The Philosopher Shrugs



It was a sorry tomato season.  Never really hot enough.  Too rainy.  For the first time in a long time, I didn’t start my own seedlings, but bought them at the farmer’s market.  Lots of Brandywines, instead of what I’d have started myself: Paul Robesons, Pineapples, Orange Pastes and Matt’s Wild Cherries.  I should know better.  Brandywines are superb in a hot, dry year.  In a wet cool one, the plants are instantly disease-ridden and the tomatoes watery tasting.

Some rainy years, you get a zillion green tomatoes.  Not this one.  Very little fruit production. But there are so few tomatoes in general in my garden that the green ones dropping off their diseased vines deserve some respect.  I have never mastered the fried green tomato.  This is what I do instead: green tomato relish. It’s a food processor job–finely chopped is best. I process just a few jars, maybe three or four.  (The insane quantities recommended in most canning recipes are, in my opinion, a recipe for scaldings and sweaty misery.)

Really, really delicious.  You can serve the relish with bread and cheese.  You can serve it with ham.  You can serve it with grilled chicken.  But its highest calling is a good grilled hotdog.  Roasted potatoes, nice salad, crickets chirping, summer winding down.


  1. I share your tomato blues. I tried Mr. Stripey. He does not like wet weather either. Blah tasting. The Romas look lovely but have a black center. You can cut it out and they taste ok, I just don’t want to can them. Just seems iffy. The spouse always wants a “real” tomato ( a beefsteak variety.) They are misshapen blobs of little taste. I make a green tomato salsa that is tasty but can’t use them all. The summer squash and cukes way out did themselves, but that is not important. The tomato is the ultimate. Can’t even enjoy a good blt.

  2. What caught my eye was Orange Paste: ooh, an orange tomato I haven’t grown! Tell me more.

    I have so many tomatoes I’ve been donating them to the local food closet by the boxful and am going to do some canning with a friend this week, for the first time. Every time I blink, the Diva cucumber vine produces 5 more cucumbers.

    It’s no coincidence that I’m trying to maintain community garden plots in 3 separate locations. I just wish I could pay for rent and gas with tomatoes!

  3. Not sure what the issue was in these parts – too cool? Could be. Too shady? but the neighbors finally cut down those atrocious flowering pears that I’ve been blaming for my garden failures! Too much water, too little calcium — too many rodents gobbling up every vaguely pink fruit in the garden?

    Yeah, I’m gonna continue to blame the rats. Maybe raccoons and skunks, too.

  4. Michele, wasn’t your July extremely hot, with monsoon rains almost every afternoon? You live pretty close to southern Vermont, so I assumed your weather was not that different. Here, all the abundant blossoms at the beginning of the freaky July weather either fell off or failed to get pollinated. The plants never became robust, instead are thin and straggly. Any tomatoes are ripening very slowly. Ah, I grieve over what could have been but never materialized. I’m savoring the few that I’ve been able to pick. With a limited budget, I can’t really buy tomatoes at the farmer’s market. Not now, anyway. Hopefully, prices will be more reasonable in a couple weeks when the harvest hopefully becomes abundant. Unless we get an early frost. Next year, I hope to be able to have a back-up plan: growing some tomatoes in a hoop house. What is “Orange Paste”? Who sells seeds?

  5. I feel your pain. After three years of drought, South Carolina nearly floated away this summer. Our gardens were a mess. I planted about 40 heirloom tomato vines, and while we’re still getting a few piddly tomatoes, most of the vines were pulled due to disease. Our poor garden just looks depressed–everything droopy and mildew-y, so thank goodness it’s about time to clean it up for fall crops. (I must admit, though, I did make a killer tomato pie last night with four varieties of heirlooms. Yum.)

    There’s always next year, right? (said the eternally optimistic gardener…) 😉

  6. We had the opposite………….too hot for a brief but critical period. Just as blossoms were getting ready to seduce pollinators the temps hit 96* for a whole week. Thus plants stopped growing and pollen was damaged. I had yellow cucumbers tat should have been green and yellow egg plant that should have been purple. They looked perfect except wrong color………………….

    The culprit poor quality pollen

    The TROLL

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