Dear Diary,


Of course, when you fill a 10-gallon garbage can with them, what to do with them becomes an issue of some importance.


My chef friend Martha loves tomatillos because she finds that just put in a bowl on the kitchen counter, they will keep forever.  Alas, this is not my experience.  More ambient fungi and bacteria in my kitchen, undoubtedly, thanks to a more chaotic housekeeping style.

Roasted tomatillo salsa is really good in my opinion, but one family can only eat so many chips.  I think the highest use for tomatillos is this: made into salsa and then put on pizza with mozzarella cheese and bits of nice dried Spanish chorizo.

I'm going to try roasting, pureeing and freezing the tomatillos for February pizzas.

Of course, that's if I am not too preoccupied with cooking what's in the wheelbarrow:


Turnips for a fantastic Madhur Jaffrey lamb and turnip dish, leeks for potato-leek soup, and carrots for all purposes.  Turnips get my vote for most beautiful vegetable.

I also harvested the cowpeas, which were good-looking plants, for sure, climbing my fence.  I've never grown them before, but Southern associations suggested that they, too, needed to get out of the garden before the weather turned.  Not sure what I'll do with them–some kind of stylish hummus, maybe, or cook them with a smoked ham hock.

Though pumpkins are always associated with Halloween, they can't be allowed to sit that long in my part of the world, or they will rot.  My youngest child, Grace, always grows the jack-o-lanterns.


This year, we planted 'Rouge Vif D'Etampes' and some large variety.  But the large ones were not as spectacular as last year, so I think we will head back to 'Dill's Atlantic Giant,' because we like shocking the neighbors on Halloween.

These are my pumpkins:


I think they are just as beautiful as the orange ones.  And the smoother-skinned variety, 'Jarrahdale', makes a really great pie.

Of course, since I do grow this stuff at a weekend house, it tends to get collected in vast quantities at once.  There was hardly room for Henry in the car on the way home.


The "No farms, no food," bumper sticker was put on my car by Grace, after a farmer came to talk to her school.  My sentiment is more, "No Michele, no food."

Of course, now I just have to unload the car and turn what's in it into meals.  In October, I tend to think that gardening is easy…but processing this insane harvest is a chore worthy of Sisyphus.





  1. The harvest really is where the rubber meets the road and it is near impossible for some of the bounty not to end up as road kill. There are three of us and we do a pretty decent job of using it all.

  2. i planted my first tomatoes in june amidst record-breaking heat and serious drought. god luv ’em they are eight feet tall and producing babies like crazy in spite of the aforementioned conditions and then horn worms and wilt on the romas, but now…CHIPMUNKS! they’ve taken all of the big greenies and are now munching on the mediums and eyeing the babies. i worry i won’t be able to have even one ‘mater sandwich never mind sharing with the neighbors who let me chop down their bamboo for the cages i made or the other neighbors who hooked me up with some twine.

    all that is to say i’ve been wondering what to do with what might end up being a harvest of small-to-medium-sized green tomatoes (“fry ’em!” is the answer to every question from food to criminals where i live, but was hoping for some alternative ideas – pickles, huh? what else?

    ps – your harvest is awe-inspiring – beautifully done.

  3. I’m in awe over those non-traditional pumpkins. For some reason, the uglier the better this time of year. (Not to imply that they are ugly! Ugly in a beautiful way!)

    I do understand the desire for a babysitter if one is going to put up food.

  4. Lynn, I garden in Zone 4. Far from being over, my garden is ridiculously full of food: potatoes, carrots, fennel, arugula, parsley, turnips, cabbages, kale, collards, kohlrabi, leeks, celeriac, tatsoi, and Brussels sprouts. I tend to harvest in a step-down fashion, with the stuff most able to stand up to winter coming out last.

  5. Picalilli, or green tomato relish is an option for the green ‘maters problem. There are lots of recipes on the interwebs including other ingredients such as cabbage, cucumbers, or my favorite – tart green apples.

