Tag Archives: garden

A Last Taste of Summer: Caprese Salad

This summer, I had the joy of watching the little seeds and starts I plopped into my little edible garden stretch and blossom. As a new vegetable gardener, I expected that not everything would go as planned. A “cabbage” grew up to be a giant Brussels sprout that took over a corner of the garden, shading out a few things planted a little to closely. Some purple radishes never really plumped past a skinny root, carrot seeds never quite figured out that summer had come. I had squash blossoms aplenty, but little in the way of actual squash.

But oh, the tomatoes. A couple plants snaked their way through the garden, bloomed and were produced prolifically. Also on the garden’s plus side were basil, sage and lettuce that added fresh flourishes to summer meals.

And with some of the little that remains, I recently made my favorite summer meal.

Caprese salad is a somewhat new-found taste. Though I may have had it before, the first time I remember it clearly  was eating it at a North Kitsap fire station. I’d been invited to a meal there, and among the other great dishes was caprese salad. (Side note: I learned from being a crime and public safety reporter was that firefighters make some darn fine meals, so if you ever see a chance for such a meal, jump at it.) Though wary at first, from the first bite I was in love. The combination of basil, tomatoes, olive oil and Balsamic vinegar was a simply beautiful bit of summer in my mouth.

So, in honor of the waning days of summer, this is what I made. I drizzled olive oil and dropped 12-year-old Balsamic and shook some coarse salt and freshly ground pepper over it all.

Jumping on the Bandwagon and Starting My Own Garden

Beefeater tomatoes
Beefeater tomatoes

I have officially joined the home gardening/community garden craze. I am apparently one of 75 million this year, according to garden columnist Ann Lovejoy.

This weekend was all about the outdoors, notably, getting my vegetable and herb garden set. As I explore cooking good food, the more I crave fresh herbs and produce.

In addition to joining a CSA this year, I took to filling beds and pots with a variety of fruit, herbs and veggies.

This isn’t the first time I’ve plopped some vegetables into the dirt. A few years back, I had a bed full of mass twisting tomato vines that killed everything else in their paths that produced masses of basketball-sized tomatoes. Seriously, basketball. OK, like kiddie basketball. It was a year of plenty of rain and the poor things never did ripen, despite my attempt to hang them in the house after nearly half of them exploded.

Thai Basil
Thai Basil

I also have rosemary, thyme and a few other edibles scattered around the flower garden.

This year, we built a raised bed to help drainage, and we dragged out all the pots that had been stacking up in the shed. I got all my starts in this weekend, even though the work was nearly undone by one 40-pound mutt (named Suki) who apparently thought digging out holes in the bed and scattering the pots all over the patio was world-class fun. If she wasn’t so darn cute, I might offer her up here. So, we salvaged what we could and surrounded the place with kennel wire. We’ll see today if the garden holds.

Sequoia Strawberry
Sequoia Strawberry

I still haven’t gone all the way, tearing out a majority of my yard for food, like some Kitsap gardeners. But it’s a start. So far I’ve got two varieties of heirloom tomatoes, thai basil, sweet basil, oregano, greens, strawberries (LOTS of strawberries), sweet peas, an artichoke, some asparagus, garlic, and some white radishes with purple centers. It’s pretty ambitious, but if only half survive, I’ll be happy.

Have any of you started a new food garden or joined together with others in a community garden? Share what you’re growing and how it’s going in the comments.

Want to Grow Your Own Food But Don’t Have the Space? Try a P-Patch

A Bremerton gardener at Blueberry Park. Photo by Lenna Himmelstein, Kitsap Sun.
A Bremerton gardener at Blueberry Park. Photo by Lenna Himmelstein, Kitsap Sun.

I read recently a story in the Seattle Times about a group of young urbanites who made it through their first year of growing some of their own food in a p-patch community garden. (Aww, How cute.)

As great as getting your veggies can be from a local farm through a CSA or at a farmer’s market, there’s a certain satisfaction that comes from eating something that you know and saw start out as a dirty little seed and lovingly tended until it became a beautifully ripe piece of food (no matter how stunted or odd-shaped).

But, having a city-sized plot of my own, I know how tough it can be to get some decent growing in at home.

Well, big cities aren’t the only ones with p-patches. It may, however, be a little late to grab one of your own in Kitsap this year. (Yeah, despite the snow people are thinking ahead to spring, which, believe it or not, starts on Friday).

Kitsap has several community gardens:

  • Johnson Farm in Bainbridge Island had patches, but they apparently are all taken, but they’ve said that if more people are interested, they’ll consider more in the future.
  • Suquamish residents are starting community plots. Contact Alan Trunkey at (360) 697-6817 or trunkey4@hotmail.com for more information.
  • I’m not sure if RAAB Park in Poulsbo has any patches left, but you can contact the Poulsbo Parks and Rec at (360) 779-9898
  • Bremerton P-Patch at Blueberry park recently announced some open plots. Call (360) 337-7224.
  • South Kitsap residents have been trying to plan community gardens. Contact Gardensforsk@hotmail.com.

Kitsapgardens.org has more information about some of the local organizations and gardening.

More Squashy Advice

When I wrote about heirloom pumpkins a couple weeks ago, I had also asked gardening columnist Chris Smith if the kind I brought back from my in-laws grew in Kitsap and what made for good baking pumpkins.

He didn’t answer me in time for the blog post, but he included my question in his column today. He recommends baby sugar pumpkins for baking and offers other squash-growing-related advice.