One of the most notable things about many seasonal celebrations is the food. Imagine Thanksgiving without the turkey, or the 4th oh July without barbecue. Easter is another one of those holidays that just wouldn’t be the same without the feast.
Easter is a holiday filled with joy and feasting. It symbolizes rebirth, the end of winter, and new beginnings, and the food we traditionally eat embraces these ideas.
What Is Easter Food?
Spring foods are quintessential to the Easter holiday and typically include the first foods of the growing season. Lengthening days and warmer temperatures mean that many crops are growing. Asparagus, root crops, peas, greens, and early potatoes may all be part of your feast and are things you can grow in your Easter garden.
Don’t forget eggs and meat. Eggs are a symbol of fertility and birth, which is why you often see colored hardboiled eggs and egg salad sandwiches. Many people also have duck or ham at their Easter dinner.
Plan Your Easter Garden
What better way to celebrate the holiday than a meal filled with foods from your own Easter garden. Whether your homestead is an urban lot or a ranch in the country, you can grow a range of ingredients for the holiday.
Growing your Easter meal takes a bit of planning. Your first step is to find out when Easter falls on any given year. Easiest way to find out is by googling Easter current year.
The date is important because it determines the planting date for your crops. Sometimes this puts your planting date earlier than when you’d typically get things in the ground. If so, use extension techniques such as cold frames, greenhouses and garden fabric covers.
These techniques help protect your plants from late winter winds and cold temperatures. You can also lay black landscaping fabric down to help increase soil temperatures.
Easter Garden Options
If you live in a warmer area, fresh asparagus is a quintessential Easter garden addition. Spears appear above ground when the daytime temperatures reach 60°F. Here in Kentucky, my asparagus doesn’t start coming up until mid-May, but in other areas, asparagus is ready to eat by Easter.
Asparagus is a perennial crop that takes about three years to become established.
Roasted asparagus is an easy way to make a delicious side dish. All you have to do is preheat the oven to 400°F. Next, arrange the asparagus spears in a baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Cook 20 minutes. Add a bit of shredded parmesan cheese to the top, and you are all set.
Beets are a popular Easter dish, especially for those whose family hails from Eastern Europe. Baby beets take only 40 days to mature, so if Easter falls on April 12, you’d want to get seeds in the ground in early March. You may want to give yourself a few extra “cushion” days.
If your weather is still cold in March, you can plant your seeds in the cold frame. Technically, your soil should be at least 45°F but warmer is better.
Check out Natasha’s Kitchen video for an authentic beet soup recipe.
Early carrots mature in 48-56 depending on the variety, which makes them an ideal Easter garden addition. Carrots have a reputation as being difficult to grow, especially if you have heavy clay soil.
Take a tip from me and plant carrots in raised beds that you have conditioned with about 50% sand and peat. Read our carrot growing guide for more tips.
Mokum is a great flavorful variety that does well in containers. If needed, you can grow a couple of bunches indoors for your holiday feast.
Carrots are a great Easter dish. After all, the Easter bunny likes them. Check out these carrot recipes that would make the Easter bunny jealous.
Fresh greens are a symbol of spring and the earth coming to life again, and they’re easy to grow in your Easter garden. There are many types of greens to choose from. The easiest thing is to settle on a dish and then plant what you need.
Want to have a big salad to pass around the table? Plant a variety of cut and come again greens like lettuces, kale, endive, and spinach. All of them will be big enough for salad greens in about 30 days.
You can also purchase a premix like mesclun from Fedco that comes with a variety of species. Just make a furrow in your soil and sprinkle the seeds in. You can start them in a greenhouse or under-cover in the garden.
Need something both adults and kids can sink their teeth into? Try this mushroom and arugula pizza.
Sadly, most of us won’t be able to get ripe peas by Easter. While peas are a popular spring crop, the plants depend on day length to tell them to make flowers and fruit. However, there are two pretty early varieties: Alaska and Burpeeana Early, which those in southern states may be able to get to produce by the Easter due date.
My Italian grandmother used to make a wonderful casserole dish every Easter. It was made of brown rice, peas, and sweet Italian sausage. Yum.
Early potatoes are another sign of spring and no Easter garden would be complete without them. Potatoes, like peas, can be a bit tricky to get in early enough. They take about 10 weeks to mature.
I typical plant potatoes in mid-March around St. Patrick’s Day. But I like to try to get a few going in early March in case the weather cooperates. And by cooperate, I mean that we don’t have lots of cold wet rain or late snow. If you can’t plant outside early enough, try chitting your potatoes or grow them in containers indoors.
Go with early varieties such as red gold, Algonquin, and Yukon gold. You can always dig down and check the size of your new potatoes. Even small, they can be cooked and eaten in your favorite recipe.
The best thing to do is prepare your potato plot in the fall so it is all ready come spring. You can also use the Ruth Stout deep mulch method and grow potatoes on top of the ground.
Need a great traditional potato recipe then check out these rich and creamy potatoes au gratin.
Radishes are often touted as a kids’ garden plant because they’re so easy to grow. However, radishes are much more than that. They only take about 4 weeks to mature and you can eat both the greens and the root.
Radishes are wonderful roasted in the oven by themselves or with garlic and potatoes. Thin slices are delicious on fried eggs or buttered bread. However, the springtime winner (in my opinion) would be flatbread with smoked trout, radishes, and herbs.
If you are an omnivore then raising your own protein is a win-win for the table. Farm-raised meats can be raised and killed humanely. In addition, many studies show that nutritional value is better than animals raised in confinement.
Do you raise chickens? If so, then you know store eggs just don’t cut it. Pale and runny, they look awful and taste bland. But what to do if your chickens are taking a well deserved holiday during the winter months?
Most breeds start laying again in March as the days get longer. If your chickens think they should have an extended holiday you can stimulate their biological desire to lay using lights.
Hang grow lights in the coop and attached a timer. Have the timer turn on the lights one hour before sunrise and keep on for one hour after sunset. This tricks your chickens into thinking it’s spring.
Eggs are a great breakfast food. I love breakfast quiches because you can bake them ahead of time and they are ready when you are. Great for after church service or that early Easter egg hunt.
Raising meat animals s a big commitment since they need daily food and water, shelter and a place to get outside to forage and exercise.
Ducks are becoming more and more popular to raise, even for people with small landholdings. They are hardy and enjoy being outside even on a blustery day. Duck breast with mustard greens, turnips, and radishes pairs duck with several spring greens and root crops.
Why You Should Grow Your Easter Feast
There are so many wonderful dishes that you can make for the Easter holiday that incorporate ingredients from your garden. Not only will it be a wonderful contribution to the meal but overall a much healthier (and cheaper) way to eat – not to mention a great way to get in touch with the changing seasons.
“Easter Garden: How to Plan & Grow a Garden-to-Table Easter Feast” was first posted here