A Little More Moisture


I was awakened rather rudely this morning at 6am by a very loud scraping outside my bedroom window.  I had planned on sleeping in a bit–7 or maybe even 8.  So I rolled myself out of bed and looked outside: an inch of heavy, wet snow and my neighbor shoveling his driveway in the dark.

I was getting ready to go out and growl at him when I realized that he was probably just trying to get his car out of the lower parking area.  It’s not his fault the drive runs right along my bedroom side of the house.  I got up and dressed anyway, and made myself some java.  About the time the caffeine kicked in, negating the possibility of getting some more sleep, he finished shoveling.

I went out yesterday to check on the gardens again–almost all the snow was gone, and the exposed kale plants had been nibbled down to their bases.  That’s OK– the shallots and green onions and elephant garlic were exposed but not molested–the deer who visit my garden have strange tastes and have been known to nibble on the onions before.  But that may have been the older doe, who met her fate on the highway last fall.

Yesterday, without any of the fanfare I’ve had in the lead-up, I started my tomatoes.  I had to double up on a couple of the channels to be able to fit in all of the varieties–especially since I’d forgotten one of them had to be reserved for tomatillos–I’m growing “Mexican Strain” from Territorial this year.

Four of the five varieties of cherry tomatoes had to be doubled up, and I left out the 3-lobed “sport” of San Marzano for another year.  We’ll see if any other of the regular Marzanos I saved the year before last come out shorter and blockier like those did.

One new thing I learned this year about tomatoes is that while most tomato varieties do not easily cross, apparently “potato leafed” varieties do cross with each other (this according to the Seed Savers Exchange packet info).  Potato-leaf tomatoes have more rounded foliage–Brandywine is a popular potato-leafed variety, and the only one I grew last year.  However, this year I’ll be growing both that and Hillbilly Potato Leaf (a yellow-with-red-streaks slicer), so I will have to widely separate them in the garden.

I grew tomatillos two years ago, but left them alone last year.  They make the most fantastic salsa verde, but the plants tend to be a bit weedy and out-of-control.  The first year I grew them, I grew them in my front yard, and had no end of questions and comments on them.

They got about three feet tall and three feet wide, and three plants gave me an abundance of the paper-husked fruits that drop to the ground when ripe.  Besides the salsa, my favorite thing about tomatillos is their Latin name, which I have been known to whisper to the plants while I am tending them to enjoy the feel of the syllables on my tongue: Physalis ixocarpa.

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5 responses to this post.

  1. How fun to know someone else who whispers sweet nothings to her garden denizens…and admits it. 🙂

    Tomatillos Rock! But you’re right. They do take over the place.

    I too love the salsa. But I also freeze tomatillos, whole if small or else cut in half–no blanching required. Two of our favorite recipes use these frozen tomatillos (fresh work of course!): 1) spicy pork, pinto bean and tomatillo soup; and 2) “puerco con chile verde” (this is a pork and tomatillo “stew” that you wrap in warm flour tortillas with rice, and cilantro..

    Yummy! I think I’ll rummage around in the freezer to see if I still have tomatillos.

  2. Posted by flyingtomato on March 17, 2008 at 3:51 pm

    Your comment made me realize how hungry I am!

    I will also have to rummage in my freezer and see what’s left. Alas, there won’t be tomatillos, but I’ll bet there’s some okra.

    The snow makes me think soup or stew would be good choices–maybe a little chili!

  3. I covet your okra. I love okra! Especially fresh-picked, rubbed with a little olive oil, and tossed on the grill. But I didn’t grow enough last year to put any by.

    How do you freeze yours? and how do you use it frozen?

    Some flurries again in N. Minnesota…for the next few days evidently. But temps are up, so nothing will stay…for now anyway. Come on, spring!!

  4. Posted by flyingtomato on March 17, 2008 at 6:51 pm

    I usually use my frozen okra in stews or soups. Directly after picking, I wash it and trim the tops right where the cap joins to the pod (this keeps it from “leaking” its slimy goodness).

    I blanch the pods in boiling water for about a minute, drain and rinse with cool water, then slice into 1/4 to 1/2″ sections and pack in freezer bags.

    I add to the bags as I get more okra coming on–so I do a little at a time, as it is relatively easy to separate a “chunk” of the frozen vegetables rather than having to use the whole bag at once (like squash).

    I usually toss it into soups directly from the freezer so that it thaws right in the pot. That way, again, it doesn’t “leak” much of its mucilagenous goodness anywhere but the place I want it.

    Glad to hear it’s not too bad up there–my partner is flying back from Germany tomorrow, and he’ll (hopefully) be ending up in Minneapolis tomorrow night. I was worried he’d be stranded in Detroit!

  5. Thanks for sharing your okra freezing method and uses. Like I said, I love it! and didn’t grow nearly enough last year. So I’m thinking ahead to hoped for abundance. What variety do you grow? and do you save the seeds? if so, how?

    You’re a veritable font of useful info! Thanks.

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