about to lose control of our garden.
is actually not a surprise. Happens pretty much every year. Terry
and I figure out what we want to plant in our garden, get some
visuals in our heads, which in turn becomes a conversation about
how to merge her visual with mine. Ultimately, we arrive at a
plan we are both excited about (and also know we aren’t going
twist is, as many of you can probably understand, we don’t stray
too far from our thoughts. But when you are actually standing
in the garden, plants ready to be arranged and set in place, adjustments
get made to even the most specific and details of diagrams.
us, the usual difficulty begins because we get impulsive with
our shopping. This leads to bringing home more plants than we
intended to have.
head out expecting to pick up four green pepper plants. We spot
an assortment of options when we get to the peppers and end up
with four green, two jalapeno, two banana, and the occasional
cherry. Nine plants tend to take up just a bit more room than
four, sending any and all diagrams to the recycling bin. (A side
note to this idea is that often plants are sold in trays. You
only want one or two jalapeno plants, but end up buying six.)
year we spun out of control based on tomatillo plants we purchased.
We had absolutely no clue how to use tomatillos when we bought
them. But we are always looking to experiment with something new,
had heard about them previously, and once we spotted some we decided
to give them a try. The added bonus was that they came in a tray
of four plants. Four. We had left the house with no tomatillo
plants in our garden vision for the year. Came home with four.
year’s big surprise was butternut squash. Who knew the massively
long vines these plants send out? I know… several of you did.
We didn’t. Or, more specifically, we weren’t expecting it. So,
there we were, a few weeks in, with butternut squash vines mixing
in with the cucumber vines, approaching the tomato plants, climbing
up into some of the raised beds, and just generally preparing
invasions on a ton of space while needing a lot of attention to
keep them somewhat controlled.
year the issue seems to be a real treat. One we normally have
under control. Drum roll please… tomatoes!
blame last year’s garden for this year’s head scratching, but
first we need to discuss cheese and other assorted recipes.
you ever seen those recipes where things seem wildly out of whack?
For instance, that it takes four hundred thirty-seven pounds of
milk to produce one pound of cheese.
sure… you got me. It doesn’t take four hundred thirty-seven pounds
of milk to produce one pound in any cheese recipe. I was exaggerating.
But the realities of different cheese recipes are honestly just
as shocking. Depending on the type of milk used (say, cow or goat)
and the type of cheese being made, it certainly isn’t uncommon
to need six to ten pounds of milk to realize one pound of cheese.
last year, in the middle of the summer it became apparent that
the normal schedule of gardening was settling in. Basically, that
means waiting and waiting and waiting and getting sick of cucumbers
and waiting and everything ready to pick on the same day.
hadn’t been planning to make tomato sauce. We hadn’t selected
any of our tomato plants with a thought of sauce. Sandwiches,
yes. Salads, sure. Maybe even salsa. Not sauce though. But I had
always wanted to make sauce from scratch. And here were all of
these tomatoes ready to go… colanders and colanders and colanders
of fresh tomatoes… and we weren’t going to be able to eat them
or give them all away.
has now shown me that you can indeed make tomato sauce from any
tomatoes. In fact, you can make an absolutely delicious sauce…
and, modesty aside, I do mean a really great sauce… even when
you gather a large percentage of your tomatoes from the cherry
and grape tomato plants in your garden. (The secret, I’ve found,
is two-fold: (1) Low and really slow must be your cooking theme.
(2) A willingness to first take some of the tomatoes and invest
the time in making your own fresh tomato paste for use in the
really amazing part of the process, however, is how many tomatoes
it takes to produce even a relatively small amount of sauce. (And,
when you are using tomatoes that weren’t intended for sauce… yeah…
you’re going to be stunned by the difference between
what you started with and what you produced in the end.)
been setting up our garden for this year. Rototilling and prepping
the soil. Cleaning out raised beds and setting up the fencing.
And as Terry and I purchased some plants and seeds, our thoughts
turned for just a second to tomatoes.
main uses fall into three categories. First – small – adding to
a salad. Second – more often – great BLTs and club sandwiches
with fresh lettuce and tomato. Third – largest batch – passed
out to friends and family.
always end up with far more tomatoes that we can ever use. (Please
don’t write to me with suggestions of sharing with neighbors or
ways of prepping vegetables to freeze for later use. I appreciate
the thoughts. I really do. We already have basket exchange programs
of sorts set up with our neighbors though, and our freezer is
packed with bags of vegetables still remaining from last year’s
harvest.) My running joke for each garden is that we could place
no tomatoes and somehow seeds remaining from last year will take
hold and provide us with plants that overtake a section.
year, as we considered the three or four types to use for tomatoes,
my mind began to wander down the path of sauce. Should we search
out a Roma? Hunt for San Marzano? And, as expressed earlier with
pepper plants, suddenly the ship was leaving the dock and heading
for the storm…
were going to cut back this year. Butternut squash was awesome
and fun, but took up too much room. We didn’t need three styles
of peppers sourced from ten plants. The beets were great, but
the carrots not so much. Cut the butternut. Cut the banana. Cut
about ready to get the garden rolling this year. Preparations
have been made. Plants and seeds are ready to bring outside. But
there’s a real chance that if I head to the store just one more
anyone need any tomatoes?