Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Watch my garden grow!

I’m becoming a bigger and bigger advocate for growing your own vegetable/fruit garden for many reasons:
  • It saves money on produce (always a plus)!
  • You get the freshest, tastiest produce.
  • Gardening gets the family involved.  It encourages all family members to have pride in and appreciate their food.
  • It teaches the younger generations that healthy food is important and that dedicating time to food is important.
  • It’s fun and rewarding!
Simply put, gardening is a smart and simple joy that is getting lost in this fast and furious world we live in.

Although I grew up eating tomatoes from my extended familys' gardens, I first tried my hand at vegetable gardening two years ago, quite simply: with a potted cherry tomato plant on my deck. Last year my husband and I built a small, raised bed in our backyard.  The deer ate half the plants before they even got started, but we did have a small, but less than tasty harvest.  We worked on improving our soil to help grow a better product.  
Planting in late April.
And guess what the first thing we did this year was?  Build a fence around the garden to keep the deer out.  Simple and effective!  This year I planted: one yellow squash, one cucumber, two tomatoes, one cherry tomato and three bell peppers.  On my deck and in my kitchen window, I keep adding to my fresh herb collection, which now consists of basil, parsley, rosemary, lavender, mint and stevia.  For less than $20 I’m expecting bunches of produce and year-round fresh herbs!  One hint: buy from a local garden center or hardware store—they have cheaper plants and supplies.

Garden at the beginning of July.
All are growing successfully except for the cucumber; it didn’t make it very far.  If you’re in St. Louis, just like many other cities, now we’re suffering through a 100-degree heat wave.  And my plants are suffering a little too. But regardless, here’s my first harvest of the year!

That squash made an awesome addition to pasta--coming soon on the blog--and you just can't beat a fresh tomato on a turkey sandwich!

More than just inexpensive and tasty produce, a garden provides tons of inspiration for GOOD food! Delicious and nutritious food, that is.  For the remainder of the summer, I’ve decided to share some of the dishes that I’ve created with my backyard garden. Hopefully it will inspire you too!  Subscribe to become a “goodfoodie” and you’ll receive updates whenever I post.  If you’re already a gardener, I’d love to see your comments!  What do you grow?  Do you have any helpful tricks for the beginner?  What fresh and tasty recipes have you created?

Mint gone wild!
Planting your own garden is merely one way to enjoy fresh, affordable produce. And it really doesn't take as much time as you think.  But if you’re not ready to try out your green thumb, try a local farmers market or a co-op. If gardening is new to you, start how I did: small.  Pick a vegetable and plant it in a pot.  It’s easy and cheap—and you’ll learn a little every year until you become a master.  If you just need a little advice, check out this past post with some links to helpful books to get started.  Here's something I've learned: Miracle Gro!
Happy harvesting!

P.S. In the near future, you’ll find all the upcoming recipes and more in my recipe book or included in my ready-to-use meal plans available through RDbyyourside.