10 Things You Should Grow in Your Garden This Year

As spring rolls in, the garden can go in with it! This year, start your garden off right by planning for success. Some plants are a must for a productive garden that you will love as you feed your family from your own hard work.

Here are 10 things you should grow in your garden this year:

I love this list of 10 things you should grow in your garden this year! #gardening #vegetablegardening

Lemon Grass.

Lemon Grass should be at the top of your list for your garden this year. This ornamental plant can be grown nearly anywhere in a pot. It keeps bugs away, bringing you peace from those pesky things. It can also be used to season and add flavor to foods. This Fresh Lemongrass Tea looks so refreshing!

Tomatoes.

This versatile plant can be used for so many dishes and even as a snack. (Sprinkled with salt and pepper…yum!) Tomatoes are packed with vitamins and are easy to grow. I especially like growing cherry tomatoes in containers.

Bell peppers.

With more vitamin C than an orange and plenty of flavor, bell peppers are a great addition to your garden and freeze well for later.

Bush beans.

Bush beans can be grown under plants that grow tall. Beans put nitrogen into the soil making them perfect companion plants to Carrots, Beets, Broccoli, Brussel sprouts, Cauliflower, Celery, Corn, Cucumbers, Eggplant, Kale, Peas, Potatoes, Radishes, Strawberries and Swiss Chard.

Pumpkin.

Pumpkins make a great ground covering plant that can shade the roots and stems or taller plants helping them thrive in the summer heat while providing you with great food in the fall harvest.

Basil.

This herb repels bugs and other pests helping to protect your garden while providing you with a tasty food for your table. Basil also makes a great edible edging plant for flower beds, helping maximize space. This Cold Pesto Pasta Salad is a great way to put basil to use.

Strawberries.

You will find in most areas the selection of fruit you can grow is limited. Strawberries are a great fruit that will grow nearly anywhere making it the perfect addition to your garden. They keep coming back better year after year and make a great potted plant.

Spinach.

If you’re looking for a green filler plant for your garden, spinach is just the plant for you. Spinach is high in vitamins and minerals, grows well in shaded areas with just a few hours of sun per day, and has nearly limitless ways to use in the kitchen.

Oregano.

Oregano is a classically Italian herb packed with medicinal qualities as well as a potent flavoring for your favorite dishes from pasta to pizza. This plant also makes a good filler plant that provides great food for your family.

Radishes.

When it comes to quick growing veggies that can help feed your family in less time, radishes are a great way to go.

I’d love to know what you like to grow in your vegetable garden every year. Let me know in the comments below!

7 Creative Uses for Chocolate Mint

Chocolate mint is an easy to grow perennial that once you plant it, you will find yourself with an abundance of it. It smells just like the name suggests, like minty chocolate, and smells good enough to eat! If you grow chocolate mint or are considering it, take a look at these 7 creative uses for chocolate mint that you must try! You will find that it’s a really practical and delicious herb to grow. Here is what you need to know:

If you grow chocolate mint or are considering it, take a look at these creative uses for chocolate mint that you must try! #herbs #gardening #grow

1. Use it as a dessert garnish.

Chocolate mint is safe for food use as long as it has been grown without chemicals and is washed well. You can use it to top your cakes, cookies, and cupcakes as it offers some nice color and even adds to the aroma of the dessert.

2. Add it to shakes and ice cream.

Chocolate mint is a wonderful addition to your homemade shakes and ice cream. The oils in the plant can add a minty flavor and chocolate aroma that is heavenly. Be sure you only use mint that has been grown without chemicals and is rinsed well.

3. Freeze it in ice cubes.

Fancy up your beverages and add flavor at the same time when you freeze chocolate mint leaves in ice cubes. They will give the cubes some color and add flavor as they melt. This is an excellent idea to try when you’re throwing a garden party or shower. You can also add it to homemade popsicles as well.

4. Add it to your cocktails.

Chocolate mint is perfect for adding to your cocktails that require muddled mint. Mojitos taste even better when you add some fresh mint, and chocolate mint will get the job done and add a unique twist to the drink as well. Also, you can garnish any drink with a fresh chocolate mint sprig!

