Last night we had a hard frost here in northern New Hampshire. Despite the glittery ice frosting the plants in the garden as well as the flowers in the window boxes, stark reminders of the growing season lie on the kitchen counter, fresh garden tomatoes. Red ripe juicy globes await to be roasted into sweet caramelized sauce. An overflowing bowl of more tomatoes will be simmered slowly into a thick spaghetti sauce for pasta.
Every late September into early October, I allot my weekends to put up my tomatoes. Sometimes I make spaghetti sauce and others I roast them. In preparation for the sauce, first I boil them with their skins on. After that I plunge the beauties into a cold water bath. This process makes it easier to skin them.
With cutting board and a sharp knife, I cut out bad spots. Next I load them in the blender and pulse it so they’re smooth. It’s time to simmer the sauce with basil, Oregano, Salt, Pepper, a tablespoon of Olive Oil and two tablespoons of sugar. I also add Prego Spaghetti sauce to thicken it. It still tastes homemade but hold together better in a thick yummy sauce.
Tomatoes are a wonderful tasty addition to stir frys, grilled cheese sandwiches, pesto veggie sandwiches and one of Tom’s favorites BLTs. Once you’ve home grown your own tomatoes, you get spoiled for the taste knocks it out of the ballpark and you can’t go back to store bought. The taste just isn’t the same!
Can you taste that scrumptious tomato? I’ll enjoy a few more before next September. The wait will be long and difficult, but it will be well worth the wait!
Well the gardening season is approaching it’s end in northern New Hampshire. So far we have only had a frost or two, enough to blacken and crinkle the plant leaves. I’ve been spending my time picking tomatoes, carrots and the last of the zucchini and broccoli. Every time I’m ready to bid goodbye to all the picking and vegetable gathering, a growth spurt comes out of nowhere. The sunny pleasant days are tending to the zucchini plants, still surprising me with little deep green beauties, a harvest of close to two months! ( Even with frosted leaves!) Teeny green broccoli sprigs tower above the plants, making it easy to snip them off. Carrots continue to grow and thrive, as well as the snappy healthy tops. I’ve always thought they look perfect for a garnish!
About a week ago Tom and Dylan moved the greenhouse to the garden from the back tall grass. Tom cleverly placed it over our best tomato plants. I’ve been watering them and picking as many red ones as I can. Because the season is ending soon, I’m picking the green tomatoes as well and bringing them inside. It works really well to ripen them in paper bags, then I make my homemade pasta sauce for the freezer. That way we can enjoy the taste of the garden in the long winter months!
My Butternut squash plants grew long vines which I draped over our fence. Here and there squashes grew amongst the leaves sporting a deep green color. For weeks I’ve waited for them to turn a tan color with no avail. I think this happened in previous years but I don’t remember if I left them on the vine or picked them. Any suggestions from my fellow gardeners? I do love Butternut squash and hope I can eat these!
Here is a sample of my late September harvest! The wooden tray I picked up at the annual Chelsea Flea Market held in July. It’s handy because there are two holes on each side for gathering. Next year I may fashion tough rope handles through them.
As September closes and our leaves turn red, yellow and pink, my garden is slowing turning brown and eventually everything will be put to bed. It’s been a great growing season with my favorites being cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots and fresh basil. I’ll truly miss my morning jaunts deep in the growing vines beyond our home. The bird songs, bright sunshine, buzzing busy bees and lovely Monarch Butterflies will remain in my memory as special accompaniments to the garden.
With fall here and weather changes rolling in, I succumb to the natural order of things. All good things must end, therefore my joy of gardening can be pushed aside until next May. In the meantime I’ll pour over photos and sketch a plot map for next year.
One thing that I’ve learned in this crazy life and hold dear to my heart is to do what you love. I’ve learned by trial and error how to follow my passion and steamroll forward without any worry about anything or what others think. It’s my journey and mine alone and others may not understand it…for it’s not theirs to own.
My loves of gardening and writing complete me and are sacred to me during this phase of my life.With that said, my life has been hurried the last month or so and I haven’t been doing what I love continuously. We had Florida and Massachusetts family visit for a few weeks and with that came nice sessions on our new deck and delicious meals made by my mother- in-law and sister- in- law. School started and with it came changes within the staff, forcing me to adjust to a new teacher working with me. It’s been fine, more than fine and I’m happy how things are going now. But somehow I disconnected from this blog and all of you, who I consider good friends. Because of this I’ve been empty a bit and the longer I went not writing this, the harder it’s been to comeback. Does that make sense?
One special thing we did when my mother-in- law Theo was here was going out to eat with Butson’s friends. Years ago we all worked together in the supermarket, some in bakery, deli or produce departments. It was great to catch up and connect and especially to laugh!
I hope to catch up with you, post photos of my garden and what I’ve been doing the last six weeks. I know I’m back now…pursuing what I love and sharing it all with you. I have missed you all and hope your lives have room for what you love!
Most gardeners know there’s a harvest time of scarcity and a time of plenty. Usually when the garden starts producing, it’s slow. I pick rich green leaves of lettuce and herbs first while I patiently wait for other veggies to be ready. It’s mid- August and I’ve been picking zucchini consistently for about two weeks. Most days I pick at least two or three green squashes. Bringing my kitchen shears comes in handy as I need them to cut the thick stem while I hold the squash stem tightly with my other hand and twist it. If you don’t do this, you’ll end up with a severed stem. This happened to me the other day forcing me to use that squash right away. It seems to dry out without a stem.
