Summer days, driftin’ away

But, oh, those summer tomatoes. I have long been in love with them. But this summer was the first I really tried (and succeeded!) to grow my own.

I’m now in the midst of a steady daily harvest of a half-dozen romas and at least as many sweet, yellow cherry tomatoes, which I end up snacking on while I water. I occasionally share one with my daughter. Occasionally, she takes a bite, decides the squirt-pop sensation is weird and hands the smushed tomato back to me. But she’s eaten enough of them to make me feel like a successful gardener-slash-mother for the time being.

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The harvest isn’t quite what it could be if these plants were grown in the as-yet-uncreated garden area, which will require moving a fence to find the sunlight in our heavily treed yard. But, for growing in pots on a porch, I’m pretty proud. I also wrote a story this summer about just how many folks in our area are growing a lot with a little. Check out the piece in Arlington Magazine.

I also started almost all of the plants in my little pots from seed — the tomatoes, eggplant and peppers inside under grow lights. The opportunity for failure was pretty big. (We won’t talk about the native pollinator garden flowers I also started from seed… ALL of which my dog ate one day. I had to move the grow lights to higher ground.)

Though my tomato harvest has been successful, considering my low expectations, I didn’t want to turn my daily bounty into this year’s canned tomato sauce. No, there’s nothing worse than watching all your hard work that you thought was SO MANY tomatoes boil down to a couple lowly jars. I’d rather cherish each homegrown tomato on its own, as the centerpiece of a morning scramble or caprese salad.

That’s why, even though I grew some tomatoes and thought I might can them if I had “too many,” I went ahead and bought 25 pounds of “seconds” at the farmers market on Sunday. Though I didn’t totally intend to do canning this past weekend, while my husband is away on a trip and the toddler was at my feet, I knew that buying them would be all the inspiration I’d need to do it anyway.

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(Oh, and I’m newly obsessed with Call the Midwife. So canning is really an excuse to keep your hands busy while you Netflix, chill and escape the heat. Let’s be honest.)

Every year, I nearly forget how to can. Thankfully, I bought Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Practical Pantry a couple years ago and have never felt the need to Google “canning ______” again.

This is my fourth year canning tomatoes (here’s a previous post on tomatoes and one with a recipe for a preservation party and tomato jam). But this was my first year putting up ‘maters with a toddler in tow (and my husband out of town). Let’s just say we survived, and I’ll be cleaning tomato splatters out of the corners of my kitchen for a little while.

Cheers to tomato season!


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