As people are spending more time at home, many are learning new activities and finding simple joy in doing the things they love, such as cultivating their own gardens.
Now is the perfect time to start planning a summer garden that can add fresh flavors to your kitchen all year long. One growing trend is to create delicious and bountiful garnish gardens filled with herbs and produce to serve as the final touch for different food and beverage options. Even experienced gardeners often choose to focus on a few simple, high-in-flavor items that will elevate summer meals and cocktails such as juicy berries, savory herbs and other seasonal produce.
As a bonus, gardening can provide stress relief and a sense of accomplishment in a fast-paced and challenging world. According to a 2020 study conducted by Fiskars, 46% of people in the U.S. say gardening is beneficial to their overall happiness. In that spirit, here are several tips to prepare and plant a summer garnish garden that will provide all kinds of delicious options for your at-home summer recipes.
Plot your growing area
Evaluate the growing season in your area and consider which of your outdoor spaces may provide enough sunlight for a viable garden. Depending on your ambition and commitment level, your garden could be as vast as your entire backyard or as simple as a few large pots on your patio or balcony. If you go big, be sure to allot extra time for cultivating, weeding and watering. For your first venture, you may want to start small with a few plants that are easy to shelter, grow and harvest.
Assemble effective tools
Having the right tools on hand is the best way to prepare to garden, especially if this is your first time putting a garden together. In fact, those who have gardened before know just how important this is - according to the same study, 77% of gardeners in the U.S. say having the right tools increases their happiness when gardening. This year, trade in your old tools for newer, ergonomically designed products that are not only more comfortable but also highly effective.
Choose versatile varieties
Consider which herbs, fruits and veggies will best contribute to the meals and beverages you like to prepare. For example, cucumbers or tomatoes can add a refreshing zing to salads and drinks, while rosemary and basil complement a range of both sweet and savory flavors in cocktails, grilled meats, vegetables, soups and salads. Other popular and easy-to-grow herbs include thyme, parsley, dill, cilantro and chives. Berry choices may include strawberries, raspberries and blackberries - just make sure you have enough room to let these bushy plants grow!
Optimize your harvest
There's nothing as refreshing as the taste of fresh produce, and being able to incorporate it into meals and tasty treats is one of the best perks of summer. Consider creative presentation ideas, too - try adding sprigs of rosemary sprinkled into ice cube trays, colorful berries atop summer cocktails or cutting cucumbers or strawberries into multi-petaled roses. You can also set aside ingredients for later; berries can be frozen, tomatoes can be canned and herbs can be dried to season meals throughout the colder months. Saving some of your hard-earned harvest will be sure to remind you of the simple pleasures derived from your own backyard.