5 Gardening Tips and Tomato Gratin
I wish we lived in a place that had a longer gardening season. Utah takes so long to bust out spring and then it feels as if it’s only around for a week or so and it’s blazing hot already. And then, I think this is quite sad, winter is back before you know it. We have such a short time to garden which is why we have to make the most of it. We decided to team up with McCormick and bring you our 5 gardening tips and tomato gratin so that we can all get the most out of gardening.
And let’s be honest, it’s hard to grow absolutely everything so we compensate by signing up for a CSA like, Bountiful Baskets in our area. It’s fun to get something new and helps you to not only eat fresh and local but to really play around with your meals as well. Like this tomato gratin for example. It’s fresh, easy and has a little kick in it which makes it wonderful to enjoy on any evening. In fact, we had it alone with a pile of fresh fruit and went to bed feeling perfectly filled without over eating.
We like to add a little kick with the McCormick Gourmet ground cayenne pepper or Gourmet Smoked Paprika. It’s still fresh and light with the basil but the heat pairs so well with the tomatoes and is totally unexpected.
But back to gardening. My mom and dad have the best garden ever. It also happens to be huge which means we can drive the few hours to their house and take home a little piece of the bounty for ourselves. And the kids are totally expected to help which is so good for them to get these tips ingrained in them.
1. Always begin by tilling a good mulch into your garden plot. We will have more on this in October, but you’ll want to start in early spring and till several times before planting.
2.Save egg shells all year and then crush them into the holes where you plant starts like, tomatoes, squash or peppers. The calcium helps set the roots and helps with bug control.
3.Weed often in the beginning and occasionally during harvest. Those pesky weeds aren’t just making your garden look like a mess, but they are drinking up the water and nutrients that your plants need which will result in dying or under producing plants. Weeding isn’t the most fun, but it is absolutely essential for a good harvest.
4.Always check the PH level of your soil and add a proper fertilizer for the type of soil. We fertilize at the same time we plant. Also, use soaker hoses for peas and raspberries so the water gets right in there and sprinklers (mom and dad always have big ones on poles that shoot over the whole garden) for the rest of the garden.
5. Don’t over or under water your plants when they are looking a little sad, it’s probably not a watering issue. I know, that’s a tricky one, but as people see leaves turning light in color and looking like they need water, but you’ve been watering per the seed or plant instructions it’s most likely a nutrient issue. A good garden fertilizer is exactly what you need. Add it around the plants and continue with proper watering and they should perk right up!
Once you’re harvesting make sure you can and freeze produce for winter to make the most of it and try keeping things simple. For example, we love fresh veggies but adding just a little olive oil and a favorite McCormick Gourmet spice to it like McCormick Gourmet spice Paprika and then roasting in the oven totally enhances the flavor without dunking in unnecessary sauces.
roasted tomatoes with a crunchy topping
- 2 cups grape tomatoes
- 1 cup mozzarella
- 1/3 cup parmesan cheese, grated
- 2/3 cup panko bread crumbs
- 1/4 teaspoon McCormick Gourmet ground cayenne or McCormick Gourmet Smoked Paprika
- 1 tablespoon garlic
- 1 teaspoon dry parsley
- 1 tablespoon basil, chopped
- Heat the oven to 400.
- In a pie dish, add the tomatoes, a drizzle of olive oil, and mozzarella. In a small dish, combine the parmesan, panko, cayenne, garlic and dry parsley. Top the tomatoes and drizzle a little olive oil over everything.
- Bake for 20-30 minutes or until golden.