Thursday, September 6, 2012

Early September

I picked the last of the peaches from the old tree yesterday. The wooden props and straps holding the limbs and trunk together remain. We are debating whether to remove all the supports and see how it weathers the winter. The tree is 16 years old. Like a family pet we tend to it in its old age, loathe to let it go.

This is a year of tomato riches. Trays of tomatoes clutter our kitchen counter with more ripening on the vine. While I type this post, a huge pot of chopped tomatoes with minced garlic and a bit of salt simmers on the stove, to be savored on a mid-winter snowy evening. For best flavor I've taken to using a mix of tomato varieties--paste tomatoes, red slicers, large orange ones--whatever is on hand. I'm wishing for a late frost to extend the tomato season deep into autumn.

Insect sounds and chipmunk chatter dominate the natural soundscape during these early days of September. Birds have mostly gone quiet. The resident birds remain busy: woodpeckers tap trees in search of insects and chickadees busily search for seeds. Squirrels are active harvesting acorns in the tree tops of oaks. Sometimes they take a few bites before letting them drop to the ground. Occasionally an acorn hits me on the head. The acorn crop seems to be modest this year -- not small and not huge.

The tail end of Hurricane Isaac is dropping some rain here this week. The timing was good, the garden needed a drink. The rain has stirred the tree frogs and spring peepers. I hear them half-heartedly trilling and peeping.

There is still much to do in the garden, although even the weeds have waned. It's time to plant the spinach and more cilantro. And harvest more tomatoes, along with beans and okra. And what to do with all the tomatillos. I smell the tomatoes simmering and its time to stir the pot.


  1. I envy you all your tomatoes Ellen, though not all the work involved. But you're right it will be worth it as you enjoy them on a snow evening. One thing we do with tomatoes is dry them. We slice them fairly thin then put in a dehydrator. It takes more than a day as I recall to dry. Then we put them in a jar with olive oil and then in refrigerator. They really reduce in size. Drying them intensifies their flavor so when you reconstitute them and put them in pasta for instance they have a really bright, summery flavor.

    For years we've counted on volunteers for our tomatillos. This year I think we have none. When we did I'd roast them on grill or perhaps on stove. Roaasting seems to bring out sweetness. Then we'd just freeze them in quart bags. They also were then a taste of summer in the colder weather.

    My favorite vegetable to dry is mild New Mexico/Anaheim peppers. They take a day or two but waking up to the smell of them roasting is almost as good as the smell of fresh baked bread. And it gives just a bit of warmth to the house as nights are starting to get cool. Our peppers are just fruiting now, outside of the Serranos, so I'm also hoping for a very late frost!!

  2. Hi Ken,

    Thanks for those great ideas for tomatoes and tomatillos. I have a dehydrator on my wish list. Do you have a recommendation on best type to buy?


  3. Hi Ellen,

    We've had good luck with Nesco American Harvest. Ours is the round type, FD-37 on Amazon, though I'm not sure ours is the same model, esp. as it's so old. Over the years we've bought extra trays so that we can stack them higher and dry more at the same time. As I see all that's avaiable it looks like they can vary greatly in price. I know ours was toward the lower end of price and has been just fine over at least 10-15 years. Good luck!