A Little Bit of Fresh Produce Goes a Long Way

As a child I was pampered with fresh produce, herbs and flowers. So I guess it’s only natural that as an adult I have always had my own garden — even if the garden only consists of five potted plants.

Growing up in Athens, Ga., my dad kept the most amazing garden that, depending on the season, was always full of tomatoes, peppers, every herb under the sun and roses and iris of every hue. We rarely had to buy any of these items at the store, because we could just head into the backyard and pick what pleased us.

It wasn’t until I moved away to Florida for college that I realized how spoiled I’d been. By my senior year, I decided it was time to start my own garden. Although the size and contents of this garden have morphed from year to year, having at least a few fresh Fit Belle-grown items to integrate into a meal has been a constant in my wellness routine.

Probably the most impressive version of the Fit Belle farm was an in-ground herb, flower and veggie garden I kept when I lived in the suburbs (pictured at the end of this blog). Talk about a labor of love. I dug up the ground with a hoe and shovel and created five beds that held everything from four types of basil to tomatoes to cucumbers and eggplants. Sure, it wasn’t as big as daddy’s garden, but I was — and still am — so proud of what I accomplished in that yard.    

These days, I take a much more minimalist approach to my garden, which is a necessity given the only outdoor space I have is a small balcony off of my Midtown Atlanta apartment.

At the beginning of the summer, my boyfriend and I planted bell, chili and jalapeno pepper plants, basil and oregano and a red geranium in pots. It’s only been in recent weeks that we’ve really begun to reap the rewards of the pepper plants. But I’ve been enjoying using the herbs in the dishes I prepare for us since I planted them. And the geranium adds a pleasant pop of color to the porch.

My point is that you don’t have to have a yard to have a garden of your own — you only need a little area that gets some sun (our balcony gets partial sun), a few pots and potting soil. And don’t let the end of summer stop you from planting something now. For example, I’ve grown lettuce in pots in the fall, as well as rosemary. In terms of flowers, pansies will weather the winter well.  

For more information about what and when to plant, visit the National Gardening Association or feel free to ask me your questions here or on our Facebook page.

Until next week — stay FWABulous, and happy planting!