Tomatoes are one of those wonderful things that life brings us in season. For me, they are only good if they come from a local source because tomatoes grown far away are picked green and then shipped cold to their destinations. Both of those actions means that the person buying the tomato is likely in for a mealy fleshed, tasteless eating experience that rightly puts most people off of eating anything so terrible. Is it any wonder kids dislike vegetables so much? Even when tomatoes are “vine-ripened” and then shipped they taste nothing like one grown and picked just prior to full ripeness. Growing my own tomatoes is very rewarding because I find that the plants smell wonderful while growing and the tomatoes themselves taste amazing whether eaten plain or with a little salt and pepper, on a sandwich, in a salad or made into sauce. I always know what goes into the veggies I grow too and I can plant multiple varieties to better enjoy the broad range of tastes that different varieties have while also increasing biodiversity. This morning I found five ripening tomatoes on one plant much to my surprise and joy. It seemed like they would never get ripe. There are dozens more that are green and still lots of flowers meaning even more are on the way! I’m probably going to have to do a happy tomato dance at some point to celebrate our good fortune.
The garden is starting to produce quite a bit now with carrots, kale, collards, cucumbers, beans, and flowers all being harvested regularly. This summer has been slightly cooler than I expected which I think has helped some. The recent rainfall too has been of real benefit too. I also helped things along by thinning out most of the radishes that had gone to seed and had started to get tangled up with things while my foot healed. They were choking out my squash plants and making it too humid between them resulting in a fungal/mildew infestation. In highly humid areas it is helpful to plant things with a bit more space between them than I did early in the season. This allows light and air in which retards or prohibits powdery mildew or other fungal problems. I had to remove a few squash plants as a result of the mildew and the rot that set into the stem. Now there is more light getting to the remaining squash plants and I found some little yellow squashes starting to emerge this morning. They will doubtless all come in at once now that I gave them a shot of organic 0-4-4 fertilizer this morning to help them set fruit.
Last night I made a potato-kale soup with spuds and greens grown in the garden. I love making meals with food I grow. There is a peace of mind and immense satisfaction I get from knowing it came from my gardens, not to mention the sheer joy I feel when I am in the garden “working”. Each new sprout, flower, herb, veggie, or fruit that shows itself brings its own excitement, joy, a sense of wonder and contentment that is hard to beat for me with any other activity. With the right techniques and equipment, gardens can be grown year round even in cold climates like New England (see Elliot Coleman’s books on the subject). I’m hoping to design some cold frames to extend my season here in Connecticut this winter. After all, we have to eat in the wintertime and summer shouldn’t have all the fun.