A TALL TOMATO TALE
Tuesday, 03 Apr 12 Sunny 28°C / 82°F
Perhaps the title of this little piece should be A Tomato Tall Tale or better still, A Tall Tale About Tomatoes. Oh, yes, that is so much better.
Before I launch into this ramble I should apologise for my absence from Folia and, indeed, from my garden. Last year my darling Esmeralda not only manage to write off the family car – which we in our wisdom had ‘downsized’ to just one of – but she also managed to fracture her pelvis in four places. This was just four days after her mother was hospitalised after a bad fall in our bathroom. E’s sister was in the car with her at the time of the accident and she is still being treated for arm and shoulder pain. Esmeralda is getting about with the aid of a stick and, today, she drove to her embroidery group by herself. I can tell you I was one nervous husband until she returned home.
I’ll try to keep this short as I want to discuss what happened to my tomatoes. M-I-L is now in aged care up here in Castlemaine. Due to the cutbacks in health that our ‘new’ state government has imposed on top of the election promises they made but did not keep, there is no longer the availability of transport to get aged care residents to and from their various specialist appointments and it is up to the families of these residents to get them to and from their regular checkups. So between my normal checkups – which are small potatoes in the scheme of things – Esmeralda’s ongoing treatment and M-I-L’s many, many appointments it seems that my garden has taken a backseat to sitting around in the waiting rooms of eye/bone/cancer/physio/rehab/radiology/pathology. . . ugh! I’m exhausted just thinking about it. Does anyone else find it tiring just sitting around in these places?
One good thing (?) that has come out of all this is I am now something of an authority on 1970s magazines and daytime television shows. Why, oh why is it felt necessary to (a) have tv on in medical waiting rooms and (b) why does the volume have to be turned way, way up?
Anyhow, back to tomatoes. Last October I was cock-a-hoop about raising seedlings from tomato seeds. No big deal I hear the mutterings, but these were from a new strain of low acid tomatoes and as graibeard had warned they might very well have been F1 plants and could possibly non-viable. Well, I had 3 of the red variety survive – a similar shape to a Roma – and 5 of the yellow ones, being a round type.
I planted them out in my Adda garden a little later than usual and crossed my fingers that they would grow and bear fruit.
Then it was the Festive Season, Esmeralda was home after 10 weeks in hospital and her family were coming to OUR house for Christmas and were not only bringing all the food but were going to cook Xmas dinner for us. M-I-L would spend the day with us and a couple would stay on for an extra visit.
During all the comings and goings, the blackbirds took this chance to vandalise my garden and I didn’t doscover that the tomato seedings had been dug out and tossed aside – not to be discovered until they were shrivelled and dry.
I was devastated and couldn’t bear to face the garden for a couple of days. I called myself all sorts of a fool because I hadn’t put any protection in place to stop the marauding birds.
Then I noticed some green shoots which weren’t weeds. On closer insection they were tomatoes. Where? How? They must be self-sown and come up out of all the compost I used to prime this garden. What are they? Well, once they began to bear fruit I could see there was a definite Roma shape and the others were round and either smooth like Apollo or deeply indented in the manner of Rouge de Marmande.
I have been harvesting these as soon as they colour to keep them safe from birds and field mice – which are very bad this year – and I caught a honey-eater with its bill in a juicy tom just the other day. These have been going into the freezer until I thought I had enough to cook and bottle sauce. We are very big on home-made tomato sauce with our own spices and herbs added, and generally do so much that one batch lasts a couple of years. This year, however, we just have those from the self-sown plants so a limited output will be the order of the day.
I took them all out of the freezer last night to thaw out, plus another ½kilo from tody’s crop and now have them bubbling away in the boiler. 21 lbs in weight, not a bad effort.
Must go out and stir the pot.
Oh, pic #1 the self-sown (about to be sauce) tomatoes.
pic #2 the seedings I raised from seeds from last summer’s crop.
Bean dwarf butter (Phaseolus vulgaris) and Adda garden