Dozer, the bulldog

Dozer, the bulldog
Dozer: Spring training is upon us!

Rockin' and rollin'

Rockin' and rollin'
The author of Mark's Work

Coleus flowers

Coleus flowers
Why I grow flowers

HappyDay Farms bees are happy bees.

HappyDay Farms bees are happy bees.
Air-borne bees

HeadSodBuster and BossLady at the coast

HeadSodBuster and BossLady at the coast
Love is the greatest power.

Beauty abounds!

Beauty abounds!
Heinz tomatoes, used for catsup

If you've seen one butterfly, you've seen 'em all, said no one ever.

If you've seen one butterfly,  you've seen 'em all, said no one ever.
Painted Lady

Fall Jewels

Fall Jewels
Praying mantis, attending services on a zinnia...

My souvenir from Reggae on the River, 2017

My souvenir from Reggae on the River, 2017
Something I have always wanted...

Mahlon Masling Blue

Mahlon Masling Blue
My friend and brother.

Mark's E-mail address

bellspringsmark@gmail.com

Friday, February 3, 2017

Summer in My Kitchen


Summer in My Kitchen

I say to-may-to; you say to-mah-to, but we all say pizza the same, and I make the meanest pizza sauce on the block. With Gluten-Free Mama’s help with the spices, I also make and preserve catsup, marinara sauce, and tomato paste, all from tomatoes I grow out back in the West-40 of HappyDay Farms.

Ever since the summer of 1974, the year following my release from the Big Green Machine, I have been able to finagle a way to grow tomatoes, possibly the most important component to a successful summer experience ever. Tomatoes on my salads, tomatoes in my Spanish rice, cooked tomatoes in my mac and cheese and most importantly, simply-sliced tomatoes, with salt and black pepper, on the side of any/every meal.
Simply-sliced

I eat tomatoes for breakfast, lunch, dinner and for in-between snacks. If there were such a thing as tomato ice cream, I would love that too. I am just a tomato kind of guy. One of my crushing disappointments as a young father, was not being able to convince Head SodBuster, as a child, to embrace the almighty tomato.

He didn’t care for them.

It was like renouncing baseball. I was stabbed to the very core of my existence. My own son, not like tomatoes? Was there nothing I could do to rectify this abysmal situation? Them’s what can’t, teach, so I taught Head SodBuster to grow tomatoes, at least.

I mean, I didn’t drag him out back and chain him down to watch, but being an observant lad, he not only saw what I was doing, he watched what his Grandpa Bob was doing, because Grandpa Bob grew tomatoes every year too. 

The other thing that Head SodBuster learned, along with his brothers, was that there were other uses for tomatoes, ones that were much better suited to the great outdoors. After all, if they threw tomatoes at each other indoors, there would be that pesky cleanup detail, one which would have been made worse by the simple fact that one did not throw green tomatoes.

One did not even throw red tomatoes, unless they were plenty squishy. Why bother?

This past year I planted a total of 110 tomato plants out back, of which I lost about fifteen to gophers, early on. We had the starts, more kept coming down from Head SodBuster’s greenhouses, and I had prepped a total of nine terraces, including the one in the orchard.

I planted tomatoes in eleven different spots, a dozen here, twenty there, however I could fit them in. I tried some different approaches and got fascinating results. In one seventy-feet-long terrace, where there were four cannabis planet spaced out evenly, I planted two Ace tomato plants between each plant, a total of six.
Two Ace tomato plants, flanked on each side by
an Ogre Berry/Ac-DC cannabis plant. 

Though there was more than twenty feet between each of the four cannabis plants (Ogre Berry/AC/DC), I planted only two Ace plants, with the expectation that those two Ace plants would be thumpers. Not only did they surpass my wildest expectations, they yielded incomparably large, beautiful, unblemished tomatoes.

There was no blossom-end rot, there were no tomato worms and they were supported by construction foundation wire, so that they were able to grow shoulder-high, without fear of falling over. I staked each four-feet-in-diameter circle with six-feet bamboo lengths and fastened the frames to the ’boo.

I got a lug of perfect tomatoes, per pair of plants, for about six weeks in a row there, through September and the first half of October. Then the rains came, cutting short our season because we got really hammered in November. Most years up here on the mountain, I have continued to harvest tomatoes through the end of November.

Now we are planning for this upcoming summer, and the reins of the tomato-growing have been turned over to me and Gluten-Free Mama. We are up for the task. 

We will do the starts right out back in our greenie, and we will up-plant them twice, before they go into the ground on May 1st, a full month earlier than I used to plant them, back in the day.
The difference is that now I cover them with Remay until the frost season ends. The earliest I have ever harvested red tomatoes was July 18th, and I’ve hit that date three times. Still, if they do come in that early, then I have them for three solid months, and that’s good enough for the girl I go with.

I cooked up some chicken cacciatore the other day, with one whole chicken, cut up, and an extra package of thighs. I have had it over rice the first night, over pasta for the second meal, and over baked potatoes the third night.

It may be raining outside, but it’s summer in my kitchen.



Compare the size of the conventional tea kettle with the saucepan.




4 comments:

  1. Love it! We may try some tomatoes this year too!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I know there will be tomatoes here this year. The beds are going in soon. You can start six or eight for us!

    ReplyDelete