It was a very good year. We spent all summer enjoying fresh produce from our garden. We enjoyed everything from the first raspberry to the last stalk of celery.
The real favorite here at 1840 Farm is always the heirloom tomatoes. In 2010, we harvested 140 pounds of them. I know, it seems like a lot. It is. We’ve eaten them in so many different ways that I’ve lost count: tarts, pastas, pizzas, lasagna, risotto, and on, and on, and on.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining. I’m reveling. I’m eating every last tomato from our garden. None of them are going to waste. I’ve already found a recipe for green tomato relish. I’m keeping it at the ready for that day that will inevitably arrive in the next few days. You know the one. The one that sends me into the garden with a container to gather every last tomato red or not. We live in New England. It’s October. A hard frost can’t be far away.
The good harvest this summer was made all the more incredible considering the heartbreak of last year. We gave our garden the same tender loving care last year, but with lackluster results. No matter how hard we tried, we couldn’t make up for the weather. It was too cool. It was too rainy. Our beloved heirloom tomatoes put up a good fight, but they couldn’t help it. The tomato blight was upon us.
We spent the whole summer inside the house avoiding the rain. We wore jackets in July and were still too cold. We stared longingly out at the garden from the kitchen window. I found myself shuffling away from the window muttering, “the blight, the blight”. A year later, the mere thought of it sends an icy chill up my spine.
We weren’t alone. Go ahead. Do a search about tomato blight and feast your eyes on the horror that is an entire year of preparation, planting, and tending without the harvesting. Josh Kilmer-Purcell recently waxed poetic about his tomato crop from this summer and last year’s blight. It seems that he is reveling in this year’s harvest just as I am with canning jars as far as the eye can see.
Mother Nature is a cruel mistress. She can be unkind. She can take out your tomato crop in one fell swoop. When it happens, there is nothing to be done. In fact, if you confirm a case of tomato blight in your garden, other gardeners will expect you to take one for the team and burn your plants to the ground. It’s too late for you, but the least you can do for your fellow gardeners is save their crop from the same cruel fate, right? Talk about adding insult to injury.
Here we sit a year later. Tomatoes have been weighing down our kitchen counters for months now. Even so, I am sad to see it come to an end. I will miss the walk from the tomato patch to the kitchen with an armful of tomatoes. But I know that the end is near. When it is over, I will take a moment to admire the beautiful array of glass jars filled with tomatoes of every kind in the pantry. Thank you 2010 for diced tomatoes, salsa, tomato sauce, and tomato ketchup jam.
This winter, when I stand in the kitchen, staring out towards the garden, I will dream of another great harvest. I will not mutter about the blight. I will zip up my polar fleece and shuffle away from the cold window muttering, “the snow, the snow”.Pin It