Monday, June 29, 2009

Vegetable garden's harvest update

Cherokee Purples, sungold cherries, soyu cucumbers, one jalapeno, and two volunteer Little Porters (above the jalapeno)

Although I’ve hand-watered some (even established drought-tolerant!) plants in the super-sunny front yard and a few potted plants all over the place, I’ve tried to conserve most of my water for the vegetable garden. The tall old elms and sycamore have provided shade enough to help protect the tomatoes from our continued triple-digit heat.

My friend, farmer Larry Butler of Boggy Creek organic farm stand, told me to go ahead and bring inside any tomatoes the minute they showed any hint of blush color, because that first turn of color indicates an enzyme’s working that means it won’t make any difference if the tomato’s on the vine subject to critters or inside, safe. It’s going to ripen, just the same.

I followed his advice but also brought in a few greener tomatoes that had cracks, because I thought the cracks were probably invitations for insects or disease and would rather sacrifice a bit of flavor than the whole tomato.

The squirrels and birds aren't going for these sungold cherry tomatoes.

I still have at least ten decent-sized Cherokee Purples on the vine, under the bird netting.

My first Black Krims, the only tomato I planted from seed to set fruit.

Soyu cucumbers are still producing.

Slow but steady jalapenos

Prolific basil

I just recently learned the procedure (thanks Renee and Carl) for saving tomato seeds from the yummiest ones you eat: put the seeds with their juices (e.g., from your cutting board) etc in a container with a little filtered water, and stir the mixture up with your finger.

After repeating this for two or three days, drain and rinse the seeds clean (again, with filtered water) through a fine strainer. Then let them dry out in the strainer.

This seed-saving procedure seems to work fine if your cat doesn't sip the tomato seed water and/or drag her tail through it.

Don't leave your tomato seed juice on the table if it's so precious.


Caroline said...

Aww! What a sweet kitty. My tomato production seems to be winding down. There are a few blossoms on the Juliet, but I fear it's too hot for any fruit to set. I'm taking your advice and bringing in the last two Celebrity fruits as soon as they show a hint of pink.

Iris said...

Hi Caroline,

I forgot to shoo the kitty off the table because I was cracking up when I saw her tasting the tomato water and looking at me like, "what's the problem?"

I'm not expecting any new fruit to set either but will keep the plants alive and hope for some Fall tomatoes--never tried that before.

Hope your getting the rain I'm getting!

TexasDeb said...

Ooops I now have Harvest Envy.. : ) That is good news about bringing in the slightly colored tomatoes - and I sure appreciate the seed saving information. There's always next year!

PS - adorable cat!

Iris said...

Hi Deb,

I, too, thought that was pretty fascinating that once the tomato start to show color it doesn't make any difference if it's on the vine or your kitchen table!

And you're welcome re tomato seed saving! I had no idea about it until recently. Apparently the two-three days you stir the seed-water with your finger allows it to sort of ferment a bit before you clean them off.

Thank you--she's a hilarious reformed feral we've had for almost eight years (since she was three months old.)

Lancashire rose said...

It looks as though you had a great harvest despite the heat and lack of rain. It is true about the tomatoes ripening but I usually keep this technique until the fall when frost is threatened. Don't forget that it is time to get another crop of tomatoes going for the fall. You can cut back some of the old ones or seed them now. A fall crop usually produces another bumper harvest and green tomato chutney is a good way to use up any ones that won't ripen.

Iris said...

Hi Lancashire rose,

I still have several heirlooms I grew from seed but put in the ground too late to produce any fruit. However, they all seem pretty healthy, so I'll take your advice and cut them back some.

This will be my first time trying Fall tomatoes!