Archive for Swiss Chard

What Vegetables are Good for Freezing? Handling and Storage Ideas

The plan this growing season for me is to can, freeze, preserve, and dehydrate fruits and vegetables we do not consume and have an abundance of (i.e. peak of tomato season where we have lots of tomatoes). This is a big endeavor for me since it will be my first time preserving what I grow. I have gotten a lot of books detailing how to  preserve vegetables from your garden. I have been busily reading and noting what techniques to use. A great reference book I would recommend is Ball’s Complete Book of Home Preserving. It details every vegetable you can grow and how to preserve them. It’s an invaluable resource to any gardener who wants to pursue this adventure.

I have read a lot about preserving vegetables by blanching and freezing. Freezing is a great way to lock in nutrients. Blanching is the process of dropping your desired vegetable in boiling water for a set time (typically for 30 seconds to 3 minutes). After blanching, you will take the veggies out and place them in an ice bath consisting of water and ice cubes. After they have cooled, you can freeze them flat on a tray in the freezer before packaging. Since, you’re not completely cooking the vegetables you keep the nutrients and texture of the vegetables. Happy gardening everyone!

What you’ll need to freeze vegetables is simple:

-desired vegetable you want to preserve
-pot
-water
-bowl
-ice water
-bags (sandwhich or freezer) and/or small containers (1 quart)
-freezer

Here’s a chart of vegetables that will do well freezing, when to freeze, and how to handle and store them:

What to Freeze

Time to Freeze

How to Freeze

Berries Spring to Fall Wash your produce, air dry and freeze
Broccoli Spring and Fall Cut into bite-size pieces, blanch in boiling water for 30 seconds to 1 minute, cool in ice bath for 2 minutes, drain and freeze
Chard Spring, Summer, and Fall Blanch until wilted (several minutes) It will look like wilted spinach. Cool in ice bath, drain, and freeze in small batches
Edamame (soybeans) Summer to Fall Simmer pods in salted water for approximately 5 minutes. Cool in ice bath for 2 minutes, drain, and freeze
Peas Spring to Fall Blanch in boiling water for a minute. Cool in ice bath for 2 minutes, drain and freeze
Peppers Summer to Fall Slice, blanch in boiling water for 1 minute, cool in ice bath for 2 minutes, drain and freeze
Snap beans Summer to Fall Blanch in boiling water for a minute. Cool in ice bath for 2 minutes, drain and freeze
Spinach Spring to Fall Blanch until wilted (several minutes) Cool in ice bath, drain, and freeze in small batches
Sweet corn Summer Cut kernels from cobs, simmer in hot water for 2-3 minutes. Cool in ice bath, drain, and freeze in small batches

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Garden Update

White Impatien Flower (Click on picture for larger image)

Red Impatien Flower (Click on picture for larger image)

Salmon Colored Impatien Flower (Click on picture for larger image)

I started some impatien seeds this winter for houseplants and they’ve started to bloom. Amazingly, they’re three different colors: pink, red, and white. I just wanted to show everyone my first bloom of my impatiens. They’re gorgeous. I’ll eventually repot them into larger pots to allow them to grow a little bigger. I’ll probably use terra cotta pots since I like the look of terra cotta.

Yesterday, I started some more seeds. I started some herb seeds (thyme broadleaf, rosemary, catnip, chives, oregano, and lemon balm) in these small ice cream pots you get at the grocery store. I also started some more swiss chard-bright lights in peat pellets. I was so excited when I got these as an exchange from my garden buddy, Mary Ellen. I’ve always wanted to try these and was going to get some at the store next time I was out. Luckily, I got my seed package in the mail before that! I also started my first flower seeds as well. I started some stocks 10 weeks, wonder eggs, hosta, and snapdragon (first ladies mix). I’m excited to see how the wonder eggs and hosta will do. I have a bit of shade in my garden and am hoping the hosta will do well there. Here’s hoping…

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Garden Update 02-03-08

Package from Mary Ellen. Thanks Mary Ellen!!! (Click on picture for larger image)
The other day, I received a swap package from a fellow gardener named Mary Ellen. I’m part of a group called “Petal Pushers” which hosts its forum on Gardenweb. They host a monthly swap which consists of partners and you simply send them seeds and garden supplies. It’s a nice surprise every month since everyone gives different seeds to their partners. It’s like an anticipated present every month and you get the benefit of giving away your surplus/left over seeds to others who might be interested in them. I planted my eggplants yesterday. Last year, I didn’t get any eggplants although I did get a lot of pretty velvety leaves and some flowers. It was partly my fault because I had to housesit during the hottest times of the summer and didn’t have anyone to water my garden. After my house sitting days, I had to move apartments so everything had to go except for a select few plants. I hope I get tons of eggplants this year. I planted 8 plants so what are the chances I’ll get one productive plant? I hope I hope…


Seedlings Transplanted (cabbage) (Click on picture for larger image)

I transplanted some of my seedlings into their own individual pots on the 29th. I think they were getting crowded in my seed trays. I transplanted some cabbage, broccoli, swiss chard, bok choy, and a lot of lettuces. They’ll be ready to go out in 2 weeks. I plan on putting them in full sun since it’s still cool outside and temps are moderate (around 60 degrees). I don’t think they’ll get sun burnt or anything. I’ll just make sure to set them out in stages (i.e. slowly acclimate them to outside conditions).

