In regards to your garden...
Volunteers are your friend, just don't let them take over. (Sorry, my mother in law just called and asked if the volunteers were the kids, no, they were plants that had seeded themselves into the garden somehow.) The squash were quite annoying and made it impossible for other plants to survive or get harvested for that matter. Be ruthless! It should become your new motto. The tomatoes need to be started earlier indoors and use the brooder light, when that was introduced, the tomatoes took off. Staking the tomatoes will be a must, their vines made it difficult to harvest the early birds and the slugs loved the late ones as well as the worms and chickens when they broke out. Tomatoes are great, but grow lots of canning tomatoes with a couple of other types, that way you get the glut at one canning time instead of a measly one or two here and there to make canning your own difficult. Plan the garden for that matter and stick to it. (This year I had a plan, and then let the volunteers take over, and started planting too many of one thing so I took over spaces that were meant for others.) Potatoes rock...low maintenance, high yield, and completely different creatures than the ones bought at the store. On the thought of potatoes...over the winter could you fix up the basement's cold storage room and make it ready for next year...it could be something special! In that vein, think about reading up on cold storage... Pole beans are great! Just think about making stronger and taller poles for them as they do tend to take over. Get the early plants in earlier and the fall plants in earlier too...buy seeds if necessary in the spring for the fall as it is unlikely any will be left come fall. This is the second year this has happened to you. Spinach didn't work out too well this year but remember the chard...like spinach but grows all summer as well. Give the squash the hill. They were crazy this year growing 20 feet long tendrils in the wrong place...again be ruthless! Get the garden in front of the chicken coop planted early and take advantage of the spring when the neighbor's tree doesn't have huge light blocking leaves. Most of all, have fun thinking and planning the garden over the winter...maybe measure things out and plan on grid paper so things are a bit more accurate. Reposition walls over the winter too...after all, one doesn't need to mow between the beds, the foot traffic is enough to keep the grass down. (The beds were originally planned to be able to mow between the beds, but we found that with increased foot traffic between the gardens made it possible to not mow.) And by the way, the apples from the orchard are great, but maybe you could get your act together and plant some of your own?
In regards to putting food by...
The roasting tomatoes method for canning worked great (more on this later) DO THIS EXCLUSIVELY NEXT YEAR. Plant more green beans. I mean it. And dry beans too... Plant corn so we can put some away that we grew. The squash are so easy to put by, decide on a favorite type. Continue to have people keep their eyes out for canning jars for cheap...no matter what, you never have enough. Try to clear out the chest freezer so you can shut it off for a bit this winter. Organize the pantries and freezers over the winter so that we can optimize what we do.
In high school, I had a teacher that had us write a letter to ourselves in one year and then again in five years, with an address of someone that we believed would still be there in five years. I remember getting that letter (well, my mom calling me saying I got some mail at their home.) After telling my husband about this, he began doing this with his students. Different situations occurred over the years. For example, people move or loose touch, or in one instance a student died...do you mail the letter to his parents. What if in that letter was something that could have saved him, or cause the parents more grief. He sent it and left it to the parents as to what to do, but maybe seeing his handwriting gave them some comfort. I remember writing in an attempt to be profound and reading laughing at how silly I was a mere 5 years earlier (and probably if I wrote another letter at that point and read it now, I would be equally impressed about my silliness.)
In a letter to yourself, what would you say?