About a month ago we looked at a house with a yard and about 10 minutes after the viewing I tweeted that this was the next place I wanted to live. I could envision our life there and it looked rather nice.
We didn’t get the house. Or that yard. That yard. Yard…. Sweet, sweet yard. A nicely-sized (for Toronto) empty yard with a ramshackle shed. Sounds terrible, I know. But to me….
We proceeded to mope around with a major case of the sads for a month.
And then, out of the blue, we got it! One day I will tell the story (it’s a doozy), but I don’t think it is appropriate right now. What I can say for now is that I have the keys and we are moving in. Just like that. Pretty much overnight. We are still in shock. I figure we’ll be moved in and living there for a while before the shock of it wears off.
It’s a bit late in the season and I don’t have time to jump into gardening before winter sets in. It’s too bad, but then again, it will give me time to familiarize myself with how light moves through the space, and more time to plan. And you never know, there just might be some bulbs and surprise plants lurking underneath the surface. Either that or dead bodies. The yard is the lumpiest I have ever seen!
Our hypothesis is that the yard was once used as a vegetable garden but was then neglected for years. The grass probably just seeded itself over time. Either that or I am going to find some gnarly things when I stick my shovel into the ground next spring.
I’d love to show you more but I have to get back to packing asap. In the meantime, I leave you with one more photo of one of the few plants currently living in the yard that I plan to keep. It’s a little pear tree that the former occupants put in recently.
Oh and I’ve given the yard a name: Orto. I believe this approximately translates to kitchen garden in Italian. Please correct me if I am wrong.
p.s. Sorry about the quality of the images. I took them with my camera phone. Real photos soonish.
When it comes to dealing with an end of season garden glut I have one rule: everything roasted. I am yet to find a vegetable or fruit that doesn’t benefit from this treatment. I thought I’d tried it all and there were no more surprises left. I was wrong.
Last weekend I pulled out almost all of our tomato plants in all three gardens. I left in a few that had fruit that had some hope of developing a bit further before it gets too cold. There’s green tomatoes and there’s green tomatoes that are too green. I prefer to try and get them as developed as they can be before packing it in for the year. And before anyone mentions the hanging the plant upside down indoors trick; I simply don’t have the space. My neighbor tolerates a lot of my little gardening eccentricities in our shared hallway space: overwintering plants, bags of soil, stacks of terracotta pots, jars of tomato seeds…. For the record, he keeps a life-sized cutout of John Wayne in that same shared space. It was there a good month before I stopped suffering a miniature heart attack every time I walked into the hallway. For that reason alone I think we’re fairly even, but full-sized tomato plants hanging from the ceiling might be pushing things too far. I know where the boundaries of social decorum lie and I try to respect them. Most of the time.
But I digress. As I always do. Back to the tomatoes. In short, I have a lot of them and am in the process of making my famous green tomato chutney as I type this [ed. I wrote that a few days ago. The chutney is done and I have already given half of the jars away as gifts!). I did not intend to can them this year; I just don’t have the time. It’s funny how you can forget what 2 pounds of chopped tomatoes plus miscellaneous ingredients looks like until it is there in front of you. I had it in my head that I could just make it and stick it in jars in the fridge rather than canning. I do not have a fridge that big or the appetite to eat it all quickly enough. So canning it is.
Unfortunately, (or fortunately depending on how you look at it), one batch does not take care of all of the green tomatoes I’ve harvested. What to do with the rest? I love fried green tomatoes, but that’s a lot of fried stuff. I’m spending an inordinate amount of time sitting on my ass these days. The only part of my body getting exercised are my typing fingers. I do not need to introduce several pounds of fried tomatoes to my digestive tract right now.
And then I remembered my glut rule: everything roasted. I adore roasted tomatoes but had never tried roasting green tomatoes. If green beans are delicious roasted with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt then surely green tomatoes would benefit from the same treatment?
In conclusion: they do and then some. It’s a revelation!
Instructions are simple:
I was introduced to this “potato that grows above the ground” on an organic farm tour in Dominica. It was one of the plants we were most excited about, but because we only got the Patois name (and it turns out I heard that wrong, too), were never able to identify it. Davin and I spent hours searching various spellings, and even guessed at what it could be (a yam) with no luck.
And then just like that Davin found it! Dioscorea bulbifera, aka “air potato” is an African yam (of course) that produces potato-like bulbils along the vining stems. There’s quite a bit of controversy around the plant because not all varieties are considered edible. Many uncultivated forms are very bitter if not poisonous, and there is some debate about how to prepare it to make it safe.
The plant is currently considered an invasive threat in warmer parts of the United States. It’s a very fast-growing vine that can grow up high into large trees and disperse itself easily via the bulbils.
For all of these reasons, the air potato is one weird edible that I would advise against growing.