Part of the White House lawn is becoming a vegetable garden. For the first time since World War II, our First Family is setting the example of eating locally and sustainably. Lawns consume inordinate amounts of water and chemical fertilizers. Gardens produce fresh healthy food with far less inputs.
Suburbia can follow the example set by the Obamas. Vegetables fresh from the garden burst with flavor and nutrients. Kitchen gardens are enjoying a new popularity this season. With the renaissance of gardening, many Americans will “taste” vegetables for the first time.
The vegetables we find at the grocery store are attractive, but commercial varieties are selected to endure mechanical harvesting, storage, and transportation. Their flavors are a mere shadow of the more ephemeral heirloom vegetables grown by our grandparents.
Renee’s Garden Seeds offers vegetables that can star in a display garden. Spring’s multi-color lettuces, kales, and chard are a feast for the eyes as well as for the palate. Summer brings peppers and tomatoes in shades of red, yellow, orange, purple, and even stripes. A plate of sliced tomatoes topped with fresh basil is a summer delight savored by many gardeners. Warm weather gardeners can enjoy melons with aromas as delectable as their flavors.
Seeds of Italy imports an impressive selection of gourmet vegetable seeds from Europe. This company provides my favorite spiral-shaped anellino beans in green and yellow. I always grow a few purple and speckled beans as well. The summer garden would not be complete with Corno di Toro, the bull’s horn peppers in red and yellow. These peppers grow to an astonishing 12 inches long, and they are superb for cooking. A summer lunch needs little more that sautéed peppers and onions added to pasta and topped with fresh tomatoes and basil. Basil is best harvested just moments before serving.
For the adventurous gardener, a membership in the Seed Savers Exchange brings access to thousands of heirloom and ethnic seeds. Many of the world’s most flavorful vegetables are in the pages of their catalog.
Photo from Flikr: Common License.