What’s in Your Garden?

fresh tomatoes, jalapeños, zucchini from the garden

Let’s talk gardening. It’s summertime and fresh, homegrown plants and foods are becoming increasingly popular. And for good reason! It’s your land, your soil, your seeds – you know exact what’s going into your garden. There are no additives or chemicals, just the fresh stuff! Whether you’ve got a full garden or grow you veggies and herbs in pots, there’s nothing like homegrown food to your dinner table.

Maintaining a garden can be tough, but it’s exciting and so rewarding as soon as you start seeing your produce come to life. Today, I’m going to elaborate on some of my favorite things to grow every year and share some tips for bountiful plants!

Veggies

To be honest, I’m not exactly a professional at vegetable gardens at this point. But I have grown some pretty good stuff so far! The last few years I’ve grown jalapeños and tomatoes at home, and this year I’ve added 6 banana pepper plants. I literally put jalapeños in everything so it’s so nice to always have them on hand.

I grow my plants at home in pots and keep them on the deck where they get good daylight sun. The deck is also a good place because squirrels or deer are a lot less likely come so close to the house to pick at the plants! There’s always the option for these tomato cages to keep animals out, too. As long as the tomatoes don’t get too much sun, they should be pretty easy to grow in the Louisville area. Be sure to plant them around Derby Day to get the best return of tomatoes. Any earlier than that, you’ll risk overnight frost.

As for the peppers, I was initially having a hard time getting my banana peppers to start. Any time there was a bloom, it would die before a pepper could grow! I was getting so frustrated! A friend recommended adding Epsom salts to the soil, saying it would add some nutrients to the peppers and add a little more spice, as well. I started sprinkling small handfuls of Epsom salts on the soil before watering the plants. It’s important not to add too much salt or else you’ll shock them and more than likely kill them. Another method to adding salts to the soil is to press your index finger into the soil, put a few sprinkles of salt in the hole, and water. Make a few holes throughout the pot so all the plants get the benefits of the salts!

I also added Epsom salts to the jalapeño plants, even though they were growing very nicely from the beginning. This natural additive makes the peppers a little bit spicier than normal! So good! Since Epsom salts are also good for soaking tired and sore muscles, I went ahead and linked my favorite brand above. So many uses for them, I figured why not!?

 

Herbs

Every year there are a few herbs I cannot get through the season without. Basil, oregano, thyme, and lavender are my absolute favorites! In addition to fresh basil and lavender being delicious in homemade recipes, they are also natural mosquito repellents. This makes sitting outside on summer nights a lot more bearable! I use lavender to make lemonade, in baking recipes for cakes and cookies – the options are endless! Basil and oregano are usually used with any Italian dish I make, especially Caprese salads and flatbreads with my fresh tomatoes! Thyme and oregano also add great fresh flavors to my meal preps with chicken and veggies.

homemade tomato tart with fresh basil and tomatoes from my garden at home

At the end of the season when I have more herbs than I can possibly use, I freeze them. I strip the thyme, oregano and basil and distribute them evenly into ice-cube trays. Then I fill the trays with olive oil and freeze them so they can be used for cooking later. It’s so easy to do and the herbs still taste fresh during the bitter winter months!

Anybody have any other ways to preserve your herbs?

 

What’s in Your Garden?

Now it’s your turn! How many of you guys have your own garden each year? What kinds of veggies or herbs do you have that you just cannot live without?

Any other tips I should start utilizing? I’d love to hear from you guys!

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