A Ton of Tomatoes, A Plethora of Peppers, a Crate of Cukes!

Our garden has exploded with produce this year; we have eaten loads of peas, lettuce, and beets. Now we are harvesting tomatoes by the dozens, green peppers and sweet onions. The corn isn’t ready yet, but it’s coming. I have frozen over a dozen large bags of tomatoes, and we are eating green peppers and cukes practically for breakfast.

Who could resist a salad of fresh, juicy cherry tomatoes and sliced cukes, topped with a blob of lemon-y mayonnaise? Just last night I made a fabulous marinara sauce with our own tomatoes and onions, and it was heavenly. I’ve also made several batches of “refrigerator pickles” (pretty easy to make, too) with all our cucumbers as well.

It’s amazing to me that you can simply put seeds into the ground, and, weeks later; viola! You have fresh produce; amazing. We haven’t even walked by the produce section since July. We give away as much as our friends and neighbors will take because we just can’t consume all we’ve grown.

Who would have thought that the purple beets we planted (some were easily as big as my fist) would be so sweet and delicious? I made pickled beets and then made boiled beets; let them cool down a bit, then cut them into slices, toss them with butter, and salt and pepper. Absolutely fabulous.

We planted way too many tomato plants; half Romas and half cherries. While picking, I often eat some right off the vines, warm from the sun. And the green peppers—this was our first year planting them, and nearly every day I pick three or four that have become too large. We’ve had them chopped up into scrambled eggs, in salads, and even along with the cukes when I make pickles.

Since we had never planted sweet onions before, we tried them this year. They came up beautifully, and they are as sweet as promised. Some have been the size of baseballs! We also put in leeks for the first time, and they seem to be doing well, too. I am already dreaming of cream of leek soup.

The garden herbs, sage, oregano, basil and mint, are all in full bloom, too. The plan is to dry them in the fall; if we haven’t already used them up by then.

While in the garden, I think of my grandmother and my late mother-in-law, both of whom loved gardening and fresh produce as we do. When I am finished harvesting each day, sweaty, with dirt under my fingernails, I feel a satisfaction unlike anything else. And I think of them, feeling the same way I do.

Just remembering the work we put in planting back in June makes us enjoy the end result even more. As we used to say, “who-da thunk it?” My only regret is that in our region, we can’t grow avocados, pineapple or lemons or limes….

So if you’re ever in our neighborhood, stop by. We’ll give you all the tomatoes and peppers you want!