Every gardener I know constantly refines their relationship with their soils and plants, especially if you work in the same space over time.
When we built the CLB (Cute Little Building, the nickname of the building that houses my office and studio), we discovered that the area right in front of it is probably the hottest bit of our yard in the afternoon. (We face the southwest.)
Perfect for veggies.
Last year, I planted a few cherry tomatoes, beans and squash in this space. This year, I expanded the space, added cucumbers and extended the tomato trellis to accommodate more plants.
I’ve already got the expansion for next year underway.
At the same time, I’ve become enamored of the mulching and soil enhancing qualities of hay and have begun to use it liberally. (When combined with a thick layer of newspaper, it’s great for weed control between rows.)
I have to report that my tomatoes are very happy about all these refinements and returned my efforts with a bounty that just took our breath away.
Jay and I snacked on those tomatoes every time we passed by the vines on our way from the house to the office and back again. When the days got short and the weather cool, Jay harvested them and put about 50 pounds of green and red wonders in our freezer.
I’ll tell ya, I will never go back to planting big tomatoes. First of all, our gardens get no morning sun so I’m not even sure we could grow large tomatoes. But processing cherry tomatoes is SO easy.
You just make sure the stems are removed, put them in freezer bags, and away you go.
We’re convinced that the green tomatoes are even better than the red in cooking over the course of the winter. You simply take out what you think you’re going to use, let them stand at room temperature until they get frosty white, and then cut them in half (or quarters for the bigger ones) and toss them into spaghetti sauce, soups, and chili.
If you let them thaw too long (it only takes about five minutes or so), they get mushy and hard to cut. Too frozen and it’s like chopping marbles.
We cooked a whole chicken last night, boiled the carcass for broth, stripped the last bits of meat off the bones, and then I built my chicken chili from that—with a couple of good handfuls of green cherry tomatoes.
The cool-weather cooking season has officially begun.