Tomato Love

dirt on my face, friends, friendship, garden, gardening tips, photography

My garden is a sad sight right now, and looking through these gorgeous, green pictures has me really missing summer.

IMG_2116 2

At the beginning of this gardening adventure, I took us through the six varieties of tomatoes that Sister and I planted in our garden. They were: grapettes, yellow pear tomatoes, the mortgage lifter, brandywine, beefsteak and Ruth’s Perfect variety.

IMG_1199

LOOK AT THE BABY TOMATO PLANTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Brandywine was our absolute favorite. It was basically everything a tomato should be: firm, tart, sweet, tomatoey. We bought that and our other favorite (the grapette) at the Country Caretaker in Canaan, NY. I tried to take note of where we bought different plants to see if there was any kind of longterm trend about their health and productivity. We started the tomatoes with a handful of worm castings and some Neptune Fish Emulsion oil. It stank, but maybe helped?

IMG_3510

Our yellow pear variety completely took over a whole corner of the garden. We ended up using five or six stakes to hold it up and it sprawled all over everything, which was unfortunate because it just wasn’t that good.

IMG_3528

The yellow pears were beautiful, but quite pithy and relatively flavorless. I’m not sure why, but am open to any suggestions about why that would happen so I can avoid it in the future.

IMG_2620 2

The beefsteaks were yummy but never got to the really massive size I expected of beefsteaks and it didn’t produce very much, either. In fact, when we needed a great big slicing tomato, we usually went to a local farm stand to get one. Garden Goal for next year is to find some really good, juicy slicing tomatoes that produce consistently throughout the summer. Of course, I was a little late getting the plants in this year, but we still should have had more of a yield.

IMG_2296 2

The grapettes performed spectacularly, however. In fact, they rarely made it back into the house. SO tart, juicy, and with just the right amount of bite to them. The plant stayed pretty small (probably because it was seriously overshadowed by the yellow pear vines) but still produced gorgeous little red grape-sized bunches of tomatoes. My mouth is watering…I miss them…and summer…and heat…

IMG_2691 2

If I’ve discovered something about gardening though, it is that it is about far more than food production. There is so much that goes into the whole endeavor. Research, preparation, and care. I loved to watch things go from little baby plants full of so much promise and potential; I liked to find out what was harming the plants and then do battle with the disease or insects; I liked to watch them ripen into the exact thing they were meant to be.

IMG_3301

I love the sensations of gardening. The heat, the dirt, the connection to the earth and the food. The velvety feel of the tomato leaves. The smell of them when crushed between thumb and forefinger. The horror of the wasp-infested tomato hornworm.

IMG_2692 2

And, more than anything else in the garden, I enjoyed eating the tomatoes. Here is my favorite way to eat them (if they make it into the house). Chop up cucumbers, tomatoes, and bell pepper and sprinkle with crumbled, soft feta cheese. It is the best and simplest salad, and I could eat it every single day (and sometimes I DO!).

IMG_2636 2

I’m excited to start seeds in a few months, it’ll be my first time starting them myself and I know it will entail a lot of research and notes and hope and I am looking forward to the whole process. Let me know what you think about the first little tomato patch I ever grew and if you have any tips about starting seeds or growing healthier, more productive tomato plants feel free to share them in the comments!

I think I can confidently say that this is the year I became a gardener. It is going to be an activity and a joy that stays with me throughout my life, I am quite sure, and I’m thankful for the friends and family and the plot of land and the seeds, advice, and tools that made it possible.

Also that the groundhogs stayed away. It was a miracle.

Kale, Kale, Kale, Kale. Kale, Kale, Kale, Kale. Kale, Kale, Kale, Kale, Kale Kale Kale Kale.

dirt on my face, garden, gardening tips, recipes

I wrote all those ‘kales’ to a song in my head. CAN YOU HEAR IT?

IMG_3508

 

So. Kale. It is a miracle plant. It produces, and produces, and produces. It is a produce producer. Get it? Because it is produce?

Yeah, yeah, forgive me…I’m tired guys. As I write this I am struggling through some epic Whole30 cravings and I don’t WANT ANY MORE KALE EVEN THOUGH IT IS GOOD FOR ME I WANT A BOWL OF CEREAL AND SOME ICE CREAM AND SOME PIE.

Last night before I went to sleep I found myself watching short videos on the Food Network because GLUTEN-Y FOOD!

I miss gluten.

And dairy.

And sugar.

And carbs.

BUT ENOUGH ABOUT ME, LET’S GET TO THE KALE.

IMG_1548

Kale has been a workhorse in our house this summer, and Sister and I have thoroughly enjoyed going out to the garden and snipping off leaves and filling literally bags and bags with our haul.

Yes, Claire, I know, I know. YOU’RE the one who goes out and harvests it. In a future post I should discuss how I love to dig, plant, weed, grow, and photograph the plants…but for some reason I lose interest right around the time they’re ready to be eaten? Hmm.

