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Our Summer Garden!

August 20, 2011

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! 🙂

28 Comments leave one →
  1. Julie permalink
    August 20, 2011 5:47 pm

    Lovely garden Sunnie and Bill!

    • Sunnie permalink*
      August 20, 2011 10:59 pm

      Thanks Julie!! 😉

  2. August 23, 2011 11:04 pm

    Ohh, I would love to have a garden, even though I’m usually terrible at growing things. Yours is so lovely and exciting with all the different things growing in it! Look at that cute kabocha! And wow, I love kale and cucumbers so much. It would make me so happy to go outside and pick something to eat. 🙂 I wish I liked perilla leaves, but there’s something about the taste I don’t quite like. (Maybe really fresh ones would be better.) Too bad, because they sound really easy to grow!

    At the moment, I am growing some Korean rice in a pot. I inadvertently transported it back to the US. A little kid in a small town in Korea got excited about the rice that was growing and kept picking out grains and handing them to me. I thanked him and stuck them in my purse. It wasn’t till I got home that I remembered the rice! So now I have a few grains that have sprouted. I tried and failed once last year, and now I’m trying with the remaining grains. They’re about a foot tall now. I figure if I harvest all the grains and replant them, then keep doing the same for the next few years, I might have a cup of rice at some point in the future. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing the garden photos and walking us through it, Sunnie!

    • Sunnie permalink*
      August 25, 2011 8:00 am

      Lu! I hope all is well. We’ve both started school so things are getting busy for us! I’m so glad you enjoyed the post. I do live gardening! And how cool that you are growing rice in your pot-amazing really. Such a great story about the kid giving you the seeds too. It really would be neat if you actually can get a cup of rice and make steamed rice out of it! It would take a lot of work though! ;p

  3. August 27, 2011 6:19 pm

    Hi, Sunnie. I don’t think it’s going to work out with the rice, but it’s fun trying. I just realized that, because the picture you use in your comments is your hanbok wedding picture, I’ve been subconsciously imagining you working in the garden in your green dress. Um, pretty sure that’s not the case. 🙂

    For the past few days your blog and a couple of others have been inaccessible from my work computer. Makes sense if they updated the security or other controls, and I don’t blame them. So, you’re busy with school and I can’t check as frequently, so it all works out, I guess. 🙂 Take care and enjoy the end of the summer!

    • Sunnie permalink*
      August 28, 2011 8:16 am

      Thanks Lu! Have a great week! 😉

  4. September 10, 2011 8:26 am

    Hi Sunnie and Bill,

    I’m so glad to find your blog. Love Korean food (lived there for half a year) and am vegetarian but don’t know enough korean to ask if “it has fish powder in it” which made it hard to be sure of anything besides tolsot bibimbap without the meat and egg. Since then i’ve wanted to get authentic vegetarian Korean food recipes but it’s been hit and miss really. I can’t wait to try your recipes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


    • Bill permalink*
      September 10, 2011 1:07 pm

      Hi, Ragtag! Thanks for visiting us. That’s funny about the bibimbap. We had so much bibimbap and bibim namyeon without the meat and eggs this summer when we were meeting people for business lunches. We hope you enjoy the recipes. Let us know how they turn out for you!

  5. saisree permalink
    December 3, 2011 10:33 pm

    Hi,your garden is too good.I am from India and living in Suwon.I too love gardening and started growing tomato and chillies in my apartment balcony.I got inspired with your vegetable garden and want to start this summer. I want to grow betel leaves in my garden..i thought perrilla and betel are same..after seeing your plant came to know,both are different.can we find betel plant in z tell me where can we find all the seeds in suwon..Thanks for sharing the garden photos keepon updating..Annyong haseyo:)

    • Sunnie permalink*
      December 4, 2011 8:19 am

      Hi Saisree!
      Thanks for visiting our blog!!! So you’re from India and you live in Suwon right now, how cool is that. =) It is great that you are already growing tomatoes and chillies in your balcony. Perrilla will be very easy, so you really should try it! As for Betel, I have not heard of people growing it at home in Korea, so you’ll just have to ask at the seeds store. Now for purchasing seeds, I am really not familiar with the Suwon area, so I am not sure where to go. But if you just ask around, I’d think people would know. I would ask people at the local grocery stores and plant/flower stores, as they might carry them. If not, they will probably be able to tell you where you could find them. Hope you find the seeds, good luck! =)

