One of my strongest memories involving food is from the vegetable garden my parents used to grow every summer in our backyard. The tomato plants would grow to tree-like proportions, the green beans were practically small shrubs, and the strawberries would peek like ruby gems from underneath their leaves. It was a veritable jungle with edible treasures – at least in my mind’s eye as a kid!
This is my first year planting a vegetable garden in my own backyard. While it is mostly hard work, a lot of experimentation and some mighty big “FAILS,” there is still a feeling of magic and appreciation as you watch the seeds sprout into plants and, ultimately, edibles.
Our first “harvest” – radishes straight from the ground (so good served raw with some butter and sea salt) and some miniature strawberries, eaten as is.
I have made some pretty big mistakes – I over planted the tomatoes (no one really needs eight plants), and I forgot to harvest the micro greens, so they were terribly bitter and the entire garden is going to be over crowded as I was a little ambitious. I am not sure if all of my plants will make it, but thank goodness for the good people at the Green Acres Nursery and the local Sacramento Vegetable Gardening Blog who have been invaluable resources for my little plot of land.
Overwhelmingly, I am gaining a deeper appreciation of where my food is coming from and the hard work it takes to produce it – whether it is from the farmers’ market or from my backyard. I am re-learning that food that comes straight out of the dirt and into your kitchen is incredibly tasty. I am excited to see that vegetable gardening is becoming rather chic, where anyone with a window and a pot can make something grow for their kitchen.
As the growing season continues, I will write frequently on how the garden is growing and what new ways I discover to incorporate my fresh produce into my meals and into summer entertaining. I will also write about individuals here in Sacramento who are growing and incorporating local and seasonal produce in their kitchens – big and small.
I want to know from you – are you backyard gardener? What are you harvesting right now and how are you preparing it? Do you know of Sacramento restaurants or individuals who are doing cool things with local grown food? Drop me a line – I might blog about you too!