Planting a vegetable garden is a sustainable living practice sure to provide delicious produce, reduced grocery bills, and natural stress relief. However, if you’re new to gardening, it may be difficult to know how much to plant. You can definitely plant too little and be underwhelmed, but you’re more likely to overdo it and be overwhelmed with a surplus of veggies come harvest season. 

In terms of sustainable living, throwing the extras away isn’t a good option. Luckily, the best thing about vegetables is that there are a bunch of things you can do with them when you’ve accidentally grown more than what your stomach can bear.

Read on for some sustainable living tips on how to use the extra veggies from your abundant garden this summer:

1. Preserve Your Vegetables

When you preserve your vegetables, you give yourself the opportunity to enjoy them all year long! Most vegetables can be preserved through at least one of the following methods: canning, pickling, freezing, or drying. 

Canning

Canning involves packing fresh vegetables into a glass jar, then pressure sealing it tightly to make sure no bacteria can grow within. Most vegetables can be canned, but if you’re unsure, think about which ones you see canned at the grocery store. Once canned, high-acid crops (e.g. tomatoes) will last up to 18 months and low-acid crops (e.g. peas, corn) will last up to three years. 

Pickling

Pickling is a popular option for vegetables like cucumbers and onions, but can also work well with just about any other vegetable. Similar to canning, pickling involves placing fresh vegetables in an airtight container. Before sealing, a solution of vinegar, water, salt, and sugar is placed in to give your vegetables that yummy pickled taste.

Freezing

Freezing vegetables is another great preservation option. Most vegetables can be frozen without suffering any loss in texture or flavor when they’re thawed and ready to eat. However, there are a few to keep away from the freezer, including celery, cucumbers, lettuce, and radishes. 

2. Sell Your Vegetables

There’s no shame in making a profit off of your extra vegetables. In fact, there are a lot of people out there looking to buy local produce from sustainable growers like you. 

There are a couple ways of selling. First, you can contact your local farmers market and see if there are any vendor slots available. Farmers markets are a great way to spend an afternoon, and you may even find some other goods and treasures for yourself there!

If you don’t have the desire or time to participate in a farmers market, you can also implement a roadside stand. This is a more convenient option, where passersby can stop and buy your vegetables with cash or via a mobile payment app like Venmo or PayPal.

3. Share or Donate Your Vegetables

If you’re not interested in making money off of your harvest, you can always share or donate your extra supply. Your family and friends would probably love to try some of the vegetables you’ve talked about growing for so long. If not, there are always food banks and families in need that would be grateful for your contribution. 

4. Clean with Your Vegetables

Yes, you read that right — some vegetables can be used as effective cleaning agents! If you have extras, try using them to tidy up around the house. Here are some of our favorite vegetable cleaning hacks:

  • Use onions to remove burn marks in your oven
  • Use cucumber to remove crayon marks from walls 
  • Use rhubarb to shine pots and pans
  • Use potato skins to buff silverware 

5. Compost Your Vegetables

If you’ve exhausted all of your other options, composting is a sustainable living practice that never fails. Place any leftover vegetables that are overripe, moldy, or bruised into your compost pile or bin, and then use it as a nutrient-rich addition to your garden next year. Just be sure not to include any vegetables that may be diseased, as they could bring the disease into next year’s harvest.

Looking for more sustainable living solutions? Why not join a sustainable community? At Couch Mountain, you’ll have the opportunity to grow your own food, raise chickens, and even contribute to the local pollinator population. To learn more about life here, reach out to our team and we’ll schedule a tour.

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