Though it still may be a little too cold to rush around and start your garden, you can get started on some smaller, in-the-house projects that will help your garden flourish come May and will add some true spice to your "Skinny Italian" menus.
Teresa Giudice dedicates a segment of her cookbook to the importance of fresh ingredients, quality herbs and do it yourself home garden. She recalls her family’s enormous garden from years past, and all the great produce that came from it, as well as the Victory Gardens of the 1940s.
Even growing just one herb or vegetable will make you that much more invested in what you’re eating, she says. And what better way to beef up your spice rack this year with some quick tips on growing your own herbs?
Even if you aren’t a gardener by trade, there are so many quick and easy ways to plant an herb garden that you can grow on your windowsill and pull from whenever you need a pinch of something fresh and tasty.
Today, I’m going to stray from the typical Cooking with a Real Housewife meal path and, with Giudice’s herb recommendations and gardening guidance (as well as some of my own), show you how to get a jumpstart on your own plants.
First, you need to pick what you want to grow and what sort of seeds will work best for your projects. It’s the season for planting, so hardware stores, home and garden centers like and a number of other easy access locations will be pulling out their piles of seeds. Many herb kits that you can buy at the store include many of "Skinny Italian’s" staples, and you can always use the rest for other meals throughout the upcoming months. If you’re looking some down home, GMO-free heirloom seeds, and a few other online stores offer a sustainable and organic planting alternative.
Giudice suggests that her main ingredients—basil, rosemary and thyme, are a great way to start out a garden. And if you skim through the rest of her recipes, you’ll see there are a number of other ingredients you can grow yourself, from tomatoes to salad greens. Though you may not have the environment to grow your own lemon trees, just adding a few homegrown ingredients to a meal can create a huge taste difference.
It’s still too iffy outside to go out in your garden bed and throw down some seeds. With frost and temperamental temperatures, right now that would only serve as a waste of time and money.
If you’re looking for a cheap and easy way to start your seeds, buy your eggs in a plastic dozen the next time you go to the grocery store, or start saving your yogurt cups and other small, plastic containers.
Though you may have to transplant the egg carton seedlings a little sooner than others because of space, the extra layer of plastic that protects the top of the eggs can be cut off, filled with water and stacked underneath the rest of the container for some self-watering capabilities. Check out our video for more directions.
If this plan isn’t quite as aesthetically pleasing as you’d like, there are a number of other planting alternatives that will showcase your flair for fashionable gardening.
Stop by your local hardware store or home and garden center and buy some small, ceramic pots. Then bring them home and decorate, or let your kids paint, glitter and glue until you have some crafty plantware.
If you’re looking some something a little more reliable, places like Bed, Bath and Beyond and other trendy homecare stores sell things like self-contained herb kits that come with soil, seeds and, in many cases, special lights that keep a sense of sun on your plants all day long.
Those this is a little more expensive, it’s a much more reliable option that will show you faster returns. Check out Amazon for a number of neat-looking, quality indoor herb kits.
Giudice’s recipes often call for a number of fresh and dried ingredients, but why keep running to the store for basil bunches when you could pull a few teaspoons off your own windowsill?
Skinny Italian suggests growing them yourself, and after the initial setup, it’s totally worth it. Indoor herb are a sustainable option you can use all year round, they save you the hassle of running to the store, and they make your kitchen and home smell great.
I’ll keep you updated on the process of my seedlings, and in the next few months we’ll see how much fun it is to work on a recipe that uses your homegrown herbs and spices.