Some years, everything comes together. The temperature is just right, the humidity is perfect, your watering system is spot on, the pests leave your garden alone while the bees and butterflies pollinate all your veggies, and you have the most bountiful garden ever. But once you start harvesting, you have to figure out what to do with extra garden vegetables.
Obviously, there are worse garden problems to have than too many veggies. Still, there are only so many zucchinis you can surreptitiously leave on your neighbor’s porches in the dark of night before they get suspicious and install a security camera.
6 ideas in case you’re wondering what to do with extra garden vegetables
So you have an abundance, and you’ve made as many fresh garden pizzas, carrot fritters, and eggplant dips as possible. Now you have to decide what to do with extra garden vegetables before they go bad. I mean, we all love compost, but there’s no reason to give all that goodness back to nature just yet.
Here are six ideas to help you make the most of your most!
1. Throw a backyard barbecue. Might as well start with a fun idea, right? So many vegetables lend themselves nicely to the grill. Cut long strips of eggplant, squash, and zucchini for the grill. Slice onions and bell peppers into rounds. Lay asparagus and hot peppers perpendicular to the grill. You can even grill cabbage and Romaine lettuce. Make kabobs with smaller onions or cubed garden vegetables. And don’t forget refreshing beverages! I love this Watermelon Lemonade, which, by the way, looks stunning in this glass carafe!
2. Set up a farmstand for the kids. Who can resist buying fresh garden produce from kids? Alternatively, if you don’t have kids or they aren’t interested, work with your local elementary or middle school to see if they want to sell produce and split the proceeds.
3. Contact your local food bank or soup kitchen. If you’re wondering what to do with extra garden vegetables and want to make an impact in your community, donate to your local soup kitchen or food bank. I can guarantee a soup kitchen would love to get a windfall of fresh produce.
4. Set up a “free produce” stand and invite your neighborhood. Not every place has a soup kitchen nearby, so if you want to feed your community and can’t donate directly to an organization, you can always set up a table or bin in your front yard or at the end of your driveway and fill it with produce. Let people come and take what they want or need. Just be warned that you “might” have to put up a sign telling people they aren’t allowed to leave their excess zucchini! If you want to get fancy, you could use something like this vegetable organizer, but a simple wooden crate or cardboard box can work just fine.
5. Freeze it! Can it! Dry it! Ferment it! This could be an entire story about the ways you can preserve food, but I’ll keep it simple. There are so many ways to store garden produce; it really depends on what the fruit or vegetable is and how you want to process it. Here are some articles about different ways you can preserve your veggies.
- Are You Storing Onions the Wrong Way? Learn How to Store Every Variety
- The Best Way to Freeze Butternut Squash for Soups & Stews
- 10 of the Best Vegetables for Canning and Preserving
- How to Preserve Zucchini and Summer Squash 5 Ways
- How to Make Preserves as Gifts
- How to Make Fermented Vegetables for Better Gut Health
- Pressure Canning Safety: 10 Rules to Live By
And if you’re feeling especially handy, you could also build your own cold storage room to keep all your vegetables and canned goods over the winter.
6. Reach out to your favorite restaurant. If you haven’t worked in the restaurant industry, you may not realize how slim the margin is to make a profit. In three words: It ain’t easy. So if you have a restaurant or cafe that you frequent at least enough that they recognize you, and you’re at a loss as to what to do with extra garden vegetables that you don’t have any more space for, give them to your favorite chef. They’ll appreciate it, and you may get a free meal out of the deal! I should also add that you’ll want to do this at a smaller local place. Many of the big-name and chain restaurants get their food delivered already prepped and even already made. They just heat and serve.
What do you do when you have too many vegetables growing in the garden?