Tag Archives: Late Blight

Nasturtiums

15 Sep

The nasturtiums that I had inter-planted with the tomatoes in an effort to keep pests at bay have completely covered the scars of pulling up those sad tomatoes.

And I couldn’t be happier about it.  They’re so cheery and colorful, and I love the way their waxy leaves trap drops of water which then roll around when the wind blows.  And the smell! Oh the smell! I never noticed what a beautiful perfume nasturtiums had.

And they taste good too, the buds, lightly pickled are like spicy capers, and the leaves add such wonderful flavor to salads.  True, they’ll never replace tomatoes in my book, but I think I’d like to always have a giant bed of nasturtiums in my life.

Bounty

20 Aug

So, it turns out that I can grow tomatoes after all.

Just very, very slowly and one at a time. I’m a deliberate ‘mater farmer, obviously!  Little Roaslita has some amigas, but the plant has a touch of something. I’m just hoping that now that the weather is so hot and dry that she can hold the nasties (and the crows) at bay.

And while I’m excited at the promise of some real homegrown tomatoes to snack on, if you can believe it I’m actually sad that I don’t have any more green tomatoes.  Just as I was finishing up a batch of green-tomato ketchup¹ (the final four plants I had in the garden succumbed to the blight), flipping through a cookbook while the cans boiled, I came across a recipe for green tomato pie².

Oddly enough, the recipe sounds a bit like the Shaker Lemon Pie that you were all exclaiming about on my last post.  I’m hoping that I’ll be able to make it at the end of the summer when those farmers that have actually been able to grow tomatoes this year will be off-loading their greenies.

But while this year I’m a minimalist tomato grower, I’m a maximalist with everything else.  We have squash the size of your arm, and some the size of your head.  The eggplants and peppers are so leaden with fruit I’ve had to stake nearly every one of them.  And then there’s the beans.

Drowning in veggies? Head below the break for a few good recipes.

Shaker Your Plate

7 Aug

It’s been a long time since I’ve mentioned the Shakers, but they’ve been on my mind lately.

Especially on Saturday as I pulled out tomato plants, which had all (but four) succumbed to the blight.  I pulled up Cream Sausage, and Persimmon, and the beautiful fluted Ceylon, Big White Pink Stripe, Black Prince, Palla de Fuoco and perfect little Ropreco.  I lined them up on the lawn, pulled off all the green tomatoes that were worth saving and packed the vines into garbage bags, and then bagged them again.

It was really sad. But it was Large Red that really hurt.

Large Red is the one tomato I decided to plant not based on its name, or because of a promise to keep me in sun-dried tomatoes through the winter, or because it would taste good in sauce.  I chose Large Red because it was a favorite of the Shakers and they grew it exclusively just a few miles from our house.  I reasoned that if it was bred for this area, it would be a survivor.  I was wrong, this summer was just too much for Large Red.

I first came across Large Red in the Shaker Gardener’s Manual.  Before the Shakers, there were no little packets of seeds available for the home gardener to buy at the local shop.  Seeds were sold in bulk for the large-scale farmer, or seeds were saved from the previous year’s garden.  But the Shakers saw an opportunity and sold their famous seeds in little packets in little boxes all over the country. And to help people succeed in their kitchen gardens, they offered a little manual.

The manual is chock full of tips, tricks and hints, many of which are still applicable today.  The Shakers were organic gardeners before the term was coined.  They believed the best way to grow a healthy plant was to make it strong by planting it in good soil, protecting it from weeds and watering it with moderation. The manual also offers a list of the vegetables and fruit grown just a few miles from where my garden is.  The only tomato they grew was Large Red.

It’s not all doom and gloom around these parts, I swear! Because who can be sad when there’s pie around? Head below the jump for the recipe for Shaker Blackberry Pie.

In The Weeds

30 Jul

The road between New York City and Tupper Lake passes through many states.

Heading north, we drive through Grace, Beauty, Longing, Happiness and Anticipation. But the trip home passes through some different places–Nostalgia, Melancholia, Reflection, Dolor and Blah.  Leaving the mountains was especially hard this year.

The weather was damn near perfect up in the Adirondacks, and we took full advantage.  We hiked and paddled (seriously people, if you’ve never tried kayaking, get out on the water stat!), and sat outside marveling at loons, ducks, dogs and bald eagles and went for boat rides and grilled steaks.

And when the weather wasn’t so great, we went inside and sat and read and played with my nephew, little J, who’s at that age where he’s over Thomas and protective of his Legos yet somehow still a blast to be around, and when we were hungry, we cooked.

There were shrimp and controversial grits, (we tried to tell little J that the grits were polenta, something he loves, but his four-year old mind couldn’t get over the fact that they weren’t yellow).  There was also beet pasta with the greens thrown in for good measure, roasted squash and mint salad, braised radicchio, tarragon chicken and sandwiches and salads galore.  We ate and lived well on our short week up north.

And then we came back to reality.

Things are simultaneously grim and amazing up at the old homestead, head below the jump to see what’s going on.