Growing Your Dinner – 5 Cool Garden Ideas to Try Right Now

Growing Your Dinner – 5 Cool Garden Ideas to Try Right Now
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    If you enjoy the freshness of locally grown produce from your neighborhood farm stand, consider growing your own kitchen garden. You can tailor your garden to suit your culinary preferences, and you will save money by growing these ingredients yourself.

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From spring’s early crops of lettuces, spinach, asparagus and peas to fall’s winter squashes and root vegetables, you can reap the benefits of a homegrown selection of produce for several months of family dinners each year. Choosing the plants and growing the garden is a great way to get the children involved and interested to learn where their food comes from and how it transforms into the dishes that they enjoy. Once you prepare a garden plot, consider five cool garden ideas to help you create your favorite homegrown meals.

Plan the Garden Plot

Select an area in the yard that receives full sun exposure and minimal wind exposure. The garden should also be conveniently located near the watering source. Dig and turn the soil in the designated garden space to a depth of one foot, breaking up large clumps until the soil is uniformly and finely crumbled. Mix in compost throughout the soil, and bring a soil sample to a garden center to have it tested. This will determine if any amendments needs to be mixed into the soil to bring it to an ideal growing condition for vegetables. Once the garden is ready for planting, plan your crops so that they are planted at the proper time. Be sure to grow a garden that is based on the types of meals that your family loves most.

The Mediterranean Garden

From classic Italian tomato sauce to French ratatouille, the gems of a Mediterranean-inspired kitchen garden include plum tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, fennel, garlic and colorful bell peppers. Be sure to grow plenty of basil and parsley for that homemade pesto sauce. Oregano is also a key ingredient in many Greek and Italian dishes.

South of the Border Garden

If you crave southwestern fare, grow a garden that includes tomatillos, tomatoes, colorful bell peppers, yellow squash, zucchini, cilantro and a variety of different chili peppers. You will have everything you need to conjure up a bowl of tomatillo and tomato salsas and sautéed peppers for fajitas. Sauteed yellow squash with a sprinkle of chili powder is a quick and easy vegetable side dish that pairs well with southwestern entrees.

Summer Salad Sensations

Salads will never be boring once you plant cucumbers, radishes, celery, bell peppers, sugar snap peas, different types of lettuces, corn, potatoes and a variety of different tomatoes. A platter of colorful heirloom tomatoes topped with scattered slices of celery and crumbled goat cheese or blue cheese is a refreshing mealtime offering. Enjoy corn on the cob hot off of the grill or cut the kernels into a salad bowl to combine with tomatoes and basil for an authentic taste of summer. Parsley, dill, mint, basil and oregano all add flavor boosts to garden salads, potato salads, pasta salads and homemade salad dressings.

Fruitful Delights

Encourage healthy snacking with the availability of fresh fruit from the fruit garden. Plant strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and a variety of melons to create cooling fruit salads all summer long. Compliment the fruits with fresh mint and basil. Berries can be added to cereals, simmering homemade barbecue sauce and pies. Toss berries and melons into green salads for a pop of color and sweetness.

Autumn Stews and Roasts

Fall garden crops continue to include a variety of root vegetables and tubers, including carrots, potatoes, parsnips, beets, turnips and rutabaga. Winter squashes, such as butternut, acorn and spaghetti, also feature in autumn’s garden lineup. All of these items can be enjoyed in stews and soups or from the roasting pan. Roast rings of acorn squash with pork chops. Toss a bowl of spaghetti squash with homemade pesto. A variety of herbs, including rosemary, sage and thyme, continue to be available until after the first hard frost.

There is nothing more rewarding than harvesting your own homegrown bounty and serving it up at your family table. You know that the produce is at its peak of freshness and flavor, and you know with certainty that it was grown with love instead of with harmful commercial chemicals. The challenge may be choosing which vegetable your family will savor each day.

Meghan Belnap –
Meghan Belnap is a freelance writer who enjoys spending time with her family. She also enjoys being in the outdoors and exploring new opportunities whenever they arise as well as researching new topics to expand her horizons. You can often find her buried in a good book or out looking for an adventure. Meghan recommends using a land clearing company like Bear Slashing Ltd to clear land and make room for your garden if you are serious about becoming a mulching expert.

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