Today I faced facts. The tomatoes needed to come out. They were brown and mostly dead. There will be no miracle springing them back to life. They had lived a long and healthy life since they emerged from their seeds ten months ago and now tired and exhausted they have given up but not without producing an abundance of delicious tomatoes for us along the way. The best part was – they died of natural causes and not the dreaded blight. Not this year my friends.
The rain finally stopped and a sun that doesn’t quite have the energy it once did, but still able to warm the air, came out. I looked about the garden for something to do. There is always things to do in the garden no matter what time of year and some things are just a mere trifle of a task that would take no time at all, and would probably have an insignificant impact on the overall view of the garden.
Today I was after a job I could get my teeth into. One that would be noticed. One I could say “look what I did!” And there is nothing like removing dead plants especially when they are big and there are loads of them. So I dragged my one armed wheelbarrow (with a cracked pan) over to the tomatoes. I say dragged as it also has a flat tire. I really need a new one, and I fancy one of those four wheeled ones that look more like a trolley. But for now I only have my poor old barrow and it is still up to the job, surprisingly.
I then carefully set about chopping up my plants, removing any late tomatoes as I went. I chopped them up into short lengths and put them in the wheelbarrow, taking care not to drop any as hygiene is essential with dead tomatoes. You really don’t want next year’s crop ruined because last year’s tomato lurgies were left hanging around. I put all the old ties in the bin because they weren’t recyclable and they are also the perfect place for lurgies to hide. I couldn’t believe how much I actually used. But then again most of it was for repair jobs as the wooden stakes I used were – hmm thinking of the right word to use in polite company – disappointing. They rotted off at the base early in the season leaving my precious plants flailing about in the wind. So the whole lot needed to be lashed to extra stakes. My tomatoes really weren’t all that pretty this year.
We still have a fire ban in the area, despite the last few days of rain, so I loaded all the chopped up bits and pieces into our braziers waiting for the day when we get the all clear and we can start burning things again. I’m not even tempted to put this lot on the compost heap, just in case.
Then I gave the bed a bit of a weed – not that there were many in there – just a dozen or so small thugs with a try hard attitude. But I soon knocked them down to size with my handy dandy wee hand tool. Then I gave it all a rake over, leaving it looking all lovely and ready for re-enriching for the next crop which will be the onions and garlic in a couple of months’ time.
I managed to salvage two kilo of tomatoes that was to become part of an annual ritual – The Last of Summer Relish. All the previous batches of tomato relish were done with a ‘chore’ attitude. “It’s boiling hot outside and it’s the last thing I want to be doing, but fresh is best…” This batch is different. It is the very last one. The next time we see tomatoes is a long way off.
So there it is – summer is officially over… there are no tomatoes in my garden. Well… that’s not entirely true. The Yellow Brandywine didn’t look dead. In fact it looked quite vibrant. There is every possibility that the tomatoes held within its branches could make it to vine ripened. But I’m dicing with the frost… And then there are the cuttings I took in the hopes of growing them on in the greenhouse and keeping summer alive all year long.
Come again soon – I think I need to begin harvesting pumpkins next.
Sarah the Gardener : o )