You know, gardening is a little like reading a book. You start with characters you like--peppers, tomatoes, squash--and hope they grow strong and healthy. But then comes the conflict: not enough rain or maybe too much, bugs, diseases, critters. Will there be a happy ending?
This spring, we planted a garden in Arizona, set an automatic water timer, and went off to spend the summer in Alaska. We arrived back in Arizona a week ago with our fingers crossed. The results were mixed. Apparently the usual monsoon rains didn’t show up, and while the irrigation was enough to keep things alive, they didn’t thrive. The pumpkins are only softball size. Squash bugs took out almost all the zucchini and an opportunistic buck helped himself to the bell pepper plant and fruit trees. But we do have green chilis and tomatoes!
|Mule deer bedding down in our vegetable garden.|
The little grape tomatoes are so cute, and the cherries are super sweet. The mid-size Celebrities are wonderful, and while the larger tomatoes have cracks, they are absolutely delicious in a bacon, lettuce, tomato, and avocado sandwich.
There are so many ways to use fresh tomatoes. Some of my favorites are green salads, Pico deGallo, Bruschetta, Greek salad, and just popping the little ones into my mouth. I'm planning on drying some of the Juliet tomatoes for pizza and pastas.
Now the green chilis are a little more work, but they’re worth it. I roast them on the grill until the skin is toasted, let them cool, and peel the skin away. Then they can go into chili rellenos, squash and chili casserole (too bad those zucchini didn’t make it), or scrambled eggs.
|Squash and Green Chili Casserole|
My rosemary bush thrives even without supplemental rain. Chicken tenderloins brushed with oil, sprinkled with salt and chopped rosemary, grilled, and served alongside almost any salad makes a fabulous lunch. Getting hungry?
Money can't buy true love, but it can buy love stories. Beth Carpenter's Northern Lights series is available from Amazon, Harlequin, and other online bookstores. The next book in the series, Alaskan Dreams, will be out in May 2020.