There's nothing quite like gathering your own food, fresh from the garden! Homegrown garden goodness provides a delicious, healthy way to support sustainability. Gardening enables you to grow what you eat, eat what you grow, and enjoy the well-deserved satisfaction of your labors.
Whether from an urban balcony or a sprawling county plot, your garden's bounty served fresh or preserved, boosts self-sustainability, health, and joy.
Whether grown in urban balcony containers, a little plot tucked into a corner of your backyard, or from a large country garden, there's nothing quite like garden fresh produce. The ability to step out your back door and gather fruit, vegetables or herbs from your garden as needed ensures the highest quality of your produce.
Dew dropped, sun kissed, and vine ripened... The fresh from the garden goodness and nutrition that comes only with the harvest from your own homegrown garden is as good as you can get. Let's look at just a few garden favorites...
Tomatoes are the most popular vegetable grown in the home garden or in containers. There are many different varieties to choose from! Whether big juicy red tomatoes or dainty little cherry tomatoes, plum tomatoes and Romas, and in a variety of colors that include yellow, orange, pink, and purple. Whatever the color, shape or size, there's nothing quite like a juicy, vine ripened tomato fresh from the garden! For a fun page about tomatoes check this out: Pictures of Tomatoes and a Whole Lot More!
Often tomatoes give a generous yield. After you've eaten your fill of fresh tomatoes, you might be wondering what to do with your abundant crop. Sometimes after making sauces, salsas, or spaghetti sauce, there are still more tomatoes. You can preserve them by canning, freezing, roasting them and packing them in oil. You can also dehydrate tomatoes, and then if you'd like, make tomato powder out of your dry tomatoes!
Green beans, and of course, yellow wax beans, and royal purple and burgundy string beans. Mainly just color and shape separate these types of beans from another. They can be enjoyed raw, steamed or roasted. Which way you grow them, vertically with vines growing up poles, or in bushes close to the ground, is a matter of preference. There are so many ways to enjoy beans! Roasted Garlic Parmesan Green Beans is one yummy way to serve them. Preserving them by canning or freezing enables us to enjoy them throughout the winter as well.
Cucumbers are available in a wide variety and are easy to grow. Some types grow on bushes and others on vines. The bushes are compact, sprawling a bit on the ground. These grow well in containers. Vining cucumbers require a pole, trellis, or other type of support because, as they grow, their tendrils search for and wind around anything to cling to for support. Varying widely in shapes and lengths, some are long and thin and other are short and plump.
Cucumbers can be served sliced in in salads enjoyed fresh from the garden. Many of these varieties can be preserved by pickling them. Dill pickles, sweet pickles, and a wide array of relishes and salsas are favorites ways of preserving them. Or how about making cucumber chips in the dehydrator. And cucumber jelly, sweet and tangy, pairs nicely with savory meat dishes or simply served with cheese and crackers.
Bell peppers, in vivid green, yellows, oranges and reds, are also part of the fresh from the garden bounty. Sweet, crunchy peppers are very easy to grow, either in a garden or in containers on the porch or balcony of an apartment. They are very nutritious, high in vitamins C and A, as well as loaded with various other vitamins and minerals.
Sweet peppers are often enjoyed raw. They can be sliced up and eaten as a healthy snack, dipped in hummus, or tossed into a salad. They can also be roasted, stuffed, sautéed... They add flavor and even texture to so many dishes!
Bell peppers can also be preserved for use long after colorful autumn leaves have covered your garden. There's nothing much easier than dicing or slicing these sweet peppers and freezing them. All winter long you can take out the amount you need from the freezer to add to a wide variety of dishes. You can also preserve bell peppers by dehydrating them. Afterwards, if you'd like, you can powder the dehydrated peppers and use them to nicely flavor many dishes as well. Bell peppers can also be canned, pickled, or roasted, then packed in olive oil.
Sweet Corn is another summertime vegetable garden favorite and is delicious especially when eaten fresh from the garden. Corn is a nutritious grain that is rich in fiber and many vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Corn is typically yellow or yellow and white, but like other vegetables, it can be a variety of other colors, such as red, orange, purple, blue, white, and black.
Sweet corn can be easily frozen and enjoyed in the winter. Corn can be canned or pickled and made into corn relish. as well. It can also be dehydrated and the kernels eaten as a snack, reconstituted and added to soups and other dishes, or ground into homemade cornmeal. And who doesn't love a bowl of buttery hot popcorn! Imagine the yumminess of your own dried corn from your garden!
Squashes also come in a wide variety of types, shapes, sizes, and colors. Not only are some varieties of squashes harvested as summer squashes, but you can grow winter squashes as well which are grown in the summer and keep longer to be enjoyed in the winter.
Favorite summer squash varieties include zucchini, yellow crookneck, and scallop squash. Some flavorful types of winter squash include mouthwatering Butternut, large, thick-skinned Hubbard, and stringy-meated Spaghetti Squash. Pumpkins, a real fall favorite, are also a type of winter squash.
Leafy vegetables are easy to grow whether in your kitchen garden, raised garden box or in easy to reach back porch containers!
What are some of your favorites? Do you grow a variety of leafy garden greens? An assortment of lettuces, endive, and spinach? How about collard greens, swiss chard, kale or beet greens?
Have you tried growing watercress, arugula, or mustard greens? Or how about green or red cabbages, Bok choy, or Napa cabbage? Leek leaves, spring onions and scallions are also tasty additions to many soups or savory dishes and taste especially palatable when gathered fresh from the garden!
Root vegetables are those delicious, nutritious treasures which form in the earth, hidden beneath the surface of the garden. What an amazing variety of root veggies there are!
