An Orgy of Tomato Goodness as the Garden Comes a Cropper

August 13, 2008

Fresh tomatoes in abundance adorn my daily table. This is my best crop ever. Fresh salsa and tomato-laden entrees are nightly dinner fare. After the backbreaking initial work and the tenacious nurturing the rewards of growing one’s own are many. I’ve been making sandwiches and tortilla wraps with Boca spicy organic chicken patties and combos of my own garden tomatoes, peppers and store-bought lettuce, ranch dressing and cheese. My fresh salsa recipe is simple: cut up a medium-sized tomato and supplement with a couple of grape tomatoes to add a tinge of sweetness, cut up a little onion (I only had some dried onion lately, as the pix attest, but they will do), cut up some of my home-grown jalapeno peppers, add a little black pepper and some cilantro (dried will do)—and that’s it. This is pretty basic, but the freshness can’t be beat, and the chunkiness and texture differ from the slimy store-bought stuff. Note that I had to use a champagne flute for my Sauvignon blanc because I finally broke the last of my wine glass set. Anyway here are some pix from some healthy, low-fat meals of the past few days. -EG

Tomatoes Beat the Prediction

July 10, 2008

I planted my backyard tomato and jalapeno pepper garden on Sunday May 11, a week and a day after the Kentucky Derby, and predicted a couple of weeks after that upon seeing the fast progress of the growth that I would be harvesting the first ripenings by July 20, but a number of factors seem to bode well for a harvest well before that date. First of all, the climate this summer in Kentucky, so far, has been superb for gardening – not too hot, adequate rainfall, relatively low humidity. Second, I really put a lot of work into proper soil preparation this time. Last year my first batch of tomatoes had to be tossed away due to rot, due to poor soil and underwatering. This past winter I composted a thick pile of leaves and pine needles from my yard and my next door neighbors’ and plowed as much of that under this spring as I could. Excess amounts were shoveled out into a compost pile outside the garden fence. Prior to the first turning of the soil by spade I added a few hundred pounds of peat humus and cow manure ($1.50 a bag at Meijer x how ever many bags) and then turned the soil over three times, once each weekend, before planting. Ever since I have been diligent about daily watering and weeding as much as possible. My weeding methodology is simple and organic and time-consuming: I pull the roots of the errant grass and clover and other undergrowth by hand. As of last week my first grape tomato was turning red and probably will be ready to pick by tomorrow or so, more than a week before my prediction. But let’s see how we do where it really counts: with the regular, full-sized tomatoes. I have some romas that are three inches long and looking about ready to turn. I have a good variety of tomato types: Mr. Stripey, Early Girl, Better Boy, Roma, grape and maybe a couple more. Also, the jalapeno peppers are coming along nicely. The mole who had dug a hole on the eastern edge of the garden has not been seen and evidently has not hurt the garden at all. Here are some pix of the lush garden. There won’t be any salmonella or pesticides in this harvest – just good eatin.’ -EG

Wal-mart to ban all sharp implements

April 16, 2007

No, there hasn’t been a formal announcement to this effect, but I fully expect it to happen any day.

I’ve got the inside scoop from an insider.

Don’t blab this too much, but I spoke to an actual “associate.” That’s right, one of the “partners” in the firm.

I think her name was Shirley, and she was ringing up some manure at the counter in the gardening center.

axe_jason_toy-50.jpgYou see, I was in need of a certain common tool used in yard work and farm work. And I figured that since Wal-mart had bankrupted and driven off all of the small local hardware store competition across the land, the mighty one-stop mega-mart would now be my exclusive source for this common hardware item. Looking at all the rustic folks who had just piled out of their pickups and were shopping alongside me, I fully expected that at least a few of them were looking for the same thing that I was.

Surely Shirley could direct me.

‘Tis spring, after all, and the manly urge to clear the land and cleave the soil took root in my being and sprang forth with the warmth of the new Spring sun.

And what more a manly store than Wal-Mart? Where you can buy propane and 5-gallon jugs of water and other survivalist fare.

axe_worlds_largest-50.jpgWhy should I not expect this cornfed retailer to rednecks to vend to me a sturdy, old-fashioned common axe so that I could cut and clear the fallen limbs and dead tree trunks littering my yard?

Baffled I was, then, at scouring the aisles in hardware and coming up empty. So off I went to Shirley in lawn and garden.

Direct me good associate, says I to she, to that which allowed Paul Bunyan to clearcut this mighty continent so that should be lain upon it a Stuckey’s-laden interstate highway system envied the world over.

“We don’t sell axes,” Shirley says, somewhat perplexed-looking upon my request, “because they have sharp edges.”

Crestfallen I was, perplexed myself at the shovels and weeders hanging from the wall opposite. Were these sharp-edged tools soon also to be banned from the gardening center? I wondered how Americans would be able to weed and garden and cut timber. It seemed like a New World Order plot to take away sharp tools [weapons] from the common man. Wal-mart had already gotten rid of guns from most stores. Now axes.

Hoes (no, Don, not the nappy-headed kind) and kitchen knives must be next.


And after that, what then? Sharpies? And why not? Look at what can happen to some fools who are careless with those.——————————>>>>

Yes, I might very well buy an axe and cut off my toes or go on a bloody rampage. Then Wal-Mart might get sued.

And where would I buy my Molly Hatchet CDs, if not for Wal-Mart? I axe you…

axegnome-2-50.jpgThe fate of yard gnomes that come in contact with sharp garden tools could be my own, as graphically illustrated at this website:

Damn trial lawyers and liberals. I blame them for this outrage, of course. And I’m sure Bill Clinton had something to do with it. They’ve turned my Wal-Mart into a pansy store—an ugly version of Target—where I can buy organic tofu but not a hatchet.

So that leaves mega-hardware purveyors Home Depot and Lowe’s.

Home Depot was a nonstarter for me due to their inability to keep certain common items in stock when I need them, most particularly the 59-cent fiberglass 16 x 25 furnace filters. And besides, their website only lists one hatchet and one axe in stock, and they don’t tell you what the handle is made of.

The sparse assortment at Lowe’s was disappointing. Nothing but a bunch of plastic and/or fiberglass handles, hollowed out no less.

Where, oh where, have my wooden handled axes gone? Have I missed out on those, too?axe_collins_axe_50per.jpg

If I’m going to pay $40 for an axe, the handle has to be wood. No compromise.

Strangely, Lowe’s sold axes without wooden handles, yet sold wooden replacement handles for them!

WTF !?

So, in a scenario that is becoming increasingly common in this world, it has suddenly become hard to find something that should not be hard to find.

Yet I can buy a friggin cell phone at Kroger.

Look, I’m probably as metro-sexual as the next emasculated post-modern suburban wuss man. But in that rare moment when my testosterone surges and I wanna split some cherry or oak, by gum, I wanna be able get the tools I need to git ‘er done.

And I mean Amish style. No friggin chainsaws just so I can get it done fast enough to hurry back to sit my lazy ass in front of a 50-inch screen.

[OK, maybe chainsaws scare me. But I’m not talking about cutting enough wood on a regular basis to justify that expense.]

Anyway, no sale, unprovident mega-stores.

I took a rusty dulled old hatchet from my garage and—proving nothing to nobody but myself—chopped every single one of the fallen limbs and threw them into my neighbor’s fireplace wood pile.

So, mission accomplished Wal-mart. I didn’t hurt myself with my old hatchet, or on your non-existent ones.

Hope the tofu thing works out for you.

-Evan G