Summer is almost over Philadelphia’s Southwest. Some sensory cues: The roaring ATVs go unnoticed, ice cream jingles jangle every hour, hordes of soggy children with goggles on their faces emerge from the pool like swamp creatures and the smell of tomato vines as one hand reaches for a ripe tomato while the other scratches incessantly at mosquito bites.
It hasn’t been all romance and sunshine, as our immediate community has seen more than its fair share of violence over the past few weeks. But despite that, and not to sound too hippy dippy, there’s still an abundance of goodness in our neighborhood.
We’re transitioning into our fall crops, so expect to see some lettuces, carrots, cauliflower, cabbages and broccoli around our garden. Our junior gardeners each got to man the mantis tiller, while Andrew prepped the beds and planted seed. But before we rush fall in, we’ve yet to talk about the fruits (and flowers) of our summer.
Our heirloom varieties grow at our site at the Schuylkill Center, while the hybrids and cherry tomatoes are grown at Farm 51. It’s all kind of a big experiment. Some takeaways: electric fences work. Touching 8000 volts is not pleasant (ouch). The fence is not effective on possum, groundhog, birds and all the other shitty wildlife that comes with a legitimately lush countryside landscape. The Schuylkill Center is idyllic for sure, but man do our hearts break at the sight of melons, heirloom tomatoes and squashes strewn across our garden.
Despite the groundhogs, birds and other vermin that’ve been eating our fancy veggies, we’ve been able to walk away with quite the abundance of tomatoes. These cool nights allowed us to hunker down in our kitchen and process much of them into sauces, soups and salsas. Canning and preserving every last drop of summer we possibly can.
Our tomato sauce wasn’t anything groundbreaking, hence no recipe post. I’m sure if you’re reading this post, you already know that a good tomato sauce starts with the best ingredients you can find. So just allow us to brag when we can say that our tomato sauce is all grown from our means, from the herbs to the garlic, all the way to the touches of honey for some sweet. Magic happens when you apply gentle heat to tomatoes, flaws and all. The uses have lent itself to some hearty summer dinners: Spaghetti and grilled eggplant, eggplant parmesean, eggs in purgatory, you name it, we ate it.
And lastly, flowers. Flowers rule. I have a really cheesy dialogue with myself every time I match colors of celosia and amaranth, sunburst zinnias with butterfly weed, hyacinth bean with dahlia. Ah whatever, just look at the pictures, won’t you? Pretty.