Saturday, September 05, 2009

Victory Garden: Growing days wane in WYO

Growing days grow short in southeastern Wyoming...

Watching moonlight bathe my tomatoes, I wondered what moon this was. Harvest moon? Hunter's moon? Moon River?

Wider than a mile...

The night grows longer, and soon that initial pre-autumn cold front will will slide over Wyoming. It will be a starry starry night when the frost comes. I'll cover the plants the first time, because that first frost is usually followed by Indian Summer. Still, the tomatoes are on borrowed time.

My lone Gardener's Delight cherry tomato bush has produced a bonanza of eyeball-sized fruits, red as TV tomatoes (but ten times tastier). I may give some away, as I'm the only the only cherry tomato fan at the house. Chris prefers the Early Girls, but those have been a disappointment. Not-So-Early-Girls, at least in Wyoming. The best full-sized tomatoes come from the stray seedling I plated amongst the spinach and strawberries. I liked the seedling because it looked less like a tomato plant and more like a fern. Didn't even bother to get its name, just dropped it into the ground. Still have about 20 greenies on the stems.

I will be ripening tomatoes well into fall.

Fried green tomatoes? I'm not a fan. Liked the book and movie, though. If you remember, the initial versions of the fried green tomatoes cooked at the Whistle Stop Cafe were inedible.

I've had middling success with green beans and zucchini. Right -- anyone can grow zucchini. It might be the poor soil, but I didn't get many zucchini or squash. It may be due to my poor gardening skills. Both soil and skills can be improved on before next season.

What did I learn from my Victory Garden? I enjoyed the tilling and the watering and the fertilizing and the tending more than I enjoy the eating. Strange, eh? I've been popping those cherry tomatoes like candy. Flavorful and warm and juicy. Nothing like it. But haven't gotten into many creative recipes, and I definitely am tired of salads. Maybe I just need to jump right into fall cooking, which is heavy on the sauces and light on the greens.

Not sure what to declare victory over. Big picture -- the country is as crazy as ever. As my garden (and Michelle Obama's) grew, so did the shrill nature of conservative critics of Pres. Obama and his policies, especially health care reform. The August Congressional recess hit just as ripening was kicking into high gear. Seems as if other things were ripening too, and the smell was awful. I kept expecting those town hall crazies to throw tomatoes at the politicians. That would a pleasant change of pace from the ignorance that erupted from the mouths of the shouting loonies.

There's triumph in the gardening itself. This may be linked with the spirit of my farmer ancestors. But I still go to the grocery store too often and spend a lot of time at the farmer's market inhaling the fantastic aroma of roasting chilis. That is the smell that lures people from miles around to the downtown farmer's market. Not that many buyers but hundreds of smellers.

There will be a few more "Victory Garden" updates through fall. But today seemed to me like the beginning of the end, garden-wise. A certain melancholy has set in, one that can't be assuaged by biting into another cherry tom. I may need several...

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