28 September 2018

C'est la fin des haricots tomates

Yesterday was rip-out-the-tomato-plants day. They were looking pretty scraggly. They were still covered with a lot of tomatoes, but nearly all of them were rotting on the vine. Sun damage was probably the main cause. Alors, quand les tomates sont cuites, on passe à autre chose.

And the fact is, we harvested so many tomatoes over the past six or eight weeks that we were feeling overwhelmed. The freezer is full of sauce, the cellar is full of jars of dried tomatoes and tomato paste. It's time to call it a season.

The first step was to untie all the tomato plants and free up the squiggly metal stakes that supported them. Then we pulled all the stakes out and let the plants fall to the ground. Then we collected as many healthy tomatoes as we could find.

The tomato plants were surprisingly easy to pull out of the ground. Here's what we ended up with. Weeds, mostly crabgrass, had set tenacious roots in the rock hard clay soil. It's been so dry in August and September — we've had about a third of our average rainfall for the period, and very hot weather.

So what's left in the garden? Greens. Tuscan "dinosaur" kale, for example. The plants have really suffered through the drought and the high heat. But they're already starting to look better now that it's not so hot outside. I watered them thoroughly yesterday, and I'm hoping for some rain soon.

The kale is planted along the eastern edge of the garden plot, and along the western edge is a line of Swiss chard plants. Those also have suffered sun and heat damage, but they are hardy. I trimmed them up, weeded around them a little bit, and watered them well. Even if rain doesn't start falling soon, we have a small number of plants to worry about now. They'll be easy to keep watered.

In this climate, leafy greens like kale and chard should continue producing until Christmas, and even into January and February. So I've also planted some collard seedlings in a big clay pot. I hope they will thrive, and at some point I might plant them out in the ground. After I've tilled the garden plot, that is. Luckily, Walt and I are both big fans of these kinds of greens.


  1. Replies
    1. We can't complain. We just had a tomato and mustard quiche — that might sound weird, but it's good — for lunch. I'll post the recipe. Delicious.

  2. Strong mustard, moutarde forte, goes very well with vegetables. I used it profusely in vegetable soup which I make with branch celeri (fortunately, in France - unlike in the US -they sell it with all their green leaves!), plenty of carrots, onions, potatoes, zucchini when in season, and canned basil tomatoes. That what I did on my last days in Paris. Delicious.

  3. That soup sounds delicious. I can almost smell and taste it. Moutarde forte de Dijon goes really well with vegetables — and especially with tomatoes.

  4. I have lots of tomatoes to use - recipe please!!!

    1. There is no recipe per se. You put in that soup whatever vegetable you have at hand and in quantities depending on what you want your soup to taste like. Since I especially like celeri -- celeriac or branch celeri --, for that soup, I used one bunch of branch celeri with the leaves, six onions, six carrots, six potatoes, two cans (1.25 g each) basil tomatoes, a pinch of celeri seeds and some dried basil, a lot of pepper, some piment d'Espelette and two homegrown bay leaves. For health reasons, I do not use salt in my cooking, or as little as possible when it is absolutely necessary, which is very seldom in my case.

      I guess this is mostly a trial and error recipe. Make a note of what you use the first time, so you will know what ingredients and quantities can be changed later. That way, you'll get a varieties of textures and flavors. And don't forget the strong mustard at serving time!

    2. I used half a package of mustard greens by sauteeing olive oil, cumin seed, red onion, and a few ripe tomatoes - also some red pepper flakes as I like a little kick. Once that was juicy and a little thick I added a good amount of greens and some red wine vinegar. I didn't cook it long - it was really good with some whole-grain crackers and slices of havarti. Next I'll get to the soup!


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