Meals from the garden to the party

Make every meal a special event by bringing the garden to the table. Serve your favorite dishes made from homegrown ingredients. Then allow guests to add their own herbal seasonings right from the garden or container.

Start by growing the ingredients for your favorite recipes and beverages. Consider those, like tomatoes, that taste best fresh from the garden. Or create a salad bar by filling window boxes and raised beds with greens, hot peppers, green onions and more. Just hand your guests a plate and let them create their own fresh salad.

Dress up the table or balcony with a few containers of herbs on your patio, deck or near the grill. Use small herb containers as edible centerpieces. Just include a pair of garden scissors and allow your family and guests to season the meal to their taste.

Add a bit of color to your meal with edible flowers. Try nasturtium and daylily blossoms stuffed with cream cheese, calendula petals sprinkled on your salad and mint leaves atop a slice of chocolate cake.

Include a few herbs and vegetables that can be blended, muddled or added to your favorite beverage. Use the hollow stems of lovage as a straw for your tomato juice or bloody Mary. You’ll enjoy the celery flavor this edible straw provides. Or pluck a few mint or rosemary leaves to flavor iced tea and lemonade.

Just be sure the vegetables and flowers you select are free of pesticides. Remove the bitter tasting pollen from edible flowers.

Start your party preparation in the garden. Once you compile your list of favorites prepare your garden and containers for a productive growing and entertaining season.

In the garden, add several inches of organic matter such as compost to the top eight to twelve inches of soil. You’ll improve drainage in clay soil and increase the water holding ability in sandy soils. This is also a good time to incorporate an organic nitrogen fertilizer into the soil. This slow release fertilizer provides needed nutrients for six to eight weeks. Then be sure…

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