Growing food can be so fulfilling—and delicious—but the process can also be mysterious and baffling. Here are a few smart tips to make home-grown organic foods the center of your summer meals.
A number of years ago, I had a small front-yard garden in Seattle, Wash., where I was attending graduate school for writing. The conditions were seemingly perfect: rich, moist soil; plenty of rain; and ample time to grow. It was—like writing—harder than anticipated. Some plants grew easily (lemon balm, rosemary) and others not at all (dahlias). The truth was, I wasn’t familiar enough with the conditions to understand what to plant, where to plant, or what to use (and when) to nourish the garden.
But two years into my naive gardening project, I had an opportunity to volunteer at a small organic farm. I weeded, picked, watered, and harvested my way through that summer, learning to know which plants needed what care: how to pluck the tops off basil before they bolted; when to pick beans; why to rotate crop locations.
Over a decade later, I live in Colorado with distinctly different growing conditions—dry, sandy soil; blazing sun; and an unpredictable growing season. But I love gardening. This year, my kids have already dug out the seed box from the cupboard and are begging to start planting the early-season produce: lettuce, kale, radishes, and herbs. My husband can’t get the compost in the ground fast enough!
I can’t recommend edible gardening enough—the rewards are so much greater than the price. Even if you don’t have the luxury of a back yard and can only manage a few containers, I encourage you to give it a try. Pick up organic seeds at your natural products store, or a few seedlings at your farmer’s market, and then get growing with these simple tips.