Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Guest Post: Gardening// Annie

I've asked a few gardeners to guest post about their experiences with gardening and what they've learned. Being interested and passionate about natural foods and self-sufficient living has me looking forward to a garden of my own someday. 

Guest: My sister Annie lives pretty close to me so I'm lucky enough to eat her meals often. She is so good at using her garden and trying new things. I love how she excites her kids with garden fresh food and they really appreciate the taste of something straight from the backyard. 

I love my garden. So far this year zucchini and rhubarb have been very successful. But one of the things I have been reminded of this year is that one family doesn't need much more than one zucchini plant. I have way too much but we do love to share.
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This year I tried something new...and it really stinks. :) I added a lot of buffalo manure to my garden boxes besides my yearly fertilizer mix. I think it has actually worked. So far I am getting a much better crop.

To learn to garden I recommend taking a class or getting a book written by someone who gardens in your area. Your garden will be more successful if you are learning from someone who understands your soil and zone. If you are in Utah, I recommend this book by Gordon Wells. He is a successful Utah gardener with years of experience. You will learn everything from prepping soil, watering systems and how much to water, pest control and varieties of crops that do well in Utah.

This year my zucchini has been out of control. So we have honestly had zucchini in some form every single night that I have cooked. One common mistake is letting the zucchini grow too big. Just because they can become humongous, does not mean you should let it. It tastes much better if you pick them smaller. Unless you plan to shred it and then it is fine to let them get a little bigger. One of my favorite ways to eat zucchini is just sliced in long sticks (maybe 1/4 - 1/2 inch thick), toss with olive oil, kosher salt and pepper and grill. I have basket that I use but you can just lay them right on the grill. They only need a few minutes.
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Here are some links to a few of our favorite zucchini dishes.
Zucchini Fries - comes from the blog Our Best Bites. They are oven baked and easy. And we could eat a ton of them.

Lemon Herb Zucchini Fettucine (but I use whole wheat rotini)

And from Martha Stewart - Zucchini Quesadillas (I often add black beans, as well).

And we always have some zucchini bread and zucchini chocolate cake too. You really can't go wrong with zucchini. And if you have too much like I do or it grows to big, shred it and freeze it. It is great in soups, spaghetti sauce or breads in the winter.

To learn why you should eat zucchini - read this article here.
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Another thing OUT OF CONTROL but so so easy to grow - Rhubarb. And once you plant it...you don't do anything. It just keeps coming back year after year. I got my rhubarb starts from my grandma and I will gladly pass on my starts. I like how it looks in my garden but it is even better in dessert. This week I have made rhubarb snacking cake from Smitten Kitchen and strawberry rhubarb pie. Yum. Don't be afraid of rhubarb because it looks like celery. It is delicious.
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Rhubarb Recipes we LOVE
To learn why you should eat rhubarb - read this article here.  Although while it has nutritional value, it is only used at our house as dessert so beware. :)

Thanks Annie. I want to go through and try all these recipes. They look so good. You're really good at using your garden. (and thanks for the zucchini on Sunday)

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