Most commonly grown are carrots, radishes and beets. And parsnips, turnips and rutabagas are grown in many gardens. There are also many types of onions, scallions, leeks, and garlic that are easy to grow.
Other underground edibles in the form of tubers and rhizomes that we enjoy are vegetables like potatoes, yams and sweet potatoes, depending on your growing zone.
Ginger, which can be grown indoors in colder climates, and turmeric are rhizome vegetables. These like so many other of the root vegetables not only add tastiness to the menu, and they also have powerful medicinal uses.
Herbs add a generous sprinkle of goodness to our lives through their verdant fragrances, unique flavors when added to our foods, as well as in their many amazing health benefits!
Enjoyed as flavorings, medicinally, or in teas, whether fresh, dried, or frozen, humble herbs add a wonderful sparkle to life!
Herbs are easy to grow and some come back year after year. Depending on where you live, some herbs do better when they're brought indoors for the winter. They thrive in pots and containers as well as the kitchen garden plot.
As the phrase of the old song comes to mind, "parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme", my mind wanders into my own herb garden... Which are your preferred herbs?
There are so many to choose from! Here are 10 favorites, not in any particular order. I'm sure you can add many other delectable herbs to this list...
Herbs that you've harvested fresh from the garden can be dried. They can also be frozen for future use. I've quickly blanched dill then froze it to retain its lovely green and fresh taste to be enjoyed in the winter! Another way to preserve herbs is to add them to an oil for flavor. This can be frozen as well.
Edible flowers add a wonderful touch of flavor and beauty to many different dishes! Pictured below is an example of how I had dressed up a salad a few years ago by adding a few lovely nasturtiums. Their warm, peppery flavor complimented the veggie salad nicely.
There are many edible flowers! But always be sure to research before eating a flower if you're not perfectly sure about it. It's always better to be safe than sorry!
Here are 10 of these lovelies and there are many others besides these! Like the herbs, many of these have various other benefits besides their beauty.
Added to a vegetable salad or leafy greens, flowers add a pop of color. Try incorporating them as part of the decorations on a lovely cake or place a single blossom to float atop a glass of delicate, sparkling wine. Freeze blossoms in ice cubes or fold petals into homemade ice cream. Pursue any avenue your creativity may lead you, experiment and have fun! How can you go wrong when adding a touch of these blooming edibles obtained fresh from the garden!
Many of these flowers can be preserved by drying to later sprinkle over a dish for garnish. Dried nasturtiums add a lovely dash of color when sprinkled on top a potato salad. Some flowers are candied or made into jellies.
Please be aware! Not all flowers are edible. Some can be poisonous. And while some types of flowers are fine, other strains of the same types of flower are not edible. it is important for you to make sure for yourself if they are edible or not before eating them.
There are delicious fruits that can be grown in the garden as well! Depending on where you live, the types and varieties of these sweet treats will definitely vary.
Who can resist fresh from the garden berries? Strawberries, which are available in a wide variety, are certainly favorites. There are bush and cane berries as well, such as blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and currents.
You can enjoy delicious melons off sprawling vines in a several varieties! Among them are watermelons, cantaloupes and honeydews and muskmelons.
A climbing grape vine is another lovely addition to a garden, providing you with it's luscious bounty year after year.
And there is a multitude of sweet fruit bearing trees to be had as well! Apples, pears, peaches, nectarines, apricots, mulberries and so many more! And while you're at it, why not consider growling some nut trees as well!
Perennials are excellent additions to an edible garden! You plant them once, take good care of them, and enjoy them for years to come. Among the many perennial food producing plants, there are:
Some perennials, like asparagus, are a bit slow to establish, while other perennials blossom and yield yummies the first year. Over time, perennials provide a reliable annual harvest. They are usually lower maintenance. Not only do they save you time once established, but many perennial edibles build up the soil in which they live with their root systems and by annually shedding their foliage for decomposition. Once in place, you can plant the rest of the garden around them.
Gardening is an excellent activity for children of all ages! To instill a love for gardening into a child is to gift them with a blessing that lasts a lifetime.
There are so many benefits to gardening with kids. It's an activity that can be easily altered to fit the child's age and abilities. It's wonderfully educational. Think of all scientific concepts you can discuss with a child when planting and tending to a garden! It's excellent exercise, helping them grow in motor skills.
When included in simple gardening activity, children can gain a real sense of accomplishment and enjoy sharing the fruit of their labor that they harvest fresh from the garden.
Whether the child is yours or someone else's, gardening is a way to build bonds with children and create memories from your experiences in the garden together.
There's just something about gardening... Yes, it can be hard work, but it can also refresh you, body, soul and spirit. When we put time and energy into gardening, it gives back in so many ways!
There are many benefits of gardening. It provides nutrient-filled fruit, vegetables and herbs which are important for your health. Rich soil, sunshine, rain, and fresh air add to the vitalizing vitamin content of your fruits and vegetables. Eating produce fresh from the garden reduces the risk of consuming foods contaminated by harmful chemicals. You planted it and tended it, and you know that what you're eating is pure and fresh.
Gardening is a natural stress reliever. Getting out into the fresh air and sunshine is healthful and rejuvenating. It can improve your mood and bring joy knowing that you're creating your own little space on earth that will nourish you and your family. In each stage, as you prepare your garden, plant it, tend it, watch it grow, and harvest it, you gain a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment.
Gardening can be a workout. The physical activity of pulling weeds, planting, and digging can be compared to playing tennis or dancing and can burn up to 400 calories per hour. Designing and tending to the garden also provides mental exercise and keeping your mind aware and active. Simply gardening barefoot can massage your feet, further reducing muscle pain, tension, stress.
The benefits of gardening go far beyond what you grow! After time spent there, you will come in feeling fresh from the garden.
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