Hi, Friends! With FRESH, ORGANIC, and NON-PROCESSED foods being at the forefront of how we should eat-why not grow your own? Growing up in Georgia, we had a family garden, something I miss living in a big city. I have thought many times to attempt growing my own fresh ingredients to see if my thumb is still green, and have found three lovely ladies to inspire.
Meet Jill, who lives in my neighborhood! She started kitchen gardening about 5 years ago when her dad “Grandan” built her first raised bed as a birthday gift! Wow, she has really found her passion!!
She has certainly expanded since that first plot and has been hooked ever since. She feels the hobby has given her back so much! Not only is she feeding her family the freshest veggies possible, but she feels gardening has taught both her and her family patience.
Waiting 30, 60, or even 90 days (potatoes, for example, take over 90 days) for a vegetable to mature is a long time. It has become a family-friendly activity for all to enjoy and bond.
If you are new to gardening Jill suggests starting small w herbs. Basil, rosemary, mint, oregano, thyme all grow well in Houston, but do a bit of research on what grows well in your area. As you master these move onto green beans and cucumbers, and then tomatoes. Experiment w Vertical gardening – trellising is a great way to keep the vegetables off the dirt and prevent disease.
In Houston, Zone 9a, our hot summers are hard on vegetable plants. You can still grow many things in the hot summer such as okra, eggplant, watermelon, and cantaloupe.
Fall and Spring Gardening is fantastic in our zone. Lettuce, kale, cabbage, and broccoli grow well in the Fall. Sowing seeds, tending to plants, pulling weeds, and even combating pests is a great way to start and end the day. Jill even enjoys the monotony of watering.
“Spending time in the garden and tending to plants bring so much joy!” says sweet Jill! One of her favorite things about having a garden is sharing with friends and neighbors. Recently her parents came in town from Brenham and she was able to harvest some crooked neck yellow squash to give to her 95-year-old grandmother Mamaw who lives in Fort Worth. Jill has started an Instagram for full of gardening tips and photos @oliver__garden__
Another sweet friend of mine is also a garden overachiever!! A super MOM she loves coming up with activities which she can do with her kids. The process of them choosing what to plant, caring for the garden, and eating the fruits of their labor sort-to-speak, has not only been a fun activity but so educational!! Here is how her garden started.
Snap peas have been a success for them this year! The beautiful, rich color of the peas can be picked and eaten right off the stalk. And talk about the kids getting into healthy eating, they even insisted they take their raw treasures into McDonald’s to pair with their Happy Meals!! This great mom has loved the experience of watching her active three eat and be so excited about veggies!!
Even salads have become an art form. With their harvest of lettuce, kale, veggies, and the most beautiful edible flowers each child builds their own creation at dinner time. Mixing organic olive oils and artisan balsamic vinegar for dressings the family makes a point to comment on each taste. They call it their adventure in a bowl.
Their daughter’s favorites are the cucumbers which she checks on every day. A piece of advice she received from a close family friend was – if you get a third of what you planted, that’s a successful gardening season! He said, one third goes to the land, one third to nature’s creatures, and one third to you! I LOVE that!!
What is better than sitting in your garden, enjoying a Texas sunset, and a nice, homemade bowl of salsa?! My friend Stephanie, brings me so many fresh veggies from her garden, as well as delish salsa made from her produce. Never making salsa before I asked her to share her recipe with all of us.
Although all of her ingredients are homegrown, you could purchase all from your local store!!
All you need is about a gallon of mixed tomatoes. Cherokee, Purple, Cherry, Big Boy, and heirlooms are great choices–just mix and match. Slice 7 seeded large Jalapenos, 1 Large Onion or 3 small red onions and Cilantro and salt to taste.
Mix in a blender to desired consistency, taste, then add cilantro and sea salt. For an added flavor, you can add the juice of a few key limes.
Chill in a tight container for the day or for the following. It is always the best the first and second day! Thank you to my three gal pals for sharing a bit of your summer garden with us!!
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Happy Eating! Till next week. xo Leslie