Garden gone

Our first summer of vegetable gardening in the Pacific Northwest has come to a close, and it has been instructive.

The winter is milder and the spring is earlier, here, but the summer isn’t as hot and is devilishly dry. And then it starts to rain. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

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I took these pictures on October 1. My sauce tomatoes (Juliets) were in full flourish. I was sick of picking and dealing with tomatoes. I turned a goodly lot of them into tomato sauce this way: by halving them, piling them in baking dishes with basil, garlic, olive oil, and salt, and baking at 300F for about 90 minutes, then pressing the result through a sieve to remove the skins and seeds, and salting it until it tasted good.

Tomato sauce made this way tastes damn good, by the way.

Anyway: the small Juliets were profuse, and my big slicers were turning orange.

AND THEN

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It started to rain. I hope you can see in this photograph that the vines are dead and the half-ripened fruit is covered in mold. Now: I didn’t stake my plants this year, because I didn’t have two brain cells to rub together, and that certainly made things worse. Still. Mold. All over my slicing tomatoes. Bollocks.

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So I turned back to my Juliet plants, saw that their vines were dying too, and Leapt Into Action. I picked everything: green, red, it didn’t matter. The red ones were set aside as the Last Fruit of the Season, and I turned the green ones into pickles. And, because I still have those two jars of refrigerator pickles in my refrigerator (though one is nearly gone, and is tasty, btw), I decided to do something drastic.

To process my green tomato pickle.

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I think it worked. At least, all six jars sealed, so I assume they’re safe. The low pH will save me, in any case.

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I still had an irritating pile of garden zucchini on my counter (I lose the will to eat it the moment the summer heat goes away), and half a dozen more jars, so I made zucchini dill pickle and processed it, too. And all those jars sealed.

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So there it is. My pantry pickles for the year. I’m awfully proud of myself. And next year, I’m staking my tomatoes.

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