Our Summer Garden!
I hope everyone is having a great weekend! I wanted to share a couple of pictures from our garden today.
We started gardening in the summer of 2008 when we moved to our current house. We have a fairly large backyard and there was a small garden when we moved in which we expanded a bit.
During the last couple of years, we’ve found that variety is one of the most important aspects of a great garden. So we planted a variety of things this year, including: Korean cucumbers, Korean perrilla, carrots, sugar peas, kale, mustard greens, broccoli, cherry tomatoes, Brussels sprouts, Korean and western chives, kabocha squash, zucchini, and asparagus!
Being very much a city girl (I grew up in Seoul, South Korea – it’s a huge, fun, cute, loveable city), I was so fascinated to see things grow in the garden. I couldn’t believe how these plants grew with just a bit of water, dirt and sunlight. And it moved me so much. It just truly felt like a miracle to me. It is sad to think that city kids (including me) grow up not really being able to understand where their food comes from and seeing how they grow in real life. You know how things grow theoretically and you do science projects in class, but that doesn’t really provide you with the knowledge and the feeling of understanding how amazing life is and where food comes from… which really helps us to be grateful for and appreciate the food we have.
Our Brussels sprouts plants. They get really big, so we’re going to thin them even more next year!
These are our perrilla leaves (kkaennip). They have a very strong minty flavor, so I wasn’t sure if non-Koreans would like them, but Bill absolutely loves them and our next door neighbors Paul and Patsy like them too. Perrilla is super rich in iron, clacium and Vitamin A, C, and K. Korean cuisine uses it for perrilla leaf kimchi, ssam (wraps) with bulgogi, salads, or to make perrilla oil out of the seeds. Perrilla leaves are the easiest things to grow on earth! They are like mint; they grow no matter what! They don’t ever get bugs either. They are self seeding as well, so once you plant them, you’ll get tons of them every year, as long as you leave them alone through the winter. It’s the easiest crop to have if you’re considering having healthy leafy greens from spring to very late fall with very little effort! You can also easily grow them on your patio and many Koreans will grow them on their apartment veranda.
Here are our snow peas! These are so good, I could eat them every day. Snow peas are very easy to grow as well!
These are zucchini leaves from our garden. Koreans steam them and wrap them with brown rice and ssamjang like tacos. You need to make sure to get the young and tender ones though; the really thick ones are too prickly to eat. Yummy.
Sadly, zucchini plants aren’t so easy to grow, as all sorts of little bugs get to them by August. We still plant them to get some zucchini during the early summer though. I cut and dehydrate them and cook marun hobak namul (dried zuchhini/squash namul) during the winter!
Our Kabocha squash plant!
Here are some more pictures of perrilla leaves and our Korean cucumbers! Korean cucumbers are crisper and crunchier than other varieties, as I mention in our Oi moochim recipe. And our cherry tomatoes, these are so sweet. We get enough to make sun-dried tomatoes and to freeze some for the stews, chilies and soups during the winter!
Being vegan, it is so cost effective and convenient to have vegetables in our back yard, particularly since our garden is organic! We also grow some herbs- basil and cilantro, and we had a big batch of carrots this year too. Soon we’ll need to seed our fall crop!
If you have a nice size backyard and don’t have a garden yet, you should think about having one. I promise that you will love it and think it is one of the best things that you ever did. I hope this inspires you to think about having a small garden in your backyard!