IMG_2701 2This is our favorite recipe, which is loosely based on one over at Epicurious, but is also different because it has evolved over time and also because of our laziness. Now, I don’t like things with sausage with few exceptions: one being my mom’s spaghetti sauce (HI MOM) and another being THIS RECIPE SO MAKE IT, OK?

  • Boil water. Add pasta to water. Preferably shells or something that can hold onto the sausagey/kaley/cheesey yumminess coming your way.
  • Buy Italian Sausage–remove from casings, break it up, and brown it in a pan
  • Add a little bit of chicken broth to that pan.
  • Chop up the kale FINELY (or else it gets too clumpy later); add it to the browning sausage.
  • Drain the pasta, setting aside some of the starchy pasta water.
  • When everything is cooked, stir it all together and then add more grated parmesan cheese than you think you could possibly need (I miss cheese), and then ADD MORE.
  • Add some of that starchy pasta water and stir over high heat for like…a minute…

It should be saucy, delicious, fragrant, kale-y, cheese-y, and mmmmmmmm the best meal of summer. We have made it at least once a week!

IMG_2700 2

AND FINALLY: there have been a lot of capital letters in this post and, frankly, you can and SHOULD read it as if I am yelling at you. Know why? No carbs or sugar have entered my body in a few days and I’m currently at the place where I’m kind of internally rage-y about that. Whole30 for the win!!

IMG_2702 2

Now, MAKE THIS RECIPE AND EAT IT AND LET ME KNOW HOW IT GOES.

🙂

IMG_3506

PS: the video below is of a caterpillar on a kale leaf, don’t say I didn’t warn you

 

Root Vegetables: Beets, Turnips, Carrots

dirt on my face, family, garden, gardening tips

IMG_3239

Am I the only one that pronounces veg-ed-i-buls in my head every time I write it?

No?

Oh, wait, yes?

Oh, you did say no. Okay.

MOVING RIGHT ALONG

IMG_3237

IMG_3240After the Zucchini Disaster of 2017 I decided to plant BEETS. They grew rapidly, and I hardly had time to take a picture before it was time to yank them out of the ground, let them sit for a while on the porch (because, again, I’m more willing in growing things than actuallyIMG_3268harvesting and eating them), let them sit out there a little longer, listen to my family nag me to go get the beets off of the porch and do something with them Alex, for crying out loud!, and then take them inside, peel them, roast them, cube them, cover them in feta cheese and asqueeze of orange juice (TRY IT! SO GOOD! WHOLE30 MEANS I MISS FETA CHEESE SO MUCH! FETA EMOJI IF THERE IS ONE, AND IF THERE ISN’T ONE THERE SHOULD BE!) eat them and then a few weeks later write a blog post about it and NOW YOU’RE HERE!

(Hmm. I feel like I might have covered everything in that sentence. I hope I can think of more things to add to this post. Oh wait, I never run out of things to say. ONWARD!)

IMG_3182

CARROTS

Brother T brought some heirloom seeds from Baker Creek. In fact, they were these seeds: the Cosmic Purple Carrot. They grew and they grew and they grew…one thing I have grown to appreciate about root veggies is that they are willing to wait for you to be ready for them. Lots of veggies are READY WHEN THEY’RE READY (tomatoes, squash, beans etc.), but the root veggies can hang around a little while until you’re ready to use them. These were a big success and we even boxed up a few and mailed them out to Brother T and Sister KT in Portland so they could experience the sweet purple and yellow carrots for themselves.

IMG_2584

Stole this photo from Sister’s phone.

Turnips, turnips, turnips.

I love turnips, but these didn’t go as well as I hoped.

IMG_2689 2

I planted the turnip seeds between rows of potatoes, then transplanted them because the potatoes took up way more room than I thought they would, they actually survived the transplant and they THRIVED* but then I didn’t realize it was time to pluck them out of the ground and they got too big and kind of bitter and sort of woody. According to Uncle Gee they would taste better if they grew in colder weather. According to my Mom they would taste better if we bought them at the store, peeled them, boiled them, smothered them in butter and salt and pepper.

According to my dad they would taste better if they didn’t exist.

IMG_2688 2

That being said, I will never cease to be amazed that I can put a tiny seed in the ground and it will grow into exactly what it is supposed to be, if given enough time and the right circumstances. It is truly a miracle.

IMG_2105 2

I also thought this would be a good time to display one of the only Zucchinis that survived the Zucchini Disaster of 2017 as well as the ONLY CUCUMBER I GOT BEFORE THE BUGS RUINED MY CHANCES OF CUCUMBER HAPPINESS!!!

IMG_2098 2

I will have to make a separate post for the potatoes but (spoiler) they were good. I also have a few posts languishing in the drafts folder about tomatoes, peppers, furniture refinishing, art, raspberries, more photos of riding horses, July 4 (I know.), climbing a mountain, climbing a different mountain, kale, flowers, waterfalls, Norman Rockwell, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., the county fair, peaches, and MISCELLANEOUS.

Huh. I’d better get busy.

 

*throve?