Casey Sommerville: Gardening Tips to Get You Started | Receipts

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I plan to plant a garden every year. Who doesn’t love fresh produce from your garden or patio? And then either I don’t start or the weeds invade the garden. This year my plan was to start early and research to get the best harvest. It was my plan. We will be moving just at planting time, so it may be a year of patio container gardening for me. I hope these tips will help you start your own garden!

Why garden?Gardening is a great outdoor activity that combines moving your body and growing healthy foods. The whole family can help. You can share if you have more produce than you can eat. Gardening can also reduce stress and improve your mood. As you start to see your garden grow, you’ll be proud of it!

Best time to plant It depends on where you live and what types of produce you are going to plant. You will need to know your freeze dates. Many vegetables can be started indoors and transplanted when the soil reaches at least 60 degrees.

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The easiest plants to growSome of the easiest vegetables to plant include lettuce, peas, carrots, radishes, green beans, cucumbers, kale, Swiss chard, beets, and summer squash/zucchini. If you’re new to gardening, you might want to start with a few vegetables. Pay attention to plants that need full sun so you can place them in the right spot.

How to keep weeds awayShoot them as soon as you see them. Don’t let weeds sprout. Mulching can block light from reaching the soil, reducing weed seed germination. The best mulch is straw or shredded leaves. Bare soil attracts weeds, so use mulch or plants to limit weeds. Using raised beds or containers can also help control weeds. Lettuce and spinach can also limit weeds.

Health BenefitsHaving freshly picked produce in your garden provides many nutritional benefits. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables can lower blood pressure and decrease the risk of heart disease, stroke and certain types of cancer. Fruits and vegetables are rich in fiber, which aids digestion.

container gardeningContainer gardening is a great option if you don’t have garden space. You can use containers to grow vegetables if you have a small garden, patio, balcony, or rooftop. Larger pots work best and can produce an incredible amount of food, but you can also use hanging pots for cherry tomatoes, strawberries, and herbs. Make sure there are drainage holes. Almost any type of vegetable can grow in a container, but look for bushy or smaller varieties. Containers need water more often.

Recipe for herbed cucumbers

¼ cup low-fat plain yogurt

2 tbsp. coarsely chopped fresh dill

1 tbsp. coarsely chopped fresh parsley

2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

1 ½ tsp. coarsely chopped mint

¼ tsp. each: sugar, salt, pepper

Combine yogurt, dill, parsley, lemon juice, olive oil, mint, mustard, sugar, salt, pepper and garlic in a food processor. Pulse until well blended. Thinly slice the cucumber, enough for about 5½ cups. Thinly slice the red onion, enough for 2½ cups. Combine cucumber and onion in a large bowl. Drizzle with yogurt mixture. Mix to coat.

Nutritional analysis per serving: 65 calories, 2.5g fat, 2g protein, 10g carbs, 1.5g fiber, 150mg sodium

Parmesan roasted zucchini recipe

  • 1 medium zucchini, sliced
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place zucchini on a baking dish and drizzle with oil, salt and pepper. Return to the spatula. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until the zucchini is tender and golden. Serve sprinkled with parmesan.

Nutritional analysis per serving: 45 calories, 3.5 g fat, 3 g carbohydrates, 1 g fiber, 2 g protein, 55 mg sodium

Casey Sommerville is a Registered Dietitian with the Gundersen Health System

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