The Hunt for Red, October

tomatoes in bowl

No, not that Red October. Forgive me for bringing Tom Clancy into this.

I am indeed hunting for red things in October, though. The red things? Tomatoes.

Yes, I am still picking tomatoes in October. You haven’t seen my tomatoes yet, because, well, I haven’t been blogging regularly for months. I’ll get to that later, or maybe in another post. For those that haven’t been following me on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram, I put twelve tomato plants in the back yard of the house that John and I are renting in London. Go figure: I move to the city and finally have a spot for a garden.

Of those twelve tomato plants, which I put into a raised bed about two and a half to three feet deep along one side of our property, four are cherry tomatoes, and the other eight are regular-sized tomatoes, two different kinds. While the regular-sized tomatoes produced a regular amount of tomatoes (I still feel like I’m waiting for an overwhelming harvest of tomatoes that may never actually materialize), the cherry tomatoes are out of control. I have come to call that corner of my garden “tomato jungle.” Because it is: vines that overlap each other and hide what’s behind them, blinding you to the red, ripe fruit under layers and layers of leaves.

tomatoes on vine

To pick the cherry tomatoes, I literally (no, really) had to bend over double or lay on the patio and lift up and move every branch and every other leaf, poring over each conceivable angle of each plant, searching for treasure: ripening tomatoes. This is not gardening for the faint of heart, or for anyone who does not adore either gardening or tomatoes, or both.

tomato jungle

Time and again, I have spent looooong minutes bent over, using the sturdy 2” square sharpened spruce stakes (thanks again, Rona!) to hold me up. I distribute my weight between one foot and one hand on a stake and lean over between the plants and the fence, looking under leaves and branches for a glimpse of red, ripe tomatoes. I pluck as many as I can while precariously balanced, then drop them in a bowl and go back for more.

tomatoes on table

Wash, rinse, repeat until I am either so tired of this exercise or I am pretty convinced there are no more red globes hiding from me.

I’m glad it’s October and these adventures are mostly behind me, but at the same time, I’m so proud of the bounty that I grew in my own little garden!

And now I have frozen tomatoes, regular and cherry, sundried (dehydrated) cherry tomatoes in olive oil, and tomato sauce: the tomato jungle keeps on giving!

~~

(PS: I wrote most of the text of this post at the very beginning of October, before the frost made my tomato plants droop and turn brown. I picked the last of my tomatoes on Sunday, and began to pull them out of the ground. Good-bye, mis tomates: you served me well.)

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