A thriving home garden is every foodie’s dream. Fresh, colorful, produce…a variety of flavors and textures…that’s endless recipe inspiration right at your fingertips. And it’s growing season! Need ideas for your home garden? Check out this Q&A with one of my favorite foodie friends, expert home gardener, food aficionado and busy mom.
Q: What are your favorite plants to grow?
A: Tomatoes and peppers are definitely my staples. I’m still experimenting with which tomato varieties are my favorite, but I always have at least one plant that is a Cherry 100 or a Grape variety. Then I try to choose one with fewer seeds and one that is a perfect BLT tomato. I’ve tried a couple large heirlooms for sandwiches that are fun.
I always plant a couple sweet banana peppers, and a couple spicy varieties. Stir-fried peppers are a sandwich condiment in our house! We also do cucumbers that our neighbor starts for us over the winter, which always become the most delicious refrigerator pickles. In addition to a variety of herbs, we have switched it up every year with other veggies, such as green beans, radishes, carrots and onions. This year we will try sweet corn and popcorn!
Q: Do you ever have a surplus at the end of the season? What do you do with your “extras?”
A: Last year we had a surplus of cucumbers, so my neighbors were happy to receive lots of pickles! Refrigerator dills stay crisp longer then canned, but they don’t last as long. Surplus peppers always get eaten in sandwiches and stir-fried recipes. My tomatoes did not do well last year, but this year I hope to experiment with canning and freezing them. I always harvest leftover basil, rosemary and thyme, freeze them in plastic bags and use them for soups during the winter.
Q: What are your favorite ways to involve your kids in gardening?
A: The kids are just now getting interested in gardening. Last year they helped me choose what to plant, water and harvest veggies. They are still pretty terrified of bugs though, so at certain times of the summer they aren’t much help.
Q: Some people are concerned with GMOs. Do you grow any GMOs?
A: I honestly don’t worry whether a variety is GMO or not. My father is a golf course Superintendent, and my husband has worked in both the turfgrass and agriculture industries as a researcher. I understand that pesticides and GMOs have their place in the food chain, and I am comfortable with that. I do sometimes choose certain heirloom varieties of tomatoes, because I do think there are benefits to the flavor. However, I feel like they are more finicky to grow.
Nicol is an expert in visual communications and social media strategies for a variety of clients. An avid gardener, expert landscaper and food aficionado, Nicol is a busy mom (and an excellent cook)!