Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Kitchen Garden

Sense of Home

Just for clarity, this is last year's garden, the space is now clear of snow, but still very muddy and not quite warm enough to sprout any seeds.  I have been thinking about this summer's garden though, I am ready to feel the dirt between my fingers again.  This year I would like to try growing some plants I have never grown before.  Last year I tried eggplant and fennel for the first time with great success and this year I am anxious to try something else. Growing vegetables is like cooking, it is an experiment, a little adventure to see how something turns out, a challenge to try to turn into a success.  It is also a way to save money on groceries and bring healthier food to the table.  It is a way to taste vegetables that would never be for sale at the grocery store.  I always plant several kinds of heirloom tomatoes and leaf lettuces (some heirloom) that I have never seen for sale nor tasted anywhere else.
Last year I grew an heirloom radish that I have never seen nor eaten before and it was very tasty.  I look at my garden as my chance to taste several different kinds of vegetables, it is part of the enjoyment of summer.

Farmer's Markets and CSAs are terrific sources of fresh vegetables and some fruit, but there is nothing like growing the food you are eating for dinner.  Even if you don't have much space you can grow a kitchen garden.  I have 300 square feet (that's 10 feet by 30 feet worth of space), not large, but with that space we provided the majority of the vegetables we ate during the summer and I canned all the whole tomatoes, tomato sauce, salsa and pickled jalapeƱos we needed for the winter and we are still eating on them.  A couple of weeks ago we ate the last of the potatoes we grew last summer and the few that went to seed I took to the local Head Start program and when I went to do story hour two weeks ago they had them growing in one of their classrooms, the summer garden potatoes have become a classroom project.

No place for even a small garden?  Even a few pots of plants on a deck or front step can provide enough tomatoes for the summer, I know of someone who grows potatoes in large pots on her patio.  I always grow a few cherry tomatoes and herbs in pots, they need more watering attention, but the pay off is well worth the time and effort.  Peas and vine beans do not take much space, they can grow up a wire fence or a chicken wire attached to a deck railing. Strawberries can be grown in a flower bed and the few plants we have produced berries throughout the summer, and there is nothing like eating a strawberry fresh from the garden, warmed from the sun.  To be able to step outside in the morning and pick a few strawberries and raspberries for breakfast, and then come home after work and pick peas, a green onion, lettuce, radishes and some early tomatoes for dinner is truly rewarding.  Spending a few minutes in the evening weeding is a wonderful way to unwind and makes light work of the garden, something I am truly looking forward to.

Sense of Home / Homemade Living / In the Garden