Tool or Gardening Product
Freezing and canning may comprise the bulk of the food preservation from my garden, but a food dehydrator also serves me well for a wide variety of uses in saving the garden bounty. Yes, you can use an oven for many of the same purposes, but a good dehydrator, such as the Excalibur, has temperature controls that can be set for much lower temperatures, thus better preserving quality. Herbs are high on the list for the dehydrator. Often, herbs that are said to not be candidates for drying, such as dill or chives, retain their flavor and color well when dried in a dehydrator. The dehydrator can also be used to make healthy, low-cost vegetable or fruit chips. I'm not into fruit leathers, but lots of mothers are, and the dehydrator works perfectly for this. There are, of course, dozens of other ways that a dehydrator has advantages. It may seem an extravagance in the short term, but when amortized over it's lifetime (I've had mine for thirty years), it is a wise investment.
Clever Gardening Technique
After removing dead and dying plants from the vegetable garden, take the time to plant a cover crop, also known as green manure. These multi-purpose crops serve as soil conditioner, fertilizer, mulch, and erosion control. Next spring, the cover crop is tilled into the soil, adding organic matter. The possibilities for fall-planted cover crops include winter peas, purple and hairy vetch, oats, and winter rye.