Friday, September 4, 2009

Garden Variety

In spite of our weird, rainy, cold summer, my garden is producing prodigiously.

Every day I pick a dozen or two sweet, ripe grape tomatoes from a single plant. This plant is so eager to thrive that it crawled up the side of the garage, pushed its way through the slightly open garage windows and started producing tomatoes inside the garage.

I don't know what variety my larger tomato plant is, but a couple of the fruits are the size of small pumpkins. I'm trying to figure out how long to let the larger tomatoes ripen before I take them off to give the green ones a chance to start their ripening process.

The Farmer's Almanac suggest that the first frost generally occurs around October 26 here in Chicago, but it also warns that the dates it provides are averages. There's a 50 percent chance that frost will occur earlier, the almanac warns, and with the cold summer we had, I'm betting it will.

I found a useful wiki article on how to ripen the tomatoes that have fallen off the vine before they are quite ripe enough, as well as the green tomatoes inevitably left behind like Tim LaHaye protagonists. I'll also be interested in your green tomato recipes, if you've got any good ones.

My salsa pepper plant has thus far produced about 20 large (6"-9"), firm, shiny green peppers that are perfect for salsa, vegetable salads, guacamole, and other uses. I froze a bunch, and gave away a bunch, and of course, I cooked with a bunch.

And remember the jungle next door? The guy doesn't just have steroidal grape vines and out-of-control weeds; he's also got watermelon vines as thick as garden hoses creeping across the yard, complete with huge yellow flowers and one little watermelon the size of a large lemon.

Somebody, probably one of my children, spit a watermelon seed over there last summer, and now JungleDude has inadvertently become a watermelon farmer. My kids and I are now kind of hoping that he postpones getting a yard service, so we can watch the baby watermelon grow.

You know what they say: When life gives you lemons, make watermelons.

Or something like that.

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