Tag Archives: tomatoes

The days grow short

A meandering post…

The grandbebes.

Oh, it’s a long long while
From May to December
But the days grow short
When you reach September

I refused to loosen my grasp on summer, as if it would cause it to remain. And we have had an unusually warm and dry Autumn, temperatures soaring daily in bright sunshiny days regularly, so it has been easy to pretend.

Hunter catches and runs in the touchdown!

But the colorful-Colorado drive to the mountains a couple of weeks ago, yellow and orang-ish Aspen leaves tumbling and floating down the higher in elevation we got, the season changed for me. *snap* Just like that. I guess it really is fall.

When the autumn weather
Turns leaves to flame
One hasn’t got time
For the waiting game

sept 30 near allenspark, co
On our way to the top. Near Allenspark.

Oh, the days dwindle down
To a precious few…

Our niece Lori”s place in Estes Park. She always has a room for us.

This Season

The days are shorter, the evenings are cooler. The grass is greener, enjoying the break from relentless summer heat. The garden has gone wild, producing madly, somehow knowing the end is in sight. Cool-season crops, planted in August’s warmth, are deliriously happy this year. Radishes, lettuce, kale and arugula can be seen dancing in the moonlight.  With a little love and occasional cover, who knows? Maybe we’ll harvest for the Thanksgiving table? It doesn’t have to be the end {yet} of the gardening year. But it’s close.

I brought in a shopping bag full of tomatoes, zucchini and peppers three days ago…


Guess what?

If I were a garden vegetable, I would be a tomato plant. Of course I would. Search this blog for the word, “tomato” and you’ll see why.  The homegrown tomato is my all-time favorite, for no flavor like them can be purchased anywhere. They arrive all spring green and exciting on bushy-leafed plants and then become blood-red and juicier over time. Like we do.

Aging actually defines and colors who we are, what we bring to the proverbial table.

But the September and October tomato isn’t as flashy as the summer tomato.  The fruit is smaller, even as the numbers increase. Nearing the end, the tomato creates a veritable flurry of flowers-to-fruit, propagating itself for posterity. It’s like it is saying, “I won’t be around forever, these days are getting awfully short and I’m losing sunlight, but I’ll make sure to leave you with plenty to enjoy and seed for the future.”

It isn’t about being maudlin or morose, but I know things now I didn’t know 20 years ago. I know “the days dwindle down.” I recall my irrepressible youth. I couldn’t see the end of the blue-sky, sunny-summer days ahead and even though we always heard “We’re never promised tomorrow,” being young also makes you certain tomorrow will always be there.

Like my annual tomato plants, we have a certain number of days, the seasons set and measurable with some variations.  We have a limited supply of sunshine and rain. And then our days are gone. And we hope we will have produced life-giving, good fruit and plenty of it and have left extraordinary children and grandchildren to make the world better for the future.

I’m somewhere past the middle

Where am I now, September? October? I’m somewhere in the middle, over half my days are gone. I need to kick it into high gear, for goodness’ sake! :)

It has taken me the wisdom of the years I have lived to understand so many things and, wow, I have much left to learn. But so many seasons have come and gone and the people planted in my life’s garden to begin with are the ones still to tend, you know? Many wonderful friends and acquaintances pass by and we enjoy the love, the meals, but my people remain for me. Along the way, every possible distraction, possible (probable) offenses and seductive “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunities beckon. New things and flashy adventure present and they are wonderful, but the home garden is where the best nourishment remains even as, and especially as, the days grow shorter.

Over half my days are gone, but the ones that remain are bushel-baskets full of sage advice, wisdom, love (oh the love), nurture, insight into the future (I’m further along – I can see things ahead you may not yet have seen, my sweets); there’s discernment I can share and prophetic words I am anointed to speak and though the fruit on my vines is not the flashy, all-knowing fruit of my youth, I bear prolifically now, enough for my household and those who need refuge. Come one, come all…

So spend your days wisely, the endless supply you seem to have now.  And feast on the days your most important people have to spend on you, receiving the grace of years humbly and gratefully.

And these few precious days
I’ll spend with you
These precious days
I’ll spend with you

My favorite version of September Song

(lyrics above) by Willie Nelson. Naturally!

The. End. **sniff**

end of summer tomatoes

I pulled the proverbial plug.  I gathered up, from their toasty little covering (Dave was heat-lamping them) the remaining 84 or so Beefsteak, Heirloom and Early Girl tomatoes (not to mention the couple hundred cherries) and threw the plants into the barrel to be hauled away today.  I carried in bunches of tomatillas (probably threw away 3 times more), a pot full of green beans, 5 or 6 zucchinis, and a few dozen assorted peppers – not including the Serranos – another couple dozen of those, which I will directly give to my son-in-law, Ryan – do not pass go, do not collect $200.  Those things are wicked hot! Out with them!

