Tuesday, September 1, 2009


We harvested the first of the tomatoes; they’re late this year, but so appreciated. Homegrown tomatoes are so sweet that they hardly taste like vegetables.

Of course, tomatoes aren’t vegetables, botanically, they’re fruits. They are the part of the plant that nurtures and protects the seeds, so that a particular plant will survive to the next generation. Lots of vegetables are anatomically fruits. Turnips, onions, beets, and carrots are roots. Celery is a stem. Spinach, lettuce, and Swiss chard are leaves. Peas, dry beans, and corn are seeds. Most of the rest, cucumbers, squash, peppers, eggplant, and green beans are fruit. But the best of the vegetative fruits is the tomato. And homegrown tomatoes leap right over into the real fruits with their sweetness.

We plant four kinds of tomato seeds every spring, Golden Sweet yellow grape, Orange Blossom, Bellstar, a paste tomato, and Big Beef. And then we spend the summer weeding and waiting for those first homegrown tomatoes to ripen. Dave brought in a handful of tiny yellow grape tomatoes still tinged with green. not quite as sweet as they will be in a week, when hundreds will hang golden and heavy on the vines. We’ll eat all we can and then friend Budd will turn the rest into yellow tomato marmalade – a treat almost as good as real English orange marmalade.

Last night, we sliced vibrant, red Big Beef tomatoes and interspersed them with thin slices of a home grown cucumber on a small green glass plate. They needed no dressing. The rest of our meal was sweet corn, fresh from the garden. Nothing in the world tastes better than sweet corn, fresh picked and steamed, and then just touched with butter and salt.

We can’t eat the fresh vegetables fast enough. I’ve frozen cauliflower and broccoli three times. The sugar peas finally succumbed to the heat because I couldn’t keep them picked and watered. Now the corn is ripening faster than we can eat and share it. it must be time to start freezing corn.

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