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Q & A about Home Gardening

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Alli's Harvest Sits on a Garden Bench

Earlier this year I featured Alli’s Garden on the blog. Here is an interview I did with her about her home garden.

Q:  How did your passion for gardening begin?

A:  Growing up, my parents were avid gardeners.  My mother and father were constant vegetable gardeners.  I still remember summers spent picking beans from the garden in bushels, and canning tomatoes for the winter.  So, I guess it was in me from the beginning.  Gardening for aesthetic appeal is what allows me to express my artistic side…I get great joy in putting my music on, having a glass of wine, and planting flowers as though it was a painting.  That is why the accent colors are so important to me.  It allows me to connect all the various terraces together with a common color.

Q:  How has your garden helped you in the kitchen?

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Alli in her Vegetable Garden

A:  Gardening is the essence of becoming a better cook.  Freshness is so paramount!  Walking into the garden and picking your veggies, berries, herbs allows me to be more creative and find things in my pantry that will work with what is seasonal.  After all, the freshest produce comes from the garden that is in your backyard, not across the country and shipped to your supermarket.  My son is the best chef of all in the family, and he loves walking out in the garden, foraging and then cooking up a storm!

Q:  How have you inspired others with your passion for home-cooked food?

A:  We have Iron Chef competitions where the guest brings a secret protein, and we provide a secret ingredient.  The goal is to create appetizers for six in 30 minutes.  Our five top cooktop is split into two, and fair game is fridge and pantry.  A few years ago, our guests brought shrimp, and we had literally bushels of Bartlett Pears from our trees on the lower terrace.  We donated bushels to the Reston Ember-Ruckert Women’s Shelter, but still had leftovers.  My son made a papadum encrusted pan-fried shrimp atop a delicious pear marmalade.  The shrimp was delightfully spicy with a slow heat, and the sweet pear marmalade was a perfect counter to the texture, crunch and heat of the shrimp. 🙂  He won, and I wasn’t on his team!

Q:  Why do you garden organically?

A:  We chose to go organic with the garden because there is nothing better than walking out to your yard and eating the fruits of your labor immediately while you are there.  We know what’s in the soil, we know that what we are eating is healthy for us.  My husband is a physician, I’m an orthodontist, and what we put in our bodies and in the bodies of our family and friends is so important to us!

Q:  What tips do you have for beginning Gardeners?

A:  Start small if you want. Many of my staff complain that they don’t have space to have fresh fruit and veggies.  That’s wrong.  You can have gorgeous delicious yellow pear tomatoes, you could plant herbs and a patio tomato plant as a first time attempt.  It will change how you think about gardening.  The most important thing is fertilize, fertilize, fertilize.

Herbs-Flowers

Herbs and Flowers Outside Alli's Kitchen

Q:  What do you consider as “must have” herbs?

There are three.

1.  Rosemary- yummy with lamb, chicken, you name it.  Dried, it’s fabulous and gives great feeling of warmth strung on a kitchen wall while cooking in the winter!

2.  Thyme…a must have.  Used in everything!  The best Roast Chicken recipe ever!  So simple but adds so much flavor.

3.  Basil…what more could you want than a caprese salad?  Fresh heirlooms from the garden, fresh buffalo mozzarella from the farmers market and chiffonade of basil.  Basil Pesto, basil oil, basil just tossed in fresh pasta with pancetta…the list goes on and on!

Join the Sowing Millions Project!

This post is part of the million seeds project and sponsored by Seeds of Change. You can follow the Sowing Millions campaign in facebook, and contribute your garden photos to our virtual garden by posting them on the Seeds of Change facebook wall with this link in the comments: http://bit.ly/seedsofchangevirtualgarden.

Next week we will be hosting a tweet chat Wednesday September 28, 2:00pm-3:00pm EST, on organic gardening. Everyone is welcome to join in! Use twitter hashtag #sowingmillions with every tweet (you may win a prize) and enter this tweet chat room to follow the discussion: http://tweetchat.com/room/sowingmillions.

Please note: I wrote this post while participating in the Sowing Millions Project by Real Food Media on behalf of Seeds of Change. I received product and exclusive content to facilitate my post. My thoughts and opinions are my own and not of those of Real Food Media or Seeds of Change.

Kimberly Hartke is a health and wellness blogger, with a penchant for local foods and backyard gardening.

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