Grow your own veggie garden and eat the rewards

2017-02-27 06:00

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You don’t need a huge garden to enjoy homegrown produce… plant a window box or a few containers on the balcony and you’ll have the beginnings of these delicious dishes.

Spinach-and-pistachio pesto

This is a great way to use up spinach, plus the pesto will keep for up to 2 weeks in the fridge (makes about 2 cups).

Blend the following together for 2 minutes: 80 g shelled and toasted pistachios, 2 juiced lemons, 4 peeled garlic cloves, 2 t chopped parsley, 2 t chopped basil, 3 cups cleaned and trimmed spinach, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Slowly start adding 1 ½ cups olive oil in a steady stream, scraping down the sides of the blender as you go. When all the olive oil has been added, blend for a further 5 minutes. Season to taste and store in jars in the fridge.

Mint-and-apple-dressed garden lettuce bowls

Once you’ve eaten a bowl of your own crunchy homegrown lettuce, you’ll never look back (make ½ cup). Combine 1 T Dijon mustard and 1 T apple cider vinegar in a mortar and pestle. Transfer to a bowl, then slowly whisk in ¼ cup olive oil. Add ¼ cup apple juice and season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Just before serving, add ¼ cup mint and crush into the dressing using the mortar and pestle. Pour the dressing over lettuce and microherbs and top with 50 g Parmesan. 

Carrot cakes with honey glaze

These little treats are super easy and quick to make. Enjoy with a cup of tea after a hard day's work in the garden (makes 6 small cakes). Preheat the oven to 175°C. Mix together 2 large peeled and grated carrots, 1 free-range egg, 60 g melted butter, 150 g light brown sugar, ½ t finely grated ginger and 1 t vanilla extract with an electric beater until pale and fluffy.  Combine 140 g flour, 1 t baking powder, 1 t ground cinnamon  and 1 t ground ginger and fold into the carrot mixture. Grease a shallow muffin pan. Spoon the mixture into the pan and bake 15–20 minutes, or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Place ½ cup water and ½ cup honey in a saucepan and simmer over a low heat until syrupy. Pour over the hot cakes and sprinkle with pumpkin seeds.

Herb mayonnaise

The best way to enjoy fresh vegetables from the garden is with this home-made mayo (makes 1 cup). Blend together 2 free-range egg yolks, 1 t Dijon mustard, ½ t sea salt, ½ t freshly ground black pepper and 3 garlic cloves. Gradually add ¾ cup canola or grapeseed oil in a steady stream. Add 1 T each of chopped basil and Italian parsley, 1 T chopped chives and juice of 2 lemons. Blend for a further 5 minutes. Serve with veggies like radishes, asparagus and broad beans.


Follow these handy tips from Woolies’ horticulture technologist Cobus Coetzee:

-       Do not overwater vegetables, especially when growing them in containers.

-       Keep soil moist for the first few days after planting and always water in the early morning or late afternoon. 

-       Once the seedlings are established, allow the soil to dry out completely before watering. 

-       Allow enough space between plants so that enough light can reach the leaves for photosynthesis.  Space between plants also allows for air movement, letting the leaves dry faster after watering and rainfall, which can help prevent diseases from developing.

Watch how Woolies is enabling schools and communities countrywide to grow sustainable, healthy food gardens – while protecting natural ecosystems and biodiversity – through the EduPlant programme, initiated and managed by Food & Trees For Africa in partnership with the Woolworths Trust.

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