I plan on planting a good size garden this year and really enjoying all the local food around here. But I want to enjoy it year around because right now I have to buy vegetables and fruit from California, Mexico, and elsewhere and I live in Indiana so who knows how "fresh" they are and how much carbon is emitted in transportation. I want to be able to preserve my food from my garden so I can enjoy local food almost year around.
I will probably freeze some things like local apples and wild berries but I don't have that much freezer space and I don't really want to go buy a new freezer. And anyway freezing some foods will make them taste kinda yucky it seems. I want to dehydrate things like greens, corn, tomatoes, and zucchini so I can have it year round and not have to buy things from the grocery I can't trust. I still want to eat high raw and local year around but of course it's like way too cold now to grow things so I need something preserved.
Are there any gardeners out there who preserve their garden harvest in a raw way?
I hate plastic, but you could always drape some plastic sheeting over some of your plants to protect them when necessary.
I preserve by freezing, drying, pickling/fermenting, and dehydrating. Dehydrating certainly takes up less space in storage.
You can make powders of some greens, if they aren't too fibery. But even with repeated grinds and cooling periods, it doesn't seem to get smaller than a certain point without professional equipment (powder, but not smooth and super-fine). However, you can get it small enough that it would not be a big deal in a smoothie. You would have to use more to get the same amount of greens due to their smaller grinding methods, and ability to dry juiced liquids.
It's not raw, but I do pick a lot of herbs, to make infusions and decoctions with in wintertime.
By the way, fig trees need little to no sunlight during wintertime/dormancy, and you can actually drape blankets over them if need be to keep them protected, and they are small enough that if you have a large pot, you can wheel it into your garage.
I don't want to sound like an arse for saying this, you probably already know, but if you plant fruit trees,bushes etc. look what time they ripen; early, mid or late season, and buy one of each so you have fruit all summer and fall... A major factor of what I will be buying this year will be whether they can easily reproduce by seed or cutting and are non-GMO.
I am going to attempt cold frames to extend the growing season as along as possible even if all I get greens and that probably all I will get besides broccoli, cabbage, carrots and the such.
I'd be using the green powder for smoothies anyway. I in a day get most of my greens like dark leafy ones for Iron and other minerals in my fruit smoothies and sometimes have a salad. I am curious about how much the greens would dry down to like one cup of fresh greens would dehydrate down to like what? A few tablespoons? since they are mostly water.
I wonder about nutrient loss with drying versus dehydrating? Dehydrating seems to only speed up the drying process and maybe freeze the plant in time. With drying it might seems you loose a bit more nutrients but it is easier and I can dry more at a time then I can dehydrate. I would only dry greens and herbs and dehydrate/freeze berries and fruit.
I do have some fruit plants propagated but I don't expect harvest for a few years I have - grape plants (seedless and seeded probably 8), raspberries (like 4), blackberries (idk how many), wild berries (probably dewberries probably 8 or so of those). I have them trellised and it will take a few years to train them to climb it but by that time I will probably be out of here. I was also at my dads house today and I got reminded of how many mulberries, elderberries, and other wild berries are around there so I expect a lot of foraging! The fig trees is an interesting idea I love dried figs and have had the green figs once in Georgia fresh off a tree and I loved them. I wonder if it would be possible in such a cold climate maybe I could convince my dad to get a few and keep over there. I'll do research into figs.