Beginnings and Endings

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25 Sep Beginnings and Endings

Tomatoes in my garden

Tomatoes in my garden

I’m sad. Come Monday my tomato plants will be gone. The season is over. Frost is on the way and after one final weekend of harvest, I have to uproot these beauties, clear away any fallen fruit and put the patch to bed for the winter. I know. They’re just tomato plants. But still, I’m sad.

I’ll miss my daily trips to the tomato patch. I had expected to love the tomatoes, but found I enjoyed the actual process of growing my own food as much as the delicious results. I got a kick out of trying to guess when a certain tomato would be ready to pick and never knew what I’d find when I got there. Despite daily inspections, sometimes I’d find a huge red tomato hiding under the leaves. How’d I miss that? And how did the sun reached it?

And on Monday it all ends.

I know. Thousands, if not millions, of people grow tomatoes. Probably bigger and better ones than I do. Somehow, they find the inner strength NOT to run to the computer and write about their nightshade experiences. Maybe next year, when it’s all old hat, I won’t feel the need to drag you through every step of my horticultural experiences. Maybe. Maybe not. I plan on planting heirloom tomatoes and then? I’m sure I’ll go camera-crazy for their lumps and bumps.

With so many tomatoes at my fingertips, I had high hopes to can my bounty. But after speaking with friends and family, I decided to forego the preserving kettle and sterilizing jars. Instead, I put my new peach-stuffed upright freezer to use. Both my cousin Donna and neighbour Elizabeth (who brought me those amazing black raspberries) insist that all I need to do is roast and freeze.

Okey-dokey.

So I roasted tomatoes, peeled off the skin, added a pinch of salt and popped them into the freezer in conveniently pre-measured freezer bags.

As an experiment, I put fresh basil, garlic and some red wine vinegar in one batch. Was this the right move? I’ll let you know come winter.

How do you preserve your tomatoes? Any tricks I should know before I put away the last batch?

And be honest — am I the only one who gets attached to her plants? Or do all first-time growers feel sentimental about their crops?

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  • Terry Cohoe
    Posted at 13:10h, 25 September Reply

    Oh no, Charmian, I am sad too. I might get two or three more tomatoes from our plants, but then it's over. I ran into the supermarket the other day for something and noticed the produce section. After visiting the market and fruit/veggie stands all summer and growing some of our own veggies, I just wanted to cry. Too soon we'll be back buying things that were trucked to us from miles away. Yes, I'll miss my tomato plants too.

  • Cheryl
    Posted at 15:11h, 25 September Reply

    Is there such a thing as tomato taxidermy? You could stuff one and mount it above the mantle.

    I did exactly as you did and froze a whole slew of roasted garlicky tomatoes. Let me know when you're going to eat yours and I'll break mine out, too. It'll be like we're having a dinner party, only, um, quieter.

  • Cheryl Arkison
    Posted at 21:11h, 25 September Reply

    I'm sad for you.

    My mother in law is bringing me a flat of Romas tomorrow. I plan on making some tomatoe marmalade and doing exactly as you, roasting and freezing. If they make it to the freezer…

  • Cheryl Arkison
    Posted at 21:11h, 25 September Reply

    I'm sad for you.

    My mother in law is bringing me a flat of Romas tomorrow. I plan on making some tomatoe marmalade and doing exactly as you, roasting and freezing. If they make it to the freezer…

  • Sophie
    Posted at 05:42h, 26 September Reply

    I am sad too,…I love tomatoes, al sorts & forms!

    But i am looking forward to autumn fruits & vegetables!!

  • FRANCESCA
    Posted at 09:23h, 26 September Reply

    I knew I had to visit your blog this morning for my daily fix! @ Cheryl-love the tomato taxidermy lol, I'm still laughing! ty

    Charmian- I feel the same way about my basil as you do about your tomatoes. I've grown these glorious red spheres too long now to get sentimental. This year we grew the heirlooms and if you go that route next year, you're going to go wild! They're a photographers delight and probably they'll be a writer's dream! SO my tomato loving friend you have much to look forward!

  • Amy
    Posted at 11:36h, 26 September Reply

    Oh, don't give up yet! All the green tomatoes, pick them, pickle them, fry them, can them, or just leave them on the window sill, or in a cardboard box until they ripen.

    What is happening on Monday that sounds the demise of your tomatoes? We did season extension in Iowa, and grew tomatoes until November snow.

  • Vivian
    Posted at 23:17h, 26 September Reply

    I share your tomato blues. Everything got picked yesterday, sorted and all the varieties are now boxed and hoping to ripen as the days go on. Freaky weather did me in this year, with frost in mid-August but +35 (record breaking for my part of Alberta) just a few days ago. I was so weary from having to cover the plants, weight the sheets with clods of dirt or rocks…usually in a howling wind, that I decided "enough"! I DID have success last year taking a market gardener's advice and uprooting the entire plants and hanging them upside-down in the garage where about 80% of them did ripen "on the vine" over the course of a few weeks.

  • Claire
    Posted at 00:52h, 28 September Reply

    The one thing I think is worth canning is salsa. There is nothing like salsa from the garden at a potluck or get together with friends in December.

  • Christie's Corner
    Posted at 17:40h, 29 September Reply

    Terry, glad to know I'm not the only one to get sentimental over my homegrown crop.

    Cheryl, I'd rather stuff a tomato with seasoned bread crumbs, but thanks for the suggestion — I think. Love your idea of a dinner party. I'll let you know when I plan to break mine open. I think we'll need wine.

    Cheryl A, love the tomato marmalade idea and have made some with the green tomatoes I've been forced to harvest before their time. Never had red tomato marmalade and would love to know your recipe.

    Sophie, you are wise. I will console myself with the other bounties of the harvest — like grapes and cauliflower (as separate entities, not combined in a dish).

    Francesca, you are a make work project — but what fun. Thanks so much for the encouragement.

    Amy, I have taken you up on your suggestions and have tried frying them. See the next blog post for details. As to why this weekend? My tomato growing guru is concerned about blight and said it's best to remove and clean out the bed early. I figure I pushed the envelope as much as I can and am not taking any more chances.

    Vivian, I've never heard of uprooting tomato plants and hanging them upside down. What a great idea! I don't have a garage, but if I did… I'd be tempted to try doing this in the basement but it's damp and musty. Hope some other readers try this tip!

    Claire, I love salsa! I'll have to give this a try. I've frozen the roasted tomatoes, made tomato marmalade, fried some green ones but didn't do any salsa. This omission must be addressed. Thanks for the great suggestion.

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