idea of growing fewer vegetables next year. There are so many vegetables left in the freezer from 2011 that there is little room to add this year's harvest. A nice problem to have for sure ^_^

My final car payment will be in February. YAY! This will free-up some cash to spend on replacing raised bed borders as some of the wood is now six year's old and beginning to rot. I plan to make the beds deeper, and add an irrigation system based on Ozark's ideas.

Has any DG member put part of their garden to bed for a season? Any hints or tips to share?

Thanks for any suggestions.

Grand Saline, TX(Zone 7b)

Honeybee, your thinking about all the same things I'm thinking about today, nice to have the company :0)

Wanting irrigation as well, where are Ozark's plans? We priced it out and figured it would cost as much as a months worth of groceries. I've grown a years worth. That is my ace in the hole for discussions with the hubby.

Putting beds to rest as well, not sure that I have any tips, sorry. Adding organic matter, covering with organic matter, pulling plants to make more organic matter. The story of my life.

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

I'm not putting beds to rest. In fact, getting ready to BUY a freezer, and crank up the beds for fall/wtr veggies.

BUT. I am looking into an irrigation system I can expand upon that will handle all the raised veggie beds and the landscaping in the back yard. I'm gonna bookmark this page as we explore systems together.


Madison, AL(Zone 7b)

You could:
- Eat faster!
- Space vegetables more widely and therefore reduce supplemental water usage (still need to mulch, tho)
- Can, dehydrate and/or ferment instead of freeze. Various pickles, relishes and salsa make good gifts.
- Grow food for your local food pantry or other association that distribute food to the needy. If they are set up to handle fresh produce (and some aren't), it's a lot better than the food that usually gets distributed. I donate extra veggies and fruit to an organization that grows and delivers fresh produce to low income, homebound elderly and disabled.

I have drip irrigation and I love it. I rarely need to use it, but when I do I can set the timer and walk away. Perfect!

Madison, AL(Zone 7b)

P.S. You could also grow crops for compost and soil building in your beds that are resting.

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

cocoa - this thread has suggestions from Ozark regarding irrigation:

I saved all his notes to a MSWord document so I can take it with me when I go to Lowe's.

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

Nicole -

grow crops for compost and soil building in your beds that are resting

Hadn't thought of that! Great idea. Crimson Clover is recommended for this location. THE HONEYBEES WILL LOVE IT!

I did grow crimson clover several years ago but had to turn it in soon after it bloomed. It really looked pretty. I can't belive I didn't think of this. Thanks for reminding me, Nicole.

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

So, you just sprinkle the seeds, let them grow, then turn them under to break down as a soil nutrient?


Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

Gymgirl - when I grew crimson clover, I found the roots were so thick, I had to pull and compost them. I don't think transplanted vegetables would have been able to compete with the roots.

But... as a cover crop in beds taken out of vegetable production, I think it will work well.

(Maybe I'll sow the whole garden in crimson clover next summer and take off to the South of France to visit my brother (sigh) just dreaming!)

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

Now, I'm confused. "in beds taken out of vegetable production..." You won't use these again for veggies?

The crimson clover will be allowed to take over the bed for good, or just until it dies down and you're ready to use the bed again for something other than veggies?

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

Gymgirl - sorry for any misunderstanding...

I plan to grow fewer vegetables next year. Just grow what we can eat on a daily basis. It just seems silly to grow more than we can eat. I give away extras to neighbors. My daughter takes tomatoes to share with her co-workers - and we still have more than we need.

The crimson clover will hold the soil in place in the beds not producing food. Then the following season these beds will have the clover removed and be planted with vegetables. Similar to farmers allowing their fields to lay fallow during some years.

Year one: clover
Year two: veggies
Year three: clover
Year four: veggies

and so on...

Madison, AL(Zone 7b)

Another thought, if you are such you want to take them out of veggie production for good, is to plant strawberries or asparagus or another perennial that you eat but don't grow now.

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

Nicole - we do have an asparagus bed. We used to have a strawberry bed, but between the slugs, sow bugs and birds, we never got any for ourselves. We tried bird netting, but when a snake got killed in it, we threw it out.

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

Thanks, Bee!

Madison, AL(Zone 7b)

Honeybee, I had the same problem with bird netting -- kept finding snakes caught in it. I switched to shade cloth and it definitely keeps off the birds. Slugs and such... 'fraid not.

You could use mosquito netting instead of shade cloth, too. Or if your bed is small enough, a piece of toile or other mesh fabric.

Efland, NC(Zone 7a)

Honeybee.... You really don't want to sow clover and let it go all year nor do you want to pull it up and compost it. Your best benefit would be to turn it into the soil so the top growth adds plant matter (contributing to soil tilth) and the roots add N.

If you let the clover flower, as I do, it really brings in the pollinators as well as many beneficial bugs for the rest of your beds.

