Before the Storm

I know. It’s only been two days and I’m already back. There’s just so much happening in the garden (and kitchen) right now and lots to share. My neck isn’t hurting too much today. The trick seems to be more exercise, time spent outdoors, and a lot less time on the computer.

The forecast was calling for thunderstorms, so I spent the morning in the garden harvesting produce, particularly ripe tomatoes. Some varieties are prone to cracking when ripe, especially after a strong rainfall so I wanted to be sure to get them off of the vines before the storm hit.

I have also been neglectful about pruning and staking these past weeks and there were a few plants that had grown into multi-branched monsters. With their fruit growing heavier by the day, it was essential to stake the tangled mess to avoid breakage in case of strong rain and winds. While I was at it, I pruned out excess foliage to ensure good air flow all around the plants. I want to keep my plants happy and producing ripe fruit right through to the first frost.

To make things more informative, I have uploaded the photo (above) of tomatoes to my Flickr stream and have added notes indicating which varieties are which. There are a few more in this batch than there was in the August 13 photo. There are still a number of varieties that haven’t even put out their first ripe fruit — many of which I have never grown nor tasted before. The fun never stops. Fortunately, I have got my taste for tomatoes back.

Some more of today’s harvest is depicted here. ‘Spanish Padron’ peppers (harvest them small. They get hotter as they grow), pole beans (‘Annelino Giallo’ (my first year growing this variety) and ‘Trionfo Violetto’), purslane (I let this weed grow and harvest the leaves for salads), Swiss chard and assorted herbs for my lunch. What is not shown is the giant amaranth I harvested to make West Indian callaloo soup, and an armload of mint that came off of plants that needed a good end-of-summer haircut.

I have a lot of canning and preserving work ahead of me these next days. A first batch of slow dried tomatoes have just come out of the oven (I regret using the ‘Green Grape’ variety. They are delicious fresh, but unpleasant when dried. Fortunately, ‘Maglia Rosa’ and ‘Haley’s Purple Comet’ are nice.), another batch has gone in for sauce, and I’ve just finished washing the excess amaranth leaves in preparation for freezing.

What about you? Are your tomatoes producing yet? Are you drowning in the summer’s bounty?

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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13 thoughts on “Before the Storm

  1. Don’t know if you have one, but I got a foam roller and it’s done WONDERS in relieving tension that builds up in my upper back that affects my neck. Also a little yoga and using a standing desk when i’m on the computer has helped too. But the foam roller is godsend :)

  2. My tomatoes have been crazy this year. They are making me a little crazy. My household blog has become a tomato fest, and I did a series of heirloom tomato portraits.

    I’m like the vegetable version of Grey Gardens.

  3. What a wonderful collection of vegetables! After a late start we are in full harvest mode now. My favorite harvest so far have been the melons. Normally a few melons might show up on a plant, but this year there are a dozen at least on each plant. “Green Nutmeg’ is an heirloom from 1800′s with green flesh. Delicious!

  4. I’m doing the cobra pose to help my neck & back these days (and using the computer standing too) – glad to see you’ve gotten your taste back for tomatoes – you’re harvesting some real stunners! The lightening storm is just amazing. Dang I didn’t realize it might wreck havoc on the tomatoes – such common sense – I need to get some of that.

  5. your tomatoes look incredible! I love the variety. My tomatoes are still taking their time to ripen. I’m a bit of a spring procrastinator so my tomatoes are usually very late. But, the Isle of Wight has lots of good local tom growers, so it’s not all bad news!
    I can relate to the shoulder pain. Condolences! Digging the allotment doesn’t help mine, but some things gotta be done!

  6. I’m drowning in peas and cabbage since I am wrapping up my winter/early spring crops now that it’s getting warm :-) I’m not going to go too full on with the summer crops this year since we are leaving Sydney in December to come back to the states. My tomatoes that soldiered thru the winter are really pumping out the tomatoes now. :-) It’s time to start saving my suckers and rooting them rather than giving them to the worms!

  7. Here in FL I just planted out some of my tomato seedlings but the real planting season starts next month, I do have a lot of baby plants started.. watermelon, honeydew, sugar pie pumpkin, spaghetti squash, butternut squash, 2 types of pole beans and cow peas, my okra is still producing but I can’t wait to get everything going =: )
    Wish me a bountiful harvest like yours!!!!

  8. Just a few handfuls of orange cherry tomatoes so far. We’re always later here (Saint John) but I think even later this year due to the rainy spring we had and we haven’t had a lot of sun over the summer either. :(

  9. Like Jenny, I have a foam roller – it works marvellously: a little rolling every day takes the pain out of the tense area. As for tomatoes … hmph. We’re doing marvellously for peppers (corno di toro, padron and gourmet) and spinach and the sweetcorn is nearly ready and the courgettes are totally glutting and the pears are ripe and … we have four tomatoes so far: one beef, two orange heart and one moneymaker. That’s four fruit, not four plants – it’s just not our year for tomatoes, I guess!

  10. what is this miraculous foam roller? All I can think of if a paint roller. I have a lot on tension & pain in my neck & shoulders, yoga does help a lot, sometimes tears start flowing near the end of a session, from tension releasing?

  11. I got a late start on putting my tomatoes out and then again a really late start staking them, so needless to say, they are all way behind. The only fruits I’ve gotten thus far are: handful of Sungold, 2 yellow pear, 2 black cherry, 2 Amish Paste, and 1 San Marzano. This year should also be interesting since I can take a few of my container tomatoes into the greenhouse soon to extend the heat they’ll get for a few more weeks… we’ll see how that effects the harvest.

  12. Beautiful garden!
    I would love to hear more about your Amaranth and how you use it, I have been growing it here and harvested seeds but nothing else because I didn’t know what to do with it.

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