While Spring is the season for fresh ideas…Summer is the season to enjoy the fruits of our labor. This year, grow, harvest and eat your own homegrown, organic fruits, vegetables and herbs.
Knowing I can step outside my door and pick salad fixings for lunch or dinner gives me great pleasure and satisfaction. I always say “buy local” and you can’t get any more local than your own edible garden.
Did you know… rabbits love to dine in your vegetable garden BUT they don’t like the taste of basil, mint, oregano, parsley and tarragon. So… inter-plant (is that a word?) these herbs around your vegetables to keep those adorable little rabbits away. These are all herbs you should have anyway for preparing your own culinary delights.
⇒ If you’re not into growing herbs, you can spray your vegetables with a natural concoction like hot pepper or garlic spray. This works for deer, as well.
Don’t have space for a big vegetable garden? Read on…
Click here to read my blog “Spring is the Season for Fresh Ideas” where I have lots of suggestions to solve that space problem.
Easy Step 1
My best solution to a space dilemma – get your hands on a grow box. I suggest this in many recipes and blogs because they are fantastic and I never recommend something I don’t actually use. Click here to read my personal product review of the Garden Patch Grow Box where I discuss the pros and cons.
I started with one as an experiment and since have purchased a second one for myself and another as a gift. Imagine a bountiful and continuous harvest of salad fixin’s just off the kitchen or on a sunny patio, terrace, deck or rooftop.
Easy Step 2
Grow Some Hearty Greens
What’s better on a sticky summer work night when you’re tired and have no energy than diving into Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia ice cream right out of the container? Not much really, but instead… pick some hearty greens like Romaine and spinach and while you’re at it, pinch off a few herbs like cilantro, dill and parsley.
Here’s the plan…
Wash your greens, put them in a salad bowl and place it in the fridge. Pour a glass of chilled Chardonnay or iced tea and go take a relaxing warm (not hot) shower. Take the salad out of the fridge and drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil over the top, a squeeze of fresh lemon and a pinch of sea salt. Toss and enjoy a guilt-free dinner.
Easy Step 3
Pick up some organic tomato starter plants at your local garden center.
May I suggest… In your grow box or a large pot, plant a “patio” tomato in the center and surround it with herbs like Italian parsley, basil, cilantro and dill.
I have one grow box dedicated to tomatoes. Last season, I enjoyed fresh ripe tomatoes every day, however, had to toss some out due to “blossom end rot”. Over the winter I researched this problem and found that to avoid the dreaded “blossom end rot” on your tomatoes, simply mix pulverized egg shells in the potting soil. I’ve been saving mine all winter long in the freezer.
Can There be Such a Thing as Too Many Tomatoes? If your garden produces an abundance of tomatoes this season, get creative and get thinking of different ways to prepare and share them.
- Make lots of sauce and freeze it for use over the winter and into next spring. Use large freezer bags which you can stack in the freezer, taking up less space.
- How about Tuna salad stuffed tomatoes for dinner?
- A large bowl of cold pasta salad with seeded chopped tomatoes is great to have in the fridge for a quick bite.
- Roasted cherry tomatoes make a great salad or spread on crusty bread. All you need to do is place them on a cookie sheet, drizzle them with olive oil and toss. Give them a sprinkle of Kosher salt, a pinch of sugar and chili powder. Roast at 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes, stirring when half done.
- Or click here to make your own homemade Roasted Tomato Ketchup. Or…you can find my recipe in “…and more” in the drop down menu.
Tomatoes and basil are perfect partners in Italian dishes as well as on pizza.
Did You Know… Cooked or canned tomatoes actually have more B vitamins than raw tomatoes. Cooked or canned tomatoes also provide more phytochemical Lycopene than raw tomatoes. And the best canned tomatoes for preparing outstanding sauces? San Marzano…my favorite! Enough said.
Did You Know… There are different varieties of basil for sweet and savory dishes. There’s the classic basil but why not try Thai basil for a hint of fennel, lemon basil that goes great with fish, lime basil or even spicy cinnamon basil. It’s fun to experiment and broaden your palette in a very inexpensive way.
Easy Step 4
Like last summer, window boxes and decorative planters will have herbs like basil, thyme, sage, rosemary and parsley tucked in around the flowers. If you have no space for a garden, have you thought of planting colorful lettuces in decorative containers?
It’s fun to grow, harvest and enjoy your own homegrown produce…your own edible garden of vegetables, herbs and fruits. As mentioned earlier, I gave up on strawberries, thanks to the wildlife, so this year I’m going to grow them in hanging baskets. I’m also going to plant “Raspberry Shortcake” in a large pot. This berry plant has no thorns, grows 2-3 feet tall and doesn’t need staking. I’m quite anxious to munch on fresh raspberries with a carob chip or two tucked inside each.
Did you know… there are several varieties of edible flowers but only eat ones that are organically grown. I’ve always had chive growing in my gardens but never realized the beautiful little flower heads have a deliciously mild onion flavor and look very pretty broken up in a salad.
Nasturtiums and pansy blossoms, like johnny-jump-ups, can be used to decorate a plain salad. Daylily blossoms have a mild flavor and can be used when making stir fry. These blossoms can also be eaten raw….carefully remove the pistils and stamen then gently wash the blossom. Add a spoonful of egg salad in the center of each blossom and arrange on a platter. Even certain roses like “Hansa” and “Buffalo Gal” are edible and the petals, fresh or dried, can be used in a salad or to flavor your next pot of tea.
Table 38 wishes you a successful summer season of homegrown organic food. Even if your outdoor space is limited to a deck, porch or rooftop, plant vegetables and herbs in pots and strawberries in hanging baskets. Check out the Garden Patch Grow Box which takes up very little space and even waters itself while you’re away on vacation….can’t get any better than that!