Gardening is a natural partner to canning. It is great to can without a garden, but it often becomes the next step in a canner’s journey.
Anna suggests starting small rather than going big, initially. Begin with a few garden boxes, containers, or a small area. Then, take stock of your pantry and consider what your family eats and loves, and what you could then grow in your garden.
Refer to Anna’s ebook for specifics on plant spacing as crowing plants results in lower yield. She also recommends Square Foot Gardening as another resource for garden planning.
Get a soil sample test done to learn what your soil has, or doesn’t have, to inform your amendment choice.
Use a soil test kit like this: https://amzn.to/3XBm3hB
Or test your soil through your local cooperative extension office.
Water is a critical thing to consider when planning your garden for canning. Placing your garden where you will see and attend to it helps as does automatic watering systems and drip hoses.
Anna rotates her crops in her 3, 40 ft beds.
Anna recommends specific varieties: Canning tomatoes is the goal of many gardeners and canners. Varieties like Romas and Amish paste are ideal for canning (less seeds and more flesh). She grows a pear or sun gold cherry tomato for snacking. She likes a slicing tomato variety for canning diced tomatoes. Cucumber varieties include pickling cucumbers which are different than slicing cucumbers (they are smaller with thicker skin, and are perfect for pickling). You need a lot of plants to have enough to can pickles as they ripen at different times. You may find it especially valuable to grow pickling cucumbers because of this. Anna loves planting beets where the variety doesn’t matter as much but Anna chooses a dark variety.
For orchard products, choose varieties that are appropriate for your area and stagger your ripening times so you aren’t overwhelmed with fruit. A knowledgeable nursery employee can really help in deciding which varieties to plant, when.