    Kudos to you Michele. I live in Zone 9 & ditched the summer garden a few weeks ago, mostly because I was tired of battling the unseasonable cool & a marauding raccoon for a single ripe tomato. Fortunately, this means my winter garden (featuring many of those things you have still in your summer garden) got a jump start is growing fabulously. Funny how, no matter how the previous season played out, when I put in the new garden I still have such hope for abundance .

  6. YEY for abundance; I believe it breeds creativity in the kitchen. Early morning frosts have arrived here in Zone 8 Oregon, so I’ve been researching what to do with all those green tomatoes. Like you, I decided on pickles — they make great gifts, are easiest to can, and I’m happy to eat pounds of them.

    Those Jarrahdales are gorgeous. They’re on my list of next year’s additions to the garden.

    Congrats on such a great haul!!

  7. Don’t call it green tomato relish. Kids (and sometimes husbands)will turn up their noses. Call it Green Salsa and they love it. I use to make gallons of it when son was home. Now we don’t eat much salsa because salsa means chips which means empty calories that we don’t need. Make green enchilada sauce green tomatos can be used in place of tomatillas, not quite same taste.

  8. I deal with tomatillo abundance by roasting them along with some garlic, onions, peppers, then putting the whole bunch (peppers peeled) in the food processor. I freeze the finished product in quart containers. This somewhat watery sauce is a wonderful base for a green chili or a crock pot pork roast or a black bean soup.

  9. Those green tomatoes will ripen indoors (as long as they’re picked BEFORE the frost). Spread them out on newspapers (or even better, in shallow cardboard trays like paper-box lids) in a coolish, dim room and keep an eye on them as they ripen. Then eat (as long as the texture is good) or cook up into sauces etc. Some will rot, but most will be fine. Not as good as vine-ripened, perhaps, but better than store-bought. This indoor tomato-ripening is a fact of life in much of Idaho where frosts usually hit in early Sept.

  10. As a vegetable gardener, I can certainly relate to this. The bounty of the harvest always seems to be almost too…bountiful for my energy and skills. It is a struggle to try to make sure that much does not go to waste. But, of course, even that which goes to “waste” isn’t truly wasted. Some critter gets it. The circle of life is complete.

  11. If your bounty exceeds what you can consume for yourself and your family, please consider donating the extra to your local food pantry/mission/homeless shelter/etc. (if for some reason you can’t give it away; I’ve yet to have a friend or neighbor turn down fresh produce??)

  12. I like the idea of a tomatillo pizza sauce with chorizo. Maybe use a flour tortilla for the “pizza” instead of regular pizza? I also have more than enough green tomatillo sauce for chips. I’ll try the pizza idea. Sounds delicious. Have you tried cold tomatillo gazpacho? I have a recipe, but haven’t tried it yet.

  13. I love the “ugly” pumpkins too… there is just something about them. Every year I try to convince my kids that we should grow them and every year I lose. That’s it. Next year it’s my decision, it’s not like they help that much in the garden anyway!

    Congrats on the haul! I think a canning party might be in order..

  14. Nice “atmospheric” blog post. Great photos.
    Lovely lawn. I always admnire other people’s lawns. Next door to our factory, the PECO electric plant is creating a meadow to replace the lawn and generally go along with the popular movement against lawns. It’s completing its second year. The building looks actually abandoned. Like no
    one works there. “Out Of Business”. A lawn looks like “civilization”. Somehow buildings and homes look better with lawns, in general. William Burroughs was asked why he never grew a beard. He replied that the act of shaving every morning helped him keep
    in mind that civilized life existed. I think it’s in the Paris Review interview.
    That is a bit how I feel about wild grass
    meadows replacing lawns, in addition to my blog about it called ‘Lawn Love’. I also was influenced by Albert Bye, the greatest landscape designer of the 20th century, who made spectacular estate gardens using mostly
    subtle lawns effects. Looked easy, but impossible to imitate. He has always reminded me of their timeless beauty, even in a modest sized property.
    Thanks again for a lovely post.

