The garden is finally starting to bloom, your kids are set on playing outside every day and neighbors are coming out of hibernation. There's only one thing this could mean and that's that: Spring has sprung! April and May are prime time for produce, so host dinner al fresco on your paver patio and invite your friends from next door for a Sunday dinner cooked on your BBQ island. To literally get the freshest ingredients for dinner, consider growing a vegetable garden right in your backyard.
What to grow: Vegetable garden basics
Whether you're a nature novice or a professional green thumb, planting fresh vegetables is a perfect way to celebrate spring and get the whole family involved in living a healthier lifestyle. Aside from the fact that you'll have an outdoor living space full of nutrient-packed, beautifully colored edible plants, maintaining a vegetable garden lets you enjoy fresh air and get some much-needed vitamin D after a long winter. Plus, there's nothing quite as sweet or juicy as just-picked produce, and when you have a backyard bed of vegetables, you can pluck right from garden, rinse and bring straight to the grill, conveniently cooking delicious and healthy meals for your family.
As with any growing being, your garden will need some TLC - as well as water and sunlight. The Old Farmer's Almanac advised planting the vegetables in an especially sunny spot that soaks up rays for at least six hours per day. And when selecting what veggies you want to sprout in your backyard, think about what you find at your local farmer's market. Items sold here likely reflect what grows best in your area.
That said, the time of year is also an important consideration. According to Urban Farmer, the following vegetables grow well when planted in April and May:
- Summer squash
What to eat: Quick and easy veggie dishes
Over the next several months, you'll have fresh vegetables to take from your garden straight to your grill, and while they'll be tasty on their own, this way you'll have plenty of options to spice things up. Try out one of these recipes at your next family dinner:
For a flavor south of the border, try out this Bon Appetit recipe made with items you probably already have in your kitchen. While grilling the home-grown corn on your BBQ island (place corn on grill immediately after plucking from stalk), combine ½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper with 1 teaspoon of chili powder. Once the corn is cooked to perfection, coat it in a light layer of mayonnaise, and sprinkle on the spice mixture and crumbled Cotija cheese. Squeeze a bit of lime juice on top, and enjoy!
Grilled stuffed peppers
Featured on Taste of Home, this dish calls for one tomato (peeled, seeded and chopped), 1 cup mozzarella cheese, a bit of minced basil (pluck from your herb garden!) and dried oregano, plus one pound of Italian sausage. Combine those ingredients before spooning into three seeded peppers. Cook the peppers on the grill over indirect, medium heat for 30 to 35 minutes. Top with additional cheese before serving.
Grilled balsamic carrots
Another dish that calls on the help of your herb garden, this Fountain Avenue Kitchen recipe, is simple and tasty. Toss freshly minced rosemary and thyme with carrots, olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Grill the coated carrots over medium heat for about 15 minutes or until they reach the firmness you're looking for.
Get started on your spring vegetable garden today, and you can experience these tasty meals in no time.