Have you been bitten by the backyard (or rooftop or window box or square foot) gardening bug? We have! And we’ve noticed several of the chefs we’ve profiled on Every Food Fits also happen to be proficient gardeners. This new feature will highlight Every Food Fits readers who cultivate their land to bring food to their tables and encourage others to start a garden of their own!
Does the food really taste better from your home garden? We think so. Maybe it’s because the food travels just 30 feet from the garden to your table. Or perhaps we can taste the hours of weeding and watering that went into growing the crops. Whatever the reason, now that we’ve started gardening at home, we just can’t stop. Each time we publish this feature, we’ll ask a different chef or reader the same five questions about their gardens. To get the ball rolling, here’s Stacey’s home gardening story.
1. Tell us about what food you’re growing this season – what does the current bounty look like? And what’s your favorite fruit/veggie/herb?
We started the summer by planting spinach, peas, two types of carrots, two types of tomatoes, watermelon, cucumber and cilantro. Right now we pluck a few carrots every day and have several tomatoes from our three tomato plants. My favorite – though it’s so hard to choose – is the black trifele heirloom tomato.
2. Where and when did you learn to garden? Which do you enjoy more – spending time in the garden or enjoying the fruits (and veggies) of your labor?
Before this year, any plant I’d even look at would wither and die, but my friend Rachel urged me to cultivate my own food. Rachel is working toward certification as a Master Gardener, and she gave me the confidence and coaching necessary to grow my own food. She gave me carrot, cilantro and tomato seeds and taught me how to start them inside in pods. Rachel even gave me a sheet unique to the Mid-Atlantic region that laid out instructions for moving my indoor sprouts outside and planting them in the ground. Getting down on the ground and getting my hands dirty isn’t a ton of fun, but my husband shares a lot of the gardening work, making it a lot easier (especially when I was 6, 7, 8 months pregnant!). For me, eating the food is much more fun than growing it, but it is so rewarding to know that you cultivated a morsel of food from a little bitty seed.
3. Which food plants didn’t turn out so well this year? Will you try again next summer?
We were so disappointed in the peas! We thought they’d be more flavorful. Next year, given our limited space, we’ll probably ditch the peas in favor of more carrots, tomatoes and spinach. We didn’t realize how finicky cilantro can be, and we were so bummed to see them wilt and die.
4. Looking ahead to fall – do you plan to get autumn or winter crops going?
We’re hoping to get swiss chard plants going soon and give the cilantro another shot.
5. What did you make with the food from your garden?
We didn’t yield a ton of product, so we picked just enough for some salads. The black trifele tomatoes are less acidic than other varieties, and we enjoy those either sliced on a sandwich or sliced with just a bit of Maldon sea salt and a drizzle of oil. The carrots are fantastic roasted or cooked with summer squash in the pan until soft.
Master Gardener Rachel shared a delectable pesto made with the basil she grew in her garden, and we enjoyed it atop pasta and pea shoots.
SHARE YOUR GARDEN WITH EVERY FOOD FITS READERS! Send us an email at everyfoodfits [at] gmail [dot] com and we’ll send a few questions to get your garden its “15 minutes of fame!”