Vegetable Patch

Given that this week has been a difficult one for recipes, and to commemorate our first tomato of the season I figured it would be appropriate to post an update about our little vegetable patch which, shall we say, is still very much a work-in-progress.

As you’ll see from the images below, we have a potentially large number of tomatoes awaiting us, which we’ve been waiting on, for, oh, just over six weeks now? Because of the unusually cool summer – that actually feels more like an extended Spring/Summer transition – I suspect our tomatoes haven’t had enough heat and tanning time on the vine to nudge them along. Our patch gets shaded by four in the afternoon, and with cloudy mornings where the sun doesn’t show until after 10, that’s barely enough sun-time for these fruits to get their blusher on.

Of the four varieties we installed, the Yellow Pear Tomatoes have been the most consistent, yielding two to three nuggets every four to five days, just enough for a gardener’s treat, but not for a salad. Despite its tiny form, this fleshy tomato packs a punch in flavor, true to its heirloom heritage. The San Francisco Fog Tomato (above) is still in one piece for the purposes of this post, but I suspect it won’t be for very much longer.

Clockwise from Top Left: Early Girl, Yellow Pear, San Francisco Fog, Red Cherry

Like the tomatoes, the rest of our vegetables are chugging along, marshalling every ounce of their reproductive organisms to expand and bear fruit. Our eggplants seem to be getting along just fine, but I wish I could say the same for our zucchini plants. They’re looking a little sad this year with whitish-yellowish leaves that wilt almost immediately after turning their trademark green, with little fruit. Since their planting in late-May, we’ve had the grand total of two fruits and I’ve just about resigned to the fact that this just isn’t our year for zucchinis.

Another glimmer of hope are the serrano peppers, which, after four months, have finally produced two bright red peppers for stir-fries and sauces. I’m crossing my fingers that all of those currently chilling on the plant will ripen at the same time, which would coincide perfectly with my plans to feature them in a curry/chili paste for some fiery goodness.

Top: Serrano Peppers; Bottom, left to right: Green Beans and the start of a Yellow Cucumber

We added Green Beans to the plot in late-June and so far, they’re in the running for being the most efficient, fruit-bearing plant on our little patch, already producing enough for a quick and easy stir-fry with caramelized garlic and a dash of salt. M, the cucumber fan between the two of us, is excited about the teensy tiny Yellow Cucumber that, hopefully, will mature into a generously-sized, juicy one for a summer salad.

So, while our vegetables are cruising along, the Gravenstein Apple tree right behind our patch is happily fecund and heavy with fruit. Dropping its jewels every few hours or so, the latest garden harvests have invariably included at least three to four apples which we continue to ripen on our windowsill. This apple apparently has a large fan base, especially in Sonoma County where an entire weekend fair has been dedicated to the joys of its flavor and uses in cooking. All this adulation for the fruit is making me really curious and eager to use it in desserts, particularly as a sampling of the raw fruit hasn’t really convinced me about its deliciousness.

Do you have a preferred recipe for featuring apples in desserts? I’d love to hear about it!


  1. El

    It looks like you got quite a bit of good food from the garden this year. You said it’s been cooler and I’m surprised because it’s been a sweltering hot summer here in NE with almost no rain. What have your temperatures been like? Just curious.

    As for the apples, I don’t think you can go wrong with a quick and simple apple tart.

    Your photos are beautiful!

  2. I know a lady who grows yellow pear tomatoes that she started from seed way back when she came to Canada from the Ukraine. They’re ridiculously good and, same as you, produce so many tomatoes a plant, you get a couple every day. I think I’m going to have to get some seeds from her for next summer.

  3. Asha: The actual work only happens before (to prepare the soil) and after the season (to weed everything out). Our plot is small, fortunately, so weeding isn’t too much of a chore, and we’ve installed irrigation around the rows for fuss-free watering. Our only problem now is protecting the plants from pests – first, slugs and snails, and now cucumber beetles that are killing the zucchini. Lots of patience needed to deal with them “humanely” 😉

    Shaheen: I tried making a persimmon tarte tatin last year when I had a big batch of them, but it didn’t turn out great. I suppose classic recipes like that aren’t meant to be tweaked too much! A cast iron pan sounds perfect for this!

    El: Our days haven’t heated up beyond 80/82F at the most, dipping into the mid-50s at night. I’m not complaining, obviously, but I think our tomatoes aren’t very happy!

    Dana: Ooh, do it, you won’t regret it!

    Julianne: Thank you!

    LimeCake: Crumbles are my go-to vehicle for apple desserts to be honest, I need to start expanding my repertoire 😉

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