Monday, September 1, 2008

Too little, too late?

Well, we've FINALLY had a week of sunshine, for the first time all summer. We've all been walking around blinking in the sudden bright light. This summer has been rain, rain, and more rain - sort of a non-frosty version of last winter (snow, snow, and more snow...)
August was particularly bad - by the 5th of the month, we'd already had more rain than we usually get in the whole month of August, and it just kept raining.
Our garden has been waterlogged this year. The carrots washed away - we currently have more growing in the path than in the row. The peppers were stunted - some of the plants only got 4 inches tall, then just gave up and stopped growing. (I think they're sulking...) The corn got off to a slow start, but has just gone crazy with the last 10 days' sunnier weather. We're just holding our breath, now, hoping the 1st frost holds off. (We've had killing frosts as early as September 1st. Last year we had a frost on the 15th of August that killed our beans and cucumbers. Gotta love gardening in the North - it's a real crapshoot.)
On the plus side, we've finally gotten some tomatoes. I had a tomato sandwich for lunch today - sliced tomato, homemade white bread, mayo, and a little salt. You know it's good when the juice drips off your elbows...
So now we're picking and freezing green and yellow beans, brussels sprouts, and swiss chard, and I made a batch of sweet pickle relish the other day. We've got sweet onions and leeks that are doing fine. We might get some peppers - the anchos are setting nicely, but not anywhere near red.

And of course, we've got tomatillos all over the garden...
Four years ago, I bought 4 tomatillo plants at the local greenhouse. I'd never grown them before, but I love chicken enchiladas with tomatillo salsa, so I thought I'd give them a try. I planted them in one corner of our greenhouse, reasoning that they were from Mexico and would appreciate a warm climate to grow in.
I looked them up on the internet to see how to care for them - they were described as a tall, rangy plant. I should have investigated that website's descriptions a little more - they probably would have described Triffids as charming little houseplants...
The tomatillo plants grew up and up and out and over - four plants took over most of one end of the greenhouse. When they hit the roof, they started growing sideways, right through the tomatoes in the center of the house, and over into the peppers on the other side.
And the fruit... Each plant had hundreds of little green tomatillos... Hundreds....
And here's what we learned:
1) Each plant has hundreds of fruit.
2) Each fruit has hundreds of seeds.
3) No matter how carefully you clean up the garden, you can never get all the fruit picked up.
4) All tomatillo seed survives Vermont winters and sprouts the next year.
5) No matter how many tomatillo plants you pull up, twenty more will pop up.
6) All these plants will have fruit too.
7) See number 1.
The first year, we had tomatillos in the greenhouse. The second year, we had tomatillos in the greenhouse and at the northwest corner of the garden. The third year we had tomatillos everywhere in the garden. The fourth year we had them in the yard too.
I just hope I can keep them out of the house...

1 comment:

Leigh said...

Ah yes, this post is reminding me of the garden horrors of the deluge that tried to pass for summer last year. The tomatillos sound like a very vigorous variety indeed, but definitely on the roguish side. Our Cossack Pineapple ground cherries are more demure, though still a bit rangy, height and spread 3'. I wish they did volunteer more - they keep so well and taste so good, it seems we could always use more than we have. This year I lost the first round of seedlings and had to resow, so the transplants are way behind what they should be...