What?  It isn’t still summer?

end of summer beefsteaks

The size of a cereal bowl!

Poor, poor little garden.  The beefsteaks were shocked it wasn’t the very middle of summer, I can tell from their behemoth size.  They had no idea how protected they’d been.

My counter was already heavy-laden with ripening tomatoes at every stage.  Now, if I wanted, I could do Fried Green Tomatoes and even found this very interesting recipe on Pinterest this morning, as if some fellow pinner knew I might need it:

fried green tomatoes cherry

How perfectly appropriate!

I like them red, and juicy and tangy and tart and real so I tend not to go in to the fried-green thing and opt for sneaking a couple of apples into their midst to get some quick ripening.  But I am rather inspired to try {this recipe} based on that image alone!

The kale and onions and garlic chives and Chinese Cabbage are still puttering along, with chamomile and some potted annuals, but for the most part, I pulled the incredible-fruitful plants out of the earth and ended a very nice summer garden in anticipation of a cold-turn, possible rain turning to {SNOW} flurries…tonight.  Ugh.

end of summer tomato assortment

Thank-you, garden, for a lovely, long and sweet summer.  Thank-you for still trying into the fall.  And God bless you for the lovely bounty I shall still enjoy for the next few days, maybe weeks.  So perfectly delicious.

“It’s the laughter we will remember, whenever we remember the way we were…”

I will always remember you, Garden 2013.  I really will.

It’s October 13th: Do You Know Where Your Home-Grown Tomatoes Are?

Did I make myself a BLT on toasted Italian with real mayo, salt and pepper, a little lettuce, some extra-crispy bacon and thick slabs of heirloom tomatoes from my own garden this morning for breakfast?  Why, yes.  Yes, I did.

blt october 13, 13

If bacon is going to kill me,  I intend to eat enough to die very happy.

The nights are way too cold for the fall gardening I had hoped to do.  You just never know.  I think I will “close-up-shop” this week on all but the kale and spinach, the lettuces and Chinese cabbage.  My amazingly loving and energetic husband has been covering the tender green beans, peppers and tomatoes nightly because I just had such a great garden year, he didn’t want it to come to the abrupt end the weather seems to have sent.  He even heat-lamps them at night.  How sweet is that?

The result?  I have piles of tomatoes all over the place.  Because-they are not stupid, you know.  If the end is near, they become extremely prolific, fruiting and leaving their legacy and seed behind.

The fall tomato is still sweet

blt oct 13

The autumn tomato in this zone?  Grows much slower, ripens at a snail’s pace.  The vigor of the August tomato has subsided to a more predictable, steady output.  I am tickled pink when I see new flowers on the plants – they refuse to go quietly and intend, though damaged by cold nights and shortened days and brittled by age, to stay fruitful until the last.

I love them for that.  I shall pattern my own life after the tomato.  Even if I get brittle and hobble and go gray and lose all my teeth – I intend to keep flowering and being fruitful.  :)

And that sandwich was so…what are the words?  You could not buy a tomato that tasty in an 8-state radius, I am certain of it.  It was really ambrosial, scrumptious, and just as delicious as the first fruits – maybe even sweeter.  Just like life…


Please, say it with Italian flare ~ use your hands for passion.

Pomodoro {pomo d’oro} apple of gold.  It’s a noun.  It means tomato.  *big smile :)

cherry tomatoes after rain

Pomodori.  Tomato, but plural.

Pomodorino.  Cherry tomato.

Pomodorata.  Tomato throwing.  I can’t decide if I MUST go to Spain to experience this one day?  Or if I should never because to see so many tomatoes not eaten (and me being pelted by them) would be heart-breaking…which is it?

Bruschetta a la Pomodoro! Perhaps even more delicious the next day.

bruschetta a la pomodoro



[the LORD] will fill your barns with grain,

and your vats will overflow with good wine.

Proverbs 3.9-10

I haven’t gone out to harvest today’s garden goodies yet.  But this is already in my “tomato bowl” this morning.  The bowl is 18″ diameter, 6″ deep.  And full – 4 types of tomatoes.

harvest tomatoes

For a few months, gardening has been tending to, working, weeding, watering, feeding, watching over with hope and expectancy.

