There is nothing better than a freshly picked apple or courgette picked at the height of its ripeness, fresh from the garden or the allotment. Many home chefs are taking their culinary talents outside and combining them with a green thumb to create gardens full of fresh, organic produce.
Much of the produce we purchase from our local markets are grown thousands of miles away - picked many months if not years earlier - and we don’t often know much about the farm they were grown on or the way the produce was handled before arriving in the supermarket.
When we grow our own fruits and vegetables, we can control every aspect of the finished product from seedling to the time it reaches our table. Many cooks take pride in the fact that they grew the ingredients they are serving and it gives them a chance to grow specific fruits and vegetables not available to them locally; an easy way to feed healthy meals to the family or to impress at your next dinner party!
Perhaps you want to create an authentic Vietnamese dish that calls for daikon radishes. You may not find them at your grocer, but you can grow them in your garden. In fact, seed companies are offering a wide range of traditional and hybrid seeds for the home gardener enabling them to grow almost anything in their gardens. Produce that was once available only in the southernmost continents can now - with a little bit of care and planning - be grown anywhere in the world.
Plan Your Garden
The key to growing a sustainable home garden is to plan it properly. Decide what fruits and vegetables you use most in your cooking and add in the ones you would like to try. This can give you a variety of fresh, home grown produce to choose from and open up your culinary options to more exciting dishes for your family. Next, stage your produce. Some vegetables are harvested early, while others are harvested in the Autumn. By staging your garden, you will always have a fresh supply of seasonal produce to choose from.
Make Use of Space
If you have a small space for your garden, try hanging baskets or grow vegetables in large pots that can be placed anywhere in your back yard or on your patio. As at your local garden centre to find fruits and vegetables that can grow in a small amount of soil and are therefore perfect for container gardening. Indeed, even Apple trees bought with the right root stock can happily be grown in modest containers so there's no need for an orchard-sized back garden.
Harvest and Enjoy!
Once you have your garden planted, what’s next? Obviously, you want to feed and water the plants to ensure they grow strong and healthy. But when they are close to becoming ripe and ready to pick, you will want to consult Inspire My Meal for some delicious recipes you can choose to make use of your bountiful harvest.
To get you started, here are a few recipes to help you make use of that fresh courgette or your handpicked apples!