Tomatoes!

Tomatoes are here, baby. I don't know what it is, but I completely love this fruit. I love everything about it. I love the way the plant looks, smells, feels… I love the variety- it's endless! Everything. Even the blight that I seem to get every year, it merely presents a challenge. I always seem to beat it and end the summer just dripping in tomato goodness. 

Fall gardening! Many of you seemed to be interested in what I was going to be doing and so I thought I'd keep you all in the loop- not just to share what I'm doing but to get suggestions and feedback and also to keep me accountable and doing it. Today I was pretty productive, list-making and formulating my thoughts.

For anyone who is interested in cooler-weather gardening, check out Eliot Coleman's books. He's a well known farmer in Maine who has done a lot of work to beat the seasons using very clever methods. I am learning, though, that I retain the most knowledge through just doing and experiencing in my own back yard using my own two hands. I could read all I wanted to about blight, harvest, pests, etc., but when I actually saw those things in reality, that's when I really got it. So, here in Michigan, I try. 

I cleared out a bed formerly filled with lettuces, radish, and arugula from the spring. Well, and lots of grass… what's awesome is that my chickens completely go nuts over grass. It's like candy to them, they get so excited! It makes me less frustrated with the aggressive stuff- transforming it from pernicious weed into chicken treats! I grew it just for them, you see… 

After, amended with compost and ready for planting. I only had time to plant a third of the bed, but today I did parsnip and french breakfast radish, alternating between the rows. Parsnip is a very long season veggie, and I really should have planted it in the spring. But, it does well all winter and into the spring, so I thought I would experiment with it and see how well it delivers by March. The radishes I'm just going to be planting every week or so to get a continuous harvest for market and fresh use, but mostly for pickling. They make amazing pickles.

One thing I learned this year is that the young seed pod of the radish plant is edible. It's not only edible, it's completely delicious. It is juicy and crunchy, and it is radishy but a little milder in flavor. I love them! I will always let a few bolt now that I know this. You'll know when they are right, if they are too old then they get woody and hard to chew. 

Our first big basket of tomatoes demanded something summery and delicious. Vera wanted to make tomato soup, but seeing that it was close to 100 degrees today I asked her if it could be cold soup. She didn't even flinch, so we made a fresh gazpacho, with tomato, cucumber, garlic, onion, cilantro, pepper, and a zucchini. A little salt, pepper, cumin, and paprika, and it was perfect.

More fall garden to come tomorrow. I'm trying to do something every day, and afterwards do an update, no matter how brief.

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