This is the time of year when gardens are brimming with ripe tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, zucchini, green beans, and more. You might be grateful for a flourishing vegetable garden, but for a lot of people, there are just too many tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, etc., for your family to eat! But don't worry: There are plenty of excellent ways to use the extra vegetables you're harvesting from your garden. Take a look at these ideas.
Donate Your Veggies
Do you have a shelter that serves homeless people in your town or city? If so, think about donating a bag or two of fresh vegetables from your garden. They can be used to make meals for the people staying or working at the shelter.
Give Them to Your Neighbors
Maybe you have a neighbor who doesn't have enough space or time to create a vegetable garden. Fix up a basket of fresh tomatoes, zucchini, beans, and more for your neighbor. They are sure to appreciate the fresh vegetables for salads, entrees, or even snacks. Maybe it will inspire them to create a container garden next spring!
Try Some New Recipes
Use your extra vegetables to add to the list of recipes you know. Make some tomato bread, or whip up some zucchini spaghetti for you and your family. Take advantage of all of these extra fresh vegetables to make something you don't normally prepare for dinner.
Save Them for Later
Consider canning your vegetables so you can enjoy them later. Canning vegetables gives you the chance to teach your children this valuable skill. If they are too young to help with the actual canning process, I suggest getting them to write the labels and stick them on the jars. Freezing your fresh vegetables is another way to keep them until a later time. With a little effort, you can enjoy the benefits of your vegetable garden throughout the year.
Harvest the Seeds for Next Year
Slice up some of your extra vegetables to get the seeds. Dry the seeds, put them in an airtight container, and place the container in a dark, cool place like your garden shed. Be sure to label the containers so you know what types of seeds you have. You can plant the seeds in your garden next spring. The skins and other parts of your extra vegetables can go into your compost pile.
Make Some Extra Cash
If you're the entrepreneurial type, you may want to set up a roadside stand to sell your extra vegetables. You can separate them into wooden bins or baskets with a handwritten label for each one. Or you may want to bring some small baskets and put several vegetables in each one, so you end up getting rid of all of your inventory. If you have a farmers' market nearby, ask if they have some extra space for a small vegetable stand. The people who buy your extra veggies will get additional nourishment, and you'll get a little cash in your pocket.
I hope you put your extra vegetables to good use this summer and fall. Thanks for reading. - Alan