A pilgrimage to resource efficiency 

Desperate Gardening

In my quest for a greener earth and healthier meals for my family, I have to stoop to a level that the cool mountain air has made me quite accustom to, I will do anything to ensure that I have at least a few truly vine ripened tomatoes.

During the Winter the sun is blocked from our property due to the way that our valley faces and the mountain that is determined to drive me to have permanent Seasonal Effective Disorder. We are in our last few weeks of sunshine, but have already been experiencing very low nightly temperatures and now cold days. Although, this isn’t a terrible change of pace as this year we had snow in the middle of June. What this does make for is a desperate gardener. In my quest for a greener earth and healthier meals for my family, I have to stoop to a level that the cool mountain air has made me quite accustom to, I will do anything to ensure that I have at least a few truly vine ripened tomatoes.

In the early Spring and Fall that means that I can be found covering my garden with a giant tarp every evening and uncovering it every morning. Taking special care not to break any stems or to step on my remaining squash. Okay, so it’s not the way that my grandmother would have done it, but it works and that’s what it’s all about.

Doing what you can to use the resources that you have effectively. Doing what works for you. It works for me and so I do it. Maybe you think it’s too much work for a homegrown tomato, and you would be right, but I do it anyway…mostly because somewhere down inside I get a sick pleasure in popping open a jar of tomato sauce and knowing where it came from and how much I had to work for it. Another trick that I had to learn along the way, one that most gardeners use, is to allow the tomatoes to ripen in the window sill. This is a wonderful method, but if you are like me you are likely to run out of window well before you run out of tomatoes.

So I adapted and gleaned advice from those who came before me, I learned that you can ripen tomatoes in brown paper bags, and hurry the process up a little by adding a green banana to the mix. Though I also had to learn that it is important to keep an eye on those bags and grab the ripe or rotting tomatoes out before they have a chance to ruin the rest of the crop. As for right now, I am watching the sun climb it’s way out of our valley for it’s Winter vacation and holding on to the last few days of tarp covering and uncovering in eager anticipation of the vine ripened goodness that doesn’t involve paper bags and green bananas. Oh, and I am also dusting off my tomato juicer in anticipation of all the tasty tomato sauce that is bound to be coming from the brown paper bags.

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