In her new book My Suburban Farm, Ainslee Costa shares her tips and tricks for how to create your very own country-inspired sanctuary. In this edited extract, read about which veggies to plant and pick in summer, and try your hand at Ainslee’s homegrown tomato bruschetta.

Summer is by far the busiest time in the veggie patch. The longer sun-drenched days make the perfect growing conditions for newly planted seedlings, and crops that were planted in spring are getting ready for harvest. It’s that time of year where the craziness of Christmas creeps in, and although the days are longer there just never seem to be enough hours to fit everything in. Evenings are spent watering and harvesting, and the anticipation of the new season’s tomatoes hangs in the air. It’s the season of abundance and the one I look forward to most as a grower.

Seeds to sow

Beans, beetroot, carrots, cauliflower, corn, lettuce, peas, radish, spring onion

Produce to pick

Basil, beetroot, capsicum, carrots, chilli, coriander, corn, cucumber, eggplant, lettuce, potatoes, silverbeet, snow peas, spring onion, tomatoes, zucchini

Recipe: Homegrown tomato bruschetta

Homegrown tomatoes are always one of the most anticipated summer crops from the patch. Nothing compares to the taste of homegrown, sun-ripened tomatoes picked straight from the bush. They are such a versatile fruit that will crop well into autumn given the right conditions, so having plenty of recipes for them up your sleeve comes in handy. Personally I love nothing more than showcasing these treasures with minimal interference, adding just some aromatic fresh herbs and the very best quality olive oil.

Skill – Easy • Serves – 4 entrée portions • Prep time – 15 min


350gms homegrown tomatoes (or very ripe store-bought) diced

1/4 red onion, finely diced

Small handful of fresh parsley, chopped finely

10 fresh basil leaves, torn


Salt and pepper

Extra virgin olive oil Balsamic glaze


1 loaf crusty sourdough

1 clove garlic


Preheat a griddle pan over high heat for about 5 minutes.

In a medium bowl, mix together tomatoes, onions, parsley and basil. Drizzle over a generous amount of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Allow mixture to sit until the bread is ready.

Slice 4 thick pieces of sourdough on an angle and place onto the hot griddle pan until the bread begins to char.

Do this on both sides.

Once fully toasted, rub the clove of garlic on one side of the sourdough then top with generous spoonfuls of the tomato mixture.

Drizzle with balsamic glaze and serve immediately!

Goats’ cheese is a great addition to this bruschetta.  Simply spread on to the toasted sourdough before topping with the tomato mixture for an extra punch of flavour.

Avoid storing tomatoes in the fridge as this dulls the flavour. If using store-bought tomatoes, look for vine-ripened organic tomatoes and different coloured varieties. These should have better flavour.

Bruschetta is a great starter or light lunch that can be prepared a little ahead of time. Allow the tomato mixture to sit at room temperature and then simply grill bread when ready to serve.

If you don’t have a griddle pan you can toast your bread in a toaster or under the grill.