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A Summer Garden

Having a summer garden is something of a tradition in my family. I grew up with the seasonal project of a backyard suburban garden every year and as an adult living in the city I have always had the urban version of a vegetable and herb garden in my yard. Gardening can be very personally and culinarily rewarding, I always enjoy planting and harvesting herbs, fruit and vegetables from my yard throughout the summer, which has an effect on my diet year round. The most prominent example of this is that I make and can my own tomato sauce for the year at the end of the summer growing season. Any red-sauce based meal I might have in a given year can be traced directly back to my gardening that summer. Having access to fresh herbs all season is also a wonderful resource to have when cooking in the summer, and drying the excess herbs at the end of the season is a great way to save money and bulk up your spice pantry for the colder weather cooking in the fall and winter months.  

I get nearly all my gardening supplies, plants, flowers and herbs from a locally owned and operated garden center, Sara’s Garden & Nursery in Brockport. Sara’s began in 1977 as a small farm wagon offering homegrown vegetables and flowers and has grown into a large beautiful complex nursery. The center is still family owned and operated and boasts some of the best selection in all of Wester New York for both vegetable and herb gardens as well as landscaping and flowers. It is a favorite of mine because of its local history and charm as well as its amazing display gardens, lotus ponds and unbelievably unique selection of Balinese garden statues, sculptures and lanterns. It is a wonderful place to visit and an even better place to shop.

More information can be found at:
Sara’s Garden and Nursery
(585) 637-4745

Summer Garden Tomato Salad:

This salad is the definition of a simple, seasonal good thing. In my opinion it can only ever be made at the end of summer with fresh raw ingredients from your own garden, a friend’s garden or a local farmers market. Every time I have ever attempted to make this salad out of season with store bought herbs and vegetables it never seems to have the right spark that makes it special, that elusive taste of summer.

Garden tomato salad is something my father used to make at the end of the summer every year when I was a kid, roughly mid-August to mid-September. There is no one dish that encapsulates the season to me more than this. Even the smell of this dish brings back a sense of warm summer nights long past when I was a child. The delicate interplay between all of the vibrant flavors and simplicity of preparation makes it the perfect side dish to any summer meal.

You will need:

  • 8-10 Plum tomatoes - Large Diced (Pictured san marzano and yellow pear)  
  • ½ Large Onion – Thin Sliced 
  • 2 Cloves Garlic – Finely Chopped
  • 4 Cucumbers – Peeled, halved, seeds removed and sliced.
  • 1/4th cup Fresh Basil – Roughly Chopped 
  • 1/4th cup Fresh Italian Flat Leaf Parsley – Roughly Chopped 
  • Salt/Black Pepper/Garlic Salt to taste
  • Olive Oil 
  • Splash of water 

Combine the tomatoes, onion, garlic, cucumbers and herbs in a large nonreactive bowl and gently toss by hand to combine thoroughly occasionally squeezing to create some liquid. Mix in salt/pepper/garlic salt to taste, top with olive oil and a splash of water and rest at room temperature for one hour before serving.

Mix well before serving, pairs very well with a thick crust Italian bread.

(Pictured is Filone Bread from the great Flour City Bread Co. www.flourcitybread.com)

Sharpen your blades and chew the fat at facebook.com/HighlifeForLowlifes.


J.Nevadomski is an accomplished musician, artist, art director and gallery curator from Rochester NY. He has recorded with musicians from all over the world for his project “The Fragile Path” and is a veteran artist whose paintings have been featured in galleries, newspapers and exhibitions throughout Western NY. In 2012 he was the “artist guest of honor” at RocCon: Rochester’s Anime, Sci-Fi and comic book convention. He is on the board of directors for Flower City Comic Con (FC3) serving as art director, is the resident curator for the art gallery at Bread & Water Theatre. He lives in the Park Ave area of Rochester, keeps a yearly urban vegetable garden and regularly cooks and hosts dinner parties for friends and colleagues.