I'm grateful to finally be harvesting things from my first garden. I grew a little bit of every summer veggie I could think of (squash, tomatoes, okra, melons, zucchini, you know..), but the only thing I'm wondering is, what do you guys do when this fresh produce is Just Starting To Trickle In? I've been harvesting 5 ripe cherry tomatoes, and 2 okra, Every Other Day, but that's not really a lot to make a full dish of anything? But I want to eat it before it goes bad but there's not enough at the same time to make a meal of yet, so I've just been kind of eating them raw, or making tiny snacks. What do you guys do? Is there a better way that I can be handling these First Fruits? Or does everyone just have such big gardens that it's not even an issue :D ?
I was wondering this today, too. Or when the season's over... Or when you're waiting for your starts in March... :) I probably won't be able to eradicate the grocery store; I don't have preserving equipment, or the space to store it or the finished products.
The very first bits and bobs like the first couple of strawberries are eaten direct from the plant, some things like raspberries where I don't have enough plants to harvest a decent amount in one go go directly into the freezer. I'll keep adding to them until I get enough to make jam with. It's normaly only a few days before the plants get going enough that I'm wondering what to do with another 9kg of "juice" strawberries!
Don't forget, you can get an even earlier start with a lot of greens and such, even some that aren't immediately obvious like sweet potato leaves. Plant seeds, thin them, eat the results of thinning if they are edibles. Tender young greens make good salads. Peas and beans have stages where the tender young pods (or even pea tendrils) are useful, then the more mature pods, and finally on to the shelled pea and dried dried beans.
Don't have to wait for radishes and carrots to fully mature to start crunching either. New potatoes are a thing... you get more if you wait, but don't HAVE to wait.
And do a bit of staged planting so you run some of your favorites a few weeks apart to keep them "in season" longer.
My garden on this new property I got last year was so so. Not much time to develop soil. Even so, loving what did produce. Cherry tomatoes ripened on the vine are an order of magnitude better than grocery store ones. And the melons...
Because I was to do a presentation on wild edibles in late March, I spent a few months familiarizing myself with what grows in and around our yard. I ate salads made from dandelion leaves, plantain, bitter cress, wild violets, wild onion, chickweed and cleavers. I made a coffee substitute out of dandelion roots and a syrup out of violet flowers. I discovered that chickweed is an awesome substitute for spinach and added it to a few dishes as well. My grandparents survived by eating poke greens and whatever they could find.
While I wouldn't want to sustain myself on wild spring edibles, I could if necessary. Bittercress (which ironically isn't bitter) is probably my favorite as the flavor reminds me of a cross between cabbage and broccoli. I find I'm more tolerant of dandelions now and have transplanted a few. Plantain was the hardest to find in early spring so I'll likely transplant a few to an area where I can pamper them a bit.
As far as gardening, I'd look at growing some lettuce, radishes and other greens. If you use a cold frame or row cover you can start a bit early.
Edited to add: I also had a batch of dandelion leaf sauerkraut fermenting but my other half knocked it over and I didn't discover it until it was too late to add more brine. I'll be experimenting with this again in the spring.