Buckwheat, although not a legume, would also bring in some pollinators/beneficials, and is much more easily turned into your soil than crimson clover (giving you yet another choice of cover/manure crops).

Actually, if you just want to grow "what we can eat on a daily basis", in our area I'd broadcast bush peas in the spring, a green manure crop that gives you a harvest and most folks eat them up pronto! Follow those with a broadcast of bush beans, again a green manure crop that is quickly eaten up due to their short period of production. When each of those plants are turned under, adding tilth and N to the soil, that'll be the best spot in the world to plant some brassica for your cool weather crops.

This keeps your garden soil working and alive. And the crops mentioned aren't overwhelming nor overbearing giving you an onslaught of "too much to eat".

Back to crimson clover, it is best to sow it in late summer/early fall anyway, let it get up and growing, then use it as a winter cover crop. Sowing it in late winter or spring won't do it justice as it will flower early then die, never doing your summer garden much justice.

Just puttin' it out there. Thass all! :>)


Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

Thanks, Shoe, I had planned to sow crimson clover in late summer. I hadn't thought about growing bush peas as a cover crop. We never have enough peas because the birds eat the shoots. Maybe if I sow enough seeds they will not be able to eat all the shoots and we'll actually get peas.

Thanks for your advice. It's always much appreciated.

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

I've got the same problem; in my freezers I still have a lot of Fortex beans from last year, as well as lots of berries, some peaches, and some sliced cucumbers, plus some turnips. We did eat all of last year's asparagus so now all I have in there is this year's, but I really don't need more beans. And for some reason the Fortex beans, after being nice and crisp and slim the first few times I harvested them, have gotten softer, tougher and more misshapen, with larger seeds earlier on, as the season progresses.

This was one reason why we took some of our garden out of production about eight years ago and planted dwarf and semi-dwarf fruit trees in that area. We are also growing sweet potatoes and watermelons, both of which are space hogs. I would love to have chard, but when I direct-sow them something keeps eating my young seedlings before they're at harvest size, so I'm trying seeding some in a six-pack, hoping to get them large enough to deter predators before I plant them out.

My Charentais are doing well, but aren't ready to ripen yet.

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

greenhouse_gal - I had so many volunteer Charentais melons pop up this spring that I didn't need to sow any seeds. They are just about done for this year. Their flavor was amazing. I've saved seeds for next year.

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

I'll have to check mine; I've got a very luxuriant bunch of foliage but haven't looked hard for melons. Did you freeze any?

And btw, have you figured out how to tell when Charentais are ripe? I've heard it can be tricky.

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

greenhouse_gal - yes, I froze some of the melons. When they are defrosted, they will still taste good, but have a "rubbery" texture.

Look for a crack to appear around the stem to tell if they are ripe. Also, turn them over frequently, once a small tear appears, pick immediately. I check mine several times a day! This year I noticed ants gathering around the area where stem meets fruit. Sure enough, this meant the fruit was ripe!

Evidently tortoises will only eat ripe melons! Fortunately they've only got to two before I did - so far.

Grand Saline, TX(Zone 7b)

I'm on a daily Charentais watch as well :0) Thanks for the tips, Bee.

Madison, AL(Zone 7b)

One of the reasons I like Minnesota Midget is that the melon turns yellow and literally falls off the vine when ripe. No more guessing.

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

Now THAT'S a foolproof method...LOL!

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Earlier, I spilled coffee on my notes of what I planted where and all the ink ran, becoming unreadable.

Can someone tell me if this looks like a Charentais melon starting to grow I can't think of anything else I planted that looks like a melon.?

Thumbnail by darius
So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Honeybee, I hear ya about a full freezer. However, with the current US drought conditions I'm not going to let a full freezer deter my food saving protocol. Instead, I'm dehydrating many more veggies since my freezers are full. I'm also beginning to can some of the meats in my freezers, both for food security and freezer space, not even considering possible power outages.

I figure it this way: with all the drought this year, ALL food prices (even meat) will go up, as will the cost of viable seed if it's even available. There's no guarantee next year's weather will be amenable to better crop production either. There's no way I could put enough food by to contend with some of the 7 year plagues noted in the Bible, but I'd like to hedge my bets to survive more than a year...

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

Darius, what will you do with your dehydrated veggies, and how much food value is left in them after being treated thusly?

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Mostly I use them in soups/stews in winter, but I'm finding thick-cut summer squash seem to rehydrate reasonably well for a side dish. I'm still very much in the experimental stages but it beats throwing good food away, or growing too much.

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

How thickly do you cut your squash? Not that I have any to freeze OR dry. Oddly enough, the plants that are doing best are the Greyzinis outside the popup tent. I don't think that the parthenocarpic varieties are very productive.

And how do you store your dehydrated veggies? I'm always afraid that my pears and tomatoes will mold, so I stick them in the freezer anyway.

