Thursday, August 18, 2011

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The excitement builds

Despite the disappointment of losing a biggest tomato contender, the excitement continues to build for the Ag Fair. This year is the 150th anniversary of the Fair, and so yesterday there was a parade from the "Old Ag Hall" aka The Grange Hall to the "New Ag Hall. The parade route went right past my driveway. Here are some of the highlights.

The Whiting Farm ..........

brings sheep to the Fair ....
The alpacas are headed for the Fiber Tent

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Biggest Tomato Heartbreak

Timing a Biggest Tomato entry is bloodsport. In hindsight, I should have removed the pink tomato from the vine the day before the big rain. But hoping for that last bit of water weight I left it on the vine and covered the vine with an improvised raincoat.

When I went out to check it last evening, it was starting to rot from the bottom. No way it could be saved. I brought it in and weighed it ...

TWO POUNDS, Eight and two tenths ounces ... THE biggest tomato I have ever grown. I put my ball cap on its head just for size comparison.

Then I cut away the parts that were rotting and tossed the good parts in a sauce pot.

Sunday, August 07, 2011


I planted a new variety of tomato this year ... Soldacki. I have been watching a few early ripeners trying to judge when to harvest. Then yesterday my eye fell across my Smith and Hawkin Heirloom tomato book on the shelf, so I opened up to the page on Soldacki.There I learned that they ARE pink ... that I should not wait for red ... and that they crack if left on the vine. So I harvested one. I have always been fond of May Dreams Gardens First Tomato ritual which involves eating the first slice without salt to get its "unimproved" flavor. So I did that with this one. It tasted as described in the Smith and Hawkins book "luscious, intense, with a good ratio of sweetness to tartness." This is one excellent tasting tomato.

And while we are on the topic of tomatoes ... I have a contender for "Biggest Tomato" among my Big Zacs. I am afraid that it will crack from its own weight sometime in the next 10 days, so I have placed it on a stool (homage to May's tomato pillow) and hope that it will fill out happily while on its little throne.

From the Garden Gate

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Turning Points

It is 7:30 pm. The shadows are long across the field. There is a chill ... yes a chill ... in the air. We are a little less than halfway form solstice to equinox and already I can feel fall stalking me. I am always caught off guard by the shift of seasons. I mean with only 4 harvested tomatoes, how can one be thinking about the end of it all? Sure, there will be plenty of blistering hot days ahead. But the build UP is slowly turning toward the build DOWN. Some of it is the weight of the harvest itself. The garden can only sustain so much vertical rise before the weight of the fruit begins to topple into the pathways and cause the bean trellises to lean precariously in the wind. But some of it is that the plants are spent. The zucchini are no longer turning out the way they were. The artichokes have had their run for glory.

Each season I watch for the turning point ... the point at which the garden begins its natural decay. All season plants have been pushing upward ... escaping the soil and journeying UP against gravity, and now ... slowly ... it is gravity that is winning.

That is why root crops are the crops of fall. Leeks and rutabagas ... carrots and parsnips ... they are using gravity to their advantage.

Slide Show

Here is a recent slide show mostly of garden photos

Early August promise

While the general tenor of the garden is still one of promise, I DID have to pull up a zucchini yesterday that had succumbed to the squash vine borer. I had just about run out of zucchini options in the kitchen anyway. But I can highly recommend dehydrated zucchini chips as a solution for the squash overload this time of year.

My tomato knife is quivering in the knife block. So far I have brought in 3 red tomatoes ... a Better Boy won the race this year for first tomato. There is blush on the Soldaki fruit. I am curious as to its flavor. I have not been tending to "the biggest tomato" challenge as in years past, but there is one Big Zac out there that might be a competitor. I will have to give it a little more focus as there are only two weeks until the Fair.

I would really like to be able to put in some artichokes this year, but my timing may not be right. So far I have pulled in a total of 17 artichokes !!! A banner year.