Prep Your Own Produce

With the theme of next month’s Irish at Heart Box being ‘A Morning on the Farm’, we thought we’d help bring a touch of the rustic farmer’s life into your own home – but with minimum effort.

The concept of freshly laid eggs and a creamy glass of unpasteurised milk from the barn paint an idyllic picture of a farmer’s breakfast, but if herding livestock and 5AM starts aren’t your thing- then perhaps you’d be best turning your hand to cultivating a few crops instead.

We’ve picked a selection below to help kickstart your harvest, so you can finally achieve that ‘from plant to plate’ smugness with every dish. Have you already got a garden brimming with produce? Let us know in the comments below.

Potatoes

Of course, we’re starting with potatoes. No Irish dinner is complete without a helping of spuds, and there’s no greater pride than serving up a side of mash that has been grown in your very own garden.

If you’ve got the space, then you’ll probably want to opt for the more traditional method of potato planting – which involves creating well-spaced rows of good quality soil, from which you can dig up your dinner like a good old-fashioned farmer of yore.

 

This method isn’t as handy if you live in a high rise flat with a communal garden that amounts to a few blocks of concrete in front of the entrance. If this is the case, never fear - you don’t have to give up your dream of harvesting your own taters just yet! The versatile veg can be grown from the comfort of your window sill, and this simple guide can get you started.

 

Tomatoes  

When you think of tomatoes you probably think of those majestic climbing plants that can most commonly be found in the greenhouses of dedicated gardeners. If you happen to have a greenhouse to hand this would indeed be an opportunity to put it to good use, but if not then a sunny sheltered spot should do the trick nicely.

These are called Vine tomatoes, and they require a bit of TLC to get them going, but if you can spare the space and dedicate the time then you’ll reap plenty of fruit for your labour, with regular harvests from early summer to autumn.

If space and time aren’t luxuries that you have in abundance, then you’d perhaps be better plumping for a bush variety of tomato – which needs less attention and will happily thrive in a hanging basket. You can read up on tips and tricks to help your functional, yet fetching, tomato plant thrive!

 

Herbs

While you’re at it – nothing complements a freshly plucked tomato like a handful of fresh basil. Herbs are an easy stepping-stone into the green-fingered world of gardening, and if tended properly some can lend a punch of flavour to your dishes all year round.

If you’re new to the concept perhaps just start off with your favourite tastes – coriander will always serve you well if you’re a Taco Tuesday kind of household, and if your diet is heavily reliant on pasta then you can’t go wrong with a sprinkling of parsley.

Once you’ve got the knack and understand the slight variations when tending to each plant then you can up your game with your very own herb garden – either in your garden or as an aromatic window decoration. Be warned though – give some of these plants an inch and they’ll take a mile, so it’s important that you contain them properly (we’re looking at you, mint!).

 

Strawberries

More into dessert than dinner? Skip the trip to the supermarket and grow your very own sweet and delicious strawberries from home.

These fragrant fruits are surprisingly easy to grow, and you can even get the kids involved (especially when it comes to the eating part). If you’ve got a plot in your yard that is just crying out for some foliage, then a properly planted strawberry patch can bear fruit for years to come.

Again, no problem if you don’t have a garden – you can grow this tasty treat within a pot in your porch or a hanging basket. This space-saving method also comes with a handy bonus of keeping your blushing berries away from snacking slugs and squirrels!

 

 

Garlic

Last but not least – where would we all be without garlic? There are very few savoury dishes that don’t benefit from a touch of this flavoursome plant, and if you grow your own – you’ll never be without.

The best part is, all you need to start is a humble bulb from the gardening store (supermarket ones are unlikely to be as effective) from which you can plant individual cloves to sprout your very own produce.

There are two main varieties of garlic – soft-neck and hard-neck - both of which flourish in different climates and conditions. With that in mind, make sure you read up on the best choice for your garden (or window box) before you begin the planting process!

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