Spring is finally arriving here in New England and it’s time to get serious and plan for this season’s bounty of summer edibles. Close your eyes and visualize picking your own homegrown organic vegetables-like summer squash, zucchini, cucumbers and tomatoes. Last summer I had the most delicious sweet peppers ever, so I definitely have them on my list. With each passing day, the last bit of snow is melting under the warm Spring sun and while I want to rake out the gardens, I know I must wait. We’re known to have major snow all through March, April and occasionally even into the beginning of May. I learned that the hard way…great for Spring skiing but not so great for newly planted and blooming phlox.
Don’t forget the herbs…
It’s fun to go into the garden and pick fresh herbs like basil, thyme, sage and rosemary to compliment what you’re preparing in the kitchen….oh, and the chives! Chives add great flavor sprinkled on hot, buttered baked potatoes and just about any egg dish. And basil is the easiest of all the herbs to grow.
Don’t have room for a big garden? No problem!
Grow herbs in window boxes and grow veggies in attractive pots on your deck or patio. I have a garden that now is only used for flowering plants and cutting flowers. I simply got tired of squirrels, chipmunks, deer, fischer cats and whoever else was taking bites out of my strawberries, blueberries and veggies. I purchased a Garden Patch Grow Box and had it sitting on my back slate patio last summer. I had fresh, organic tomatoes every day for the entire season. I loved it so much that I purchased two more, one for me and one as a gift. Click here to read my product review of the grow box and what it has to offer. It allows you to grow herbs and vegetables in a small space and because it’s self watering…you can take off for the weekend and not worry. Check it out…you’ll be glad you did.
Here’s a Mint of an Idea…
If you like mint but don’t want it spreading and taking over your entire garden, may I suggest planting it in pots to keep it contained.
There are so many ways to use mint and here are just a few of my favorites:
- Cut sprigs, place them sporadically on your pantry shelves and you won’t have a problem with ants.
- Try this refreshingly delicious, best ever Summer Iced Green Tea. I have a pitcher of this in the fridge all summer long. Prepare a pitcher, 3/4 full, of instant iced green tea with honey and natural lemon. Then cut 2 or 3 clementines in half and squeeze the juices into the tea. Toss in the clementines and add a handful of fresh mint sprigs. Stir and let sit in the refrigerator while the flavors meld. You’re getting vitamin C and antioxidants. Serve over ice
- And, if you’re going to grow mint…you must make a pitcher of Addictive Mint Juleps. This recipe was given to me by good friend and neighbor, Terry.
For years, Chuck and Terry hosted an annual Kentucky Derby party. Their home would be filled with neighbors and friends…good food, lots of betting and a punch bowl filled to the brim with Mint Juleps. Guests would sip from sterling silver cups while chatting and watching the Derby in anticipation of their horse winning, or at the very least, placing. Often, I’d help Terry prepare food for the evening and stay to assist in the clean up…and help finish any leftover Mint Juleps. I know you will enjoy these as much as I do.
- 6 Cups water
- 2 Cups sugar
- 6 Cups loosely packed fresh mint sprigs, chopped
- 6 Cups good Bourbon
- Crushed ice
- Fresh mint sprigs for garnishing
- Combine water and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes.
- Reduce heat to low and add the mint. Simmer for 30 minutes.
- Let the syrup stand at room temperature over night and then strain.
- Combine the bourbon with the syrup in a punch bowl
- To serve, fill a glass or cup with crushed ice and fill it up with the Mint Julep. Garnish with a mint sprig .
OK…one more. This is another fabulous summertime cocktail, Strawberry Honey Mojito, that uses fresh mint and strawberries. No strawberries? No problem…use any fresh berry or tender fruit including blueberries, raspberries or even thinly sliced chunks of pineapple.
- 3 Strawberries
- 5 Fresh mint leaves
- 1 Tbls honey
- 1 Lime
- 1 1/2 ounce light rum
- 2 Ounces soda water
- In a tall glass, combine the fruit, mint and honey. Muddle them until the berries are well crushed and the mint leaves are mashed.
- Juice half of the lime into a glass and cut the remaining half into wedges
- Fill the glass 2/3 full with ice and add the lime wedges
- Pour in the rum, soda water, stir and serve
Let’s grow, harvest and cook our own homegrown vegetables, herbs and berries this summer….can’t get any fresher than that. There are so many different seeds on the market and starter plants will be available soon at the local garden center. They tend to be quite inexpensive which gives us motivation to experiment and try new varieties.
I’d love to hear your planting stories…what you grow in your little corner of the world. Share your mistakes as well as what you’ve grown that makes you proud and motivated. I’ve never tried growing beans before but for this summer, it’s on my “to do” list…wish me luck!
Skål and happy gardening!