  6. saisree permalink
    December 4, 2011 8:26 pm

    Hi Sunnie,Thanks for your reply,i asked my korean neighbour and we collect the seeds in our local market plant store..but she didn’t understand what betel you know the korean name of betel,i will share pics of my garden after getting success:)

    • Sunnie permalink*
      December 4, 2011 9:45 pm

      Hi Saisree – I think it is 구장나무.. but I’m not entirely sure, so you will need to double check! 😉

  7. saisree permalink
    December 6, 2011 5:49 am

    Hi Sunnie!!!Haha i checked it,the shopkeeper said we can’t find it here:(

    Here is the link for my small balcony garden pictures:)

    • Sunnie permalink*
      December 6, 2011 12:57 pm

      Saisree, sorry you can’t find betel there! Hmmm… I can’t see the pictures – maybe they pictures are not public?

  8. Lydia permalink
    March 28, 2012 12:25 am

    I am a foriegner who just moved to Daegu, I really would like to start a garden, maybe just something small on my rooftop. What do you suggest I could start planting now – so late into the spring?

    • Sunnie permalink*
      March 28, 2012 1:32 pm

      Hi, Lydia!

      I don’t think it’s too late at all! you can try kkaennip, cherry tomatoes, kale, radish greens, carrots, and maybe peppers too. These are all very easy to grow plants, except the peppers needs but more care in the beginning. A rooftop garden sounds so wonderful, I hope you enjoy it! Let us know if you have other questions and let us know how they turn out as well!!! 😉

  9. Lulu permalink
    April 17, 2012 4:07 pm

    Hi Sunnie. I came across your blog when I was searching how to plant Korean perilla. Since it seemed pretty easy I’d like to try to grow it myself. I have a small plot of land right now behind our house. But I don’t know how to start growing it. How did you start growing your perilla ?

    • Sunnie permalink*
      April 18, 2012 1:14 am

      Oh we just sprinkled the seeds into the dirt and watered them, and they came out like tiny green perilla leaves. Not difficult at all, you just need to wait!

  10. austingardener permalink
    November 4, 2012 8:45 pm

    I am going to try your kimchi recipe tomorrow. as I check out your blog I found this great garden post. do you garden in Korea or do you live somewhere else? I garden in Austin, TX and like Korean vegetables. Early bulam squash is my very favorite.

    • Sunnie permalink*
      November 4, 2012 8:55 pm

      We live in Indiana- used to live in Indianapolis but just moved to West Lafayette. We love our Korean veggies in our garden as well, cucumbers, perilla leaves, peppers and squash. 😉

  11. February 24, 2015 9:38 pm

    Lovely garden. I didn’t think zucchini leaves would be appealing to eat.
    if you’re interested, check out my gardens for the last couple of years at my site:

    • Sunnie permalink*
      February 25, 2015 6:21 am

      You have an amazing garden, Cass! Yes, those zucchini leaves are great with Korean ssamjang sauce. 🙂

  12. Rob permalink
    April 13, 2015 4:12 pm

    You may have an answer for me!: When I was in Korea a few years back I spotted some large heirloom (?) squashes here and there. These squashes were beige-tan with deep orange flesh. With great difficulty I’ve scoured Korean seed company web sites looking for a clue and the only squash that comes close visually is the “Rumbo” variety which is a hybrid I think. Surely Koreans had been saving seeds for generations before seed companies took over? There must be info somewhere about Korean heirloom vegetables…. I’m thinking too that the Kabocha squash is a recent import from Japan and is not tradionally Korean. What about the delicious and quintessentially Korean hot pepper? I see no heirlooms advertized by the seed companies, only modern hybrids. Help!

    • Bill permalink*
      April 15, 2015 8:58 am

      Hi, gleamingtree! I’m sorry, we really have no idea. We’ve just limited ourselves to the seeds available in our local Korean grocery store so haven’t looked into heirloom seed sources. Sorry and good luck!

  13. July 12, 2016 10:33 pm

    Sunnie, I currently live in Indianapolis, and would like to try betel leaves for wart removal. Do you know where I can locally get a plant or seeds?

    • Bill permalink*
      July 24, 2016 10:24 am

      Hi, sorry but we don’t. Might have more luck looking online. Good luck!


  1. Kkaennip Kimchi (Perilla Leaf Kimchi) Recipe « The Vegan 8 Korean
  2. Vegan St. Louis! « The Vegan 8 Korean

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