By Jacqueline D’Angelo
It is always fun planting a variety of different fruits and vegetables in our garden. Some of the fruits and vegetables, my mother and I plant, come back year after year.
Our annual plantings include asparagus, jerusalem artichokes, blueberries, strawberries, and a handful of grapes. Our fruit trees consist of peach, plum, cherrie, apricot, apple, asian pear, yellow pear, a couple varieties of fig trees, that produce both white and purple fruit. We even have a lemon tree that we bring inside the house right before the cold returns.
We also have greek oregano, italian oregano, flat parsley, curly parsley, Italian mint, chocolate mint and even peppermint. Each and every one of these herbs grow from the root, and will usually regrow the following year.
Then there are some traditional fruits, vegetables, and herbs, that my mother and I like to plant each year. Herbs such basil,in both green and purple, have to be replanted each year, along with an assortment of red and yellow tomatoes. We enjoy planting different varieties of tomatoes, some for salads, and some used for making “sauce” the great debate amongst many Italians. We also plant cucumbers in a variety of sizes, peppers in a multitude of colors, such as yellow, red, and green, broccoli, radish, carrots, potatoes, onion, garlic, scallion, beans and zucchini. Our garden wouldn’t be complete without different types of eggplant in different shapes and sizes, long and skinny, short and fat, in several colors, such as white, purple, or white and purple infused together.
We also have surprise plants growing in our garden each year. We have seen such plants as honeydew and watermelon sprout out of the ground as a result from sinking table scraps into the ground to feed our gardens. Sometimes, no let me be honest, always we go overboard.
Not very large, our property is like a mini farm and pacts a very powerful punch. Many ask what we are you going to do with all of it when it grows. “Well, it’s always good to grow a little extra.”, I tell them. Simply put, we grow enough to eat, enough to share, and enough to store away.
Growing enough to eat. Nothing tastes better than fresh fruit picked off of your own tree, or fruits and vegetables harvested from soil that you nourished, or fruits and vegetables off a vine, or fruit from a bush that you yourself grew, and hand picked at the very exact time it was ready to be eaten. Not only does it always have a better taste to it, but you have the piece of mind of knowing where it came from, and that it is all natural. Natural always tastes better.
We grow enough to give away as well. I have a name for it, I call this good garden Karma. It’s so nice when your neighbors, family, or friends share what they have grown with you, or when you share the fruit of your labor with someone who comes to visit. Not only does someone leave with a big bag of fruits and vegetables, but they also leave with a big happy smile as well.
Then there’s enough to store. Although we do not want to think about the inevitable, this years garden is reaching its end. Cold weather is coming, and it will soon be here. August is a good time to start thinking about what we are going to do with all that we have grown.
Although some of what we grow can be eaten right away, my mother and I like to store some for the winter months. There is no better feeling than removing a bag of frozen summer peaches, out of the freezer in the dead of winter. This delicious icy fruit can be dropped into a glass of red or white wine, no need to chill, or thawed out and used as a desert topped with whip cream. All your herbs can be dried, bottled, and used for cooking. Your cucumbers can become pickles, and there’s no better tasting sauce then the one you jarred.
So remember, most of what is grown in your garden can be canned, bottled, pickled, dried, or frozen. Depending on which fruit or vegetable you are storing depends on the process you will use. When it’s cold an snowy outside you will feel warm and fuzzy opening something up that you stored in the summer.