Then suddenly…

He who cultivates his land will have plenty of bread…

Proverbs 28.19a

I can hardly get used to this heavy-with-harvest time.  I go out to work a little, water a bit and come in with so much reward, my arms and shirt filled with garden goodies of all kinds – enough to enjoy and share!  And I am still overwhelmed by these daily benefits (loaded with them!), astonished with joy over finding new mercies among the leaves, sort of amazed and giggling at the miracle of it: Look what God has done!  I apologize in advance – I cannot help myself.  I throw a load on the counter and whip out the iPhone. *snap!

harvest chiles

Dave caught me scrolling through my phone’s camera roll and smiling.  Because this is the time I was waiting for {{nearly breathless, quietly~quietly hoping}}, and am yet so happily dazzled over: harvest time!  I knew down deep it was coming {hoped-against-hope it would}, but I have still been captured by surprise!

And I will restore for you the years that the locust has eaten—the hopping locust, the stripping locust, and the crawling locust…

And you shall eat in plenty and be satisfied and praise the name of the Lord, your God, Who has dealt wondrously with you. And My people shall never be put to shame.

Joel 2.25-26

harvest peppers

It takes all my strength not to plaster all 37 images I have taken of my veggies in the last week right here on this blog.  Yesterday, as I was juggling red, juicy tomatoes and heavy, dark green cucumbers with assorted peppers and just-right zucchini with straightneck squash to bring them into the house, it was perhaps the third load, as the sun was shining on me and the purple petunias were cheering me on in their perfumed and wavy way, I heard a voice (in my spirit, not literally)  narrating my story from heaven ~

“The seeds were buried in hot,  black soil on a spring day by faith.  Waiting, not always patiently, but certainly with expectancy…waiting…Then one day, the harvest became so plentiful she could barely keep up ~ armfuls of plenty, abundance filling every nook, every cranny.  The time of abundance had come.  At last”

Yes, I know I am a little over-the-top about gardening, but don’t you also find it incredibly stunning that God allows us to join Him in creating a profusion of life-giving food?  Don’t you think it is an honor to get to tend to these miraculous growing things and then He just gives them to us?!  I am a humbled recipient of the summer yield, a wealth of delicious, seed-bearing, life-giving, nutritious, lovely sustenance for my body and soul – this from a seed I watched die in the soil.  Supernatural provision, people!

I am intoxicated with gratefulness for the Creator.  I am.

Do not be deceived…A man reaps what he sows…Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6.7-9 NIV

The Year of the Tomato

Ah, yes…

Some years, the zucchini hogs all the glory, just producing and producing and flowering and fruiting out all over the place.  the cuke has had its year and green beans know how to arrive in glory.

tomatoes beefsteak

But I garden mostly for tomatoes and this year is just a really good tomato year.  When I stumbled in to the kitchen for coffee this morning and saw tomatoes in bowls and on trays on every counter and the kitchen table, too, I realized that I must have picked at least 3 dozen tomatoes yesterday – to add to a couple dozen still just sitting around.

That included tomatoes from 4 plants: an heirloom tomato, which, as they are known to be prone, contracted a disease and is dying, but still yielding its’ fruit like crazy (a lesson to be learned); a Sweet-100 cherry tomato plant which is madly fruiting golf-ball-sized tomatoes, an over-achiever to be sure; an Early Girl, which wasn’t particularly early, but which is certainly giving us armfuls of perfectly-globed 6-8 oz. tomatoes; and finally the beefsteak.  I picked almost a dozen of them yesterday and at least 6 of them were almost a pound each.  They hang off a slice of bread – they’re that big.  And that is fun. Dave was helping me show some off  (below) – but then I got more!

tomato beefsteak

I always tell everyone, gushing and exuding true love, “If you can only garden one thing, make it the tomato.”  And the tomato is loving me back this year, delicious on my taste buds and in my tummy!  :)

What you see…

…is what you get.

Well, it wouldn’t be a normal garden season if I hadn’t brought home a plant thinking it was one thing and then finding out it was another.

This year the award goes to Home Depot for selling me a “Beefsteak Tomato” that was really:  {ta-da} a small yellow pear-shaped tomato, barely bigger than a grape-style tomato.

I don’t mind surprises in the garden.  The plant itself started sprawling like crazy, but hadn’t really produced anything before Heaven Fest.  I thought the vines were rather delicate to be a beefsteak variety.  Today, I peeked into the middle of this very populated part of the plant and pulled out a couple of pints of these little beauties.  Popped one into my mouth and o-my-gosh!  Tangy, sweet, tongue-tingling-deliciousness!

Harvest time.   Ah, yes.  I remember you and why I am so stinking in love with you!

Now to determine the best possible use for my sweet love apples {another name for tomato}.  On piping hot pasta with cream and fresh grated parmigiano-reggiano?  Perhaps a cold combination with kalamata olives and extra-virgin olive oil with home crafted mozzarella balls, freshly grated black pepper and a sprinkling of sea salt or splash of balsamic?

I must go now, to think about this most urgent need.

