“The first supermarket supposedly appeared on the American landscape in 1946. That is not very long ago. Until then, where was all the food? Dear folks, the food was in homes, gardens, local fields, and forests. It was near kitchens…in the backyard.” ~ Joel Salatin, Folks, This Ain’t Normal: A Farmer’s Advice for Happier Hens, Healthier People, and a Better World
I dream of the day where our first home has a gigantic yard with arrays of plots to plant in and a composter for all my egg shells, fruit peels, and vegetable scraps. Dear hubby, there’s a lot of yard work in your future! Until then, I am confined to the four post and railed walls of my front porch. I’ve tried everything from thyme to green peppers and back in my long planters and have had hits and (many!) misses.
Last year my strawberries (literally, my 2 strawberries) looked pretty but came up short of a strawberry shortcake.
And my tomatoes contracted bottom rot. Google it, not salad worthy 😦 I opted for a “patio tomato” version this year, spaced them accordingly and surrounded them with basil, a natural pest repellent. Updates to come!
Herbs always seem to do well, with the exception of my first affair with cilantro, when I neglected to trim it and it bloomed. (*Note to non-gardeners like myself, once cilantro blooms it never produces the recipe worthy leaves again, bummer!)
I always plant lots of basil. The Foodetarian‘s signature heading picture happens to be my grandmother’s basil plant that resided on her lanai and grew as if it were trying to touch the sun! Inspired, basil has become a staple in my house (and my garden) and can be used for numerous recipes. My favorite is classic pesto, a basic that can be played with, changed up, and is delicious on anything from pasta to pizza to mozzarella and (patio, wink wink) tomatoes. It’s super simple and freezes so well, you can enjoy fresh home made and home grown garden pesto even in the chilliest winter months!
Classic Basil Pesto
2 cups basil leaves
2 whole cloves of garlic
1/4 cup toasted pinenuts
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2-1 cup EVOO
Salt to taste
Place garlic and pinenuts into a food processor and pulse until roughly chopped. Add in basil leaves and pulse a few more times. Drizzle in EVOO, Parmesan, and salt. Pulse until well blended.
Add pesto into a small sauce pan over medium heat until heated through. I always like to add more EVOO to thin out the pesto but add as much or as little as you like, there’s no way to mess it up! Try changing the nuts you use or mixing other herbs in with your basil for different versions. Toss in some sundried tomatoes to your food processor for a gourmet feel 🙂
By doing a little research and maximizing my space with long, railing, and hanging planters, it’s fairly simple to turn a small porch into a garden oasis. Your garden should be a place where you can relax and enjoy the fruits of your labor. By mixing colorful flowers with useful herbs and vegetables, you can bring this peace and calm into your kitchen as well. I always like to try something new and if it doesn’t work out, hey, head to your local farmer’s market and remember, there’s always next year!
Stephanie a.k.a. The Foodetarian