Madison, AL(Zone 7b)

Darius, I'm fairly serious about food storage. I hope to never need it for real, but having ample groceries on hand (and being used to eating them) sure comes in handy when we have a situation like the tornadoes last April, not so much because you would have any trouble scrounging in the back of your cupboards for a week but in terms of stress levels. A week without power, stores, work or even being able to be out except in broad daylight was the most relaxing week I've had... perhaps ever. Meanwhile all around me people were freaking out because the couldn't get milk and bread.

I also have to say I eat healthier, tastier and cheaper than ever. If nothing else, the wheat berries I bought at last year's prices are virtually guaranteed to be cheaper than today.

Canned meat is incredibly awesome. Pressure canning is scary the first time, but you can take the toughest stew meat or the oldest chicken and turn it into the juiciest, tenderest meat ever. If I could only ever can one thing, that would be it. I canned 30 pounds of bison stew meat a few months ago and it lasted about 6 weeks before it was gone! Mom cans chicken when it's on sale, and that's so much better than store-bought canned chicken they don't even compare.

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

darius - in my experience, Charentais melons tend to be round and have smooth skins - no netting. They are also small, no more than 2lbs. They don't slip from the vine.

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Leslie, this year I followed some suggestions and cut my squash half an inch thick (or maybe a tad more because I didn't use the mandoline). I steamed then for 3 minutes, plunged into ice water with fresh lemon juice, drained and then dried.

They look a LOT nicer than those I did last year which were cut about a quarter-inch thick before drying.

I just store my dehydrated veggies on the shelf in mason jars in the pantry. However, I'm careful to put them in a jar overnight and check for moisture to be sure. I tend to over-dry, but it cannot hurt. BUT.... even if you freeze them after dehydrating, they take up less space.

Nicole, I have several pounds of venison in the freezer, which I want to can. I might make stew with a bit of it because it makes an almost instant lunch and can be eaten unheated in a pinch.

HoneybeeNC, then if this isn't a Charentais, I haven't a clue what it is. Thanks.

Grand Saline, TX(Zone 7b)

How big is that melon, Darius? The coloring looks right for a really young charentais, but Bee is right, it should be rounder and smooth.

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

It's maybe 3 inches or maybe to 4 inches long at best right now. I discovered another one, smaller, on the vine. They are growing on my new hugelkultur berm so there's scant soil and nutrition for them.

The other end of that berm has Red Kuri winter squash, and they are doing a bit better. Next year will be a different story.

Grand Saline, TX(Zone 7b)

I don't know what to tell ya. It's possibly a longer mutant, can't tell. It looks healthy enough! Hopefully it will taste just as good :0) Maybe it will be better!

Alba, TX(Zone 8a)

Honeybee, I'm doing cover crops this year to add to my soil, compost bulk in the beds. Also, I've not posted much in the way of veg results and I've been busy just trying to keep up with both weeding and harvest! I'm hoping the cover crops might help with detering next year's weed germination--just a hope =). Also, next year I'm going to plant blueberries and blackberries. Devote more space to soft fruits as I'm not happy with what I've been finding the the stores around here and I do like to make jams, etc. I do freeze a lot of those, so still same freezers space just different items. And my peacock, Mr Chicken, loves blueberries (they make his blue feathers nice and shiny blue--he is soooo vain). So I need to grow many for his free consumption.

I've been using T-tapes. Your spacing in the rows is then determined by the spacing of the T-tape emiters. Re-useable.

Grand Saline, TX(Zone 7b)

Terri, would your irrigation source happen to be from your pond?

Alba, TX(Zone 8a)

No. We bought an abandoned property adjacent to our original purchase. We mostly bought so we could get rid of the aquamarine '50's delapidated mobile home on the property. We were sick of looking at it and sick of calling the patrol officer to report lights over there at night. We bought it as an undeveloped property. When we were signing the closing papers I notice the metion of a well. The seller said the well was old and in disrepair. I called in our well guy and he said it was only about ten years old, deep, and just needed a few repairs to get it up and running! So DH got the well fixed and ran pipe over to the garden. That acreage is now our goat farm. We wonder what the previous owner would have asked for that property had he knowed the well was good!

Magnolia, TX(Zone 8b)

Crimson clover when used as a green manure needs tilled in at a specific time and then your new crop planted- it also dies back in summer, like vetch, or winter wheat or oats. Resting a year on a plot does best for fields, if this is a raised bed, then the dirt does leach, but can be refreshed with new garden soil. Purslane also can be a cover crop, but seeds stay viable in the dirt for up to 40 yrs. Extra fruits and veggies do VERY good in flea markets, canning freezing and drying STILL has shelf lives shorter than we would like, rehydrated foods are great. If you are unlucky enuff to be the one hit by the tornado ALL your stored foods are compromised, even if they look good,

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

So basically, cover crops are useless if one practices No-Till?

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