August 2021 tomato updates

I always imagine (in June) that I will be eating fresh tomatoes off my plants in July and I think it is always August. That said, the plants are late this year; our weather has been uneven and I transplanted out my seedlings later than normal. BUT the tomatoes are coming.

First the cherry tomatoes. Yum.

These above and below are Cherokee Purples –I had decided not to plant them but a couple came on their own so I’ve kept them. I was going to give them up although the flavor is fantastic on this heirloom tomato, I find them unforgiving. Like pears, they are at ripest perfection for about a half of a second. Demonstrating that instantaneous turning point: “Cheered and check’d even by the selfsame sky, / Vaunt in their youthful sap, at height decrease.” Well. “At height decrease” indeed. It means that if I don’t catch them at exactly the right moment, they go bad right there in the garden. BUT they are delicious. And so individual. And gorgeous ripe colors. I will simply have to check them every day this season to be certain I catch them.
These are (I think) Moneymaker tomatoes that I started from seed. I liked these a lot last year –which was the first year I had grown these.
These are either more moneymaker or better boy. I think they might be better boy. I also have roma tomatoes planted but they are even farther behind… which is a shame. I am counting on them for my sundried tomatoes.

And, finally, there are these funny little miniature tomatoes. A friend gave me a couple of plants a few years ago and they come back each year. I have them in the back of the rudbeckia bed next to some squash. They are lovely little snacks —I mostly eat them in the garden with them rarely making it to the house or into a salad. Here are some that getting ripe.

I will update with another tomato post at some point when more red appears. Meanwhile, I am going to go eat the cherry tomatoes.


April 2021 River picnic, pickles, and blue bells

Quick Sunday visit to see how the river is doing. It was nice and sunny but the breeze was chilly. On Monday morning, there are snow flurries, so Sunday seemed even better in hindsight.

I also opened a couple of pickles… kosher dill (that I cut into spears here) and the other is a thin sliced cucumber pickle with thin sliced ginger, pickled with cardamom and star anise. Yum. The kosher dills are too salty. But I will work harder next time to get the brine rinsed better.

These fields of blue bells (ok, not really a field, but a massive swath of a garden) are just up the street from my house. They are so lovely and the bees are loving them so much that I have to put a picture in here —but they are NOT in my garden.

February 2021 Food:: Winter farm market

Eggs save lives.
This notice above came with this pastry below; the winter farm market only happens every other week. These items are from a couple of weeks ago… but I have been slow.
The leeks, kale, and apples all came from the winter market. I cooked them together.
I added a sweet potato and had this with rice. It was delicious.

July 2020 Garden & Food; Celery

Similar to the basil, I am experimenting with celery this year. I’ve never grown celery before; I’m not quite sure why I’ve thought it was tricky to grow. I am lucky though to not have slugs or snails, maybe they are hard on celery. I love celery –and the more celery-ish the flavor the better. The celery from the garden is much stronger than what I get from the store. I started seeds (in late February) and, not trusting my seedlings, I also bought a little four pack of celery from the greenhouse.

I planted the seedlings I grew from seed in this bed and they were much smaller than the ones I purchased. I sort of hardened them off –if putting them out for a couple of days before sticking them in the ground counts (but since I wasn’t bringing them in at night I don’t think that really counts). Anyway, here are the stalks I started from seed.


There are three short rows here (celery, zinnias, and bull’s blood beets).


Here are the ones I bought as seedlings. They are in a different bed between some basil and parsnips.


I’ve started cutting some of it to eat (more than just munching a stalk or two while in the garden).


I cooked this celery with shallots and tarragon from the garden. The shallots are a bit of a disappointment. Perhaps I ought to have planted them deeper. I’ve never grown them before and didn’t look up much information.


The tarragon is a massive bushy plant that I planted from seed years ago, and it comes back every year.


I added some cream, blue cheese, and walnuts with the celery. Because the celery is kind of young and has so many leaves, I baked these as a bed of chopped celery leaves with the stalks on top.



