Healthy Lifestyle Blog

June 21, 2010

Welcome Summer!

YAY summer! Having been on a school calendar for most of my life (as a student and as a teacher), I always loved the start of summer and the freedom it brought. Now that I am free to make my own schedule, summer has new meaning – the abundance of fresh local produce.

One of my favorite ways to get fresh local produce is from my garden. I love going outside and picking the greens for my salad or smoothie minutes before I eat it. It can’t get any fresher than that… unless you get on all fours and chomp on the greens right off the plant!

If you don’t have much space for a garden, consider growing food in places you don’t usually consider. For example, the front lawn! I am seeing more and more front gardens with edibles interspersed among flowers. I have grown herbs and salad greens in flower beds. Most herbs tolerate dry soil well, and most lettuce varieties don’t do well in too much heat, so if they are shaded part of the day, that would help. Dark leafy greens like kale and collard greens can tolerate frost and keep producing through November, and sometimes even later. I have actually picked kale and collards from under a foot of snow and they were just fine! If you decide to start growing food in flower beds or digging up some lawn for that purpose, try to select herbs and greens that have similar water and sunlight needs.

Don’t have enough sun except where there’s no soil? I have that problem, so last year I bought a few Earthboxes and placed them in the sunniest location on my property – the driveway! Growing veggies in containers is really easy, so find a sunny spot to put a large container and enjoy the harvest for months. Herbs are especially easy to grow in containers, but do consider larger plants like tomatoes, peppers, and greens. I didn’t think the container would be appropriate for zucchini, though, so I dug up a bed of irises and daylilies and planted them there. If you have had success growing veggies in containers, please share your methods.

Have an abundance of basil growing in your garden? Come back tomorrow for a recipe for vegan (no cheese) basil pesto.

If you can’t grow all the produce you need (I truly wish I could) then local farmer’s markets are the next best thing. Public interest in having access to fresh whole foods is growing and this is reflected in the explosive growth of farmers’ markets. Since 1994, the number of farmers’ markets in the US has more than tripled! One of my favorite Saturday activities when I’m in Vermont is to go to the Brattleboro Farmers’ Market. It is truly a community event with local musicians providing entertainment as you connect with local farmers and artisans and enjoy a delicious meal from one of the many vendors.

If you don’t know where there is a market near you, visit I found more than 100 farmers’ markets in close to home here in NYC and Long Island, including 11 in Nassau County, 11 in Suffolk, 10 in Queens, 37 in Brooklyn, 26 in the Bronx, 39 in Manhattan.

So whether you are planting your own garden or shopping at the Farmer’s Market, there is an abundance of fresh local produce to enjoy this summer.

Happy Summer Solstice!

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Marilyn Chiarello, founder of A Taste of Light, is a certified raw vegan chef,educator and health coach. She offers a variety of services including health coaching, classes, dinner parties, consultations and presentations. For more information, visit or contact her directly – or 516-671-7037.

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Filed under: Garden — admin @ 10:27 pm

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