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Pick Fresh: Today's Harvest from the Cooking Light Garden

Summer's here. In case you haven't noticed, the mercury is rising, and the sweat is dripping. Maybe you've been at the community pool. Or at least in an air-conditioned car chauffeuring the kids all over town for day camps and lessons? If you have a garden, or you are one who loves to eat from one, you know it's also the time of year we anticipate with visions of (sugar)plums dancing in our heads. No, not Christmas. Another glowing season full of colorful gifts: the harvest time that arrives with the first heat wave of summer.

To share a peek into today's harvest, here's a photo collage of freshly picked vegetables, herbs, and fruit. If you follow us on Instagram (@cookinglight) and Twitter (@cooking_light), you've seen baskets of goods shared with #CLpickfresh the last few seasons. This year, our garden uses both raised beds and containers to demonstrate many different growing options for the curious and hungry. Even if the spot is a small plot, you can still dream big. (You'll see these garden plans and newly developed recipes in the magazine and online beginning in March 2015.) Get a taste for what's growing:

Berries: It's berry merry in our test kitchen garden this week -- strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries are ripening as quickly as I can pick. The corners of one raised 4x8 are dotted with tiny "boxwood-style" blueberries with big fruit, named 'Jelly Bean.' In several containers we're growing a thornless red raspberry called 'Raspberry Shortcake.' It gets major points for not having points, yet I favor the flavor of super sweet 'Fall Gold' for fresh eating.

Swiss chard 'Bright Lights' electrifies any spot in the garden, and we've taken it to new heights in a container planted in the center of a raised bed of beets.

Zucchini is living large in one raised bed of "The Three Sisters," growing with helpful companions of corn and beans. This golden zucchini looks like a regular summer squash at first glance, but has the familiar shape and flavor of its green cousin. 'Green Tiger,' on the other hand, adds wild stripes underneath those huge yellow flowers. Delivered to the Test Kitchen today, we'll see how the taste compares.

Another golden child in the garden is this super sweet snap pea. 'Golden Sweet' has lavender flowers that quickly transform into lemony-yellow pods. We've grown an assortment of shelling peas that seem to never make it all the way to the kitchen. Freshly picked, it's the ultimate sweet fast food.

Whopping big kohlrabi was impressive in this cooler spring weather and the purple variety we planted within our bed of kale, broccoli and lettuces performed really well. (The white kohlrabi 'Winner' is pictured above; see the purple harvest in the basket photo at the top of the page.) Check out our last video blog to see the pretty color contrast of neon green lettuces planted under this violet purple variety.

Beautiful, bright red beets made the cut this week. We've sowed several rows of a variety popular for baby beets as well as full-grown. 'Pablo' is a hybrid favored by many market farmers and we're anxious to put it to the (taste)test.

Poppies are tucked around our trial garden for happy pops of color. This variety, 'Hungarian Blue Breadseed,' does double duty, providing coveted fresh poppy seeds after the ornamental blooms are long gone.

Lastly, I bring you carrots...in containers! Consider pots for more than flowers. Try a variety such as 'Paris Market' or 'Caracas' (seen here) for shorter, fatter, sweet roots. An added boon: the curious rabbits can't reach this high.

Show and tell. What's growing in your garden? Share with us on social media and tag with #CLpickfresh.