Saturday, August 9, 2008

Garden Explosion!

Okay, so what do you get when you combine:
3 over-zealous, ambitious gardeners
20 strong, healthy tomato plants
1 row of borlotti bean stalks
1 summer of alternating thunderstorms and blazing sun
1 hour of solitary work?

Well... this.

Yup. The garden exploded on me again! Go figure - right when I am (literally) the only person in the house: the rest of the family is either out camping at Sandbanks, living in the lap of luxury out east in P.E.I., or off God-knows-where with friends. It's just me, the cats and the dog, and gardening is an awesome way to kill time, but jeez - it's a little overkill!!

There's more out there, but I'm hiding - not only did I get tired out and covered in something else that gave me a light (but itchy) rash (like the last time I gardened... can you tell I didn't learn?) - but I can barely deal with what I have now on the kitchen table, given that with my upcoming trip I can only save so many fresh goodies.

So, what to do? Well, the borlotti beans that I didn't eat straight from the bowl (about 2/3 of the bunch) I blanched and froze as per the mother's requests, and as for the tomatoes - well, we'll see where 3kg of the suckers + 10 cloves of garlic + 12 hours in a crockpot leave us! I'm hoping for a chance to use my new food mill and make a decent passata-ish sauce, since chunky ones are snubbed by the family *sob... I love the chunky kinds!*. So far I have a very very full crockpot of very liquidy fruit, but hey, it's only 6 hours in! After milling it through I'll reduce it down and bottle it, and I'll let you know how it goes! I have some pretty good ideas for some of the remaining garden produce though... including a riff on this delicious-looking recipe as well as one or two of these. I'm also definitely going to make oven dried tomatoes too, since my Baby Romas are the perfect size and consistency for that application, being small enough for bite-sizeability in salads and pasta and "meaty" enough that they don't all just burn to nothingness when their juices evaporate. I haven't quite decided how I'll do it, since there are a few different recipes out there, but I'm looking for one that allows me to store them in the cupboard, not in oil, and grab them when I need. There's a good tutorial-style recipe on VegeYum that I found, so I'll probably use it as a guide.

I'm not claiming that these goodies are the prettiest, though. Delicious, yes. Healthy, yes. Perfect in every way but beauty? Yes. But pageant-winners? Not so much. Eh, who needs beauty when you have round protrusions like these?

Is anyone else out there like my family - planting a ton of things only to wind up with so much produce you have no use for? Or do you have any other tomato / hot pepper / assorted bean recipes or use-ups to pass along to me? I'm probably going to use up some of our dill glut and make pickles (mmm... pickles), but I'm always on the lookout for healthy veggie uses! Come to think of it, I have an herb garden full of mint (it never dies!), parsley, dill, spring onion, chives and lavender awaiting harvest too... I could use some tips there as well!

Next - making those tomatoes pretty (ish) for a blog event!

5 comments :

Maggie said...

20 tomato plants!!! You should make up batches of pasta sauce and salsa to freeze or can. Hopefully you planted too many herbs as well.

The first year I had my own house I overplanted but for me it was tons of lettuce. I learned to really like lettuce flowers. There was so much I couldn't harvest it before it went to seed.

canarygirl said...

Ooooh, lucky! Definately can those beautiful tomatoes if you aren't able to use them all...good memories of my mom doing that. :) I would love to have a little veggie garden...hmmm...where to put it though? lol Maybe on the roof?

DaviMack said...

Tomatoes: Dry them, dry them, dry them! They are absolutely fabulous dried, snipped over a salad during the depths of winter, and you can rehydrate them to make a wonderful sauce, or you can include them in soups - so many uses, and much easier to store than the canned ones! You can vacuum-seal them in canning jars if you have that many, and it'll keep them from any chance of mold infection, but dry them to a crisp and they'll keep just fine!

DaviMack said...

And don't throw away the green ones at the end of the season: make a fruit mince!

eileen said...

wow, I'm so jealous if your tomatoes! If I plant any, the local squirrels eat them all. :( Yours are totally beautiful, and would certainly win any tomato beauty contest I hosted. For preservation, I would definitely do tomato sauce, but then I'm not that into dried tomatoes. Either way, you win tomatoes!