So Henry Homeyer is a very cool guy; otherwise known as the Gardening Guy. Henry spent a good part of the day two weeks ago at the UVM Medical Center, generously sharing many of his gardening and food savings tips with employees and community members. Not only did he share practical advice, but more importantly he shared his passion for eating, cooking and growing his own food. His ability to do this in his personal life is really quite amazing and inspiring– he froze 50 quarts of kale alone last year! Henry is also a published author, with a list of books and articles that he has written available on his website: http://www.gardening-guy.com/.
To Increase Garden Production:
Onions don’t like weeds – you know what that means.
- If you are growing artichokes, don’t wait to pick it thinking it will be as big as those you see in the supermarket.
- Cut it and more shoots will grow.
- If you have space right now you can still plant broccoli from seed, for a fall crop.
- Carrots need to be thinned to one inch apart.
- Plant a big black rock near each eggplant – this helps retain heat and makes a cozier environment for heat-loving eggplants.
- Pinch your basil, often!
- Pick your peppers and squash often to produce more.
To Preserve the Harvest: Freezing:
- Some vegetables need to be blanched before freezing, and some don’t. Those that do include green beans, squash, broccoli and brussel sprouts. Henry advises not to blanch for too long (just until the color begins to change) and have cold water ready in which to submerge the vegetables to stop the cooking process cold.
- When freezing, buy high quality freezer bags. Henry suggests freezing whole tomatoes, unblanched, and then simply rubbing off the skins under hot water when you are ready to use them. He makes his own tomato paste, slowly cooking in a cast iron pan and then portioning into an ice-cube tray. Once frozen, store in freezer bags. Remove as much air as possible from the bags!
Dehydrating:Henry also demonstrated the ins and outs of using a dehydrator to preserve fruits and vegetables, and shared a few of his favorite ideas with us. We have one favorite in common – Sun Gold cherry tomatoes. Once dried, they are, as Henry describes “like a bite of sunshine”.Storage of other Veggies:
- Some vegetables can be stored without drying or freezing if you have the right environment. Potatoes, celeriac and beets like to be stored between 35 and 45 degrees Fahrenheit, with high humidity (Henry keeps them in a homemade storage unit in his basement).
- Onions and squash should be kept in a warmer spot (around 55 degrees) with good air circulation. A spare bedroom works well for this!
Henry is a wealth of information, and it was a treat to have him share it with us. Look for similar classes like this at the UVM Medical Center in the future.
Diane Imrie is the Director of Nutrition Services at the UVM Medical Center.