When planning your garden, you're likely to envision your tomatoes turning into delicious marinara sauce and your strawberries into your signature jams, your basil and parsley topping homemade pizzas and lasagnas, and your rosemary flavoring your roasted chicken. This planning stage is likely something you look forward to all year. And now there's a whole new dimension to planning your garden for taste.
A great many gardeners are planting fruits, berries, veggies and herbs that will create or enhance drinks. It's such an enormous trend now that Garden Media Group has included "Drink Your Garden" as a top interest in its 2014 Garden Trends Report.
"2014 is all about balance. People finally appreciate that being in nature and in the garden is true bliss," says Katie Dubow, creative director of Garden Media. "But now, they want the garden to do double duty: (be) a Zen oasis and the social hub for entertaining."
Part of entertaining is serving garden-fresh foods in the farm-to-table mind-set of top culinary masters and five-star eateries. It's a new mark of success when homeowners can prep a gourmet meal in their home kitchens -- indoor or outdoor -- with most of their recipe ingredients self-sourced, picked right from their gardens, with ultra-fresh flavors that flood the senses. And spectacular drinks, also created with homegrown ingredients, are on the menu as well.
The 2014 Garden Trends Report notes, "People are drinking their gardens using such superfoods (they grow), like blueberries and raspberries to craft cocktails and green smoothies." There's a health impetus as well as a "sign of our success" impetus, since nutrition news touts the anti-inflammatory, fiber-rich, heart-healthy benefits of berries and vegetables of choice. The "juicing" craze is in full-force, with many homeowners purchasing top-quality juicers and blenders to create their own healthy juices and smoothies.
And, of course, there is a budget benefit as well. With your own garden every week delivering a bounty of fresh produce, which is free once your initial plant, soil and nutrient expenses have been earned back.
*What to Grow for Garden-Fresh Drinks
AllAboutJuicing.com is a popular source for basic juicing techniques, providing motivating nutritional facts about the top fruits and vegetables easily grown in any type or size of garden. This site suggests the following nutrient-rich, antioxidant, antiviral, antibacterial, fiber-rich and hydrating seedlings or plants be added to your garden shopping list:
--Fruits: apples, papayas, tomatoes, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, lingonberries, cantaloupe and watermelon for sweet summer teas and blended drinks. If you live in a climate that supports the growth of citrus fruits, you have the great advantage of orange, lemon, lime, tangerine and grapefruit juices to help you concoct delicious blended fruit drinks, add zest to veggie drinks and perfect many cocktail recipes that may require other fruits from your garden. And lemons and limes get used for garnishing, too, and celery for bloody marys.
--Vegetables: The health experts at Livestrong.com say, "Adults are advised to consume between two and three cups of vegetables a day. You can get a whole day's worth in one glass of juice; five cups of chopped carrots or celery will yield about one cup of juice. You'll want to blend different vegetables together to make sure you get a variety of nutrients, as well as a tasty mix."
Nutrient- and fiber-rich vegetables to grow in your garden for your juices and blended drinks include carrots, cabbage, broccoli, sweet potatoes, celery, beets and bell peppers, which are truly superfoods, lowering blood pressure and providing lots of vitamin C, among other benefits.
--Leafy greens: AllAboutJuicing's experts say, "Kale, spinach and other leafy greens make tasty salads, but they also add a vitamin- and nutrient-packed boost to the diet when processed raw in a juicing machine or blended into a healthful green smoothie."
Wheatgrass has long been a superfood for juicing, with its indoles helping to prevent cancer, and its other ingredients benefiting health as well.
Always juice greens in moderation, since overdoing any attempts at healthy intake can work against you. Some health experts say that juicing spinach too often might interfere with calcium absorption, so they recommend juicing these tasty greens no more than two to three times per week.
--Herbs: Celebrity chef Seamus Mullen says in his book "Seamus Mullen's Hero Food: How Cooking with Delicious Things Can Make Us Feel Better" that folic acid in parsley eases his joint pain by reducing uric acid. He also suggests growing other herbs like mint, which can be used as a drink garnish (in mojitos), and basil and thyme.
--Fermentation gardens: "Fermentation gardens are the new chickens," says Rebecca Reed, associate garden editor of Southern Living magazine. "People are growing hops for home-brewing (and) grapes for homemade wine" and also apples for hard cider. Home-brewed beer and wine kits are everywhere these days, and gardeners love the we-made-it-from-start-to-finish feel of growing their own ingredients and crafting their own brews and vintages.
According to the Garden Trends Report, 1 million Americans actively make their own beer and wine, and buy berry and other plants to infuse their own vodkas, and keep their supplies strong for summertime sangrias.
Grow plenty of fruits, vegetables and herbs in your garden, and you'll always have the makings of kid- and crowd-pleasing drinks on hand.