We overheard Executive Sous Chef Justin Pfeilsticker talking about his backyard garden in Chandler. Zucchini, tomatoes, artichokes, melon…all this growing in July? We were a bit surprised (and impressed), and decided to check out the garden for ourselves!
When did you start gardening?
I’ve loved growing things ever since I was a kid. It might actually be cheaper for me to buy some things from the store, but I love doing it myself. It keeps me out of the bars!
What are you growing right now?
Heirloom zucchini, artichokes, pattypan and blue hubbard squash, daikon, garlic, pomegranate, tomatoes (beefsteak, heirloom, cherry, mandarin, green zebra), and melons — honey sweet, moon and stars, charentais, and crenshaw.
What are some great veggies/herbs to grow in the Valley in the summertime?
Corn and squash are excellent. Radishes will survive nicely if you give them full sun in the morning and shade in the afternoon. I also like to grow a lot of herbs indoors.
What are some cheap garden tricks you have?
I make my own slings for squash and melons. I’ve used up all of my ground space, and I can grow more if I go vertical; the sling keeps the produce from falling. I’ll use an old t-shirt or whatever fabric I have around. I also have a cheap trick for getting rid of snails — bury a small cup so that the rim is flush with the ground and fill it with beer. They are attracted to the beer and fall into the cup.
Any other tips for the home gardener?
If you want to keep your vegetables growing in the summer, water them multiple times a day on the hottest days. The extra hydration keeps the temperature lower, as long as you don’t get water on the leaves. A soaker hose works best.
Read more about Chef Justin and his culinary background here.
Here’s Justin’s Greek Salad recipe, which he makes with his own heirloom tomatoes:
Greek Salad with Herb Vinaigrette
4 heirloom tomatoes (med. diced)
2 cups European cucumber (med. diced)
1 red onion (med. diced)
2 red bell peppers (med. diced)
1 lb. feta cheese (med. diced)
1/2 cup kalamata olives (cleaned & pitted)
to taste salt and pepper
3 Tbs. (approx. 2) shallots (minced)
2 cloves garlic (minced)
1 tsp. fresh oregano (minced)
1 Tbs. chives
2 Tbs. dijon mustard
2 Tbs. honey
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2/3 cup canola oil
to taste salt and pepper
In a small mixing bowl, mix all ingredients except the canola oil. Then slowly whisk in the canola oil and set aside. Chop all ingredients and place them in a large mixing bowl. Pour dressing over and let sit in refrigerater for 10 minutes. Bon Appetit!
As a long-time admirer of Chef Justin’s culinary skills, I should not have been at all surprised to find out about his Blue Ribbon magical gardening skills. After all, isn’t this just an extension of his excellence and creativity in the kitchen? I’ve been chatting with my colleagues here at work, and we all have come to the conclusion that Chef J should invite us over for a “Garden Party.” He cooks, we do the dishes. Deal?
[…] sees his garden as an ongoing project. Since we last stopped by in the summer, he’s converted another part of the yard for gardening — it’s now used for a variety […]