Food-Lover's Garden: Grow Your Own Snacks

With smart planning and some new varieties of seeds and plants, you can create a garden based on your favorite dishes.

Spring, Summer

Preserve your produce at the end of summer and nibble on pickles all winter.

Dill: Fernleaf dill plants are more compact than the grocery store variety and last longer into the growing season. Keep dill separated from other herbs, especially fennel; it tends to cross pollinate, resulting in wacky hybrids.

Carrots: Scarlet Nantes carrots are sweet from top to tip and have barely any core, so they're ideal for pickling. They grow to about six inches; to get uniform-sized carrots, sow seeds in a tightly packed line. Once the seeds sprout, weed out the stragglers, leaving one carrot every five inches.

Green beans: Haricots verts, the skinny French green beans, fit perfectly into standard canning jars. Wait until evening temperatures are solidly in the 60s before sowing these seeds, which won't withstand cold nights. Once it's hot out, the beans grow quickly.

Cucumbers: Versatile medium-size Kirby cucumbers are great in most dill or bread-and-butter pickle recipes. Pick cucumbers during chilly morning hours (hence the saying "cool as a cucumber"), and make sure to harvest when they're uniformly green, before they turn yellow on the vine.

Green tomatoes: Evergreen tomatoes are medium size, firm and considered to be the best-tasting green tomato around. They’re also delicious fried or on a sandwich. As with all tomato plants, you should use a six-foot wooden stake for support.

Use your home-grown produce to make Chile-Lime Cucumbers.