As exciting as this trip we are planning is, there are a few things that I will really miss next summer. One of them is our vegetable garden. As long as the husband and I have owned a home, we have always had a garden. When we lived in the Midwest and had a huge backyard we turned the sunniest corner into a patch of delicious tomatoes, zucchini, squash, broccoli, cauliflower and lettuce. Back in New York, on postage stamp size suburban lots, we continue to use at least part of the backyard to grow our own veggies and once the boys came along, enlisted their help in deciding what to grow. Their favorites are cherry tomatoes, pumpkins, corn and mammoth sunflowers. I love that they will just head out to the backyard on a sunny summer afternoon and make a snack out of cherry tomatoes straight out of the garden. As we will be gone for the majority of the local growing season next summer, we won't be planting our garden, and I will really miss having those wonderful fresh meals straight out of the backyard.
The garden did pretty well this summer. The first crops we enjoyed were delicious beans and snow peas. The purple beans are really fun! The plants have beautiful little purple flowers that turn into long dark purple beans that turn bright green when you cook them!
We also had lots of tomatoes this year. I made these stuffed tomatoes one night for dinner. They were delicious!!
Having this garden has also been a great way to get the boys to eat their veggies, and also to learn some kitchen skills. The little dude helped me make some kabobs one night from peppers, zucchini and tomatoes we picked earlier in the day. I don't know why food on a stick is so appealing, but the boys love it, and grilled veggies with a little Italian dressing are one of our summer favorites!
We are also fortunate to live in an area that has several farmers markets and “pick your own” farms. We love one in particular, Murphy Orchards. We made two trips there this year, one to pick cherries and another this fall to pick apples. We ate all the cherries we picked, but I was able to make some applesauce to enjoy this winter. We'll be home in time for apples next fall, but will miss cherries, blueberries and peaches, our other favorites.
The boys grew their own Halloween pumpkins this year, and carved them right in the garden. After Halloween, when the carved pumpkins get squishy and start to rot, they smash them into the garden and we bury them...compost to feed next years plants. The boys think it's great fun and the squirrels really enjoy all the seeds left behind!!
The garden is all done for this year, and we had our first snowfall yesterday. Just a few flakes, nothing that stuck to the ground, but enough of a reminder of another summer has come and gone. I snapped a picture of the last 2 roses left when I covered them up for the winter. Yellow ones, my favorite.
I'm hoping to be able to find lots of farm markets on our trip next year and have looked at some apps for my phone that will help locate them. I was encouraged to find some of our local markets on Yelp, hopefully other towns have their markets listed as well. While no garden is a small sacrifice to make for an adventure like this, nothing beats a tomato, warm from the sun, picked and sliced directly into your salad or on top of a juicy, fresh grilled burger. I'll miss those tomatoes...