Snacks to go!

Everyone needs a little pick me up in their day. Why not pick up one of these bite size caprese skewers. These super simple bite size treasures are easy to assemble and can hold in your refrigerator for a couple of days. Here’s how we love to make them:

Have on hand: fresh basil leaves, cherry tomatoes and marinated mozzarella. Thread each item alternating in between onto a toothpick. No seasoning required thanks to the marinating oil from your mozzarella. See simple! 

Caprese skewers

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Summer in the Garden

The heat of summer can wreck havoc for a garden in desert climates. Yet, there are still wonderful vegetables that thrive in the heat. In the next few posts we will focus on recipes and gardening tips relative to summer. Starting off this series is “harvesting in the summer”…

Tomatoes and Peppers

Summer is a great time to harvest tomatoes and peppers. These gorgeous vegetables are ripened to perfection with summer when properly tended to in scorching heat. These vegetables thrive with the ambient heat of summer. However, they can burn when not properly shaded. Other risk factors include: premature ripening of fruit, burned leaves and small numbers of producing.

 

Many home improvement stores offer products to shade your plants. For those interested in more of a DIY shade structure; the process is simple.  Suggestions include non-porous stakes, such as white PVC piping. PVC bent to your desired shape (usually arched) will work well as the “base” to drape your shade fabric.  Speaking of fabric; always use landscaping shade cloth that is designed specifically for that purpose. Unfortunately, using any other type of fabric as a shade barrier can result in some very negative effects for plants.

The Start to Salsa

The Start to Salsa

What else can you do to protect your plants? Start at the roots! You should have already been using compost as a natural fertilizer, now is a good time to mix in some with the existing soil at the root base. Summer is also a good time to add mulch around the root base of your summer garden.

 

Water, Water, Water… At the right time! Avoid watering overhead during this time of the year. Droplets of water left in direct sunlight can result in sunspots on your plants. Watering during the day can also prove to be futile as the desert air dries out the soil. Watering early morning, early evening  and at night will ensure that the plant receives all the water that it needs.

 

Pruning and Harvesting! Tomatoes are ready, peppers too and those artichokes need some pruning. When is the best time to prune and harvest? Its arguable with some gardeners; however, in the desert: morning is best right after your first watering.

 Artichoke in Bloom

Here an artichoke has been left to bloom in the summer. These blooms are strikingly beautiful. However, one the plant has reached the bloom period it is not advised to harvest from the plant. Allow the plant to complete its blooming cycle. Plants such as tomatoes and peppers which also bloom, can and should be harvested when they have blooms.  The rule of thumb for pruning and harvesting applies to herbs as well. Remember: at first light, is just right!

Summer loves Peppers

Summer loves Peppers

 

 

For the Herb of it- Rosemary!

By now it should be pretty obvious that fresh herbs taste better than dried herbs. Sure, when in a pinch dried herbs can still do the trick. The challenge is many store bought herbs even when just purchased; have already lost the intense flavor that you get from fresh herbs. Of course, if you are drying your own fresh herbs at home, than you probably already know how long they have sat on the shelf in your pantry… Which brings me to growing your own fresh herbs- starting with Rosemary.

DSC_1148 Rosemary is a fast grower and tolerant to most climates. In fact Rosemary can generally tolerate most soil conditions as well. Hence, why rosemary can be found in many landscapes as a shrub or ornamental feature. Rosemary can easily be planted by seed. However, beware Rosemary unattended can grow rapidly if not properly and regularly pruned. Rest assured though, Rosemary can be used in so many ways: you will never grow tired of this fragrant beauty.

Try these luxurious and tasty ways to use Rosemary in your home!

  • Skip expensive hand soaps. Add a snip of Rosemary to any inexpensive liquid hand soap. Smells amazing!
  • Flavored Olive Oils can get pricey. Add Rosemary, Garlic, Basil and a few capers to your Extra Virgin Olive oil. Be careful to keep your oil in a cool, dry location. Then enjoy the benefits of flavored oil in any of your dishes.
  • Rosemary Bread. Rosemary bread is timeless for its aromatic qualities and diversity for use. Coming soon visit our recipe for Rosemary bread to see how this herb can transform flour into a delectable treat.
  • Add fresh Rosemary to any Poultry or Fish recipe. Rosemary is a traditional flavor with roasted chicken and fish. Yet, Rosemary can make roasted potatoes or carrots a centerpiece at your table!