Tomatoes, a.k.a “Love Apples”



Lucky One

A little first-day-of-summer gardening with the Kelley kids yesterday yielded a great surprise:

Gavin has his first tomato!

He was pretty excited to have beat me.  I only have 4 tomato plants this year and he has 3, but he got the first tomato out of the deal, a tiny, green sphere getting ready to turn into a gorgeous red tomato.  Yum.  We were so happy.

Then, to Gavin’s great excitement, we noticed he also had a pepper on his little sweet pepper plant.  Glory be! 

“I’m the luckiest boy in the world!” he told us.

Be still, my melting, proud, love-filled, gooey-sweet, this-kid-is-amazing heart.  He gets the gardener in me because the same heart beats in him, too.  Gavin and I were born to be sustainable-living-backyard-farmers.  I am the luckiest Nonna in the world!

If you could see his eyes (I stink at photography), you’d know they were happy!

My latest movie project

Hunter is at the most hilarious stage.  He likes to make me laugh and will pose for pictures for me.  I caught a few before he jumped in the pool recently.  He loves pulling out his Kung Foo Panda moves.  I laugh every. single. time.

Tomato-growing is no joke

Tomatoes are nothing to joke about.

Stormie works in the billboard-graphic ads biz.  A big chunk of anything you see on billboards or plastered on the sides of buses might have crossed her desk for art-checking.  She sent me this very cool photo yesterday, an add for Bloom, “a different kind of grocery store.” www.shopbloom.com

On first glance?  Very cool, clean, fresh.  Look at those gorgeous, juicy tomatoes.  Beautifully, neatly draped over the little garden sign.  Quite modern and makes you want to eat healthy.  But yikes, people.  Tomatoes don’t grow like that.  I actually enlarged the photo to make sure those were even tomato leaves, because they look so strange, just sort of plunked in like that via photo-editing.  Hydroponics, I wondered?  Some weird genetically engineered-type tomato plant?  And what tomato 5-pack is that exposed?  If that many leaves are missing, the dreaded leaf-devouring horn worm can be heard licking his lips nearby.  Trust me on that one.  Plus, um, tomatoes have to be planted deep.  Deeeeeeeep.  You can’t just throw one on the window sill.

A couple of these boogers can defoliate an entire large tomato plant is jjst a few days.  Gross.  They actually consume and fatten up to pretty big leaf-green larvae while destroying your tomatoes.  They are the devil.

So yeah.  On first glance this ad is pretty and neat and appealing and very suburban.  But I am going to have to say no.  I mean-think about the mis-information you are giving our children, Bloom!  Tomato-growing is space and time-consuming and messy and deep holes and gazillions of leaves and hard-but-o-so-rewarding work.

“It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard… is what makes it great.” -Jimmy Dugan in A League of Their Own(one of my favorite baseball movies of all times…heck, one of my fav movies!).

Some google images, tantalizing my tastebuds.  Real tomatoes in real gardens.

I apparently take tomato production quite seriously.

Look at this t-shirt I spotted while browsing google images:

Who would wear that?  Even if it IS true?

Two Tricks for One Great Treat

Green Tomatoes.

I quit watering the veggies after the Montana trip (over a month ago).  That always sends them into overdrive: producing madly, attempting to leave seed so they can go on endlessly.  Cold nights and warm days do weird things to tomatoes, so at this point I am picking them green and bringing them in.  Now what do I do with these piles of tomatoes?

Two tricks.

Fried Green Tomatoes.

Like the movie.  Only better and delicious for breakfast, too, oh, yes!

  1. Slice 4 good sized green tomatoes into 1/2″ thick slices (if it is slightly red, make sure it is still firm).
  2. Whisk 2 eggs and a half cup of milk together in one bowl.
  3. Mix 1/2 cup of cornmeal and 1/2 cup bread crumbs (or one or the other or any combination of the two – I LOVE corn meal) with 2 teaspoons of Kosher salt (don’t skimp on the salt) and pepper to taste into another bowl.
  4. Have a plate of flour to dip the slices into.
  5. Take slice, dip in the flour to coat.  Then dip it into the egg and milk mixture.  Then dip it into the crumbs and completely coat – completely!
  6. Fry in a skillet with the oil 1/2″ deep, don’t let them touch each other.  When it is brown, flip it and finish and drain on paper towels.
  7. Heaven.

An Apple Trick.

If you just want to ripen them for having the luscious red tomatoes around, put them in a cardbaord box or a paper bag with an apple.  The ethylene gas given off by the apples in a closed space will cause the tomatoes to ripen.  More red tomatoes!

I have had fresh garden ( MY garden) tomatoes as late as Thanksigivng and this year I could have had that, too.  Boo hoo.  But I shall surely and thoroughly enjoy the ones I have now! ;p