We shuffled all of the remaining houseplants inside last Friday just before the hard frost returned. And so began the arduous process of stuffing potted plants into windows and underneath lights in preparation for a long winter indoors.
This year I decided to go for an all succulent mix in my office window, which wasn’t difficult given how many I have. I haven’t counted, but my best guess is TOO MANY. I usually put most of the agave into this prime spot where I can see them at a glance from my desk chair all winter long. However, this year I decided to mix things up a bit and have instead situated my new collection of unusual opuntia within reach.
A few of my tender paddle cactus (opuntia).
Chances are good that a few of the smaller plants will end up in the basement should the windowsill get too cold and draughty come mid-winter. I also plan to move this year’s Offfice Tomato Experiment 2012/13 once it gets too cold in the unheated front porch “greenhouse.”
When I began this project, I set a parameter that allowed me to repeat a specific plant as long as a different stage in its development through the changing seasons was depicted. For example, I have included Columbine meadow rue (Thalictrum aquilegiifolium) twice: early in the season when it was in bloom and in August once the seeds had matured.
As the weeks pass with this project I have found it harder and harder to recall which plants and parts I have already photographed. When I get a chance I will sit down and put together a master list, but until then I find that each week, before I begin to assemble a box, I need to go through all of the images I have taken so far and re familiarize myself with what has and hasn’t been covered.
This system worked until the week of October 5, when I discovered that I had accidentally repeated ‘Vanilla Ice’ Sunflower, a plant that first appeared on September 21. Oh well, mistakes happen. At least I presented it differently the second time around.
Here we are again folks. It’s too many green tomatoes time!
Friends, I was smart and totally on top of my shit this year. I picked away at the harvest in manageable chunks rather than frantically hauling them all inside at once. But today, with the high winds and heavy rains of hurricane Sandy looming, I decided it was time to bring in as many as possible or risk loosing what remains. And so I trudged out there, dressed in boots and wind-resitant gear, basket and shears in hand, mere minutes before the weather turned nasty. I pulled in a boatload of the largest under-ripe fruit from what remained on the vines. Only the currants and a few small cherry varieties were left behind.
So far this season I’ve made:
- zucchini and green tomato relish
- green cherry tomatoes pickled in tarragon and lemon peel
- sweet peppery pickled tomatoes
- dill pickled green cherry tomatoes
- fried green tomatoes
- roasted green tomatoes
- 2 lbs of green tomatoes are sweating in bowls of salt as I write this. They will be made into 2 more types of pickle.
They arrive early in the spring along with the hellebore, and the crocus, and the few other earliest of the early flowers. They are a gift. They greet us silently and yet there is an audible gasp when their bobbing heads are spotted above the debris.
Oh thank god we’re gonna make it after all saint Mary Tyler Moore the worst is over.
The world is coming alive again. You can stop holding your breath now.
The quest to preserve what remains of the fall garden bounty continues at a fevered pitch. I used to complain that I didn’t have enough green tomatoes at the end of the season, and now… let’s just say, Be careful what you wish for.
One nice way to use up the last of the herbs is to make herb-infused salts. I’ve written glowingly about them in my books — they’re use in the kitchen is endless. We use them as rubs, to flavour roasted veggies and potatoes, to season eggs, as an aromatic baked salmon crust, and as a finish on just about everything.
Sage and rosemary are common culinary companions, but I didn’t think to make a salt of it until I came across jars in a local Italian greengrocer. I initially thought that the strong, resinous herbs would limit the salt’s potential, but we keep a jar of it next to the other salts and I have found myself turning to it far more often than I imagined.
I taught a group how to prepare this particular mix in my Banking the Bounty workshop last month and recently made up a huge batch at home to give to friends as holiday gifts. I’ve provided instructions for a small batch, but it is easily multiplied.
p.s. You’ll love the way your kitchen smells as you make this.