Friday, September 22, 2006

A time of balance

Autumnal Equinox hearlds the first day of Fall and sunlight diminishes each day until the Winter Solstice. Now is the time to gather in our harvests and count our blessings. Although, I feel I am bending the rules some, as it is also the time to plant parsnips, cabbages, fava beans, and other cool season crops. Frankly, once again, I am looking forward to the rains.

I am amused to notice that it is also a new moon; so many conjunctions at once. Anyway, I wrote a couple of Haikus for a friend a few days ago and I'm going to "reprint" them here.

Cool fog winds blow by
Warm fruit vines wither. Somewhere
a tomato falls.

Cabbages grow large
As bright days edge towards autumn
Summer ends too soon.

Jersey Devil

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The Pressure Cooker is here, but.....

I am developing a virtual appreciation for determinate tomatoes. The benefits of indeterminate tomatoes is that they produce tomatoes over a long period of time. The problem with indeterminate tomatoes is that they produce tomatoes over a long period of time. This weekend, I probably pulled about 30 tomatoes off the vines (weighing about 6 and a half pounds). So there's enough all over the counter tops to justify making some sauce or canning the fruits whole. Problem is, it's about a quart at a time, maybe two. Canning is an involved process, and I wonder how sane I am to fire the whole system up just to preserve a quart. I do have plenty of apples to preserve. So, I'm going to stop whining and start working. Freezers do make the whole thing easier, but I like the idea of having the veggies not needing electricity for "life support". We haven't had a major power outage (knock on wood) but living on the fault lines always leaves that possibility open.

I am thinking of going over to Cynthia's Farm and picking up a large supply of tomatoes. Then I could have a bumper supply in my cupboards. I'm also thinking of next year. What if I choose a few indeterminate vines for a long season of fresh eating, and a bed full of determinates for canning and processing? Might be a possiblity.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Autumn's Wild Ride

The picture above is an Anais Noir tomato.

Is it just me, or is there a flurry of activity everywhere? Maybe it's just the vibe here in California. But it seems that everything is stacking up and needing attention right now, please!

Fall is the best time for Californians to put in perrenials. Then there's "crush" and the other harvests that happen now. Time to build compost piles, clean up gardens, put mulch down. Add the local and state fairs, garden center sales, plant sales, weddings, birthdays, etc. etc..... Just seems like it all piles up at once.

Every day this week there's been something planned for after work. Fortunately, the cold fog has kept the plants from wanting too much water. I'm getting tomatoes and they are piling up on the kitchen counters. I've processed a few quarts, one quart frozen, one quart used for moussaka, one in the fridge. It looks like I could get another two or three quarts this weekend. But I don't want to repeat my last mistake. I cleaned up the counter tomatoes, par-boiled them, put them through the Tomato Press, and then cooked the sauce. I was pleased with the end product & the counters were clear of tomatoes. I went down into the garden to pick some flowers and whatever veggies were available. Wouldn't you know it that I picked almost the same number of tomatoes that I had just processed? So I had to do it again! Pick first, process second (make mental note!).

And I don't have much room in the freezer. I finally purchased the pressure cooker to can the tomatoes (and large pile of apples Mr. C brought home). But I'm just waiting for it to arrive. Oh UPS, where are you? So my frenzied mind tries to calm itself by thinking in rhyme:

Lack of produce? I now will recant,
As tomatoes drop off of my plants.
Till my pressurized pot
Arrives to my spot
I'd sure like to can, but I can't.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Joke, dear.

The following letter from the family's solicitor is addressed to a member of the British aristocracy who has been spending much of the summer in his residence in the south of France leaving his wife in the United Kingdom to look after the ancestral home.

Dear Sir Royston,

I hope you are having a good time on your holiday. I say this with sincerity because I am afraid that I have some bad news for you, although there is good news too.

First the bad news. I am sorry to tell you that your favorite dog, Honey, is dead. The vet says that she died instantly and could have felt no pain. She was kicked in the head by your horse, Sherbert, though I'm sure that no blame can be attached to Sherbert, frightened as he was by the fire in the barn.

I'm afraid that Sherbert was in the barn along with your other horses when it burnt to the ground. The fire brigade had been called within a short time of the barn catching fire and would normally have been able to put the fire out. Had it had not been for the fact that the tender crashed into your Bentley in the lane. Your wife had taken it out for a spin with your brother. As it was, both the tender and your Bently were written off. No blame can be attached to your wife for the accident I'm sure.

The Bentley was stationary at the time and your wife was in the back seat of the car. She managed to escape death only due to the fact that your brother was lying on top of her at the time of the collision. The doctors say that given time she will regain her sight but that she will never walk again. She has also lost her memory and cannot even remember you. Your brother, unfortunately, was killed.

I should explain how the barn came to be on fire in the first place. You see a spark from the house blew over and set the roof alight. The fire started in the main hall of the house where, as you know, your Mattisse and your Picasso once hung. I say 'once' because they are not there now. Fortunately neither of these paintings were damaged in the conflagration as they were stolen beforehand by the burglar who started the fire.

Although all of this may seem to you very serious it is not in fact the bad news that I wrote of. Your wife and brother had been visiting your Insurance agent in prison where he is serving a three year sentence for fraud. I'm afraid that none of your insurance policies are valid.

As I said, there is some good news. The heat from the fire warmed your greenhouse and brought your tomatoes on.

From my dear husband, who knows what makes me laugh.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Garden or Garden Blog?

Well, over the Labor Day weekend, gardening won out over blogging. I'm still putting mulch down in an attempt to get ahead of the winter weeds. It's a long process, but everything is looking tidy and kept. I may even take a LS (long shot) of the garden. I will confess, my pictures are always CU (close up) because I would no more take an LS of the garden than I would open my sock drawer and take a picture to be posted on the web. But I may change that soon (shot of the garden, not the sock drawer).

The picture is the tomato monster on the 1st of September. It's looking a bit bedraggled now. But tomatoes are holding and growing, so I can't complain. The yield is under normal par. Sorry Angela, I can't put the calculator down.....

I'm also looking forward to when I can tear out the tomato plants. I had hoped to make this area a permanent perennial bed. I'm sketching out where the plants are going to go and I'm taking inventory of all the plants that are in containers waiting to be set "free". Just having dahlias growing and blooming for bouquets in the house has been really satisfying. I can't wait to have more flowers to choose from. And there are plenty of hummingbird plants that will go in too.