The Garden in July, a Few Tips on Creating Micro-climates, and a Beach Picnic.

This summer, the weather has been garden perfect for many crops. All the heat lovers are thriving and the crops that like it cool and moist are doing well where they have been watered and are getting a little shade. I have a nice stone wall thanks to Charley of Queen City Soil and Stone, and the shady side of the wall is a perfect place for crops like celery, mid summer lettuce, artichokes, and boc choi. They benefit from the afternoon shade the wall creates. Additionally,  the moisture that builds up at the base of the wall from the terraced soil above it creates a perfect micro-climate within the garden. You can easily achieve this in any garden with strategic rock placement - not a full-fledged wall necessarily, but a few stones stacked up to retain moisture on a slope or to allow for  north-side shade in a fully exposed garden. Look around your garden for other mico-climates like tall plants that can be used to create shade for summer plantings of lettuce. Right now, I have lettuce planted in odd spots throughout the garden - under a  sunflower, at the base of the stone wall, and under some tomato plants.

The eggplant has been tremendous this year and last night, we had a great meal of marinated eggplant while sitting at the lake, scooping up piles of the salad with pieces of pita and a little feta. Here is the recipe. I used a combination of the Gretel and Machiaw eggplants (pictured above).

Marinated Eggplant adapted from smitten

  • 1 lb long, Asian eggplant, sliced 1/3 inch thick
  • 3 tbs olive oil, divided
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 TBS red wine vinegar
  • 2 TBS capers, rinsed
  • 1/4 cup mint, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup of feta, crumbled

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Coat a cookie sheet with a layer of oil and layer the eggplant slices in a single layer.

Bake them until soft (about 20 minutes), turning once and drizzling with a little more olive oil about half way through.

Blend the vinegar, remaining olive oil, salt and pepper, capers, and mint together. Place eggplant into a bowl, drizzle with the dressing, and stir to combine. Let rest for at least a half hour or place in fridge (up to one day). When ready to eat, sprinkle with feta. Eat with flatbread, while sitting near a cool body of water.