Table for One

Garden for a small household — and avoid a harvest that overwhelms your kitchen — by following these handy tips from Heirloom Gardener readers.

  • If you're worried about produce going bad before you get around to eating it, can it!
    Photo by Getty Images/GMVozd
  • If you have excess, particularly leftover vegetable parts, simmer them into a broth and freeze it for later use.
    Photo by Adobe Stock/Alex Bayev
  • If you're low on gardening space, plant vegetables in containers, or keep potted herbs in a windowsill.
    Photo by Getty Images/Geo-grafika
  • If you have too much, give it away! Neighbors, friends, family, and food banks will appreciate the generosity.
    Photo by Getty Images/sanjeri
  • If you're worried about produce going bad before you get around to eating it, can it!
    Photo by Getty Images/GMVozd

Gardening for a one-person home is sometimes more daunting than planting for a huge family. It’s hard to know what to do with an abundance of produce that you simply cannot eat before it goes bad, especially if you’re a better gardener than you are a cook. And there are only so many tomatoes you want to can each autumn. If you’ve watched your homegrown produce spoil one too many times, then you’ll be happy to hear that a few simple adjustments can ensure your garden produce is enjoyed far and wide, with little additional work for you.

We reached out to our savvy readers via Facebook to find out how they handle having more fresh produce than mouths to feed; the responses we received were both economical and heartwarming. Whether they “ding-dong ditch” bags of produce to neighbors, or find new ways to freeze single servings, these gardeners certainly don’t let their harvests go to waste.

“I use a lot of pint and half-pint canning jars to freeze food in small portions. I try to avoid leftovers, although it’s challenging at times.” — Randy Wood

“I can everything! There’s an entire wall of my kitchen, ceiling to floor, that contains canned goods. I grow herbs, tomatoes, peppers, curcubits, greens, garlic, onions, blueberries, and a variety of flowers for the pollinators. I use the water-bath method for canning acidic items, and the pressure-canning methods for non-acidic foods. A pressure canner will help you safely preserve a wider variety of edibles. For example, with my pressure canner, I put up pork tenderloin in brown gravy, preserve catfish in lemon water, and can plain jalapeños in half-pints for dips or for adding to homemade pizzas.” — Yvonne Coates

“When shucking peas or gathering onions, garlic, and other compostables, I simmer the excess into a thick broth. I don’t use much water when cooking, but I use a lot of broth. After it’s cooked down, I put my broth in pint jars and freeze it.” — Chris Chudzik

“I grind my jalapeños, mix them with a little water, and freeze them in single servings in ice cube trays, which I then store in plastic bags and keep in the freezer. This preserving method works for roasted garlic and other things, too.” — BJ Green

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