The tomatoes did not disappoint this year, but neither did anything else. What a phenomenal year at my garden! I can honestly say that I am as happily overwhelmed as I’ll ever be…with tomatoes frozen, tomatoes sauced, tomatoes canned, and more coming!
The beans are done, but I am harvesting the seeds for next year. These are Black Valentine, with the Ukrainian Comrades still on the garden. Shelling dried beans reminded me of the caragana bushes spitting seeds in my face…not an unpleasant memory.
The beans were some of the best I’ve ever had; tasty, tender and great producers. (And I was secretly pleased with the nod to my Ukrainian ancestors!)
Today, my day off was as gorgeous as I could have asked for…three hours at the garden got the tomato plants mostly cleared off. Of the twenty-four I put in, there were a few that struggled with the competition from the spruce trees (in close proximity), but the San Marzano is still in production. The kale is starting to enjoy the cooler temperatures, so I’ll be chopping and freezing for soup in the next week, and letting it go again. The green cabbage is off, the red cabbage still waiting for me…the beets are roasted, shredded, made into borscht (and frozen), and still to be made into beet pickles. Tomorrow.
Altogether, on the garden there was: beets, carrots, beans, peas, pickling cucumbers, English cucumbers, tomatoes, kale, horseradish, cantaloupe, watermelon, zucchini, sweet potatoes, potatoes, honey nut and butternut squash, green and red cabbage. There is also some volunteer parsnip and more dill. And the weather was very, very good.
I even made some cantaloupe jam.
I am really very proud of myself for mostly keeping up with what was ready at the garden in the moment. (Sorry beans, for only making soup once…but I did freeze zucchini soup, and shredded zucchini…) so it was very funny for me to be confronted by a passer-by at the garden (since it is a community garden it is situated beside a bike path, and my garden is the first one) who told me how dismayed she was at the waste that had happened at my garden. Terrible, all those wasted tomatoes on the ground, and how irresponsible of me to let everything go to waste so badly. Because, you know, imperfect tomatoes can still be made into sauce, and it’s not right that I let sooooo many spoil on the ground.
Of course, how was she to know that the mice had gotten some of them, or that others had succumbed to blossom end rot. That I was still taking the cracked ones, and blanching them, and saucing and freezing them…using every good and marginal one that I could, because the torrential rains that had happened (although great for the squash and the carrots) was not so great for the tomatoes, had as well made the garden impassable for days after…
And as you know (but she doesn’t) that I am working full time on top of managing the garden and oh…life…but what a shame, shame on me, for such a waste. All I told her (do you want to know what I wanted to tell her!!!!) was that the garden had been very good this year, yes, I had done lots of preserving, and every year was different.
I’ve been at that garden plot for probably over nine years now, and I’ve had great years and terrible years. I’ve had years where life really took over all my free time, and this year, I had some great help from my mom and my girl at a “weed imperative” time. Those thing can make or break, sometimes, and Chadd coming with the grass-killer for the perimeter was a huge bonus, too.
And when my lovely next-door-gardener, Mr. Jean, showed up, I told him about the awful visitor, and he promptly gave me 40 pounds of potatoes from his garden. And I gave him a cantaloupe in return.