Monday, August 31, 2009

Tomato gardening in the extreme San Fernando Valley heat…by 8 am this morning the temperature read 98 degrees. Already the plants, which appeared to have recovered nicely from yesterday’s temperature of 108 degrees, were beginning to droop. I decided to rearrange the shade cloth to help shield even more of the plants from what promised to be another very hot afternoon. It’s the tomatoes in containers that seemed to have the toughest time. The cucumbers and peppers, also in containers seemed to need extra protection. In order for the shade cloth to protect more plants I first had to relocate many of the pots. They needed to be much closer together to benefit from the lengths of cloth that I had on hand. Moving them is scary to me…I imagine that under the rims of each pot resides a very happy, healthy family of black widow spiders. Not sure whether or not spiders can bite through gardening gloves I decide not to take a chance but rather try to push the pots with my knees to their new destination. It’s not a perfect plan but it’ll do.

Late this afternoon I ventured back to the vegetable garden and found that the plants looked much better than they did at the same time yesterday. Maybe it was the shade cloth or maybe the temperature was a little lower or maybe it was my reward for not having disturbed the spiders. The tomatoes didn’t cook on the plants and the plants didn’t look more like weeping willows than tomatoes.

I picked only a few tomatoes to bring in for tasting. Today when I tasted Copia it was a completely different tomato than it was last week. It appeared to be happier with a bit more heat. It was beautifully colored , both inside and out. Copia is more spotty on the outside than Pineapple and the inside is similar without the red starburst at the center. The flavor was smooth and sweet. Definitely could be today’s winner…Barnes Mountain Yellow, with its beautiful orange and green striped skin tasted, well, like “just a tomato”. Aunt Ruby’s German Green which really hasn’t produced much turned out to be a delicious surprise. It was a small green ball and I wasn’t sure it was ready to be picked. I knew this was supposed to be a beefsteak tomato. It felt a little soft so I thought it would be better to let it ripen on the kitchen counter rather than cook on the plant. But once inside I decided to take a chance and ate it instead. What a great decision to have made. The unexpected delight called Aunt Ruby’s German Green has to be today’s favorite tomato.

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