Category Archives: In the Garden

Tomato harvest gathering steam

I sweated all summer and fretted into the fall about my tomatoes but the fruits of my labour began flowing in about a week ago and the flow is speeding up now – I may even hit a point where I need to give some away! Or not.

Four varieties of sweet success!

Four varieties of sweet success!

The varieties have been a bit perplexing – the ridged one to the right is a Puple Calabash; but they’re by no stretch purple!

The small ones are Isis Candy cherry tomatoes and are as sweet as the name implies. I’ve had to bring them inside before they’re ripe though – it seems that if left too long, they split on their own or the squirrels split them for me.

The medium-sized smooth one, centre-front – well, I may have mixed up somewhere. I thought it was a Yellow Elbe that a friend had given me but it looks as if it’s perhaps the only other type I planted – Brandywine … or was it a mix-up at my friend’s end? A mystery …

At any rate, we’ve sampled all three and they have all been great!

And then there’s a fourth – the Green Zebra. I’m having a hard time deciding if it’s ready to eat by my research suggests its colour says Yes! We’ll find out tonight at dinner (which is set to include beautiful T-bone steaks that were on sale at the Superstore as well as lovely new red potatoes and what may sadly be the last feed of corn for this year, picked up from the Parkdale market after work).

I’ll be back later to let you know about the Green Zebra and will try to post my favourite and simplest tomato recipe soon.

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Preparing for cider & picking tomatoes

It’s been a busy week. And now it’s the weekend, which we kicked off after work with a trip to Musca, a local wine-making supply shop. The sidewalk out front was piled high with crates of grapes, and wasps swarming all over them. In preparation for cider-making, I now have a 30-litre pail to drop off at a local apple orchard, where they will fill it for me with fresh juice once it’s ready. Since I don’t want to ferment the juice in a plastic container, I also got a 25-litre glass demi-john which is nestled nicely in a protective plastic fake-basket covering – see for yourself:

WineJug

(BTW, I do know I cannot pour 30 litres of juice into a 25-litre jug – guess we’ll just have to drink that extra 5.)

I happened to notice some bottles of balsamic vinegar for sale and just had to try one – 10 years old and aged in a succession of five different wood casks – oak, chestnut, mulberry, cherry and juniper. I’ve already dipped into it – wonderful!

On a final happy note, for now, the tomato harvest has begun. Only the not-so-purple calabash so far, which are incredibly tasty despite their disappointing colour of NOT purple. But then, the tiny wee carrots, which will likely never be any bigger, they are purple!!

TomatoWindow

Tomato Anxiety

This is the year I got off the fence and into the field, so to speak … I started a veggie garden – very small, but a start nonethless.

I followed the Square Foot Garden method and constructed two 4-foot square raised beds. I fretted endlessly over optimum placement as there are a number of shade trees, both ours and the neigbours. Finally, I settled on a spot and we filled the beds, marked off the squares and sowed the tomato seedlings I had been nursing indoors for weeks. Heirloom or different ones – brandywine, green zebra, Isis candy cherrries, yellow elbe and purple calabash. Besides having such enticing names, I figured they would be a colourful bunch and their flavour descriptions sounded delicious.

Though I was told it has been a bad year for tomatoes, they flourished into 5-foot high monsters. Blossoms appeared, followed by tiny tomatoes. Each stage brought excitement but was tempered with anxiety as to whether they would make it to the next stage, let alone final harvest.

They slowly got bigger … and stayed green. Anxiety increased. I heard about the late-season tomato blight that is apparently widespread across the country. Up the anxiety. The trajectory of the sun shifted and shade became a bigger issue. Anxiety climbing again.

And now, they are ripening! But only the purple calabash.

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And they are slowly turning a lovely shade of … orange. Every image I have seen on the internet shows lovely deep-hued wine-red tomatoes. But mine are orange. Only more time and a taste test will tell, but I think the raised beds may be changing location next year.