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Garden to Table Cooking

Not Another Food Recall—Stay Safe By Going Garden-to-Table!

From Del Monte Foods to McDonald's salads, food recalls—and safety questions—are on the rise.

For families and foodies a like, Thanksgiving dinner is a ritual we look forward to all year-long! And, this past Thanksgiving, the USDA issued a recall on lettuce—how disappointing was that? Now, just a week before Christmas, Del Monte Foods Inc. is recalling more than 64,000 cases of canned corn.

Annual product recalls by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which regulates meat producers, rose 83.4% from 2012 through 2017. Those issued by the Food and Drug Administration, which regulates everything else, jumped by 92.7%.

Food safety is extremely important but as a consumer, it’s hard to keep up with all of the food recalls. However, there’s hope. We can simply grow our own food—go Garden-to-table! Gardening and growing your own food is relatively easy.

Where to Begin?

Find out Your USDA Hardiness Zone

Per the USDA, the zone maps “gardeners and growers can determine which plants are most likely to thrive at a location.”

Location, location, location!

Picking a good location for your garden is key. A less-than-ideal location can result in an underwhelming harvest! Most garden-to-table plants need at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day.  The more sunlight they get, the greater the harvest, the bigger the crops, and the better the taste.

Start Small

It’s better to have a small well-producing garden than to have a large, unmanageable and low producing one. One of the most common miscalculations beginners make is planting too much too soon. A good-size beginner garden is about 16x10 feet. If you have limited outdoor space, set up an indoor container or potted garden with 3 to 5 containers.

Start With Easy to Grow Plants

Garden-to-table crops like tomatoes, peppers, and squash grow well in containers and indoors. They also keep producing throughout the season—you may not need many plants to serve your needs.

Test Your Soil

Without ideal soil conditions, your crops will suffer. Before planting, it’s common to test the soil for acidity, pH levels, and nitrogen levels.


Start by purchasing water-soluble plant food, and fertilize your container plants twice a week. Fertilize your houseplants once a week. Feed the plants in your garden every two to three weeks.  

The easiest way to provide fertilizer to your plants is to incorporate a slow release fertilizer into the soil when you plant. Slow-release or controlled release fertilizers will generally provide nutrition for 2 to 3 months. Your planters will likely grow along doing reasonably well without fertilizer but to maximize their potential you should fertilize regularly.
Water, Water, Water!

One of the biggest reason plants perish and under produce is because we forget to water them. Most garden-to-table plants aren't drought-tolerant, and so you'll need to keep them hydrated.

Protecting against Pests and Diseases
Spring Insects

Lightweight row cover sheets of translucent plastic work well to protect young crops against many common insects. Row covers are also helpful to prevent damage from light frosts.

Summer Insects

Pick off larger insects and caterpillars by hand. This is a safe and effective way to deal with limited infestations. Use insecticidal soap sprays to control harmful bugs; most garden centers carry these products.

Fungal Diseases

Reduce fungal diseases by watering the soil, versus the leaves. If you use a sprinkler, do it early in the day so the leaves will dry by nightfall. If a plant falls prey to a disease, remove it promptly and throw it in the trash. Remember; don't add sick plants to your compost pile.

Deer and Rabbits

Other bigger pests, such as moles, deer, and rabbits, can disrupt your raised bed and container/potted vegetable garden. Use fences to deter rabbits. Make sure the bottom of the fence extends 6 inches under the soil to stop rabbits from digging underneath. The fence needs to stand at least 8 feet above the ground to prevent deer from jumping over.

 Finally, rotate your plant location each year. This reduces the chance that pests will gain a permanent foothold in your garden.

Follow these simple steps, and go garden-to-table! Thank you and, continue to Live The Garden Life™  

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