This article and the accompanying recipes originally appeared in print in the Globe & Mail on September 5, 2009. I thought I’d repost it here today since the season is so ahead this year and my large, indeterminate tomato plants are on the verge of a first round of ripening. CAN NOT WAIT! If you’re in a warmer climate, you’re probably enjoying them already and wondering how to use up the extras that are quickly rotting in a bowl and breeding fruit flies on your kitchen counter.
Perhaps that was not the image I should have left you with. Now I am obsessing about my own bowl of small tomatoes and the fruit fly colony I am potentially raising as I write this.
[At which point I did get up to go inspect my bowl of fruit that was in fact housing one rotting tomato and a few fruit flies.]
The article below includes some brief canning instruction and three recipes: Gayla’s definitive green tomato chutney, Superior heirloom tomatoes, and Old-fashioned tomato ketchup.
If you’re itching to dive in further, I’ve included more detailed instructions in my book Grow Great Grub: Organic Food From Small Spaces, along with a few extra recipes.
The Ball and Bernardin (in Canada) books are highly regarded as the most popular tomes, but I have to admit that I find them a bit dull and have never made a single recipe from these books. I personally recommend Well-Preserved by Eugenia Bone. Her writing is conversational and entertaining, and is written from the perspective of a New York apartment dweller with real-world ingredients and realistic, small-batch quantities. I do not have a copy nor have I read it, but someone brought a copy of Canning & Preserving with Ashley English to my spring canning class and on a quick flip-through it looked very thorough, inviting and engaging.
I’m practically writing another article here, but since I’m on the subject, there are three contemporary British canning books that I would also highly recommend: Jellies, Jams & Chutneys, Preserves (This is the copy I have but it is listing at $206!!), and Fruits of the Earth The recipes are a bit more unusual than the stuff I have found in American books, using ingredients and combinations I had never thought to try.
I ordered these bulbs from Garden Import back in the early spring and put them outside after the last frost. Low and behold it grew, and the flowers opened up just this past weekend. Coincidentally, their Fall catalog arrived at the same time. I spent some time flipping through it last night, oohing and awing at the many bulbs I’d love to buy and grow.
When I threatened to make a list of everything I want from the catalog, Davin suggested I make one called, “All the Plants I Will Not Be Buying This Fall.”
Coral Drops, (Bessera elegans) is a Mexican flowering bulb plant with very delicate flowers that dance and bob on thin stems. The bulbs are very tiny and the leaves are thin, making them a good choice for container growing. I grew my set in a pot on the roof and gave the remaining bulbs to a friend who is also growing them in a container with very gritty, well-draining soil.
I planted 7 bulbs in a pot that is 10″ wide and 8 1/2″ deep, a few more than the recommended number for a pot of that size. In hindsight I was too safe and feel I could have pushed it and put all 10 bulbs into that pot for a tighter display. Regardless, they look great and I’m really glad I allowed myself to splash out on this and a few other non-edibles this year. There are all kinds of nourishment, and this one was for my eyes, not my stomach.
Here’s what it looks like when you flip it upside down. You can really see the strange purple pistil and green pollen.
A flower that is just opening and some buds.
I’ve got several deadlines on tap, a chipped filling that has exposed something that should not be exposed, and a bad case of writer’s block, so today’s post will be nearly wordless. These photos were taken on a trip to Shelburne several weeks ago to visit Brian Bixley’s garden, Lilactree Farm.
Brian and his wife purchased the property, a former cattle farm I believe, in the late 1960′s. They’ve divided up the land nearest to the house into garden rooms that are surrounded by tall hedges and filled with trees. It was open and treeless originally. Many of the rooms radiate from this bird bath.
They’re waiting for me to stop taking pictures and catch up. We haven’t even entered the property by this point. I could have spent my life exploring the flora on that road!
Perennial sweet peas and geraniums have self-seeded alongside the road just off of the property.
Gorgeous and easy to maintain, but they don’t have that signature sweet pea scent.
When the country road was expanded, Brian tossed seeds of thyme and other drought tolerant plants into the ditch. That ditch is nicer than my street garden. If I had it to do all over again….