How To Eat The Most Veggies: Grow A Garden AND Do CSA!

If you are like me, you like to garden.

For you, gardening is relaxing and rewarding. You get to take your shoes off and feel the cool soil and grass. It gets you outside the house hands in the dirt growing food.

A garden is a great place to unwind when you get home from work or on the weekends on your free time. It is also a great place for kids (and adults!) to learn about food.

Many of our CSA members come to the CSA because they love garden fresh so much but don’t quite seem to have enough time or space to grow it all themselves.

Because let's be honest, growing ALL your family's veggies is a lot of hard work.

Believe me I know.  Hehe!  :)

 

 

Why I really understand the satisfaction in having a home garden

Now that I’m more of a mom than a farmer (thanks to my 3 year old and another one on the way), I can tell you from experience what you should grow in your own garden if you are a CSA member and want to maximize the number of fresh veggies you have available.

Because I never really cared about it before having kids.

For years prior to 2016, I worked more than full time on our commercial veggie farm and completely neglected my “home garden” in front of my house. Don’t believe me? You can ask my neighbor friend, Jo Ann. She’ll tell you how many weeds were out there!

Hey, can you really blame me too much? I was so busy with the farm and there was no reason for me to do more work to produce the same stuff that I was growing up in our farm fields just 1000+ feet away.

Enter 1 year old Baby in 2017. Walking and interested in everything! Plus then I had a little bit of time to garden-- with her!

And my home garden flourished. I planted the whole thing. Kept it weeded. And harvested. I loved it!  She loved it!

But, now that we’re back around to garden planning time… And now I know better how to maximize my little garden.  What to put in and what not to put in based on what I get in my CSA box. And I’m sharing it with you here!

Because I believe that the combination of a home garden (or at least a few pots on your porch) and a CSA is a powerful one for eating the MOST veggies!

 

Why you can and should grow a garden AND do CSA

A common reason that people interested in our farm say that they cannot do the CSA is because they already have a garden.  

The funny thing is that SOOOO many of our CSA members ARE gardeners!  Having your own garden AND doing CSA is actually the BEST way to maximize the number of veggies you eat, rather than being redundant.

Don't believe me?

Well, ask yourself, do you plant succession plantings of lettuce every week in your home garden to ensure fresh lettuce all season long?  I mean all the way through October?  

Probably not, but with a CSA share from our farm, you'll have salad materials the whole growing season long without the hassle of little tiny plantings too often to be practical.  

Same goes for other salad items like radishes, salad turnips, baby greens, etc.  I know from experience that it's not easy to keep that stuff nice week after week in a home garden setting.

So here's HOW to maximize your veggie availability by planting your garden with your CSA share in mind.

 


The Top 6 Things to Grow in your Garden to Compliment the CSA

 

#1 Your very favorite vegetable(s)

Because our farm's CSA share program is a “survey” of seasonal vegetables, you may have a favorite that you’d love to eat every week that you just don’t get that often in the CSA. Question: ask yourself, what do I want to make sure I get all the time?

Examples include: kale. In order to strike a balance between kale lovers and kale haters we sprinkle kale throughout the CSA rather than having it every week. Or maybe you feel this way about Swiss chard.  Or leeks.  Or ???

Garlic is another example. We do our best to get our members as much garlic as we have, but a couple of years ago we had crop failure due to poor curing. We are still buiding back from this loss.  If you adore garlic and can never have too much, put it in your garden.

 

#2 Your favorite herb(s)

Although we often have herbs throughout the Summer CSA, if you have an herb that is a weekly or daily “go-to” in your kitchen, you should also put that in your garden so you always have access to it.  The herbs you will definitely see in your CSA are dill, basil, parsley, and cilantro.

For example, if you use fresh thyme often, grow one plant. That’s all you need. Or summer savory. Or whatever it is for you. Herbs are awesome because they are space efficient and go all season so they are very worth it in the home garden.

Last year I put in thyme which I use in soups, stews, and broths fairly often. I also had basil in my home garden, but every leaf of that got “harvested” to the ground by a little someone. Ha!

(PS: Or come Pick-Your-Own herbs on the farm for free as a CSA member!!!  Just come with scissors and get as much or as little as you want.)

 

#3 Your favorite snacking vegetable(s)

One of the best parts of having a home garden is going outside and snacking directly from your hard work. So ask yourself: what do I like to snack on raw straight from the source?  And grow it!

Good examples are: peas, cherry tomatoes, ground cherries, green beans, carrots… you find what you like!

This is something that we did right the past couple of years. Peas, then cherry tomatoes, and ground cherries. And as soon as stuff is ripe, my little one gets a container and harvests all by herself!

 

#4 Early salad vegetables for a quick win

Our CSA doesn’t start until July. But what about before that? Well, put a little into your home garden. Try some salad mix (mesclun mix or greens mix) for early salads. Also radishes and salad turnips would mature before July if you get them in early enough.

This is a category I plan to repeat this year because last year, we had more salad than I wanted in June from 5 bed feet of garden. And my daughter loved pulling up the radishes.  All of them.

 

#5 Vegetables you want to preserve for winter

Our CSA is designed to get you eating lots of vegetables. And if you are diligent about it, you’ll eat them all fresh! (Pat yourself on the back!)

And here’s where you can use your garden space and time very effectively.

Like to can tomatoes? Grow pastes in your garden and can them. Want to make dilly beans? Pickle cucumbers? Grow these things in your garden and do it straight from there saving your CSA vegetables for maximum daily eating.

 

#6 Veggies that we don’t grow

We grow over 30 kinds of crops and over 70 different varieties total. Which is a huge diversity. But there are things that we don’t do.

Want to know what we don’t grow? Sweet corn, strawberries, shell peas, dry beans, watermelons, or other melons.

That way you can eat more veggies than you would with just the CSA!

 


Bonus!  What not to grow because you’ll likely get all you can handle in the CSA:

  • Lettuce!  We aim to provide lettuce every single week of the season (weather and deer permitting), so we’ve got daily salads covered for you.
  • Summer squash!  Unless you want to freeze summer squash or eat it every single day (like we do) you will get your fair share of it in the CSA.
  • Cucumbers!  Again, unless you eat an unusually large amount of cukes, I’d skip growing these. In fact, I mistakenly put some cukes into my home garden last year that we harvested nary a one.  Yep, they got huge and yellow and sat there reminding me of my negligence. Just don’t do it!   

 

Good luck with your gardens this year!  

xo, 

Mary Margaret