Spring has officially arrived, and now is the perfect time to plan your summer garden. There are plenty of reasons to grown your own edible garden this year. Tending a garden is a fun and rewarding activity that helps you to be physically active. Growing your own produce also helps you to incorporate plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs into your diet while cutting down on your grocery bills.
The first step is to plan where to plant your garden. Choose a spot that has good soil, gets enough sun throughout the day, and is close to a water supply. Most edible plants require “full sun” or about six hours per day. Lettuce, on the other hand, does better in shade. For most plants, choose a spot in your yard with southern exposure. When watering your garden, keep in mind that you will want the soil to be moist, but not soggy. You will likely be watering at least daily for the first few weeks, and may be able to taper off to every second or third day later in the season.
When deciding where to plant, you can choose to plant in the ground, in raised beds, or in containers. Before you plant, be sure to clear any weeds and grass and to turn your soil with either a roto-tiller or a shovel. Next, add lots of organic compost to spread a six-inch deep layer. If you are not satisfied with the quality of your soil, it may be best to plant in raised beds or in containers.
The next step is to plan what you’d like to eat this summer. You should primarily plant foods that you love to eat, and maybe also a few unfamiliar vegetables. This is a good time to look through seed catalogs. If you are an inexperienced gardener, plan some easier to grow vegetables, such as cherry tomatoes, green beans, cucumbers, lettuce and spinach.
March is a great time to start planning your edible garden so that you will be able to enjoy your delicious bounty in just a few months. Try preparing the pesto recipe below using fresh basil from your garden.
2 Tbsp chopped pine nuts
2 cloves garlic, peeled
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
4 cups basil leaves
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
¼ tsp salt
Use a food processor to mince pine nuts and garlic. Add oil and pulse three times. Add basil, cheese and salt; process until finely minced.
Yield: ¾ cup
Serving size: 1 Tbsp
Nutrition facts per serving: 58 calories, 5 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 2 g protein, 1 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 125 mg sodium