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Garden Update 01-12-08

Seedlings (click on image for larger picture)

The seeds I planted earlier this week which include three types of lettuces (bibb, iceberg, black seeded simpson), bok choi, swiss chard, brussel sprouts (de cicco variety), radish with have all sprouted with the exception of the celery (tall variety).

Impatien Seedlings (click on image for larger picture)

My impatien seedlings are doing well and growing tall. In a couple of weeks, I’ll put them in a big pot so they can bloom for me. Impatiens are said to be great houseplants.

The other day when I was out running errands, I went to Lowes to get another storage bin and could not resist the temptation to go out to the garden center. I was surprised to what I saw there. It was wonderful, they had all their seed starting equipment (i.e. seed trays, soil, peat pellets, pots, and seeds) aligned neatly in the middle of the aisle. I then went outside to the actual garden area and there were so many blooming things which include primulas, geraniums, violas, cyclamens, and more. I happened across an aisle that had these shelves with all these distressed plants lined up and I could not resist taking a look. There was a sign on the shelf that said everything on the shelf was 75% off. I immediately got excited and found a Christmas cactus for a $1.00waiting to be picked up and given some tlc(the Lowes employees neglect these poor things). My new Christmas Cactus, which I call Fred, is sitting prettily on my desk at work under a fluorescent light that is on most of the day. I don’t know what color the blooms are but maybe I can get him to bloom by spring and see! I bought his sister Christmas Cactus a couple of months ago at Walmart for a couple of bucks and she’s a beauty. She blooms these glittery white flowers.

I then went to Walgreens to pick up some toiletry items and found in their ad that they were having a sale on their seeds 10 for $1.00 with coupon. These were the American Seed company variety which are cheap anyway but this was a deal I could not resist. The coupon limited a person to only 10 seeds. However, I have a contact at Walgreens who happens to be the manager and he allowed me to buy $5.00 worth of seeds. I have a variety of basil (sweet), sweet corn, California wonder bell peppers, daisies, sunflowers, zucchini, cucumber, morning glories, eggplant, squash, and more! If you’re too late for this sale, they typically sell their seeds for only $.20. I would personally wait until they come out with another coupon for 10 for $1.00 seed.

I then went to Walmart and they too had a selection of racks of seeds from the Walmart brand and Burpee. There are some on the burpee rack I’m interested in (specifically the supersweet 100s that I tried last year and it produced tons of tomatoes). There were some herbs I was eyeing too like (thyme, lime basil, and fennel). I’m just so excited to see all the garden things out so soon. I couldn’t wait til all the Christmas decor was moved out of the garden center and replaced with what is supposed to be there: gardening accoutrements. Walmart also had some 50% off sales on some of their houseplants. My husband pulled me away before I got a chance to pick one up but as I was being tugged away I saw that most of their pothos were on sale for $2.22, which originally went for $4.44. I might just have to take a little trip to Wally world in the near future! hehe. Well, that’s all for now. Check back next week for more gardening updates!

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Garden Update January 05-06, 2008

Seed Starting (Early Spring Vegetables)(click image for larger view)

Seating Chart for the Seeds (click image for larger view)

Yesterday, I planted three varieties of lettuce: bib, black seeded simpson, and another variety I can’t recall indoors. I think they’ll be ready to set out in a couple of weeks. I want to try lettuce for the early spring months. I’m going to try container planting in my self-watering containers. I bought three self-watering containers last year for my tomatoes and zucchini and since I won’t be able to plant those until the spring, I thought I could use them for lettuce and radishes. Another advantage of using containers is the ability to move the containers into and out of the sun.

On Saturday, I decided to start some cool weather vegetable seeds for early spring. I planted them in my new Planter’s Pride 72-cell starting trays. I plan on growing the following:

  • 8-Lettuce (Bibb)
  • 8-Lettuce (Iceberg)
  • 8-Lettuce (Black Seeded Simpson)
  • 12-Bok Choi
  • 8-Swiss Chard
  • 4-Brussel Sprouts (Catskill)
  • 16-Radish (Cherry Belle)
  • 6-Celery (Utah Tall)

I’ll be able to collect enough from this batch for daily salads in the spring and early spring. All I need is to buy store bought cucumbers and ranch dressing to finish off my salads!

The broccoli I started from seed on Monday sprouted on Wednesday. I was surprised at how fast they sprouted. My cabbage seeds sprouted yesterday and now they are with the broccoli seedlings nestled underneath my growlights. I’m still waiting on my parsley to sprout. I have them sitting on top of our fridge for warmth. From my past experience with parsley, it takes them awhile to germinate. Here’s hoping.

Yesterday, I cleaned up my grow shelves for the upcoming adventures of starting my veggie and flower seeds for the spring. I have 2 new seed starting trays I got from my local OSH for $5.00 which include a tray, 72 compartment tray, and a humidity dome. One is for veggies and the other is for flowers. In addition to that, I also have a ton of peat pellets I’m going to use for my summer veggies (tomatoes, eggplant, pepper, cucumbers, and squash).

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