  15. I’m going to take a wild guess, but I bet Michele’s fantabulous lawn is exactly what you get when you don’t water, don’t fertilize, don’t obsess over weeds and just mow what ever comes up a couple of times during the growing season.

  16. Right, I don’t think the issue raised was whether she waters, fertilizers or uses weed killer; the question was regarding mowing. It’s clearly a mixed hodge-podge of ‘farmyard’ grass, but it is mowed.

  17. This year we tried cucumbers……5 acres of greenhouse cukes! They ended up quite successful. Vegetable gardens are just too much work as I have to tend them all by myself 🙂

  18. George Ball, I think lawns are ridiculous in small city yards, but in the country…absolutely beautiful!

    Christopher C is right in that nothing happens here except mowing and leaving the clippings in place.

    And Antigonum Cajan, can’t we just assume that my carbon footprint is drastically reduced because I grow so much food and forget about the lawn mower? I have some wild meadows, too, and THEY need to be mowed over once a year just to keep the joint from becoming forest. In this part of the world, you either have forest, or some form of control. Of course, I’d prefer it if the control took the form of sheep, but it’s a weekend house. Sheep are not possible.

    And no WAY am I siting my vegetable garden in the midst of a wild meadow. The weeds would be even more intense than they are now. The groundhogs would escape all surveillance and decimate my crucifers.

    Someday somebody will invent a solar-powered mower, and all will be well.

  19. Years ago I turned a bumper crop of green tomatoes into a fabulous “mock mincemeat”…may have been a Joy of Cooking recipe…with apples and raisins and spices we used it like you would a chutney…with pork, chicken, etc. YUMMY!

  20. Is it too late to add to the green tomato suggestions? Just last night, I made chutney, using our 2010 tomato harvest (all green except for one fruit), some Honey Crisp apples, Walla Walla onions, and a splash of balsamic vinegar among the cider vinegar. Spices included cinnamon, allspice, and fresh ginger. Heaven!

  21. Michele: Thanks but I don’t quite know if I follow you. Are you saying that lawns are to be ridiculed in small cities? Like 35,000 population type places with really nice looking lawns? Or postage stamp lawns
    in large city gardens, “going to the city”, 700,000 pop. or more. Which? Both?

    I am just not sure what you mean. In either case, I might disagree, more or less, a bit. The tiny plates, tiles or little patios of green lawn in NYC yards are pleasantly abstract and relieve the sometimes boring verticality of a city. Relentless multistory buildings and skyscrapers, while exciting, can be too much. Tiny or small lawns are like punctuation in a page-long sentence.

    Most suburban “city” homes badly need gardens, but they also need a good lawn
    to accompany them. Frame, accent, etc. Again
    I ask you to read my entry ‘Lawn Love’. I got quite a lively group of responses too. Fun!

    If meadows-and-gardens-only became the
    “urban” norm, they’d need to be accompanied by redesigned houses. Plus, if you want to protect your veggies from critters, don’t you want also to protect yourself? For insance, I’m removing a set of trees and shrubs from next to my door due solely to the stink bug infestation. They’re so bad, I have to use a snow shovel. Strictly a matter of proximity of vegetative matter to house and windows. And in the desert cities, extensive lawns aren’t merely ugly, (except in tiny contrast bits, like in big cities), they are evidence of stupidity.

    As for vegetable gardens, well, why not put them in every town, city and country?

    Thanks again for a nice blog.

  22. Last year I designed a small edible raised veggie bed for a client with a weekend home by the beach. Recently, I learned that they are now living full-time in their vacation home and love their garden and have added more decorative edibles into other planter beds so that they can enjoy even more edibles. The moral to this story is that you just never know what turns life (or your landscape design) may take!

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