Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Got to Get Back to the Garden

Who knows how many times I’ve used that title. Lyrics from the song Woodstock you know. And here I have, passed my blogoversary and not noted it. Three years. Who’d a thunk it?

It has been so hot and hard to get any real work done. We’ve even been trying to eat top of the stove stuff. Pasta. Steamed potatoes. Pressured beans. And uncooked stuff. Slaw. Cukes and summer squash. Melons.

We finally made it to the garden en famile yesterday to water stuff and pick some. It is not only hot but very dry right now. We had one dry period, then nice nice rains in July, and now dry as toast again. Our biggest failure has been beans. They’ve mostly been eaten by deer and now the ones that were nice in the corn are very dry. But we have terrific potatoes and look to have plenty of hard corn.

tomatoes to dry
Originally uploaded by Contrary Goddess.

Yesterday we gathered some of the eye-talian paste tomatoes (I can’t remember which variety but jeez, they are prolific, HUGE, and don’t seem very affected by the drought). Cut in half, they are in the dehydrator. Most of the other tomatoes have been adversely affected by the drought. The okra has just started and I added some of that to the dehydrator too. And sweet corn. We’ve eaten quite a bit of corn on the cob which is one of those veggies that is just different when you put the water on to boil and then go pick it so fresh. And we’ve got more coming on and have just planted the last patch. But always some gets a little too mature, or is missing kernels from incomplete fertilization, or whatever, and that, dried, makes a terrific addition to winter soup. That’s also what the okra is for, winter soup. And most of the dried tomatoes too. If we can get enough coming at one time, we’ll pickle some okra as that is fantastic. We’ve got tomatillos and habaneros so it looks like salsa verde. Most of the peppers are coming now too, sweet and hot. The old cukes (two patches) have all died now but more are planted. But the melons are fantastic right now. Even if yesterday it was the dog who gathered them. She doesn’t go to the garden with husband, only with me, and I kept finding her with melons. They were all ripe. Evidently she is a Melon Shepherd.

sweet corn to parch
Originally uploaded by Contrary Goddess.

Yesterday I also broke down and baked some bread, the heat notwithstanding. Since the oven was going to be on, I looked around to see what else we could bake. I was also making butter and buttermilk and ice cream and cheese and sour cream and yogurt and was just a tiny bit pushed so I ruled out biscuits or pies as too labor intensive for me to handle. So, seeing that I had plenty of butter, I asked daughter to make cookies! What a treat! Soon the grapes will be ripe and we’ll go into another jam making fit. And I am amazed at how it isn’t much at a time sometimes and yet a whole accumulation that puts food by. And I am struck at what a universal constant that “not much at a time” thing is. I think it is sort of the turtle thing in the story of the turtle and the hare.

As I post this there is a thunderstorm. Hooray. We need a hurricane.


Alecto said...

Those tomatoes look like roma plum tomatoes but I can't be sure without seeing them whole or next to something. I haven't made tomato paste yet but I use these for marinara and just let it stay loose. I think if I cooked it down for five or six hours I might get to paste anyway although I read that it really wants to dehydrate.

CG said...

they look like romas but there are a bazillion types of romas out there. This one was especially for drying, is supposed to be determinate, and is HUGE.

I do paste sometimes with very late tomatoes when we have the wood stove going and I just take the tomatoes and obliterate them in the VitaMix and then cook them down until they are, for all practical purposes, solid, then can.

Alecto said...

In that case, I think I do make tomato paste now and then!

Cielo Singer said...

You're not kidding about needing a hurricane. The ocean temps here south of Wilmington NC are in the upper 80s; feels like the 94-degree therapy pool back home. There's plenty of heat energy in the ocean that could really feed a hurricane.

justrose said...

i love your blog. still and always. it's the place where i learned meat doesn't come from a tray and people actually grow stuff. every time my neighbors pick their cabbage off the lawn the rest of us use for dandelion and crabgrass experiments, i remember you saying something like, "it's about time someone planted some FOOD there." indeed.

i'm sorry i haven't been here in 500 years. i know i'm a horrible blog visitor. but i was thinking of you as i always do.

love ya cg. hope you're well.


arcolaura said...

not much at a time - yes, I think that is one of the true lessons I have picked up from you (and from Eleutheros) but I have not really learned it yet. My excuse this year is that I am building - building, building, building all at once, too much at a time, but how else do you do that up here where summer is short and winter is sooo cold?

I still managed my best garden yet, except a garden is only as good as its harvesting, and I am not very good at the little by little thing yet. We will have lots and lots of the things you can do all at once by just bringing them indoors: potatoes and squash and carrots and hopefully turnips (hiding under the row cover yet). This evening, by feel and moonlight, we picked two garbage bags full of Swiss chard for Garth's mom to use with her big crop of cucumbers to make relish. I was feeling bad about growing chard again and not using any of it, but it worked out okay after all.

CG said...

Oh, we have wasted more of what we've grown so many years. There are some tricks. Always eat it now. Never be saving. And just because you can't get it all, don't not get any of it. Eat a mess of chard. The other day I had three okra's ready. I took them and dried them with the tomatoes, again for soup in the winter. It isn't enough to make a difference and so the tendency is to not do it, but the thing is, it does make a difference.

Building is hard. I remember how many peanut butter sandwiches my kids had to fix for themselves the year we pushed to get in this house.

~Fathairybastard~ said...


Joe Tornatore said...

the tomatoes taste wonderful this year.

CG said...

we finally had ripe san marzanos with supper yesterday. And I've got another bunch of the eye-talians to dry, and more okra, and some peppers that I think I'm going to roast then dry.

And we finally got enough green beans for a mess. Which is really sad because I should have had bunches canned and dried. There is still a chance for them though.