Garden to Table is going to be my goal for making recipes with the freshest ingredients available. Today I’m heading out of the kitchen and into my small backyard.
Garden to Table is my idea of delicious. When I was younger, I could barely keep a houseplant alive. Now that I’ve done research on the topic, I’m able to sustain quite a sizable amount of herbs, veggies & fruit.
I don’t have a large backyard by any means, so my lemon, lime, and kumquat trees are of the dwarf variety. I only have a 12 by 36 inch plot of dirt, so I put in grapevines, blackberries, and a Lions Tail that snuck in (I let it stay even though it crowded out the Pink Lemonade blueberries).
An old colander makes a great hanging planter, just line them with landscaping cloth and tuck m up & out-of-the-way. Shipping pallets can be made into a vertical herb garden. You can recycle all kinds of objects for use in your outside areas. I poked some holes into the bottom of a large storage tub and planted beets, mini eggplant, and cucumbers. An old fire pit was being used as a planter box for several varieties of lettuce.
I was let loose in a garden center this past weekend and my car was packed with all kinds of heavenly smelling herbs and veggies. I got Cucumbers, eggplant, blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, basil, sweet orange peppers, pattypan squash, bee balm, purple & yellow bell peppers, coolapeno pepper, sweet mint, jicama seeds, beets, a dwarf kumquat and maize.
I want to try my hand at pickling & I’ll be able to have my pick of fresh ingredients. I can make all kinds of jams too. Blackberry & basil jam with a little vanilla and dried hibiscus petals mixed in sounds delicious. I will be making that for damn sure.
Here is a list of some things you can grow in your space. Click the link to find out when and how.
Herb plants are great too. They tend to run small, so you can fit a variety in a tight space. My garden has a few plants that attract bees. Bees are important, so I try to grow things that will sustain them. One family of plants that provides a good source for nectar is the Lamiaceae (mint family). These flowers, made up of five fused petals, are usually irregular in shape, have square stems, and are usually quite fragrant. Bees will hang on the outside of the flower and insert their proboscis inside to gain access to the sweet nectar. Many of the herbs that we like to cook with, like basil and lemon balm, are in the mint family, so not only do they give us food, but the bees as well.
Some great kitchen Garden to Table herbs to try growing: basil, chives, cilantro, lavender, sage, lemon balm, oregano, parsley, peppermint, rosemary, marjoram, summer or winter savory, tarragon, thyme, and dill. If you have room on your windowsill or any sunny spot, you can easily set up mini pots with the herb that you cook with the most.
Full meals can be constructed just by foraging in your own backyard. Pluck some lettuce, radicchio, cucumbers, peppers, and tomatoes for a salad. Grab a lime, a jalapeño pepper & some cilantro to make a quick dressing. I’ll include the recipe, most ingredients can be grown outside your back door.
1 jalapeño pepper – seeded and chopped small
1 clove garlic – minced
3/4 Tsp. fresh ginger root – minced
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/3 cup honey
2 Tsp. balsamic vinegar
1/2 Tsp. salt
1/4 cup cilantro leaves – packed in tight
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil.
Then, all you have to do is put the pepper, garlic & ginger into a food processor or blender and pulse until minced. Pour in the fresh lime juice, honey, balsamic vinegar, and salt. Then add the cilantro leaves. Pulse a few times to blend. with blender on, slowly drizzle in the olive oil until incorporated fully. Add more salt if needed. Garden to Table indeed.