July 2020 Garden & Food; Basil & Pesto

I have an experiment going with the basil this year to see what works best. A couple of years ago I ran out of pesto too early in the spring, so I’ve increased the amount of basil I’m trying to grow. But this year I decided to try a variety of methods and garden placement. I started seed inside in late February and I planted those out in two different places in the garden.

This spot suffers basic benign neglect and is fairly shaded.


The other batch of seedlings that I started myself, I planted in this prime spot. The little sticks were there to keep the cats from sprawling all over them. The seedlings were only about an inch tall when I put them outside. I know one is supposed to harden them off by gradually putting them out and everything, but I took these straight out of the house and stuck them in the ground. It doesn’t seem to have hurt them. This spot gets morning sun and is otherwise shaded.


These next plants I bought (in a little four pack) from a local greenhouse; they are shoved in between celery and brussels sprouts. They get a lot of light but very little direct sun; what they do get is filtered through a black walnut tree. They were substantially ahead of my seedlings when I put them in the ground, but I think my seedlings have caught them up.


And here are some cats. Taking care of their own duties.


Finally, the fourth basil spot in the garden, is directly sown seed. I planted these in a long row (12ft) next to the swiss chard. Problematically, I planted them too close to the swiss chard so they are almost entirely blocked from sun. They’ve been protected from some of the strong South Dakota winds, but they are not really coming along very quickly. The chard was sown directly at the same time, but of course chard germinates and grows more quickly. I’ve not had much luck with directly sown basil in the past, but this shows that they will germinate –and they would probably grow well if in a better spot.



My goal is to have the pesto made (for the freezer) before any of the basil starts going to seed. Most things I preserve in jars, but I can’t figure out how to do that with pesto without it becoming inedible, so I freeze it in jars.


I put most of it in the freezer, except for some to eat right now. Unfortunately pesto seems to go best with starchy foods (bread, pasta). Tasty, but I probably don’t need more of that right now.


July 2020 Garden & Food (& a cat)

It has been ages since I’ve put up any food pictures; partly I think I was in a food slump, partly I had been having some camera issues. BUT, here goes with some food… which at this time of year involves the garden.


I made these June greens into a delicious salad; the beets below are canned beets from last year. Now, in July, I have beets coming out of the garden, but before that the canned beets were crucial. wp-1594403276192.jpg

The cucumbers are finally ready…wp-1594322214849.jpg

and just in time for a cucumber, dill, cream cheese sandwich.wp-1594322741751.jpg

The raspberries speak for themselves.


The “Bright Lights” swiss chard is doing well this year.


I planted two kinds of beets; the Bull’s Blood aren’t ready yet. But these are Early Wonder. The turnips are purple top white globe. I planted only one kind of turnip.


I boiled the beets briefly, took off the skins, quartered them, and tossed them with a dressing with parsley and mint. The chard is sauteed lightly. Too lightly; the stalks were a bit underdone.


The turnips I boiled hard for ten minutes, browned them, and tossed a bunch of dill with them. This was inspired by Nigel Slater’s descriptions in Tender. The turnips were very tasty although possibly over-browned. I stepped out of the kitchen while they were in the pan. Cookbooks never seem to mention these issues.


This over-medium egg was delicious. I had nothing to do with producing it. The sourdough bread is from the local baker.


I’ve also harvested a full basket of mint; this is the second round of mint. I’ve made it into a mint drink syrup.


I haven’t had a tomato from my garden yet; my neighbor shared a slightly under-ripe yellow cherry tomato that was delicious. These are coming along. They might be Better Boys. The tags on my seedling tomatoes got a bit mixed up.


This spinach has a flat broad leaves; one patch in the back garden has already bolted but these more shaded plants are still doing fine.


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I sauteed this spinach to have with pasta –and a cream sauce.


And here, finally, is a picture of a kitty!