The weather is finally getting warmer, and I can’t wait for the 70-degree days predicted later this week. I’ve been getting outside more often. We recently completed our second attempt at the TD five-borough, forty-mile bike tour, ran our favorite chocolate 5k, and visited the Chihuly exhibit at the New York Botanical Gardens (more about all of those in posts to come soon). And just yesterday we finally got in the garden—weeding and pruning and turning the soil and adding a bunch of new little plants that I can’t wait to watch grow!
We haven’t yet transplanted the ones that dad’s been nursing from seeds because they’re too small, so we saved some space for them in our second planter. We have our usual herbs: sage and lilac and chives and mint that all resurfaced from last year, as well as some sweet basil, purple basil, parsley, cilantro, and dill. This year we really want to have more of a veggie haul, so we focused a bit more on those: snap peas, green beans, red and yellow bell peppers, five varieties of tomato, three types of eggplant (black, white, and Japanese), two types of squash, onions…and watermelon!
I’m not sure that the watermelon will actually grow very well, but we figured it couldn’t hurt to try. It would be so awesome to have a fresh-from-the-garden watermelon! We’ve also got blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, and black raspberries all growing on the side of the house; I’m hopeful that the black raspberry bush will actually start yielding some fruit this year. I’m excited to start taking care of the garden and spending the rest of the spring with my hands in the dirt. And I can’t wait to hear what everyone else is growing this year!
My very first backyard garden originated from a desire to eat locally, to self-sustain in some small way. Growing primarily herbs and a few tomato plants, I discovered a love for gardening; few activities left me as centered as digging my hands into the dirt or plucking leaves I knew I would cook with later. Last year’s garden saw the addition of a lettuce bed, which really flourished throughout the spring and well into the summer. I loved taking salads made with backyard lettuce to work for lunch, especially if I could also include some ripe homegrown tomatoes.
This year, for my third garden, I’ve followed last year’s layout—lettuce in the shady bed, herbs in the sunnier planter. But I did move all of my veggies to the side of the house, since it gets much more sun than the backyard. And we have lots more variety in our herbs and veggies this year! To help me grow them successfully, I plan to resume my “Growing My Green Thumb” posts (so far I’ve learned about purple basil, Italian parsley, thyme, and lavender) throughout the spring and summer. But until then, here’s an introductory photo tour of what I’m calling Garden 3.0:
A little more than one month ago, I planted herbs and veggies in my backyard garden. Some hardy sprouts from last year returned on their own, like the lemon-scented thyme and flat-leaf parsley. Other favorites needed to be replanted, including purple basil and two pepper plants. I also introduced some new crops: Swiss chard, dill, lavender, plain sage (as opposed to last season’s pineapple sage), cinnamon basil, and three varieties of lettuce.
I’ve been weeding and planting and nourishing and coaxing for the past several weeks, and now I’ve taken the first photos of this year’s garden. To my surprise, some of the herbs from last year’s garden grew back on their own—and the thyme persevered throughout the entire winter beneath the snow! Others I discovered at Home Depot and knew I had to try out, like chocolate mint and swiss chard (one of my absolute favorite leaves to use in a salad).
After reading about a homemade pesto sauce at Little Sprouts Learning, I felt inspired to try my hand at making this classic Italian staple. Though most traditional recipes call for either basil or parsley, I decided to combine the two because I had ample amounts of both herbs flourishing in my garden. Although I think the recipe could still use a little bit of tweaking, it resulted in a healthy, tasty sauce. But because Todd likes meat, we also decided to add bacon to our pasta. This recipe serves about four people, depending upon how much each of them eat. We found that it was too much for just the two of us, but we didn’t mind because that meant we’d have leftovers to eat another day!
I didn’t plan on posting up a restaurant review quite so soon after my recent post raving about Artist Point, but only two days later I discovered what might actually be my favorite restaurant at Disney World: The Wave … of American Flavors at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. Those of you who’ve been reading this blog for a while know that I’m all about fresh, natural food with as little processing as possible–and that’s what The Wave is all about too. Many of the ingredients are locally sourced and organic, and most entrees come with a bounty of delicious veggies that excellently complement the dish. I’m not a picky eater, but I am also not afraid to speak my mind if there’s something I don’t like, and I have to say that I had not one complaint about this meal (except for the fact that I can never get used to the taste of Florida tap water)!
After finally managing to complete a whole Insanity cardio circuit workout yesterday, I decided to check on my garden while my dad flipped some turkey burgers and eggplant on the grill. (The eggplant was from his garden and he made a delicious miso sauce for it; check out a photo on my Facebook page.)