Final harvest

It’s been years since I’ve grown anything I thought of as a “crop.” Robert’s and my history does include several years of heavy-duty gardening, including a few years of bountiful harvests in the Farmington River valley of Connecticut. What I just pulled in from the back yard is nothing like the 50+ pounds of tomatoes from the year I was pregnant with Allison – but it’s a step nonetheless.

When we moved to D.C. we tried to grow vegetables in our back yard. The big oak tree next door cast too much shade in our yard, though, and the year of the squash vine borers was our last. I can't even begin to think how long ago that was...

But since the big branch fell off the tree, I've been watching to see if I thought there was enough sun, and eventually I started with some herbs. Now that I'm "really retired" I thought I might try again.

All I grew this year, other than herbs, was yellow pear tomatoes. I put two little plants out in early June, and when we went on our July vacation they decided to go on a growth spurt. That was the time I would have tamed the plants, suckering the vines and tying the remaining shoots or caging the plants. Since I wasn’t there to tend them, the plants had their own way to grow and became quite unruly. I just let them do their thing because it didn't look as though they were going to be worth the effort. Even into August there were plenty of flowers and some green tomatoes but not a great crop. Then, just before we left to go West, they started to ripen. When we returned from Wyoming they were covered with ripe, delicious yellow tomatoes – and they have continued to give us enough fruit that I haven’t had to supplement with store-bought tomatoes (unlessI had a special recipe that required them to be peeled. Guacamole comes to mind ...)

The weather guessers say it’s going to frost tonight. It probably won’t, but nonetheless ... I stripped my plants today. I also remembered that I had planted basil, which remained almost completely covered by tomato vines until I pulled those stalks today as well.

2013 Harvest - green and yellow tomatoes, basil

The pesto recipe is easy – I’ve continued to grow a few herbs through the years and frozen pesto when the basil harvest was big enough. I’ll have to go searching for a green tomato relish, though. I’m looking forward to having a kitchen adventure!

Next year the “vegetable garden” will be different. I grew a lot of herbs for the first time this year, and I think that’s a better use of that patch of ground. The yellow pear tomatoes will be in big pots on the patio so I can move them into the sun as it travels from north to south during the growing season. We have loved cooking with fresh sage, rosemary, thyme, and oregano. We’ll consider what else to include when spring comes.