Creating A Holiday Feast From Your Garden

Apples in the snow

Apples in the snow

Apples in the snow
Many herbs grow year-round in temperate climates
Sweet potato vines can be really attractive additions to border walls
A feast!

Just imagine your table, spread with your most delicious holiday recipes, the decorations perfect, the room fragrant.

Now imagine that this feast came from your yard.

It's quite possible, perhaps even this year, depending on what you've been doing!

Let's take inventory:

  • Do you have herbs growing in your yard right now? Or on your windowsill? For example, I use my rosemary, thyme, and sage from my yard, and sometimes I have tomatoes growing in my garage (which has several big sunny windows) that are ready by the holidays.
  • Any fruits or vegetables left over from your harvesting? For example, I have a whole bucket of sweet potatoes!
  • A sunny window inside to grow some quick-sprouting greens such as lettuce or spinach? These can be ready to cut as baby salads in two to three weeks, if you hurry!

How can you incorporate the things you already have into your holiday menus?

Here are some ideas:

  • Fruit pies or tarts
  • Flavoring meats or vegetables
  • As a side dish or salad
  • As a condiment or pickled
  • If you don't know how to use the ingredients you have available, this is a fun site that takes the ingredients you have and suggests things to cook.

For those of you just beginning with your edible landscape, the gardener's motto is "there's always next year!"

A holiday meal can be brought together in a season. Here's how to plan it:

  • Think of each of the ingredients in your favorite holiday meal. Write down not only what you cook but how much you need.

  • Make a list of what you'd like to grow.

  • Research your plants and buy what you need, such as grow lights, plant supports, pots, and so on, depending on where you're going to be growing your plants.

  • Put the seeds and plants into your current landscaping, or if the weather doesn't allow it, in a sunroom, sheltered patio, or greenhouse.

  • Care for them.

  • Harvest and store them. For delicate items such as lettuce, you might have to time your harvest to allow you to use the item before it goes bad.

You might also have to learn how to freeze, dry, or preserve that special ingredient to have it ready at the proper time.

Planning your garden with important feast days in mind is the key to success in this area.

If you know you'll need a certain food at a particular time -- especially if it's an annual plant -- time your plantings so that you can harvest it right when you need to. A spreadsheet or some grid paper can be very helpful when working this out.

High-latitude edible landscape artists (greater than 50 degrees north or south) have the biggest challenges with winter festivals.

Greenhouse, cold box, and sun room gardens (with grow lights in areas with non-existent winter daylight) are probably worth investing in if you're serious about sourcing your winter feasts from home. There are some really nice greenhouse designs out there that can enhance your landscape year round.

(If you'd like a step by step set of plans to make your own greenhouse, take a look at this or this ... !)

Are any of you preparing your holiday feasts from your yard this year? Tell us how you do it!

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