Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Back in the garden

For the first time since 2013, our little container garden is back in full production and I'm thrilled. Especially since we're in the midst of tomato season. Nothing tastes better than a home-grown tomato, nothing.

crazy hot peppers in an Earthbox 

I still grow our little garden in Earthboxes. They're self-watering containers and if you don't want to fork out the bucks for them there are tutorials on how to make your own. This year I planted 3 Sweet Million cherry tomato plants, 3 Better Boy tomato plants and jalapenos, ghost peppers and Carolina Reaper peppers. The latter two I wouldn't touch with a 10-foot pole, but the boy likes them (he's weird).

Dwarf sunflower, aren't they cute?

I also planted nasturtiums, two kinds of basil, green onions, spinach (which is long gone by now) and dwarf sunflowers, all from seed. Unfortunately, for the first time ever my zinnias didn't germinate well so I only have a few of those, but I'll try again next year.

Salad with homegrown purple basil and a nasturium (edible and pretty!)

The tomatoes are doing great and every day I excitedly hunt for more cherry tomatoes. I'm still waiting on my first Better Boy. And as soon as we have a few of those I'll be able to make homemade salsa, yum yum!

Last year I planted one cherry tomato plant and wanted more, so this year I went with more cherry tomatoes and fewer full-size. It's working out well. I got my first ripe cherry tomato on July 17 and am now up to a handful a day.

This year's garden is reminding me that it doesn't take much for you to treat yourself to the freshest crops around. Just adding a little fresh basil can make a regular salad something special. I've learned from past experience that cucumbers and zucchini just don't do well, so I buy those locally and save my limited space and energy for the things that do pay off, like tomatoes. 

Even small container gardens can be a pain when you have to water them daily during a hot spell, but this year its been raining so much that I don't have to water nearly as much. And they've always produced so much more in the Earthboxes than planted in the ground.

I just love being able to grab some fresh ingredients from right outside the back door to enhance a recipe. I finally bought a spiralizer and used it to turn some summer squash into "squashetti." Specifically I bought a veggetti. It produces only two sizes of noodles so it's not fancy, but it's inexpensive, compact and works well. Plus who knew summer squash noodles are delish served cold in a salad with peas, feta cheese and heaps of basil and then coated with balsamic vinaigrette? Well, I do now.

The basil is producing quite prolifically, so I've been throwing it on my daily salads and it is delicious and sells heavenly.

What are your favorite plants to grow? Any fresh-from-the-garden recipes to share?


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