Some ways I use zucchini are:
zucchini mini bread
chocolate zucchini bread
zucchini carrot muffins
chocolate zucchini cake
stuffed zucchini with hamburger, rice, chopped tomatoes and cheese ( made pretty closely to stuffed peppers but in a hollowed out zucchini squash )
sautéed zucchini with summer squash ( in butter)
zucchini spice whoopie pies ( see a recipe soon!)
However you use this hearty vegetable, it will surely satisfy your family!
Thankfully zucchini is easy to grow and hard to kill. No matter the weather, the plants always grow well with enough weeding and watering. Every year I tend to have too much of it so I share with family and my co- workers. In past years I’ve grown less but this year I had a lot from seeds, about eight vivacious plants.
All My Best,
Heart and Soul 🥰
Thanks to my honey Tom I have an Oriental Lily in my garden greeting every visitor at the cusp of the door. This thoughtful man gifted it to me on my birthday. Last week I was surprised when two opened up wide and two days later another two bloomed. It’s aromatic presence entices and soothes your olfaction receptors. Ah, a beautiful scent! I can even smell it inside the kitchen through the window screen!
You may remember from a post a few weeks ago that my Coneflowers weren’t doing so well from the late cool start. Now they all have blossomed and are doing well. I noticed they aren’t as tall as I’d like but I imagine they will grow taller every year, weather providing.
It’s early August and at this point of the summer I go out twice to my garden. First in the morning it’s weeding and hoeing work between rows in the fresh air. Next I haul the hose over and water it if it hasn’t rained recently. Later in the afternoon I saunter out in the bright sunshine with my new garden tray I bought at a flea market. With scissors in hand I walk the plot with intentions of finding veggies that are ready for picking. Lately we are getting deep green zucchini, cilantro, basil, lettuce ( it’s actually going by now), cucumbers, some spinach and green beans.
I’ve noticed our sweet corn is tall and seems to be crowning with tassels but there appears to be hardly any ears of corn! Why do you think this would happen, poor irrigation? Pollination problems? Anyway usually our corn is ready by late August so I’m predicting that’s not enough time for them to grow, right? Now that I’ve discovered this, I’m reminded that every year something doesn’t grow as planned and that forces me to become an investigator of sorts to solve the problem.
Yesterday I broke the news to my husband, the man whose total garden focus is corn. He went right out there inspecting the stalks and remains hopeful that some will grow, just later than usual. If we don’t yield corn I’ll stop by the local farmer’s market and stock up or the freezer. That will be a bummer so I pray that we have our own!
Has this ever happened to you before? Do you have any suggestions for me? Thank you in advance for your insight.
Last year I successfully grew a sunflower patch. There were golden ones, rich reds and maroon hues as well as sunny yellows. They stretched tall from eight feet to about 12! I remember seeing people in cars slowing down to admire their beauty. They definitely bring some sunshine and happiness to my day. I look forward to seeing them grow up, probably emerging in a month or so. I will pick some for inside and leave some in the patch.
Do you grow sunflowers? Do you pick them or enjoy them from your yard?
It’s mid July in our neck of the woods, a season of sultry sun and bursts of fresh rain. Amid the hundreds of insects flying and crawling, flowers bloom eagerly as if to say, “ I’m here! Look at me.” A collage of colors surrounds us, ever changing all the time so I don’t blink but capture each moment.
Glowing golden Coreopsis shows it’s face in front of my house. Wispy Catmint sports purple blossoms.
My window boxes are flowing now with deep reds, perky pinks and subtle white Bicopas drape over its edges. Oh how I love them!
Lavender purples plume upward as buzzing bees visit often and enjoy them as much as I do!
This is my east corner of the house, a shady spot where my Astilbe grow as well as spring blooming Lily of the Valley.
I hope your yard is immersed in many colors! Don’t you think they make us happy?
I have sat down three different times to write this post and each time I was almost done and it got erased! It’s frustrating because I was satisfied with it yet now I begin again once more. Hopefully the last time. Has that ever happened to you?
As a young child I didn’t give a hoot about gardens. I remember being around the age of 10 and my dad proudly tried to show me his garden at our Haverhill, NH house. The plot sat in the back of our yard bordering blackberry bushes. Dad tried to put on a tour of all his vegetables and coldly and uninterested I ran away to play. Oh how I regret that with my every being! If I could turn back time I’d listen to soak in the moments as he went through his garden. But I can’t and that’s that.
Now as a mature adult, I’m a gardener like my dad. I guess it all came full circle! It took me half a lifetime to appreciate a gardens peaceful presence and it’s magical qualities. It all started with my paternal grandfather ( actually my maternal grandparents gardened too), progressed to my father and now I continue the tradition. My sister has a vegetable garden too.
Years ago Tom tilled and tended a huge garden for his employer, Mrs. Geneen. He didn’t enjoy it though, for it was his job. I didn’t have anything to do with it until one day I was strolling through the rows of growing green plants. Suddenly an interest sparked within me and from that day on I have tended our gardens. We maintained a garden at the farm for about twenty years and about five here, on our land.
It’s more than a hobby, but as a profound passion of connecting with the earth and growing and nursing vegetables for our family. Digging in the soil of the plot makes me feel alive! It’s calming as I stoop and pull weeds, check the leaves for growth or hoe the narrow rows of dirt. It’s my therapy in life, a special sanctuary to be still or to move among the plants. Sometimes I twist and turn, other times I rest and weed. Whatever I do in the garden, it’s sacred.
As I wrap up this post, I wish to thank my dad for all his gardening advice and for our phone conversations that are focused on gardening. It’s these moments that mean very much to me, times of connections that have strengthened our relationship. Maybe he’ll see this and maybe he won’t and that doesn’t matter to me. What matters is that this hobby has brought us a little closer. I’m grateful for that.