(StatePoint) Cooking from the garden is not like cooking from the store. There's nothing more tasty, nutritious and satisfying than fresh, homemade meals made from the fruits, vegetables and herbs you grew yourself.
Experts say that even with modest amounts of time and space, you can grow an organic garden plot that feeds your family all year long.
"The simplest methods of gardening work best," says Barbara Damrosch, organic gardening expert and co-author of the new book, "The Four Season Farm Gardener's Cookbook," which serves as both a garden guide and a healthful cookbook. "There is very little you can't accomplish in the garden if you trust the systems that are already in place."
Damrosch and co-author Eliot Coleman contend that organic vegetable gardening is not only healthful for you and your family, but is also good for the planet and can make a serious dent in your food expenses.
They are offering these great tips to anyone looking to grow and cook their own food:
o When choosing which plants to grow, consider how much space you have. Salad crops, for example, give you the most variety in a garden of limited size. Consider prioritizing crops whose flavor is most notably lacking in supermarket varieties, such as tomatoes, strawberries, cucumbers and melons.
o It helps to get to know different plants on a family basis. Family groupings are very important in planning how to rotate the crops in your garden from year to year, and much of the techniques that work for one vegetable, apply equally well to its cousins.
o Don't let weeds get ahead of you. Once they've gained the upper hand, getting rid of them can seem almost impossible. The ideal time to control weeds is when they are tiny, right after they first appear. Take the extra time to plant in straight lines, which can help with weed control.
o Veteran gardeners tend to be supportive resources to newcomers. Let friends with green thumbs share their enthusiasm and expertise with you. Or get involved in an organic community garden, where there is no shortage of experienced gardeners to consult.
o Pass up the modern habit of eating any crop, any time of year by letting your garden feed you. Fruits and vegetables that come from halfway around the world were often harvested far too early and can have a disappointing, bland taste. By planning meals from your garden, you'll become a more creative, improvisational cook.
More gardening tips can be found at www.fourseasonfarm.com.
Eating is one of the most important things we do, so don't just settle for what the supermarket has to offer. Gardening can revolutionize the way you eat, and help you take greater control of your family's nutrition.