I look at my plants every day to see how they’ve changed — a new flower here, a tomato there. I often wonder about the transition I’d see if I recorded my plants for 24 hours.
Now that we’re couple of months into the gardening season, I am excited. It doesn’t take much. I began my ongoing small harvest a couple of weeks ago. So far, I’ve picked four zucchinis, five cucumbers, 11 cherry tomatoes, seven jalapeno peppers, two handfuls of green beans and fresh herbs from my rooftop container and community gardens.
Green fruit brims from my six tomato and two kaleidoscope pepper plants, and I can’t wait. It feels like Christmas.
Last year around this time, many of my plants — and my spirit — died. It was my first year as a community gardener, and I wasn’t prepared. But I learned so much.
So this year, when a row of my cucumbers and a zucchini plant fizzled, I pulled them from the ground. I replanted pepper, okra and cantaloupe plants in different positions because they weren’t getting enough sunlight. Despite the plants that didn’t make it, I think I’m on the right track. And if I’m not, oh well. I’ll try again next year.
Although I haven’t harvested much in quantity, it’s a lot more than it seems.
About a week ago, I made a tilapia salad with mango salsa with the jalapenos from my garden. I used fresh cucumbers and cherry tomatoes in a salad that I brought to a friend’s house for dinner. I stir-fried fresh zucchini and green beans in olive oil, garlic and onions and added the mixture to jarred pasta sauce.
I can’t feed a family of eight with what I’ve grown, but it feels awesome to compliment my meals with things that I grew. I’ll take a few more servings of that.
Tilapia Salad with Mango Salsa
1 head romaine lettuce, washed and chopped
1 small tomato, diced
2 4-ounce tilapia filets
1 cup cooked brown rice
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 jalapeno peppers
1/2 bell pepper of choice
1/4 red onion
A handful of cilantro
Reduced fat cheddar cheese and nonfat Greek yogurt
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Cook rice.
2. Wash and chop lettuce, and put it on a plate.
3. Dice tomato and slice avocado, leave to the side.
4. Prepare mango salsa. Peel the mango, and cut it into small pieces. Chop onion, cilantro, bell pepper and jalapenos. Mix ingredients in a bowl, and add 1 tablespoon lime juice and salt and pepper to taste.
5. Spray pan with cooking spray. Season fish with cumin. Cook the filets for a few minutes on each side on medium-high heat. Break the cooked fish with a spatula, and add 1 tablespoon of lime juice.
6. Top lettuce with 1/2 cup rice, fish, tomatoes, mango salsa and avocado. Add 2 tablespoons of Greek yogurt and/or 1 tablespoon of reduced-fat shredded cheddar cheese to each.
Nutritional info: 350 calories, 11 grams fat, 31 grams protein, 4 grams carbohydrate