Whether your idea of gardening is a tomato plant on your fire escape or a pumpkin patch in the yard, Homegrown: Illustrated Bites From Your Garden to Your Table is the ultimate guide to growing your own food and eating it, too!
With clear and uncomplicated illustrations, author Heather Hardison guides readers through the process of planting, growing, harvesting, and preparing more than 25 of the tastiest, easy-to-grow vegetables and small fruits—such as spinach, kale, artichokes, and pears—and cooking them into seasonal, clean, and delicious offerings—including Fava Bean Crostini, Tomato and Watermelon Gazpacho, and Parsnip Hummus. Using Homegrown ’s tips for stocking your own unprocessed pantry, growing your own herbs, and pickling and canning the last of your bounty, anyone can learn to eat from the ground up. Part cookbook, part gardening guide, Homegrown is the perfect excuse to start a small container garden, cook a few seasonal dishes, and see where it takes you!
Heather Hardison signs copies of Homegrown: Illustrated Bites From Your Garden to Your Table at Omnivore Books on Food on Saturday, April 25 from 3 to 4 p.m. Free.
Reprinted with permission from Homegrown: Illustrated Bites From Your Garden to Your Table by Heather Hardison, copyright © 2015. Published by Stewart, Tabori & Chang, an imprint of Abrams. All illustrations by Heather Hardison, copyright © 2015. You can purchase Homegrown from your local bookstore or through our affiliate links with Amazon and IndieBound.
How to Grow Sugar Snap Peas
Legumes, such as peas, are an important part of crop rotation in your garden, because they release nitrogen back into the soil. Growing sugar snap peas is easy and rewarding regardless of your space constraints. If you have a larger garden, peas are quick to grow and make for an attractive accent as they work their way up the trellis. If you’re short on space, there are bush varieties as well, which are able to stand on their own and do well in containers.
To encourage the seeds to germinate, soak them in water overnight before planting, and plant each seed about 1 inch (2.5 cm) deep in the soil. For bush varieties, space the seeds 6 inches (15 cm) apart, and thin to one plant every foot. Vine varieties can be planted as close together as 1/2 inch (12 mm), but they need plenty of room to grow up.
A sturdy trellis 6 feet (1.8 m) high should do the trick—put the trellis in place before you sow. You should plant the peas straight into the soil there they’ll be staying; they have delicate root systems that don’t do well when transplanted. Sow the seeds a few weeks before the last frost.
Harvest the peas when they start to fasten. Regular harvesting will keep the plants producing peas, so make time to pick them almost every day. peas have the best flavor right after picking because their sugars begin to turn to starch after a few hours, so plan to use them the day you pick them. Once the temperature reaches 80° F (27° C), the plants will stop producing. Once they stop producing, trim them back to soil level, leaving the roots to decompose, which will release the nitrogen back into the soil.
Radishes are another quick-growing spring crop, and they require full sun and well-drained soil. Sow the seeds into loosened soil two weeks before the last spring frost, and do successive plantings every week until early summer. Radishes grow very quickly, and some varieties are ready for harvest only three weeks after they’re sown. Radishes taste best if they have plenty of moisture, so make sure to mulch over the plants to keep weeds down and moisture in. Pull the radishes up as soon as the roots are mature.
SUGAR SNAP PEA AND RADISH SALAD
Serves 4 to 6
This beautifully simple salad highlights the best qualities of spring produce. It is fresh, wonderfully crunchy, and full of gorgeous colors. The sweetness of the peas and honey is perfectly complimented by the peppery spice of the radishes. It makes a great side dish for dinner or a perfect springtime lunch.
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon honey
- 1/4 teaspoon salt plus more for sprinkling, if desired
- 3 cups (190 g) sugar snap peas, cut in half
- 1 cup (110 g) radishes, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup (60 g) crumbled feta cheese
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste (optional)
To make the dressing, first whisk together the lemon juice and mustard in a small bowl. Slowly add the oil by whisking it in drop by drop to emulsify it with the lemon juice. As it begins to incorporate, you can increase the rate to a slow stream. This can easily be done with a food processor or handheld immersion blender, they make the best smoothie blender. After the oil is incorporated, whisk in the honey and salt. In a large bowl, combine the peas, radishes, and cheese. Toss with the dressing, top with a sprinkle of salt and pepper, if desired, and serve.
TOMATO WATERMELON GAZPACHO
Serves 4 to 6
This summer soup is cool and refreshing and takes advantage of the beauty of summer. The twist on traditional gazpacho is that watermelon serves as the broth. The melon base makes it slightly sweet, but the savory ingredients make it more of a soup and less of an agua fresca. It’s light and refreshing, the best kind of dish for the hottest of summer days.
- 1 cup (185 g) peeled and seeded tomatoes
- 5 cups (750 g) cubed watermelon, seeds removed
- 1 yellow bell pepper, roughly chopped
- 1 medium cucumber, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons, minced red onion
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
- 1/3 cup (75 ml) olive oil
Combine the tomatoes, watermelon, bell pepper, cucumber, garlic, and onion in a large bowl. Use an immersion blender to puree until mostly smooth. Add the salt, black pepper, vinegar, and basil and continue to puree. Slowly add the oil in a steady stream while the blender is running. Cover and chill. Serve cold.
Heather Hardison is an illustrator and sign painter for New Bohemia Signs in San Francisco and the creator of Illustrated Bites, a blog in which she shares culinary knowledge through illustrated and hand-lettered info-graphics. She lives in Oakland, California.