A Garden Fit for Salsa

vegetable garden

I believe I mentioned that we recently moved to Birmingham, Alabama.  It’s really beautiful here, and the climate is nice.  Once we settled into our new home, we decided it was time to spruce up the yard a bit, so I searched for the best landscaping company Birmingham AL had to offer.

When the guys first arrived, we really weren’t sure what we wanted to do with the yard.  It was hard for us to imagine the possibilities available, because the yard had not been tended to properly for quite a long time.  Weeds were growing rampantly and the trees were very overgrown.  Thankfully, Joe and his crew had a lot of experience and gave us some incredible ideas.

The first thing we needed to do was to cut down two dead trees and do some trimming on a couple of others.  We also had to pull weeds out of the flowerbeds.  I was able to do a lot of that work myself in order to cut down on some of the expenses.  After about a week, the yard was really shaping up and it looked so much clearer.  I was starting to get a vision.

I pride myself on being a pretty good cook (at least Amelia says I am), and I thought it would be wonderful to have our own vegetable garden.  I planned to pick vegetables that I use most often and that would grow well in the moderate climate.  Joe and his crew decided on the best location to start the garden based on sunlight and proper drainage.  All I needed to do was decide the vegetables.  Tomatoes were an obvious choice.  I make a lot of Italian and Mexican dishes, as well as eat a lot of salads.  Peppers also grow well here, as do cucumbers, lettuce, and onions.  I also chose some herbs to plant.  Sage, basil, and cilantro are the ones I decided to grow, since I use them most often.

As the season progressed, I found I had an abundance of tomatoes.  I have such a variety, too.  I have a few plants of roma, better boy, and cherry tomatoes.  I have several varieties of peppers, too.  Of course, I have green peppers, poblano, sweet, chili, and jalapeno peppers.  I thought about planting habanero peppers, but they are so spicy, I decided I could just buy them at the store, on an as needed basis.   It’s important to plant the vegetables and herbs you think you’ll use the most in your cooking.  A garden needs lots of attention but the rewards of fresh foods are unbeatable.

Speaking of fresh foods, one of my favorite things to do is pull vegetables from my garden on the day I plan to use them in recipes.  This makes the food taste super-fresh.  One of my favorite recipes, I found from The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond.  It’s called “Straight-Up Pico De Gallo.”  She calls this recipe “the big Mack Daddy.”  It is so fresh and tasty.  Here is the recipe.

1 large onion

12 Roma tomatoes

½ bunch cilantro

2 jalapenos, seeded and diced

Juice of 1 lime

½ teaspoon salt

Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl.  Toss it all together to combine.  From personal experience, this Pico de Gallo is wonderful to have around the house any day of the year.  It is delightful when added to eggs, burgers, sandwiches, or just scoop it up with a chip.  It is so tasty and simple to create.

In the end, I love what my landscapers have done with my yard.  I have healthy grass growing, trimmed and thriving trees, flowers blooming in the flower beds, and a hearty vegetable garden.  Life in Birmingham is definitely sweet.

Derek