Thank you OXO for providing complimentary gardening tools to facilitate this post and keep it free for my readers. All opinions are my own. #OXOSpringGardening
Fresh home grown basil, ripe strawberries, salty and sweet candied bacon, and toasted pecans all tossed with balsamic and put atop of toasty crostini make the perfect elegant appetizer, or fresh and healthy snack! Perfect for a garden party!
Are you guys planting a garden?
When I was growing up my parents always grew a big garden, and my mom spent hours preserving food.
For years, I thought this was tedious and irritating. For some reason I associated canning and gardening with being poor. And so it was distasteful to me. Which is such a load of crap, I am ashamed to admit I ever felt that way.
Now I can see how useful a skill gardening is, and what an amazing blessing it can be. Not only does gardening provide you with food that is fresh, wholesome, and healthier for you than much of what you can buy, it also offers so much more.
- First off, there is something amazing and fulfilling to take something like dirt and seeds, and turn it into something useful. Food.
- Second, gardening helps both physical and mental health. It is a great way to ease stress and even improve the mood. Don’t believe me, according to this article by CNN, “A recent study in the Netherlands suggests that gardening can fight stress even better than other relaxing leisure activities.”
- Third, it is hard work, which means you exercise muscles while being out in fresh air and sunshine. That is awesome!
The list goes on. But really, why not try it yourself and see.
In my old neighborhood everyone had beautiful gardens, and my first summer living there they all showered me with fresh produce daily. It was such a treat, and something I knew I could grow accustomed too, so I decided I would plant a garden of my own. I was new to it, and my first year, not very successful. I still have a lot to learn. But last year I had a lovely garden, and I enjoyed it immensely, even if not everything grew as planned.
This year my sisters and I decided to grow a garden together. I recently moved, and my new house has a very limited garden space. So the majority of what I am going to grow will take place at my sister’s house.
We decided to be ambitious and grow a lot of different things, from squash to beans, to cucumbers, and more.
But I had to grow some of my favorite things, namely basil, and a small salsa garden, right at home so I would have quick and easy access!
OXO sent me some awesome outdoor gardening tools that have made the job of getting my garden ready so much easier, and a lot of fun.
Trust me when I say I never thought I would be excited about a Trowel, Hand Rake, or Watering Can, but I can truly say that I was super excited to open the box containing these and other gardening tools. I had no idea what a range of quality there is in garden tools, especially since I have really only grown my own garden a handful of times.
For my garden I have a small in ground space, and a few pots I intend to keep on my porch. I planted my basil in a pot, which is great because I frequently cook with basil, and love being able to have it handy.
I bought a pretty pot to put it in, some soil, and used my OXO trowel to not only dig a spot for my plant to go, but I also used the serrated edge to open the bag of soil! So handy
When I got done with my potted plants, it was time to get the rest of my garden space ready.
My garden space is right next to a big blackberry bush, which is awesome, but also means that if I don’t want to end up scratched and frustrated I better have a good pair of pruners. Lucky for me, the OXO Bypass Pruners have hardened, Teflon-coated steel cutting blades, and a soft comfortable handle, making them easy to use, and actually enjoyable.
Once the stray blackberry tendrils were cleared, I used my hand rake, cultivator, and plow to loosen up the soil and get everything ready for the tomatoes and peppers I will be planting this weekend.
I am pretty excited about my small garden plans, and have already started using some of the spoils of the garden, namely some of the basil to make this amazing crostini recipe. You guys, it is seriously yummy, and definitely something you want to try! Trust me.
10 minPrep Time
5 minCook Time
15 minTotal Time
- I lb fresh strawberries
- 1/2 cup fresh basil
- 1/3 cup toasted pecan pieces
- 6 pieces of bacon, candied
- 1 1/2-2 Tbs Balsamic vinegar
- 1 sourdough baguette cut into slices and toasted
- 1 Tbs brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp chili powder
- Candy bacon by mixing together brown sugar and chili powder, then rubbing on the exterior of the bacon.
- Cook in a fry pan over medium heat until crispy
- Remove bacon from pan, and pour off most of the bacon fat, reserving it, and leaving about a tsp in the pan.
- Give pecan pieces a quick saute in the remaining bacon fat
- Remove pecan pieces, and put 1 tsp of bacon fat back into the pan, and toast up your crostini slices in hot pan, should take about 1 minute to get a crispy edge.
- Dice strawberries, chunk up bacon, and toss together with pecans.
- Toss with balsamic vinegar until coated, but not soggy
- Mince your fresh basil, and toss with the rest
- Put a heaping Tbs on top of each slice of bread
- Serve immediately.
From what I have learned, when it comes to gardening, the tools make a big difference, you can grow a garden almost anywhere, even in a few pots on your deck, and if you aren’t sure about something ask someone or look it up. Last year my tomatoes were not doing well, and I asked a friend about it, she told me it was aphids, and I got a spray and problem solved. So if you are new to gardening, don’t be afraid to ask someone who has been around the gardening block a few times, chances are they will be happy to share their insight.
So, again I ask, are you growing a garden? What do you have growing? You can learn more about the great OXO gardening tools by visiting the OXO website.