Food Gardening Network

Growing Good Food at Home

It’s Holiday Time—Joy to the World, and Time for Some Cheer!

Bill Dugan - Executive Editor

Bill Dugan, Executive Editor of Food Gardening Network

Bill Dugan - Executive Editor

Bill Dugan, Executive Editor of Food Gardening Network

Well, 2020 has been a challenging year in a lot of ways—but my food-gardening efforts, which I ramped up in early spring when I became more house-bound than ever, have kept me focused on happy things when times were tough.

And I hope you’ve found ways to discover joy in your own food-gardening efforts this year. If ever we all need some joy, the time is now!

Our food-gardening efforts this year are not unlike the victory gardens of World War I and World War II, when people planted food gardens at home to supplement their rations and to boost morale. But our enemy this time is a virus, a pandemic that has changed the way we work, live, garden, and eat. And the optimist in me says “Find ways to enjoy these tough times.”

So, welcome to the December 2020 issue of Food Gardening Magazine, to help you continue to find joyous ways to celebrate your food gardening—even in winter!

This issue of Food Gardening Magazine is filled with fun facts about food and lots of information about the history and background of our featured foods—avocados, chamomile, and cucumbers. Check out the tidbits that will make you think!

Did you know that avocado trees are native to the Americas? And that evidence of avocado consumption dates back 10,000 years in central Mexico? Or that George Washington encountered—and ate—avocados in Barbados when he visited there in 1751? Read all about it now.

Or did you know that chamomile was highly revered by ancient Egyptians as the most powerful herb, for its healing qualities? And that there are really only two main varieties of chamomile for food-gardening purposes (some other types are actually toxic to consume)? Get all the facts about chamomile in our gardening guide now.

Or how about that cucumbers, botanically speaking, are fruits? And that cucumbers are about 96% water, which contributes to their cooling qualities? Read all about the background and history of cucumbers in our gardening guide now.

And then there are the recipes in this month’s issue—here are three of my favorites that are unique, tasty, and easy to make:

  • Avocado Toast—This recipe is so simple and only takes a few minutes to make. Feel free to kick it up a notch by topping it off with an egg, tuna salad, fresh tomato slices, and basil… the possibilities are endless. Simple and tasty!
  • Chamomile Tea—Soothing and perfect for a December evening or morning. It’s not a complicated “recipe” per se, but there are a couple of things you need to know to make the perfect cuppa. First of all, your chamomile tea is not a proper tea at all; it’s a tisane (tuh-ZAN in the U.S.). A tisane is an infusion of herbs as opposed to tea, which is an infusion of tea leaves. Of course, we’re still going to call it all tea. But it’s a neat fact to have on hand when you need it. Quick to make, easy to enjoy!
  • Shrimp and Cucumber Rounds—This pretty appetizer will please your guests this holiday season, especially the ones who are going carb-free. These canapes are easy to prepare, but look impressive—your homegrown cucumbers serve as the foundation for the shrimp topping. Serve these on a platter with a glass of white wine, and your guests will know you’re “cool as a cucumber.”

In this December 2020 edition of Food Gardening Magazine, you’ll discover lots of valuable and helpful content and advice, with some of my favorites including:

  • “Gardening with Amanda” articles—Amanda McArthur is one fabulous food gardener! She takes gardening seriously, makes it fun, and delivers some great content—including companion videos to show you, not just tell you, exactly what to do. Check out these three helpful articles, with videos, from Amanda this month:
    • “How to Make Homemade Marshmallows with Chamomile”: Once you learn how to make marshmallows with a few simple ingredients, you’ll never go back to the bagged stuff! Follow Amanda’s direction, complete with accompanying video, about how to make the tastiest and most unique pop-em-in-your-mouth treats!
    • “How to Keep Gardening in December”: Learn how to grow vegetables and herbs indoors, all winter long, and dedicate some time to plan your spring outdoor garden, too. Two great tips in this article about December gardening: 1) Try your hand at microgreens (easy and fun!); and 2) Buy a sprouting kit (different from microgreens, because you eat the whole thing, seed and all). Read all about these methods now.
    • “Making Chicken Stock Using Garden Scraps”: You can start making chicken stock at home every time you cook a chicken dinner—and turn it into a rich, flavorful broth as a base for other recipes. Get all the details from Amanda about how to create a “scrap bag” for collecting garden and kitchen scraps all season long—keep it in the freezer until you’re ready to make stock. Get the step-by-step method for making chicken stock from scraps—in this article now.
  • Special Gardening Guides—get full reviews and summaries of three premium gardening guides, complete with links to the full gardening guides that include plant-specific history and background; seed, seedling, and soil advice; tips on fertilizing, weeding, and watering; best ways to avoid plant diseases and pests; even how to treat affected plants; plant profiles that highlight some popular varieties; quick-and-easy recipes that are tasty and worthy of your table; nutrition, health, and home remedies; more food gardening resources to help your efforts; and glossary items to explain technical or unknown terms and concepts:
    • All About Avocados—You need really warm, tropical-like weather to grow avocados—unless you have access to a greenhouse. Learn all about how to plant avocado trees that will bear you delicious fruit—yes, an avocado is a fruit, a giant berry actually. You get lots of details about raising and tending avocado trees, but you’ll also learn how to tell if an avocado is ripe—which can help when buying them at the market, too. And oh the recipes! They are worth the price of admission by themselves—yummy, unique, and healthful. Get it all in All About Avocados right now!
    • The Gardener’s Guide to Growing Chamomile—Maybe you’ve never thought about growing chamomile—well, give it a try! Our gardening guide on chamomile will help guide you about how to grow and enjoy a chamomile harvest. From choosing the right species to all the tips and techniques for ensuring your chamomile plants thrive, The Gardener’s Guide to Growing Chamomile is your go-to resource for growing a healthy and abundant crop—even if you only want to plant it for ground cover and weed control (it’s a great companion plant). And enjoy the soothing and healing benefits of chamomile with any of these quick-and-easy recipes. Read all about it now in this gardening guide.
    • The Cucumber Grower’s Guide—The ubiquitous cucumber should be a part of every food gardener’s plan, at some point. With this gardening guide, you get all the advice you need about ways to plant cucumbers—including growing cucumbers in pots or containers, in a raised garden bed, or on a trellis. Learn about all the right plant spacing so your cucumber vines have enough room to grow! And learn about six popular varieties that will satisfy any gardener or any cook. Plus, get delicious and easy-to-make recipes for using up an abundant cucumber harvest, so that you’ll never get tired of them. With The Cucumber Grower’s Guide, you have everything you need to grow and enjoy luscious cucumbers!

Please take time this month to find some joy in things all around you, including your friends, family, and your garden. And use this month’s Food Gardening Magazine to help guide you about growing and enjoying some really good food!

Happy gardening—and happy eating!


Bill Dugan
Executive Editor

P.S. Please enjoy this issue of Food Gardening Magazine, and let me know how you’ve found joyous ways to celebrate your garden!

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