Monday, August 18, 2008

Tomato time

I was a little late getting to the office this morning because the tomatoes were screaming for attention, tossing their little red hands in the air and calling, "Pick me! Pick me!" So I picked them. Many of them. Four hundred nine, to be exact.

Probably two-thirds of them were the tiny tomatoes known as Sweet 100s, which are very sweet and grow by the hundreds on a half dozen plants. We leave a bowl sitting on the counter all the time and pop 'em in our mouths like candy. I also picked a good many plum tomatoes (excellent for sauce) and some huge red slicing tomatoes that glow like little red suns and taste like summer.

The okra is doing poorly thanks to too many cool nights, and the peppers are abundant but slow to ripen. Last week at our family reunion we picked all the long, skinny Japanese eggplants and cooked them on the grill with salmon, but we still have short bulbous eggplants growing fatter by the minute alongside some really impressive cabbages. The corn patch had been pretty sparse until it was visited last week by nocturnal marauders--probably raccoons--so we didn't get to harvest a single ear, but the root crops are still looking really good, particularly the carrots and beets.

But let's face it: when it comes to gardening, it's all about the tomatoes. All those other plants exist just to give us an excuse to spend time near the tomato patch while the plants are growing and flowering and, finally, producing fruit. I don't have time to pick 409 tomatoes every morning, but I'm not complaining. They won't last long but while they're here there's simply nothing better than fresh tomatoes.

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