The taste of fresh herbs and vegetables
June 27, 2016
This months Garden Share Collective is centered on the theme “Taste”. I have spent the last month wishing I could taste more of my winter garden! It is so slow to grow. With almost no gap between summer and winter this year it has come as more of a shock than usual once the last of the summer plants were removed….
The pace of the winter garden allows the gardener to rest prior to the next spurt of growth that spring brings.
As the plants slowly grow it is a nice time to wander around the garden and spend time really thinking about what you are growing, how it is growing and what you will grow next instead of having to “do” so many things.
The theme for this month’s Garden Share Collective (taste) got me thinking about why we grow what we do.
I think it is summed up perfectly by this quote I included in my book from Garden Share Collective founder Lizzy Moult :
“When you eat your first ever tomato, life will change forever.”
The sweet, intense flavour of a home grown tomato is the thing that motivates many backyard gardeners to grow them. There is nothing quite like it, certainly no comparison in flavour to those watery, flavourless ones purchased at the store. Lacking in taste and most surely in nutrients also. I was not surprised to read a study recently that described how ascorbic acid begins to degrade immediately after harvesting. Spinach loses 100% of it’s ascorbic acid in less than 4 days!*
I know those of you who have a vegetable garden will know that freshly harvested vegetables and herbs are unbeatable in terms of flavour, the study I read shows they are also more nutrient dense when freshly harvested and eaten. If you don’t have a garden yet it may be time to consider?
I challenge you to taste the flavour of these home grown herbs. The herbs below are easy to grow.
They will grow all year round, ready to add to your meals as you need them. Parsley will not grow in the middle of summer, but will grow across all of the other seasons. Thyme and Vietnamese Mint could also be added to the images below. In the order displayed below the herbs you can grow most of the year around include: parsley, oregano, lemongrass, sage, rosemary.
When deciding what to plant in our vegetable garden each season I firstly plant vegetables and herbs that I know my family enjoy and will eat. Once these are planted, if there is space remaining I add new vegetables or herbs that we have not grown previously, or that we do not usually eat. This results in an ever expanding diet of fresh ingredients for our family meals and the discovery of new flavours. Each season our vegetable garden reflects our family flavour preferences. These inspire the meals that we enjoy.
Growing your own vegetables can be led to wonderful changes in your family menu. Growing and looking after the vegetables can be the thing that changes the way your child eats, encouraging them to try new things. Carrots have been a game-changer at our home. My youngest son was given the responsibility of caring for the growing plants. He now enjoys both growing and eating them, previously he had refused. Growing vegetables at home means children are exposed to a broad range of flavours. You can read more on this in my book, Grow Just One Thing – The first step in a fresh food journey.
One of my Kitchen Garden Box customers told me that her children will now eat the spinach and lettuce they have grown, something they would not previously eat. They began just trying a little and have build up to eating more and more of it. Another customer tells me that their children collect and eat the peas and tomatoes as an after-school snack straight from the garden. These children have all been involved in the growing process. By the time the plant is ready for harvest they are keen to taste it.
Harvests at the moment are small. The plants are developing s l o w l y! There is enough to collect small amounts of various vegetables to add to meals and plenty of herbs to flavour and give a nutrient boost.
The Garden Share Collective is a monthly get together of gardeners from around Australia and the world. Sharing their harvests, garden progress and questions it is a great opportunity to visit lots of inspiring gardens and learn from those passionate about their productive garden. We’d love for you to join in. Simply add your link below or at Rosehips and Rhubarb. Open for a week from the last Monday of each month.
*Reference: Rickman, J., Barrett, D., Bruhn, C “Nutritional comparison of fresh, frozen and canned fruits and vegetables. Part 1. Vitamins C and B and phenolic compounds” Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture 87:930-944, 2007
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