Matt was planning this year's garden before we'd even finished harvesting our crop last summer. He got a grow light for his birthday in March and proceeded to research and order his seeds, getting them growing in our basement in preparation for the Spring. He makes time to tend to his garden in spite of his busy schedule, and it isn't uncommon to see him out there pulling weeds or harvesting tomatoes in his scrubs after work :)
This was our third summer gardening and definitely our best garden yet! Matt grew 5 different types of tomatoes (San Marzanos are the only tomatoes for Italian recipes), 3 different types of green beans, 2 different types of lettuce, leeks (So excited for Garlic Soup this Fall!), jalapenos, bell peppers, carrots, egg plant, pumpkin, and a variety of herbs (Hooray for homemade Pesto!!!). And me? I've been doing my best to preserve our bounty, mainly sticking with freezing techniques instead of canning for now.
Matt has loved the process from start to finish, but I am especially in love with the fresh ingredients we've been using lately- every recipe is just a little bit better with garden veggies, and we've tried lots of new recipes that utilize the crops we've got. Our favorite go-to books have been Rick Bayless's Mexico: One Plate at a Time, Jacques Pepin's Essential Pepin for French cuisine, and The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan. It's amazing how straightforward and simple the recipes and ingredients are while still packing in so much flavor!
Naturally, the layout and improvements for next summer's garden are already in the works (and some seeds have already been ordered), even with the bags and bags of produce that still need to be used and/or frozen from this year! This is who we are now and there is no going back- we're backyard gardeners with a chest freezer and a compost pile. And next year there is talk of garlic, potatoes, and fruit trees (yes plural)!