Saturday, March 27, 2010

Plum Lovely

I pruned the plum tree today. It's nice to have flowers in this vase again, even if they aren't the most graceful-looking stems.

Friday, March 26, 2010


I hope that when the fifth edition of the DSM is released it will include recognition of my condition--the compulsion to grow more tomatoes than I can possibly use. I'm positive it's a disease. There's no other explanation why an otherwise [relatively] sane gardener would start 12 different varieties of tomatoes (and about 5 seeds of each variety) under lights when she can use maybe 8 plants total.
Did I mention the cupboard still brimming with jars of marinara and puttanesca sauces, pureed tomatoes, and diced tomatoes? The blobs of tomato paste in the freezer? Apparently I've forgotten how I complained about "the tyranny of the tomato patch" as I picked and pureed and simmered
and dried
my way through August. September. October. (It was a long season.)

I rationalize. I had such great luck with the heirloom varieties (Goliath, Anna Russian, Costoluto, and Marmande) last summer that I can't resist trying them again. I even grew this beauty!
How can I not try for a 20-ouncer this year?

But if this year turns out to be a "cabbage summer" the big beautiful heirloom varieties won't ripen so I need a couple of San Marzanos for sauce, even though I prefer the Costolutos. And if it's a really chilly damp summer, I know I can rely on Ferline and Legend to fight the blight, and for Sungella to ripen no matter what. The obligatory new variety, Mr. Stripey aka Tigerella, promises great yields and wonderful flavor in only 57 days.

I thought I was done with cherry tomatoes but last fall I discovered a method for oven-drying tomatoes and I've been enjoying them all winter in salads, scattered over roasted vegetables, pureed to flavor stews, and just for snacking on.
Finally there are the seeds for a variety from the Azores, Coracao de bois, a gift from a fellow gardener. I can't wait to see how it performs in the Pacific Northwest, but no matter what, it will be a reminder of a lovely afternoon with one of my favorite garden bloggers.

Did I mention the hereditary nature of this disease? I remember my mother used to start literally hundreds of tomatoes in the house every spring. They covered every window sill and the dining room table. I have reason to suspect at least one of my siblings is similarly afflicted.

I guess until they find a cure for Lycopersicomania I'll be grateful for fellow gardeners who seem happy to take my extra plants off my hands. And I guess we'll be having pasta with tomato sauce for dinner tonight. Gotta' use it up in the next 4 months!

Friday, March 05, 2010

A touch of the tropics

Unless I stand up and move around, the view from my office is mostly that of grey skies, rain, other office buildings, plus one architectural delight. But, on my windowsill. . .

it's a tropical paradise.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Objects in winter may be tougher than they appear.

This deciduous azalea, rhododendron mucronulatum, starts blooming in February even when there is snow on the ground. The flowers are the most delicate in appearance of anything in the garden. It always amazes me that something so fragile-looking could be so tough.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Worth the wait

I planted a winter hazel in my front bed so many years ago I no longer remember the name of the cultivar, although I probably have it written down somewhere. This winter it is blooming for the first time. I've been enjoying it for about a month now, when I pruned it and noticed the buds. This week the shrub itself burst into bloom.

I love it when the branch that most needs to be removed from the plant is also the perfect one to display in a vase.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Winter Salad

Mache, aka corn salad, aka lamb's lettuce, or if we want to be precise, Valerianella locusta, self-sows (enthusiastically so) along the south side of my garden shed. It's usually the first harvest of the growing season. A handful of sweet violets makes a perfect garnish for this soft, almost buttery-tasting green.
At the risk of damaging my locavore cred. I will admit to adding a chopped up orange or two to the salad bowl. It's a perfect combination.