Monday, September 3, 2012

To Harvest or Not to Harvest......

It's September 3rd, and that time of year when even the warm sunny days feel a bit like fall. The mornings are cooler, and the evenings shorter. I love fall, I like the food, the clothes, the smells, the upcoming holidays. All of it just makes me feel cozy. All of it but one thing.

At about this time every year, I start to become slightly OCD - wait, all year I'm a little OCD about certain items - just as Business about his missing dishes, or many To Do lists. What I'm referring to here is my seasonal OCD regarding watching the weather - particularly the over night forecast temperature. You see, in Alberta, and even more so in my small town, it's common to have days of plus 24 degrees and sunny, dropping to 2 degrees over night. So what right? Wrong.

I have 42 tomato plants outside. Each of those tomato plants have more than 10 tomatoes on them. Green tomatoes.

 So, for the month of September I play a game with the weather, trying to balance the risk of leaving the tomatoes out long enough to get them to ripen but not at the risk of losing all my perfect lil green toms to a nasty frost.

Last year, one Sunday at about 4pm, the weather network posted a Frost Warning and with the nip in the air already at 4, I knew they were right about this one. Business was out of town for the day visiting his Mom. I was the their only hope.

I could have covered them, posted PVC pipes around their raised beds and pulled the thin plastic sheets out over them, taking time to clip the sides, secure the bottoms. It was windy that afternoon though, and I wasn't confident the sheets would stay. So with a heavy sigh I decided to pull them out, cages and all and hang them upside down in my garage where they could take their time ripening on the vine in the warmth and shelter of our insulated garage.

This  decision paid dividends, right until January. I picked many tomatoes off those vines, first perfectly juicy ones for slicing and eating, then some best for cooking with, sometimes pulling in so many I would make 4 or more litres of sauce in a day to can. Finally in the first week of January I pulled off the final few tomatoes, with these I made the most delicious, oven roasted tomatoes.

Anyhow, back to today, today I begin the waiting/balancing game of what to do to protect my tomatoes from the sure to arrive frost this September.

For all of you though who have great weather, and cooperating tomatoes, check out my

Tomato Harvest Marinara Sauce

to use up your abundance of tomatoes.

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