It’s been raining like crazy the past few days, but today the sun is shining again. I’ve been saying that the April showers had better bring us some mighty fine May flowers and on this first day of May I can report that all that rain seems to have been for the best. We’ve already got one bright red strawberry (hopefully there will be a few more — maybe even at the same time!), our garden is coming up nicely, there are finally tomato plants for sale at the local hardware store, and on my walk this morning I was still able to enjoy lots of beautiful trees in the neighborhood.
Life is good.
For weeks our tomato vines have been heavily laden with fruit, but it’s only been during the past few days that they have started to turn red. We’ve gotten a good amount of cherry tomatoes already, but unfortunately we’ve lost two very large tomatoes due to something nibbling away at them before I’ve managed to pick them. Even the large tomato above has a bite taken out of it…
To try and combat the bugs (or birds) that are ruining our ripe tomatoes, I pulled some semi-red ones (along with a bit of the vine) during the weekend and another bowl this morning. I’m hoping that they will finish ripening on the counter and my fingers are crossed that they’ll turn out to be just as tasty, despite being picked slightly early. I see a lot of caprese salad, gazpacho, and other tomato-based meals in the near future!
Lots of rain and warm (but thankfully not miserably hot) weather has left the garden plots very happy. Flowers are starting to appear in great quantities on the pepper, cucumber, and tomato plants. In fact, when weeding yesterday I noticed our first tomato is on the vine along with the first cayenne pepper. And it is finally the year of the sugar snap pea! I have been harvesting a handful once or twice a week and there are still loads on the vines.
I was surprised to find that the plots weren’t overrun with weeds when I did my Sunday morning inspection, but many of the plants — particularly the potatoes and rhubarb — were growing out of control. I significantly clipped back the potato greens and pulled a bunch of rhubarb stalks which I used to make sauce. More about that in another post.
Flowers in the first and last plot are continuing to be bright and beautiful, but I need to plant something in the center plot. For some reason the snapdragons seeds I planted only came up on one side leaving the center a barren pile of dirt. I’m sure as the summer progresses the tomato and pepper plants will grow up and out and hide it, but for now the space needs a bit of color.
As I enter my final few days as a solo gardener I’m quite pleased at how everything is coming along. But I certainly won’t complain about having a helping hand soon!
Two weeks ago I started our garden for 2013 — 36 tiny dirt pads that are currently playing host to a variety of tomato and pepper plants as well as cucumbers, a few herbs, and some snapdragons. While there are many additional “direct sow” items that will get their start when it’s actually warm enough to plant outside (and it doesn’t seem like that will be anytime soon, thanks impending snow storm), I’m excited to see these first hints of spring even if they are in my dining room.
One of the best things about summer is being able to enjoy home-grown tomatoes. Now that they are finally turning red, we find our kitchen is frequently overflowing with an abundance of big boy, ukranian purple, and cherry tomatoes. Combine those with the various tomatoes arriving in our weekly CSA (community supported agriculture) delivery and we are starting to get a little overwhelmed.
We’ve been making gazpacho at least once a week for the last month, enjoying cheese and tomato sandwiches, and throwing tomatoes into every other meal we can. Despite our best efforts, we still have tons and this evening with three pints of cherry tomatoes and two large bowls of tomatoes overflowing on the counter, I decided I needed to take some action.
First I made a corn and tomato salsa. It was quick and I not only got through two pints of the cherry tomatoes, but I also used a good assortment of our other veggies — a serrano chile, half of a small red onion, garlic, a red bell pepper, and some green onion. Unfortunately the corn wasn’t fresh, but I topped it off with some lime juice and my concoction ended up being quite tasty!
While making the salsa I noticed that some of our larger tomatoes, which had split across the top from the heat, were starting to go bad in some of the split areas. I didn’t want to lose multiple large tomatoes, so I pulled out some freezer bags, chopped off the bad parts, quartered and froze them. Now our fresh tomatoes will be ready to use in sauce, chili, or soup when the weather cools down.
Despite my best efforts to reduce the tomatoes accumulating on the counter, you can see that we’ve still got quite a ways to go. And of course, there are more tomatoes at the garden that are just about ready to be picked. But I’m definitely not complaining!