For three very long months I’ve been tending to a raised bed home farm that I built with my own two hands, plus the helping hands of my father. Week after week I water it, picked bugs off the plants and the day has finally come that my family and I are finally able to enjoy the fruits (or should I say vegetables) of my labor.
The first moment of pure joy and excitement came when I was able to harvest and cook my first homegrown head of broccoli. Shortly after picking it was chopped into a fresh batch of broccoli-cheese soup with herb seasoned croutons. One thing I quickly learned about growing broccoli for the first time is that it loves cool weather which I’ll keep in mind when I plant even more of this delicious vegetable.
For many, many weeks I’ve been patiently waiting to see if my carrots were growing. It was obvious the green tips were getting bigger and bigger but the problem with underground crops is you can’t see underground. One day my patience grew thin and I starting digging through the soil to take a just a little peek only to find my carrots were getting big enough to harvest and eat. My neighbors got a quick view of my home farming happy dance that afternoon.
The celebration of harvesting my carrots was followed by one of my favorite way to prepare them, in the slow cooker. A tender and juice chuck roast spent a day slow cooking with the fresh picked carrots, onions and even some fresh rosemary still growing beautifully in my raised bed farm.
One underground crop that I began growing in the first weeks of my home farm planting season was garlic. This has been a very mysterious crop for me. I decided to check on one of the bulbs last week to find that the single clove I planted had tripled into three cloves. Being unsure of what the growing process for these are like, I turned to the Home Farming Community where I found some clues on when to harvest garlic. Since all of the tops of my garlic are still green and growing, I realize I’ve got to harness some patience and give them more time to grow.
Another underground crop that I’m quite proud of is my onions. A few weeks ago I noticed the green stalks had turned brown and wilted which made me think they were ready to harvest. Once again, I turned to the Home Farming community to see what my next step was and I learned that my onions needed time to cure before storing them inside in a cool, dark place. After a few days of drying in the son I pulled a few from storage to add to my Slow Cooker Pot Roast.
The funny thing about onions in our house is we never seemed to have any when I really needed them. I can’t begin to tell you how many times my husband has had to make a last minute run to the grocery store because I was out of onions. Well, he (and I) are very happy to say we have a kitchen full stocked with onions now. If nothing else, growing them has saved us a few dollars in gas for those extra trips to the store.
The true crown jewel of our home farm has been the tomatoes. I can’t even begin to express how much I love them! I will tell you one thing though, if you’ve ever had a homegrown tomato, you’ll never look at a store bought one the same again. And if you’ve never tasted a homegrown tomato, you’re missing out on one of the most amazing flavors a home farm can give you. Just look at how amazing this bowl of grape and cherry tomatoes is. The flavor bursts in your mouth even more than the color pops on your screen!
The bigger variety of tomatoes like these Better Boys is even more incredible. A few slices of one of these tomatoes on a bLT sandwich left me craving them all week long. Fortunately, I’ve got over half a dozen plants filling up with juice, ripe tomatoes just waiting to be picked, eaten or perhaps even canned for the winter.
Beyond growing and harvesting these wonderful vegetables, I have to say the part of this experience that felt the best was putting them into dishes for our family table. I never knew the difference a homegrown vegetable could make in a meal until I experienced it firsthand with all of these wonderful dishes. I even created a Home Farming Recipe Collection where I shared all of the recipes so you can make them at home too.
Thanks to what seems like a never ending supply of grape tomatoes, I’ve got a few more recipes to share in the coming weeks. For now you can take a sneak at the Tomato Mozzarella Crostini appetizer I made last week.
As proud as I am of myself for creating such a bountiful home farm, most of the credit goes to the Kraft Triscuit Home Farming website and expert, Paul James. It was such an amazing resource throughout this learning experience, so helpful in fact that I really don’t think I could have done this without them both.
Now that the growing season is coming to an end, I have some exciting news to share. As a participant in the Home Farming Challenge, I’m one of three participants that has a chance to win $1,000! For a little home farmer like myself, that’s an amazing prize that I need your help to win. All it takes is one minute of your time to vote for my Raised Bed Garden so that I can reinvest the money back into our farm. Next year I have big plans of expanding our home farm to include not one, but three raised beds so I can explore even more vegetables to share with my family. I would love to have more room to grow cucumbers, radishes, peppers, more broccoli and perhaps even some watermelons.
Disclosure – This is a compensated, sponsored post for Triscuit. All ideas, thoughts, experiences are my own. Be sure to check out my posts as well as the other bloggers participating in this challenge on Better Homes and Garden’s Home Farming Challenge page.