5. Make mint infused oil.

You can let chocolate mint leaves and stems soak in a bottle of almond or coconut oil to make your own mint infused oil. You can then use it as a massage oil (mint will cause slight tingles and warmness, be advised) or even add it to dessert recipes or a type of fruit salad.

6. Mix it in with your homemade bath products.

You can add chocolate mint to any of your homemade body scrubs, body butters, or other homemade bath products. Just muddle the mint or dry it and add it. You will not only get the benefits of mint but it will leave a wonderful scent too.

7. Dry it for crafting.

You can use dried mint leaves in your crafting as well. Try adding it to homemade candles, lotions, potpourri and more. It will add a lovely fragrance and some fresh color as well. To dry your mint just tie it into a bundle and hang it in a cool dark place until it’s dry.

Are you ready to put chocolate mint to work for you? Give these 7 ideas a try and see how useful it really is!

10 Uses for Lemon Balm

Lemon balm is a perennial herb that grows thick, bushy and abundantly.  It smells great, is super tasty, and has a variety of fun uses.  If you’re wanting to create an herb garden, lemon balm should definitely be included on your plant list.  Because it grows so abundantly, you might be searching for ideas on how to put it to use. Here are 10 uses for lemon balm that you’re sure to enjoy:

10 creative uses for lemon balm

To Repel Mosquitoes

Lemon Balm is a great herb to have in your outdoor living spaces because it’s known for repelling those pesky mosquitoes! I currently have Lemon Balm in a planter with some colorful annuals next to our patio table. You could also try rubbing a few leaves over your arms and legs so the lemon scent is on your skin, warding off the mosquitoes.

Simple Syrup

Each summer I like to make up a batch of simple syrup so I can enjoy some delicious summery drinks. Sometimes I like to add some lemon balm leaves for an extra special treat. All you need is

  • 1 cup of packed lemon balm leaves
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 cup of sugar
  1. Bring all the ingredients to a boil for 1 minute, until sugar is dissolved.
  2. Remove from heat and cover.
  3. Let stand 30 minutes.
  4. Strain the leaves from the syrup.
  5. Store the syrup in the refrigerator.

I like to use the mixture in lemonade and iced tea or in club soda to make Italian sodas.

To make Tea

Dried or fresh lemon balm leaves are great for making a calming tea. Lemon balm is also known for fighting colds and flu so drinking a cup of lemon balm tea is sure to make you feel good!

Infused Honey

To make lemon balm infused honey, pack a jar half full of lemon balm leaves then fill it up with honey. Let the mixture sit for a month or so before straining. This infused honey is perfect for using in tea, desserts, and more.

For Cold Sores

Lemon balm can be an effective way to treat cold sores. You could create a lip balm by infusing a carrier oil (almond oil, jojoba oil…etc.) with some lemon balm, then combine with some beeswax to get lip balm consistency.

In desserts or fruit salads

Add a few tablespoons of chopped lemon balm leaves to fruit salads to impart some lemony flavor without making it too sour.  You could also try mixing some chopped leaves with yogurt to use as topping for fruit salads or for creating parfaits. It’s even yummy in fruit crisps and pies.

Make a Sleepy Time Syrup

Put about 3/4 cup lemon balm leaves into a small pot and add just enough water to cover the leaves. Simmer, covered partially, until the liquid is reduced in half. Strain out the leaves. While still quite warm, measure out about 1/2 cup of the concentrated tea and stir 1/4 cup of honey into it. You can add more honey to taste, if you’s like. Store in the refrigerator for about a week. Dose by the spoonful at night to help calm and relax everyone from children to adults. (Keep in mind that honey should not be given to infants under one year old.)

Use in bath water

How about a nice lemony scented bath? You’ll feel relaxed and refreshed! You could either sprinkle some leaves right in the tub or you could put some in a cloth bag and hang it from the tap. (and let the water run through it while you fill it up.)

Use in iced tea

Another drink I like to make in the summer is Sun Tea. Along with the tea bags, sometimes I like to add some lemon balm or even mint for that matter.

Use to make infused water

It’s crucial to drink a lot of water, but let’s face it, plain water can be boring! Jazz it up by placing some lemon balm leaves and some fruit to your water to make it more exciting to drink.

For those of you that grow lemon balm, what are your favorite ways to use it?