Change of Season

As the cooler-than-usual summer drew to a close, I took stock of the oddities that happened in the garden this year and realized I'd missed showing one of the most stomach-turning phenomena...
I don't know what that is on the ends of my Amish Paste tomatoes, but those white splotches appeared on a quarter of the fruits. I closely scrutinized each one I picked, and if there was even the smallest hint of a white spot, it did not go into my little veggie basket. If anyone knows what those splotches are and how to prevent them (and whether they'll spread to my other tomatoes -- so far, no), let me know!

I made up for low yields this year with sheer numbers. I have eight tomato plants, four of which have produced, two which never grew larger than a foot tall, but bore a handful of fruit each, one that volunteered itself mid-spring and is just now fruiting, and one that popped out of the ground late spring and probably will not fruit. In the past, I dried excess tomatoes in my oven on low heat. This year, I managed to burn not just one, but two huge batches...
Somehow, they don't look quite as burnt in the photo, but believe me, they are chestnut-colored and bitter. I keep them on the counter and try one every day, hoping that either they will mellow or my taste buds will acclimate to the flavor. So far, no luck. In the upper right corner of the photo is the new batch I sliced open tonight. I'll try bringing them outside in the morning to put them out in the sun. We'll see what happens...

Now, as summer has turned to autumn on the calendar, the temperatures have risen, granting us a quick Indian Summer before the shorter days bring on the cooler air. I've saved tomato, cucumber, bean and zucchini seeds, planted garlic bulblets, onion, fennel and lettuce seeds, and the chard has reseeded itself again. I'm contemplating planting broccoli and cauliflower soon.

I am also thinking of more indoor pursuits. This Wednesday, a friend had tickets to the opening night of Molière's Scapin, playing at American Conservatory Theater, and I had the good fortune of being the one he took to see it. The human mannequin in this photo was performing outside the theater as we entered.
I am not sure whether she was hired by ACT or if she was a street performer. My friend works for a local museum and the tickets were comps from his job, so we sat up in the nosebleed section, the lobby portion of which has a great view down the stairs.
And the play? Scapin is a comedy with a fairly foreseeable plot twist that focuses on witty dialog. This production was well acted with a fair amount of improvisation. An enjoyable way to spend the evening indoors.

Happy autumn!



Life passing by
Waiting for the train
28 August 2010

A countless number of people touch our lives. Some stay with us 'til the end. And some remain only for a moment. I admit to being sentimental and clinging to those whose time to move on has come.

The internet has made it possible for so many more people to touch us than before. Thanks to email and blogging, those I never would have met otherwise have touched my life. As with those I've known face-to-face, some of those relationships have endured and some have waned. And as with those I've known face-to-face, each of those relationships has helped me learn and grow.
Maintaining life
bees collect pollen
on Cirsium vulgare (Onopordum acanthium?)
Canal du juoy, Metz, France, July 2009
But the internet also makes it too easy to maintain those bonds that beg to be liberated. By virtue of status updates and tweets, we maintain tenuous ties indefinitely, and with more people. In one trivial entry of 150 characters or fewer, we keep the lines of communication open with hundreds of people, at least superficially.

But even as I yearn for those communications to be more profound, they can only remain shallow. Even though I know it is better to let go and focus on those who are present or otherwise make real time for me or who have something deeper to offer, I fail to find the strength to turn away completely. And so I continue entering 150 characters or fewer in a vain attempt to make something out of nothing.


Random Tomatoes

Oh, the seduction of ripe, juicy tomatoes! Unfortunately, this year's plants have been stunted by the cooler-than-usual weather and the fruits refuse to ripen. Even the Red Siberian plant, which is supposed to be suited to cooler climes, is dinky and only bore a handful of wimpy-looking fruits. The Amish paste plant did grow, but there are white spots on a lot of the fruits which seem to rot before they have a chance to ripen.

Although meager, the tomatoes have been interesting. I grew Stupice for the first time this year, and a significant number either look like two smooshed together or they have a nose. They average about an inch in diameter, but have a "tomatoey" paste tomato taste.

For years, I only grew Little Yellow Pear (yellow, pear-shaped cherry tomato) and San Marzano (paste tomato), saving the seeds from year to year. This year, San Marzano refused to germinate, but two 'Pears survived, yielding fruits about twice as large as usual. One day, I noticed the tops looked like they were turning pinkish instead of their typical yellow. Thinking it was just dirt, I forgot about them. Several days later, it was obvious they were turning red, but were still half yellow-ish green and I picked two to photograph! Since the photograph, they have ripened to full-on red and taste like paste tomatoes. I saved the seeds to see how they turn out next year if I can get them to sprout.

The volunteer tomato turned out to be a cluster tomato, and I had another two spring out of the ground in random places this summer. I'm hoping the weather will stay warm late in the year so I can see what kind of tomatoes they are!

Other than tomatoes, I collected some seeds from the chard and planted seeds of great northern beans, fennel, onion and random salad greens in random places around the garden and promptly forgot where I planted things. Amidst a patch of mâche, I tugged on what I thought was a blade of grass and accidentally pulled out a little garlic bulblet I'd planted for chives. I tried to stick it back into the ground, but I mangled it in the process. Luckily, I have more.