At home my days have been surrounded with tomatoes, zucchini and lemon cucumbers: all grown this summer in our small backyard garden.
But for late starters the garden window hasn't closed. Beyond taking care of my two kids and writing this column, my other “job” is as the garden coordinator at the , where we've been busy planting a Thanksgiving garden.
In Sonoma we're lucky to have three or four gardening seasons. Many varieties of “cool-season” vegetables can be grown in Sonoma in the fall and winter; sugar snap peas, lettuce, leeks, broccoli.
So don’t pack your trowel away just yet: get some seeds and a few veggie starts from local nurseries like or and plant a fall garden for you and your kids to enjoy.
Here's the best ways to tackle your inner gardener:
1. Plant some fall vegetables.
Tomatoes and zucchini may still be taking over your garden, but tuck some lettuce, carrot, radish, or sugar snap peas in and you'll have a wonderful salad come Thanksgiving. Some other seeds you can start now are beets, spinach, turnips, Asian greens, cilantro and dill. For a full list full list check out I Grow Sonoma for a year round planting guide.
2. Use up that zucchini with some bread “bugs.”
My daughter told me yesterday, “I would never eat this zucchini if we didn’t grow it!” And you know what, I believe her! My kids love zucchini bread. We use this recipe here from allrecipes.com and I each time I add a little more zucchini and a little less sugar. They have never noticed. We also just found this new “bug” bundt pan for fun. These were gone the minute they came out of the oven!
3. Make some homemade salsa with all the tomatoes you have.
My kids aren’t into spicy foods, but if we make our own salsa they gobble it up. Here’s my favorite recipe that’s not too spicy and has a slightly sweet touch with a little balsamic vinegar:
1 shallot, finely diced
2 heaping cups of chopped tomatoes (whatever you have from the garden)
1 bunch green onions (my kids cut these with their scissors and toss them in).
¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
Mix together and chill. This is our go-to favorite salsa recipe.
4. Go to the National Heirloom Exposition in Santa Rosa at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds.
The Expo runs Tuesday to Thursday, Sept. 13, 14 and 15 from 11am to 9pm. Kids are free; adults are $10.00. They will have 200 exhibitors, 55 speakers, and 4000 varieties of heirloom produce on display. Wednesday is "Kids Day" with fun activities planned every hour. Check out their website for more info.
5. Shop at today, Wednesday, to support the Sonoma Valley School Garden Project!
Five percent of the net sales for the day will be donated to the Sonoma Valley School Garden Project on Wednesday, September 14. The Sonoma Valley School Garden Project was established to support each and every school in the with existing garden programs and to assist schools without to develop garden programs. For more info, go to www.svgreatschools.org!