12 August 2013
The August garden
Gardening in California is a little surreal when you compare it to anywhere else. This is especially the case when you're gardening in a bed that lay fallow & covered with compost for who knows how many years before we moved into the house. This is the third year I've gardened here, and the results are still this crazy.
The top fence is eight feet tall. Yes, that does mean those tomato plants are ten feet tall.
Garden contents are as follows:
- 1 Caspian Pink tomato plant (main left body)
- 1 Boxcar Willie tomato plant (main right body)
- 1 jalapeno pepper plant (middle)
- 2 basil plants (left front)
- 3 scallions that have been in the ground for over a year at this point (middle front)
- 2 volunteer tomato plants from those that fell to the ground last year: Cherokee Purple and Sungold Cherry (indistinguishable from the rest of the tomato vines)
- 1 volunteer potato vine (invisible in the back left corner)
This is the first year the squirrels have realized our tomatoes are edible, so occasionally I go out to water the plants and find THIS. I've started heading them off by picking not-quite-ripe fruit and finishing the ripening on my kitchen windowsill.
They definitely won't touch the jalapenos, though. These guys have been ultra productive and delicious: super spicy and shiny and firm and perfect.
It's the best thing ever to go break off a jalapeno on a weekend morning to make a batch of migas. OH MAN.
The basil has been bolting practically since I put it in the ground, which isn't such a surprise when you consider that June was the hottest month of our summer. I've been pinching off blossoms for two full months, but now I'm starting to just let it go. Hey, why not get this corner of the bed self-seeded with fresh basil while also attracting pollinators? That sounds pretty good to me.
In the meantime, I've definitely been harvesting big handfuls of basil, chopping them up, and tossing them with homegrown tomato.
Of the two intentional tomatoes, I like Caspian Pink by far the best. It's a shade-tolerant heirloom pink medium-to-large beefsteak, and the flavor is just amazing: sweet and floral and fragrant. Boxcar Willie is good too, but it's a lot more ordinary-looking. If you picture the typical tomato, you'll get a Boxcar Willie: also an heirloom, but medium, round, and orangey-red. I like to cook with Boxcar Willie and eat Caspian Pink raw. The split works pretty well, but I think I may want to go for a serious paste Roma for cooking next year.
The volunteer tomatoes haven't yet produced any ripe fruit, but I'm not too concerned there. The Sungolds pretty much took over the yard last year, so it's good that they're getting dominated by bigger plants this time around. And Purple Cherokee is close enough to Caspian Pink in size and taste that I'll be fine if I only get a few late-season fruits there.
In the meantime, I get to go foraging for ripe and near-ripe heirlooms nearly every day. The plants are huge and viney, so the greens look dominant from afar, but if you explore you will find big clusters like this:
Do you have a garden? How's your harvest coming so far?