The Urban Garden

We are so lucky to have an incredible community garden (called a P-Patch here) close to our place near downtown Seattle.  We miraculously got a plot within a month of moving here and were told that we were “required” to garden year-round.  REQUIRED!  As if I would have to be forced to reap the benefits of inexpensive, fresh, organic produce year-round.  Twist my arm, amirite?

I have a deep love for this garden.  Check out how charming it is, what with the Airstream trailer as our tool shed and views of the surrounding neighborhood.  Come on.

Why yes, that is a seaplane.  See what I mean?  Charming.

Why yes, that is a seaplane.  See what I mean?  Charming.

We got off to a bumpy start due to an unfortunate garden thievery incident where half of our plants went missing.  But summer was great, and we have a plethora of tomatoes at the moment.  One of them looks like it’s about to fall off my hand because it did, right after this photo was taken.  (Also pictured: shishito peppers.)

Hang on, little buddy!  Nooooooo!!!

Hang on, little buddy!  Nooooooo!!!

Our tomatoes went through a bit of a rough patch.  We all did.  Temperatures here in the Pacific Northwest were brutal this summer, as some of you may know, and plants and humans alike were wilted and dehydrated.  Now the weather has cooled, we’ve had some rains, and everyone is happy again.

We had been missing our tomatoes, so I wanted to do something special for them.  Rather, something special to them.  Super easy solution: Late Summer Caprese Salad!

So many colors my eyes might explode!

So many colors my eyes might explode!

Let’s talk about shiso for one second here.  Shiso is an Asian herb that grows like the world is about to end.  I planted some tiny little shiso plants in late July in the middle of a massive heat wave and didn’t think this fragile leafy herb would make it.  Here we are at the beginning of September and the plants are HUGE!  I pick a few leaves every time I’m at the garden and use them in recipes as an addition to (or substitute for) basil or mint.

For this dish, I just sliced the tomatoes and mozzarella, alternated them on a plate, and then sprinkled some chopped shiso and basil over the top.  Then just top with some oil and balsamic vinegar plus some salt and pepper.  So there ya have it - tomatoes, shiso and basil fresh from our garden turned into a beautiful meal in about 5 minutes.  Life is good.