Friday, May 6, 2011

The Edible Garden

"Who has the room OR the time to grow a stinking garden anyway?" 

That's the comment I hear a lot when I talk about "growing food".  People are working, kids have places to be, the house needs......well the house always needs EVERYTHING.....Yes, that's true.  But there is a cliche'  that says "take time to smell the flowers".  I am sure everyone has heard that.  But I can here you now - COME ON!  Who does that?   Is there really TIME?

I have a small backyard -It's got tropical foliage and  it's essentially all pool, BBQ, concrete and Fireplace with some planters around pool and house and it's HOT back there.  Definitely NOT a hospitable place for food to grow.  Be honest.  You're thinking, what can grow there?  DUDE -  Even if  stuff did grow, it wouldn't fit into the landscape - It's gonna look BAD!! 


I got the idea after glancing through a book on the edible garden years ago.  Why do planters have to JUST be for flowers, bushes and other perennials?  Would it be OK to "plug" in edibles?  Well, that was then and  this is NOW, as they say.  I plant "edibles" everywhere I can.  Yet, if you wandered into my backyard you would be pleasantly surprised.  You might even have trouble picking out the plants that are fruits and veggies from those that are not.  In the spring the yard is ALIVE with blossoms.  I like to think of blossoms as God's way to show us hope, beauty and renewing. 

I plant on the sides of my house, in raised planters and I utilize my very favorite gardening tool....the EARTHBOX.  Seriously...check them out at and see what an Earthbox can do for your "green thumb".  I now have four of them (thanks Mom for the newest addition!) and feel like a gardening ROCK STAR!    This year the Earthboxes feature Honeydew, Tomato, Sweet Peppers and Eggplants (both Thai and Indian).

But not all of my little "guys" are in the along the fence and house I line berries, miniature fruit trees, herbs and citrus.  I plant (or rather let) tomatoes grow in "unlikely places" and instead of some unsightly tree that will destroy your planters and walkways, I let citrus and other fruit develop into live "ornaments" that are beautiful AND delicious.   

Everyday I take 5 minutes to "smell the flowers" - well it's more like admire and talk to my plants (yes...I am one of them!!).  I inspect every leaf, bud, fruit, etc.....For me, it's about as pleasing to watch them grow as it to harvest and cook what is grown.

Let me introduce the stars of this season's show:

From left to "somewhat" right:   

Tomato, Swiss chard, an Earthbox of MORE tomatoes, Thai/Indian eggplant, Marconi sweet Italian peppers and my barely big enough (just out of the dirt!) little dude,  The Muncher - a small Persian type cucumber.  I missed getting the picture of the green beans....but I have them starting to grow up a round "trellis" type pole!

I have an assortment of berries.....GOSH I love them.  I preserve them, serve them fresh, make cobbler and sauces!  Introducing the spectacular Boysenberries, Blackberries, Raspberries, and Blueberries:

Then there are the Herbs - The very essence of cooking itself - Basil, Mint, Thai Basil, Rosemary, dill, oregano, and the ones you don't see here...Chive, Thyme, lettuce basil, and parsley.

Tree Fruits - Pictured: Apricot, Peach (2 kinds), Apples (2 kinds), Loquat, Kumquat, and Cherry.  Not Pictured:   Lemon, Lime, Nectarine and sugar plums 

To top it off....I have honeydew seeded for the Fourth earthbox (they are not out of the dirt yet!)  Last year I grew cantaloupe - Honeydew is my favorite. 

It's amazing the amount of fruits and veggies this tiny yard will hold.  

Here are some of the great recipes you will see this season: 
  • Shrmip Ceviche (using my tomatoes and cucumbers) SUPER REFRESHING on a hot day.
  • Salsa (regular and peach!)
  • Fresh Rustic Pasta Sauce
  • Caprese salad
  • Pesto
  • Asian cucumber salad
  • Grilled peaches and nectarines with balsamic glaze or sweetened ricotta cheese.
  • Sauteed chard
  • Spaghetti squash with Chard - already posted (see archives)
  • Preserves (berries, stone fruit, etc)
  • Many Thai recipes utilizing Thai basil
  • Meat and Feta stuffed peppers
  • Green bean salad
My Garden inspires me to be a better more seasonal cook.  It makes me more respectful of my precious ingredients.  I hope you are inspired, intrigued and ready for the summer!  

From my Garden to yours this season, ENJOY!!!

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