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October 2013

The End of the Tomatoes

Tomorrow night will drop below 40 after a day of clouds and rain. By Monday night there looks to be actual frost, so why delay any longer? It's time.

Last year at this time I had two large bowls of green and ripening tomatoes. This year, I could hardly have filled one of those bowls all season. So it isn't a bad ending, considering the rest.

In this picture from left to right, a Mister Stripey, two small Early Girls, and two Yellow Brandywines that are ready for action.
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And in this picture there are more of each of those, plus a couple of Purple Cherokees and a Rutgers. I could force some of them to "ripen," but I think I'll use them all green.
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stacked egg lunch

Last time I shared one of these, it was an egg between two salmon patties. I think an egg is nearly always a good idea. Today I had burrata topped with slices of homegrown Yellow Brandywine tomato, quick fresh pistou, and poached eggs. But if I'd had good bread to toast, I might have liked the cheese, tomato, and pistou on an open-faced sandwich, without the egg on top.

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For the pistou I just pounded a couple of garlic cloves with a handful of basil leaves, added a couple spoonfuls of Asiago cheese, and drizzled in some olive oil.

If you use burrata with warm ingredients, it's a good idea to take it out a little ahead of time, so the chill is off.


Wrapping up the garden on the last warm day for now...

I rarely used this blog page this summer because it was a very odd and disappointing garden season. I understand this was so for many people. My soil isn't tired, the weather was a little strange, but not terribly so. I don't know. Next year I am planting more varieties of flowers among the vegetables to see if that will help. The flower gardens were actually pretty great this year.

But you see, then in early September, everything took off. If summer began then, I'd have had a normal tomato and pepper crop, and probably more other things, as well. Because of course, there's only so much to be expected from autumn tomatoes and peppers. I've had more in the past month than all summer long, but not like it could have been had they gotten going two months earlier. Of course, the leeks and chard grew like mad this whole time; if you can't get those to grow and produce, you have to choose a new hobby.
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The photos here are from one of the garden patches and a few things on the deck.

The two pumpkin vines grew and grew, produced two fruits, and one survived. It dropped off the vine in early September, though, with a diameter about half normal size for its variety. Only a couple summer squashes appeared from three plants; none matured. There were three undersized eggplants. Two Brussels sprouts plants grew tremendously, but only one has sprouts on it and they are probably not going to mature. The winter squash had only a few blossoms and no fruit. And the cucumbers had a short early season, not as prolific as last year, but not bad.

Of all the varieties of peppers, I got two-three each until recently. Four of them began producing last month, and I've had several bell peppers and Marconis to enjoy, but I've been picking them under-sized. I don't even remember the pepper variety that is in the bowl with the bells; they aren't full-sized, but also, it's the first I have seen of them all year, and I'd never planted whatever they are before.
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Three strange and sudden occurrences; the tabasco pepper plant began producing about a month ago. Now, that just doesn't like to be too hot, but we really didn't have a huge heat wave this year. There is a second wave of blossoms on it, but later this week they will probably drop off when the nights turn cold. I'll have to pick the peppers undersized and unripened, and drop them in a jar of vinegar.

As well, two tiny mysterious tomato plants appeared among the leeks. It's a mystery because only one of their varieties were planted in that area the year before; the Jetstar, which produced half a dozen tomatoes in the past month, two of which ripened nicely. But also a yellow Brandywine appeared, and though it is tiny (Brandywine plants trend huge,) it produced three beautiful full-sized tomatoes which ripened on the vine, and there are two more still out there.

The Purple Cherokee, Early Girl, and Mister Stripeys all have a couple tomatoes each on them, after producing almost nothing all summer. (Actually, there were a few purples, but a chipmunk kept taking one bite out of each.) I did have quite a few of two varieties of cherry tomatoes to enjoy, but that was all. Today I picked three Early Girls and a Mister Stripey that looked mature enough to ripen on a window sill, and I'll pick the rest as soon as there is a frost advisory.
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Also today as I was clearing away some vines, I found that a small Thai basil plant had grown, apparently from seeding itself last year. That's pretty crazy, man. Growing basil from seed on purpose is hard to do. I think I will pot it and see if I can keep it alive. I potted my Greek Columnar basil already, and I'm pretty sure that will be okay through the winter. It's kind of an amazing variety.
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Marigolds seeded themselves everywhere. That'll probably be fun next Spring.
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