Backyard gardens provide fresh quality food and ingredients all summer long. Good returns can be had from a minimal investment of time and money. Not only does gardening provide good building blocks for nutrition, it also fits nicely into an active lifestyle as it can be a workout in itself.
An herb garden in some window planters and containers is the building block of any garden. Stopping here is respectable, as this setup will yield fast quality results with little effort. Adding perennial vegetables takes any garden a step further at the cost of additional labor. Introducing fruits like berries require more patience as they are annuals and can require several seasons to become established.
Endless great dishes are possible with the plants from a backyard garden. I have already written about pesto and chicken stock. I often use fresh mint for smoothies, mojitos and mint juleps. Every garden has a different emphasis depending on the dishes we enjoy – I place an emphasis on the ingredients for Mexican and Italian dishes. Careful planning has to take place to make good use of limiting factors like time and space so we don’t end up over committed, which will kill the enjoyment in any activity.
|While not my favorite image this picture best illustrates the entirety of the backyard garden. Not pictured are grapes, blackberries, and blueberries.|
|Peppers in the foreground with tomatoes in the upper left. Additional tomatoes and strawberries are pictured to the right of the peppers. Bricks keep the grass from growing into the garden.|
|Raspberries are seen in the foreground. Herb Containers and window planters are visible in this shot.|
This years garden features its foundation of herbs. Items in bold reflect what I consider the essentials.
Thyme, Oregano, Marjoram, Bay, Rosemary, Sage, Chives, Basil, Dill, Parsley, Mint, and Cilantro
Roma Tomatoes, Better Boy Tomatoes, Bell Peppers, Jalepeño Peppers, Habanero peppers, Cayene Peppers, Serano Peppers, Pablano Peppers, Carrots, Green Onions & Green Beans
Grapes (mature), Strawberries, Raspberries, Blackberries, & Blueberries (all in their 2nd season)
I have big plans for making old staples like tomato sauce and different salsas using the garden this year. I will also try some new things like barbecue sauce, wine, and variations of pesto like cilantro pesto. There may be failures but that is the best way to learn.