Monday, May 14, 2012

Guest Post: Julie from Savvy Eats

I don't remember how I stumbled upon Julie's blog, Savvy Eats but boy am I glad I did!  Julie likes to cook with fresh, local foods as much as possible and has some wonderful recipes that are geared toward a healthy lifestyle.  It's the perfect site to peruse when I'm in a food rut.  From pantry staples to gardening to tutorials to recipes, she shares some great food inspiration that I think you guys will love as well!  Here's Julie with some tips on gardening for beginners.  (Raising hand!)

If you are starting out with gardening, I would start with things that are "pick and come again"-- you'll get a lot more out of them and they are typically easier to grow. Things like carrots and onions take a long time to mature and you only get to pick them once. I go through too many carrots and onions to make it worth giving up precious garden space.

In my experience, some of the easiest things to grow are salad greens and herbs. You'll get a lot of "bang for your buck" and they don't take up much space -- they are even well-suited for container gardening. It isn't too late to plant some lettuce, arugula or spinach from seeds, especially if you plan to pick the leaves off when they are still small and tender. While these greens can take a few months to mature fully, the baby leaves are ready in weeks, and grow back quickly.

For most herbs, which can be a little finicky in the early days, I'd recommend that beginning gardeners skip the hassle and plant seedlings instead of planting from seed. The herbs I've had the most luck with are basil, dill, cilantro and mint. These, too, will grow back when you pick them.

My all-time favorite thing to grow is cherry tomatoes, especially the sweet yellow-orange Sungold variety. While I adore full-sized heirloom tomatoes, it takes awhile for them to grow and ripen. I'm just too impatient and eat too many tomatoes to wait that long! Instead, I plant a bunch of cherry tomatoes (I'm going to have 4 different varieties this summer). Even if you only have 2 or 3 plants, if you give them plenty of space and sunlight, you'll likely end up with more bite-sized tomatoes than you know what to do with.

Over the past 2 1/2 years, I've also had varying levels of success with beans, zucchini and peas. There are two things I've had zero luck with, and I think I'm giving up on them this year: bell peppers and melons. Living in the northern part of the country, with a shorter and cooler summer, has made it difficult to successfully grow either of these. Guess I'll just have to plant more cherry tomatoes in their place!

For more on deciding what to grow, check out my garden planning post from 2011.

Is anyone else jealous of Julie's garden?  I know I am!  I can't wait to plant my herb garden when I get back.  Thanks so much Julie!  Show her some love in the comments and don't forget to swing by Savvy Eats and take a look around!

Like this post? Don't miss another one...subscribe via email or RSS feed. (Because you're cool like that!)


  1. Thanks for sharing! I love the tiny tomatoes too. I usually go with grape tomatoes instead of cherry, and from the 2 plants (tiny space) I've put in the last two summers I have gotten almost more tomatoes than I could use, and they started ripening around mid-August and kept going right up until the first freeze sometime in October.

    I'm actually going to get a couple of containers today for my first attempt at container gardening. I'm glad to see validation that my approach should work.

  2. Oooh, thank you for the tips! Due to an unpredictable travel schedule, I'm skipping the gardening this year, but I'm hoping to have a couple of raised beds next year. I'll bookmark this entry for reference!

  3. Julie, I love your "pick and come back again" policy. I belong to a produce coop and have virtually unlimited access to many fruits and veggies (in the summer a lot of local farmers) that it only makes sense to plant certain things. I too go for the smaller variety of tomatoes, we are lucky in the Midwest and the heat helps our peppers and melons usually do well, but let me tell you...I have a heck of a time with herbs!!! For the past two years I've planted a container herb garden on my front porch (faces East so it gets early morning sun) and it just doesn't seem to do well. I'm envious of other people's sprawling basil plants, the beautiful thyme and plants will go strong for a while, but then peeter off. What am I doing wrong????

  4. I planted basil, cilantro and oregano for the first time this year. Boy, do they need a lot of water! I'm used to just giving my cacti a quick drink every two weeks. Now that I have them planted I'm learning how to 'trim' them and such. It's a learning process but I'm so excited and can't wait to make some yummy dishes. I'm also going to get at least a cherry tomato plant at the farmers market and expand from there. I LOVE SPRING!! thanks for the great post!

  5. We can't grow a thing except a few herbs here, but it's nice to 'window shop'. Hope you're having fun Mrs! We miss you but the guest bloggers have been great and if I were a gravy on eggs kind of person I'd be all over your loco moco.

  6. It's totally true, I have such trouble starting herbs from seed. I think I've finally learned my lesson and will buy seedlings from now on--especially since discovering that I can get all kinds of unique varieties at the farmers market and HerbFest!


Thanks for taking the time to comment! I appreciate your time! (Heads up though...disrespectful or spam comments will be deleted.)