Sunday, October 18, 2009

Putting the Garden Away

It's truly the end of the backyard garden season. This weekend Super Hubby pulled up our tomato plants and picked off all the green tomatoes. A frost isn't in our forecast anytime soon, but our tomatoes just aren't ripening the way they should be. Concerned that the month of October would get away from us and we might soon be facing a morning where we walk outside and find all of our left over produce blackened on the vine from frigid temperatures, we decided it was time to put the garden to bed.

It was a bittersweet moment. This was the first year we had tried gardening in anything than a few hastily gathered containers on our patio. We went all out. Whole shebang. We purchased Mel Bartholomew's book, The All New Square Foot Garden, ordered seeds from Baker Creek Seeds, and set up a grow station in our garage to get a jump start on the growing season.

I soon discovered what many gardeners know. These plants become your children. I stayed awake at night worried that I was over watering, under watering, not providing enough compost. I worried about bugs, bees not pollinating enough, dogs getting through the make shift fence we put up and digging up all my new starts. I worried day and night. And when I wasn't worrying I was planning what else I could plant. How much lawn could I reasonably rip out in the name of organic produce without Super Hubby freaking out? And yet, through all this plotting and profuse worry the gardens grew.

And oh my how they grew. Our tomatoes especially. They grew to heights I had never before seen. By the end of the season they were so heavy with their own fruits that they pulled the 5 foot wooden stakes right out of the ground. And still they continued to produce fruit.

We enjoyed our garden from late April all the way until this weekend - the middle of October. Internet, that is SIX MONTHS of organic produce straight from our backyard! Knowing that a frost is looming sooner than we would like, we pulled what was left of the tomatoes and composted the vines. We've yet to actually finish the clean up in the side yard because the rains decided to pay a visit. I was out there yesterday and it looks a little like a massacre took place.

We had far more green tomatoes than I anticipated. I would estimate at least 35 pounds. This is after putting up close to 24 pints of medium salsa, 7 quarts of hot salsa, 7 quarts of tomato sauce, and freezing 4 gallon size bags full of tomatoes - not to mention the regular tomato sandwiches, tomato, basil, and mozzarella salads, and tomatoes eaten straight off the vine. Yes, we had tomatoes this year. White Current, Purple Cherokee, Tigerella, Chocolate Strip, Omar's Lebanese, Persimmon. It was a banner year.

So what to do with all those green tomatoes? Why make salsa verde and Tomato Cake of course! Which is exactly what we did. The salsa verde is fantastic!

And the green tomato cake? Surprisingly it is delicious. You wouldn't even know tomatoes where in it. The Little and I enjoyed some for breakfast this morning. You can find the recipe here:

I'll miss my garden this winter. I'll miss being able to just walk right outside and pick what I need for our dinner salad. I'll miss the sweet crunch of peas and green beans exploding in my mouth. I'll miss the drizzle of tomato seeds down my chin as I take that first sun ripened bite. But I'm happy to put away the canning equipment for a few months. Now we can enjoy the fruits of our hard work in the form of all the canned, dehydrated and frozen goods we put up over the summer. Now the planning for next years garden starts. Yes, the beds are put away for the winter, but the plotting and dreaming are just beginning.

Yours in organic gardening,

Simple Mama


  1. I wish I could be as passionate as you when it comes to gardening. Instead, I content myself with taking pictures of my kids and husband as they do the planning, planting, tending and harvesting. I even enjoy taking the pictures as they prepare, cook and serve the products of their hard work.

  2. From one organic gardener to another - beautiful photos !

    I am so proud of you and the hard work that your family put in to get such a nice organic garden :)

    I am following your blog with mine now so I can watch your gardens grow.

    Organically Yours,

  3. I love the garden. It's winter now. We have to wait.

  4. awesome bounty! I hear tale that you can wrap green tomatoes in paper and set them in a cool place in cardboard boxes and they will slowly ripen- Ive never teste dthis tho!