by -Michaela- 10:27 AM
With 2011 right around the corner, it seems like we're all reflecting upon the events of 2010, and making resolutions for the new year to come. As gardeners, we tend to mark time by growing years, and our horticultural resolutions are usually based upon the successes and failures of seasons past. Flipping through my garden journal this morning, I couldn't help but notice the number of circled and underlined vegetable crops with the directive "plant more next year" jotted in the margins. Gourmet potatoes, heirloom tomatoes, colorful beets and exotic cucumbers were all popular in my kitchen this year, and I intend to devote more space to specialty crops next spring. My New Year's gardening resolution? Make more space in the potager and grow more unusual varieties of vegetables and fruit!
For a girl who spent the summers of her youth complaining about picking strawberries on hot summer days, I've sure come to love growing my own food as an adult. And I'm not the only one! Backyard vegetable gardening continues to be one of the biggest trends in horticulture, and with increased interest in organic and locally grown foods, our collective passion for edible landscaping shows no sign of stopping. And now's the time ---settled in a cozy chair with a steamy mug of your favorite hot beverage--- to begin planning your potager for spring planting. I got a bit of a jump-start on my garden research over the weekend, and I have some new discoveries to recommend!
For the gardening gourmet, I've discovered three excellent titles to help guide you on your new horticultural and culinary adventures. For the fruit-growing enthusiast ---and you can definitely count me in this group--- Lee Reich's Uncommon Fruits for Every Garden is a must-have library addition. One of my clients recently turned me on to hardy kiwi (Actinidia arguta). I love all varieties of kiwi, but have never tried cultivating it myself. Much to my delight, Reich's book covers all of the necessary details for growing this delicious fruit, and many other exotics; including gooseberries, persimmons, currents, cornelian cherries and Asian pears. And for a more comprehensive guide to selecting the best produce for your area ---including virtually all things edible--- I highly recommend Vegetables, Herbs and Fruit. Gardening on a rooftop, deck or balcony? Short on space? D.J. Herda's From Container to Kitchen and McGee and Stuckey's Bountiful Container are two great resources for gardeners with limited work areas. These books both build and creatively expand on many of the basic ideas found in the classic All New Square Foot Gardening, which I mentioned a few posts back.
Of course once all of these exotic fruits, vegetables and herbs are growing within arms reach, the adventurous gardener will certainly need a bit of guidance on how to use them! Although I've always enjoyed cooking, my recent return to vegetable and fruit growing has ignited a true passion for the culinary arts. My interest in creatively using home-grown produce led me to The Produce Bible by Leanne Kitchen. This gorgeous book is filled with all kinds of useful information for the gardening cook; from when to harvest and how to best store a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, to delightful and unusual recipes.
Wishing You Health, Happiness and Great Gardens in 2011 - Happy New Year Everyone!
And sadly, as Becke noted here on Sunday, the Garden Variety blog is ending. This will be my final post. I will miss all of you, and I hope you will stop in and say hello to me over at my blog, The Gardener's Eden Online Journal, and please look for my first garden article for Martha Stewart Living in the upcoming February issue! Martha Stewart Living - One Year Subscription