Friday, November 19, 2010

Tomato Season's End At Tinker's Paradise

It has arrived, the end of tomato season, of growing lush lettuces and cucumbers and other warm weather crops.  The summer here in Oregon was the coolest one on record and made even getting a ripe tomato a challenge.  Thankfully early fall was fairly warm and mild which brought some help though rain brought late blight to many before the tomatoes even ripened.  I'm sure this year will be the one we judge all other trying years by for years to come.
August tomatoes still very green
Not to be thwarted by our cool summer this year, I had my husband put a tent over the top of our plants.
Mr. Ben and the tent poles
 This was the year I determined to work hard to do my tomatoes right, pruning and watching the feeding and watering.  The weather was not going to ruin all that hard work!  Green tomatoes were not what I was looking for, so up went the tent about two months ago.
Got it up just before a very wet week...Whew!
Good thing we did it too as I was picking ripe tomatoes off the plants just last week and earlier this week finished picking the green and partially ripe ones that still remained as freezing weather was looming over the horizon.
I see green tomato chutney in our future

It is a bittersweet thing to pick the last green tomatoes off the plants.  It says we will have no more fresh tomatoes from our gardens once what is ripening on the windowsill is gone.  We will be forced to purchase those less than desirable grocery store varieties which pale in comparison to our lovely home grown toms.  I don't know of anyone who doesn't grumble some at the less than tasty store bought tomato we find ourselves forced to eat in the off season...especially come spring when we are so hungry for a fresh salsa or slice of tomato on a sandwich that actually has some flavor to it.  One thing that I am reminded of though is that any good thing is made better if we do not have it around all the time.  I think this is something we really need to be thankful for especially when it comes to the food we grow.  Seasonal eating becomes a delight as one season's flavors move to take the place of another and much less boring than if we had it our way all the time. .
Tomato plants in the heap that will feed the soil for next year
 As I pulled up the plants and placed them on our compost heap I found myself thankful for the effort I put into the production this year even if the weather brought a less than luxurious harvest.  It was an investment worth making if only for the things I learned.  I challenged myself to get over the fear of the unknown when it came to pruning, I paid attention to the needs of the plants and they rewarded me as best they could and that is all I can ask of them.  Next year I can go into the season with more confidence because I did challenge myself to learn more too.  That was a harvest worth reaping that tastes as good as any tomato ever could.

When you harvest the last of what you love in the garden remember all the lessons learned and the delight you received in the process and be thankful for this season if rest as it affords you time to lay in your garden plans for next year as you dream of future home grown tomatoes.

Copyright © 2010 by Patty Hicks

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