Like many retirees, we decided that with our extra time we should try our hand at growing our own vegetables. Great idea, right?
Well it is, as long as you are prepared to deal with the bounty that is likely to follow. You will be amazed at how much can be produced from just two tomato plants or three hills of yellow beans.
We keep our garden pretty simple. Tomatoes, beets, beans, onions and green peppers. We also plant a couple of hills of pumpkins–jack o’lantern type and giant. We always participate in our local annual Pumpkinfest parade and like to have our own pumpkins to display.
Here’s the bottom line about planting a vegetable garden. Plant one if:
1. You love spending the time to prepare the soil, plant the seeds and then re-seed should they not germinate the first time around.
2. You have the time to weed continuously (sometimes daily at the height of weed season!) because they can get away on you and before you know it they will out number the vegetable plants.
3. You don’t mind picking off the gross bugs that get into your tomato plants and stomping on them (I am nauseous just thinking about it!).
4. You have lots of friends and family that would love your gifts of veggies. If you are lucky like I am, they will repay your kindness with preserves and sauces made from your gift.
5. You enjoy the opportunity to share the miracle of mother nature with the children in your life.
6. You love the idea of walking out your back door and picking your own fresh produce.
All kidding aside, it can be a really rewarding activity. It can keep you busy year round. If you choose to start your own plants the planning can start as early as February and the harvesting of some veggies doesn’t happen until after the first frost. Once it starts growing, it keeps you moving and out in the fresh air (just don’t forget the bug spray–for some reason mosquitoes love the garden no matter what the time of day).
It can provide you with the ingredients for some lovely homemade preserves as well. I always get together with my mother and one of my brothers to do a day of salsa making. It certainly helps to use up the tomatoes and peppers while providing an opportunity to spend some quality time with family.
I am a bit of a glutton for punishment. It is not enough that I have more vegetables than I need but I also have taken to picking fresh fruit that is grown here locally and trying my hand at jam. Last year I made some blueberry jam using the Certo cooked jam recipe. It turned out so well I will be making another batch this week.
I have made some pretty tasty chutney, savoury jellies and chilli sauces. This year I have used my bumper crop of yellow beans to try dilly beans. They are supposed to be tastier than dill pickles. They are fermenting in their jars now and should be ready for a taste in a couple of weeks. I will share the recipe with you if they turn out okay.
Oh yes, if having your own garden doesn’t interest you, remember that your local farmers’ markets and roadside stands have all the fresh produce you could ever want. And no dirty hands!
Do you have any favourite recipes for this season’s fresh offerings? Share…..please!