This July 6 photo, taken at the Biltmore Estate near Asheville, N.C., shows a Three Sisters Garden which is a traditional grouping of corn, squash and beans that thrive when planted together. (Dean Fosdick via AP)

This July 6 photo, taken at the Biltmore Estate near Asheville, N.C., shows a Three Sisters Garden which is a traditional grouping of corn, squash and beans that thrive when planted together. (Dean Fosdick via AP)

For easy meals, plant ‘menu gardens’ of favorite foods

If you’re looking for fresh meal ideas, consider planting “menu gardens.” Grow a few of your favorite foods together in pots or raised beds, following a theme — salad-bar fixings, for example, or pizza toppings, or juicing ingredients.

Meal preparation will be simpler, cheaper and healthier.

“Even if you have land to grow a large garden, one advantage of growing a few edible plants in a small space or container close to the kitchen is that it makes it easier to pull together a fresh recipe,” said Patrice Powers-Barker, an extension educator with The Ohio State University.

“The entire family meal doesn’t have to be created from scratch,” she said. “Make some of your easiest go-to recipes and then dress them up with fresh herbs on top, or add fresh seasonal vegetables to your traditional side salad.”

Be creative. Add, subtract or substitute the edibles you grow in much the same way you modify food recipes.

Some specialty gardens that can spice up family meal planning:

SALAD BAR GARDEN: Combine leaf lettuce, sprouts, kale, arugula, romaine, baby carrots, cucumbers, spinach and parsley in a single garden plot. Or go Asian and plant bok choy, red mustard, coriander, radish and Thai basil.

PESTO GARDEN: “Even though basil is probably the most popular leaf to add to pesto, it can be made with all different kinds of plants: parsley, mustard greens, tomatoes,” Powers-Barker said. Don’t forget the garlic.

PIZZA GARDEN: Group cherry tomatoes with onions, oregano, basil, bell peppers, fennel and parsley. The possibilities are endless.

TACO GARDEN: Plant some tomatoes in a large pot with cilantro, jalapeno and lettuce.

JUICING GARDEN: Carrots, cabbage, watercress, Swiss chard, cucumbers, sweet potato, celery, zucchini and mint. Use the mint for garnish.

PICKLING GARDEN: Cucumbers, mustard, cabbage, beets and dill.

STIR FRY GARDEN: Snow peas, Chinese mustard, green onions, bok choy, baby carrots, zucchini, yellow squash, broccoli.

THREE SISTERS GARDEN: A traditional Native American grouping of corn, beans and squash. They complement one another nutritionally as well as when grown together on the same hill.

CULINARY HERB GARDEN: Dill, thyme, fennel, tarragon, oregano, mint, parsley, sage, basil and rosemary.

TEA GARDEN: Mint, passionflower, rose hips, chamomile, Echinacea, lavender and basil among a great many others.

HALLOWEEN GARDEN: Pumpkins, squash and corn.

Want more?

“How about a Just Jammin’ garden with strawberries and raspberries?” said Dixie Sandborn, an extension specialist with Michigan State University. That would be a more permanent garden.

Or , she suggested, “maybe a kaleidoscope garden using vegetables with unusual colors? Carrots, eggplant of several colors, tomatoes — red, yellow and orange striped.

“‘One potato, two potato’ or some other catchy name for a potato garden featuring several varieties of potatoes grown above ground in wire or barrels,” she said.

Menu gardens can be fun for families with kids, Powers-Barker said. But their appeal is broader than that: “As older adults transition from serving many people to making recipes for one or two, a small garden can be a nice way to prepare meals in smaller batches,” she said.

Online: For more about creating menu or theme gardens, see this Ohio State University Extension Fact Sheet: http://u.osu.edu/powers-barker.1/files/2015/04/1—Theme-Garden-handout-2015-tn1zbd.pdf

For easy meals, plant ‘menu gardens’ of favorite foods

More in Life

Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion
This basil avocado dressing is creamy, sweet, tangy, and herbaceous — great for use on bitter greens like kale and arugula.
Memories of basil and bowling with Dad

This dressing is creamy, sweet, tangy, and herbaceous

Photo courtesy of Al Hershberger
Don and Verona pose inside their first Soldotna grocery store in 1952, the year they opened for business.
Keeler Clan of the Kenai — Part 5

By 1952, the Wilsons constructed a simple, rectangular, wood-frame building and started the town’s first grocery

File
Minister’s Message: Finding freedom to restrain ourselves

We are free to speak at a higher level of intelligence

Dancers rehearse a hula routine at Diamond Dance Project near Soldotna on Thursday. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Moving into magic

Diamond Dance Project all-studio concert puts original spin on familiar stories

Orion (Jacob Tremblay) and Dark (Paul Walter Hauser) in “Orion and the Dark.” (Promotional photo provided by Dreamworks Animation)
On the Screen: ‘Orion and the Dark’ is resonant, weird

Fear of the dark is natural, not some problem that Orion has to go on adventure to overcome

This beef and barley stew is both comforting and nourishing — perfect for when your fingers are frozen and your cheeks are chapped. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
Drape yourself in warmth with comforting stew

Nourishing beef and barley stew is perfect for cold days

Nick Varney
Unhinged Alaska: Hey Boreas. Knock it off. You’re flash freezing my karma

For the last few weeks, we have been hosting Boreas, the Greek god of winter

Members of the Keeler family and some Anchor Point church members get a ride on Jimmy Elliot’s “mud sled” on the way to services at the Elliot home, circa 1956. Lorna Keeler is sitting on the far-left side of the sled. April Keeler is the middle girl of the trio sitting in back, and Larry Keeler is standing behind those girls. (Photo courtesy of the Pratt Museum)
Keeler Clan of the Kenai — Part 4

Lawrence and Lorna Keeler and their family moved from Oregon to Alaska in June 1948 and began building a new life for themselves

File
Minister’s Message: Redrawing the boundary lines

Dark forces have made their way into the world ever since the time of Adam and Eve and now Jesus shows up to redraw the boundary lines

Most Read