With spring on the way, it’s time to start planting and planning. Once your seedlings start to take off though, your garden plot can start producing more delicious fruits and veggies than you could possibly store in your fridge, or know what to do with. When life gives you lemons—or say 15 pounds of zucchini—don’t just make lemonade and a quiche for yourself, share the seasonal wealth and host a garden swap party for your friends, family, and neighbors. Trade your excess produce for theirs and grow a collaborative community or an informal co-op. You can even start a Facebook event page to get others involved. Here are some ways to reap rewards from your garden, beyond just fresh produce.
Photo courtesy of iStock.
Gro a BBQ
From beefsteak to heirloom to cherry and grape, tomatoes are a favorite garden veggie for home growers (yes, technically, they are fruit). In fact, they’re so popular, there are gardening products tailored just for them like Miracle-Gro® Water Soluble Tomato Plant Food. In summer, tomatoes can grow by the bucketful, so invite friends over for a backyard BBQ and garden swap. Make fresh Greek salad and grill sliced tomatoes for burgers. Buy some craft party bags to fill with extra tomatoes and distribute to guests as they leave. If you still have leftovers, tomatoes can be frozen for later use in sauces; just core and place them whole in a freezer bag or container.
Gro Happy Hour
Even if you don’t have a giant backyard, cucumbers are a warm-season vegetable that can grow in small spaces. This climbing plant is a great option for urban gardeners and shared plots because you can also use a trellis to guide their upward mobility. They also grow quickly and abundantly, if you care for them right. To do so, feed them a good formula, like Miracle-Gro® Organic Choice® All Purpose Plant Food, one week after they bloom, and then again three weeks later. To share the bounty, make some classic English cucumber tea sandwiches and throw a Prohibition-themed soiree, serving refreshing spiked drinks out of teacups, like a Cucumber Fizz made with muddled cucumber. You can also get creative by adding fresh herbs, like mint and basil, which also thrive on windowsills and small areas.
Gro a Pickling Party
Since beets are a cool season crop, you can plant them in the early spring or fall. Unlike a lot of produce however, this root vegetable can survive frost and near freezing temps, meaning they’ll take you from spring salads to winter borscht. More versatile than you might think, they grow quickly, come in deep red, yellow, or white varieties, and different shapes—and the often-discarded tops and leaves are also edible. While beets are packed with antioxidants, they also require prime nutrition when you plant them. Since pickling has become a hot trend among foodies, get a few friends together to learn how to pickle root veggies. You supply the beets, someone else can bring the carrots, or even string beans, and once jarred, you each have a crunchy snack to take home.
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