Friday, September 17, 2010

There's No Place Like Home

This is how State Fair, the massive Brandywine tomato, ended up--on toast with butter with coarse salt. I was too hungry to take many pictures before eating it so I apologize for the blurry photo...

After a week in Arizona, which to me seems as inhospitable as the moon, only much hotter and without that fun-looking low gravity, it is a relief to be back in cool, rainy Portland. The first thing I did upon getting back was to eat some good food at Pho Van. Then I ran around the garden seeing how things had developed while I was gone. Jenn and I picked four big Gold Rush squash and a bowlful of ripe tomatoes...and then picked twice as many tomatoes at Neighbor Dan's house. Of course, we had Alyssa's famous Zucchini-Tomato Gratin for dinner! The squash plants finally have powdery mildew so their season is just about over, but this summer I achieved my lifetime goal of growing more squash than I wanted...almost.

While I was away, the lettuces I planted a few weeks ago with typical despair ("it's already too late", "they'll never get big enough to eat before winter", "it's just a waste of seed because they're going to bolt right away if they don't just die in the heat") grew nice and big! Red mustard, mizuna, kale, carrots, radishes, and broccoli raab are also growing in a way that gives me hope. I was tempted to make a tiny salad last night, but I think they should grow just a little more before I start harvesting. Also typical--now I'm kicking myself for not succession planting lettuces every two weeks. I am transplanting some of these salad greens into the greenhouse where I hope they will grow all winter. Something to look forward to--homegrown salad in January!

A final story from the garden...Long Keeper tomatoes. I have just one plant of these and started harvesting them today. They never ripen on the vine, but when they reach full size you pick them and wrap them in paper and store them...and they ripen slowly over a period of many weeks. We grew these once before and had the last tomato ripen in January. That time we picked them too late though, after they had been out in the cold and lost some of their texture, and although they turned red, they were mealy. I'll let you know if we have better luck this year. Regardless of taste and texture, it's exciting to have a red, homegrown tomato in the middle of winter...but it would be even better if the tomato tasted good.

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