There’s nothing quite like biting into fresh veggies harvested from your own backyard. They have a comforting, earthy smell when first picked, and an unmistakably honest flavor and cornucopia of health benefits when consumed.
Luckily for us, The Gables at Chadds Ford’s kitchen team digs gardening. The peppers, tomatoes, kale, lettuces, basil and parsley — and more, depending on the chef’s whim when planting — that you see on your plate have traveled a short distance from our rooftop garden to our kitchen.
With so many tempting veggies available to grow in our area (we’re in Pennsylvania zone 7), it can be challenging to choose, especially if you’re a beginner. Here are the top five veggies Jose likes to grow (technically, tomatoes and peppers are fruits, and basil is an herb, but you get the idea!):
1. Beefsteak Tomatoes
These hearty, almost “meaty” tomatoes are great for slicing to top burgers and sandwiches, but also work well in salads.
2. Hot Peppers
Jalapeno is a great starter hot pepper, as it’s easy to grow and not wicked hot. Use them to add zip to your dishes (we love them in Mexican fare) and cocktails.
3. Mesclun Mix
You’ll love this mix of tender, mild light green and red baby lettuces. You’ll also love saving money by growing your own, rather than buying boxed or bagged salads.
Go for Italian basil — it’s the most popular and versatile. Aromatic and slightly sweet, basil is the perfect partner to tomatoes and adds flavor to salads, soups, sauces and even sandwiches (try it with mozzarella, tomato and a drizzle of olive oil on a rustic roll).
5. Sugar Snap Peas
Munch ‘em raw as a snack (with or without a light ranch salad dressing) and add them to salads for a refreshing crunch and fresh-picked flavor. You can also blanch sugar snap peas for a quick and healthy side dish.
Many home gardeners start plants from seeds, nurture into them seedlings and then plant them outside. In most cases, seedlings go into the ground not long after the last frost, which generally happens in mid- to late-April. A good rule of thumb for our area is to get into the garden around Mother’s Day.
Did you miss this year’s suggested growing season? You may still be able to cultivate these beauties from seedlings and plant in containers. Or, consider their sister plants that can stand up to colder weather. Pro tip: Try “putting up” your homegrown veggies for the winter.
Don’t feel like cooking? Come visit and let our chef fill your plate with garden-to-table goodness! Bonus: From late spring into the fall, take advantage of our alfresco options, including our fire pit patio and our covered outdoor patio. See you soon!
The Gables at Chadds Ford is nestled in the heart of the historic Brandywine Valley. Our combination of fresh seasonal cuisine, rustic yet elegant charm and enchanting outdoor dining will keep you coming back time and time again. The Gables is also the perfect venue to host your next special event, whether you are planning a wedding, rehearsal dinner, baby shower or corporate event.
Featured photo: Betsy Barron Photography; all other photos, top to bottom: Ed Williams; Pixabay; Bigstock; Ed Williams (last two photos)