My Secret Garden
I set out a goal this year to learn how to grow my own organic vegetables. I had some limited experience of various success before growing herbs and edible goodies at my home but I had never taken on my own plot at a community garden. So I signed up for a farming workshop by Farmers on 57th and began a journey to learn this valuable skill.
What started out as bare soil has now grown into an abundance of nutritious veggies. Kale, mixed salad greens, heirloom beets, baby turnips, icicle radishes, green onion, fennel and carrots have been born of tiny seeds and nurtured into wholesome produce that I’ve been happily using in my everyday meals. While I was a believer in organic farming before, I am now more than ever dedicated to it now.
Below: Icicle radishes are milder and sweeter than the round, red grocery store variety. Ate them thinly sliced on the best butter and bread with salt and pepper on top, in salads and wraps, and braised in butter and chicken stock. A fast and easy growing crop, I encourage any beginner farmer to sprinkle a few radish seeds and you will not be disappointed.
Learning to garden has taught me so much. Not only the hands-on skill to manage a working farm plot but I’ve learned to appreciate where our food comes from and the amount of love and energy needed to create it. Gardening has also taught me patience: that good food takes time and love. There’s just an amazing sense of satisfaction being able to harvest food I grew with my bare hands, just minutes before cooking and sharing it with friends and family.
Below: Beets are some of my favourite things in the world. I like them juiced or roasted for warm salad with goat cheese. I want to try making Beet Chips too. For the beet greens, I’ve been eating them in salads, juicing and wilting it like spinach. I’ve chopped some up in the food processor for the freezer so I can make ricotta cannelloni and “spinach”dip later.
My interest in cooking has been awakened through farming my own produce. I’m eating healthier and more veggies than ever. I purchased Kale only for Kale chips before but now that I’ve grow it and discovered this Kale Pesto recipe, I can’t stop eating it!
Below: Turnips with herbs (rosemary, lemon thyme) from my home garden. The green tops are actually delicious! With green onion, mint, oregano, chives and fennel from the garden, I only really need to buy parsley and cilantro.
At my own house, the garden has really blossomed. I put in several flower boxes, picked out from my two favourite nurseries in Southlands (Southlands Nursery and KJM Country Gardens), and my lavender bush is 5 or 6 times bigger than when we first moved in. The hydrangeas are in their full glory; they’ve gotten big that they practically block my pathway to the front door.
I’ve dried bunches of lavender this year and I can’t wait to make shortbread and roiboos tea with it. I’ve already used some in my o Herbes de Provence blend when I made ratatouille last week. To dry your lavender, cut in small bunches long enough to tie together at the bottom, and hang upside down in a dry and cool place for a couple of weeks. For the strongest dried lavender, it’s recommended to harvest it before it fully blossoms in order to keep the essential oils in the purple flowers.
Being in my garden, whether it’s outside my own home or at the community plot, makes me feel like I’ve found a little hidden paradise all for myself (ok, shared with Nala usually). It’s a little time away from the everyday. As much as I’ve put time and care into tending the earth, I’ve reaped much, much more.