Our garden produces a good portion of our food all year long. I spend many hours in the summer canning and freezing for our winter needs. In our area, we can start planting cold weather crops sometime in early March. By April, we are enjoying fresh garden lettuce! We also can extend our growing season into November so we can still enjoy fresh veggies in late November with just a little planning.
The question has been asked about how much produce do I buy at the grocery store. Here is my best estimation. In the summer, I don't buy produce much at all. In late July or August, I might buy lettuce to make a salad every now and then. We usually just eat whatever is abundant in our own garden during the summer. I shop every two weeks, and each trip I always purchase a 10 pound bag of potatoes, a bag of onions, several cloves of garlic, a bag of baby carrots, and bananas. In the summer, this is usually all I pick up, but in the winter I add more. Often times I will add extra potatoes in the winter because we eat a lot more meals with mashed potatoes. In the winter, I always buy enough lettuce to make a couple of salads each week. I will usually purchase a pack of mushrooms each shopping trip as well. I also will grab a head of cabbage if I am making coleslaw. I have frozen cabbage in my freezer, but I can't make slaw out of that! I make coleslaw about once a month depending on the meals I am serving. During the winter months, I will usually pick up a couple of fresh broccoli stalks and a couple bags of frozen peas or frozen lima beans. I almost always pick up several sweet potatoes each shopping trip during the winter. My children love baked sweet potatoes for lunch!
Please keep in mind that I might grab something out of the ordinary for a special side dish, but that doesn't happen often. I would NEVER serve Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato Sandwiches in the winter. They just don't taste good. However, that is a common late summertime dinner at our house.
We eat vegetables with almost every meal. I usually want something green on the table. This isn't because I am such a health nut. This is because that is the way I like to eat. I eat meat, but it doesn't bother me to do without it. I like to serve roast, potatoes, and carrots with green beans or cooked broccoli or even cooked cabbage . If something happens and the green side dish doesn't get made, I am also fine to eat pickled beets from our pantry. That serves as my vegetable. I also make a green tomato side dish that I can in the summertime. On those cold winter nights that I am serving beans, I will get my veggie fix with green tomatoes.
With all that being said, that means our garden produces the rest of our vegetable needs. Keep in mind that in the summer I do purchase from local stands and other farmers for our strawberries, peaches, blueberries, apples, and corn. This year I am hoping to grow our own corn, but I will still have to purchase the other things. I am also hoping to once again have a potato patch. We have never grown sweet potatoes and those are on my list for this year as well.
I hope this glimpse into my garden will help you as you plan yours. Please keep in mind that we started out small. Our first garden produced enough to eat fresh. Our next garden produced enough to can tomatoes and green beans and a few pickles. We have been at this for 8 years and each year we add something new or learn something new. That is the fun of gardening...it is never the same. I am constantly reading to learn more or asking questions of other gardeners. It is great to get with other people and pick their brain about their gardens. Gardening is always a work in progress.
grace and peace,