I've written before about the benefits of growing a vegetable garden - eating crisp, juicy produce picked fresh from the earth mere moments before mealtime, the guarantee that you're eating organically grown, hormone and pesticide-free fruits and vegetables, the satisfaction of digging in the dirt with your bare hands and growing your own food right from the earth, and (of course!) the savings on the grocery budget when you're growing most of your own produce yourself.
Living in a part of the world where we can't grow food outdoors year-round makes us appreciate the summer gardening season even more.
This year's garden has been pared down from past efforts. We don't have a lot of backyard space to devote to a veggie garden, and over the years have learned which plants grow well, which plants produce well, which plants take up way too much room for the three or four pathetic eggplants or squash they produce and which plants grow all bloody summer long and end up with nothing more than a single, pathetic, shrunken little pepper.
This year we planted the basics: cucumbers, tomatoes, romaine, swiss chard and kale. We eat a lot of salads in this house and we serve a lot of platters of veggies and dip. Cucumber plants and tomato plants grow really quickly and produce a lot of fruit without taking up a lot of space. Greens grow like weeds - despite serving salads with every meal and kale in every single thing I've cooked in the last month I can barely keep up with how fast these greens are growing.
Our garden isn't saving us a fortune, but it is making a difference. We're eating fresh, organic produce every day and haven't had to buy a single cucumber, tomato or head of lettuce all summer long.
Do you have a vegetable garden? What are your favourite foods to grow?