24 October 2011

when october goes

I spent an hour or so planting lilacs on Saturday afternoon. It was a classic late-fall day—gray sky, occasional drizzle—and I was feeling the way I always feel this time of year . . . a little cold, a little older.

And as often happens in fall, I heard a flock of Canada geese approaching from the north. On some days their flights south, then maybe north again, then east, then have we gone west yet? make me laugh out loud ("Make up your minds, you guys! Are you staying or going?"). But on Saturday, I stopped digging for a moment, let my heart catch a little, and watched the majestic, raucous formation pass overhead.

I should be over it now, I know.
It doesn't matter much how old I grow.
I hate to see October go.

22 October 2011

amarilli mia bella

Dug the amaryllis bulbs three weeks ago, put them in a box in the basement, where they will rest for a few months (that is, until early–mid December), at which point I'll pot them up and see what happens. They were beautiful last year.

And speaking of lovely, here's "Amarilli mia bella," by the late Renaissance/early Baroque Italian composer Giulio Caccini and sung by Cecilia Bartoli:


unusual year for tomatoes

If anyone had told me back in early September, with the summer we had, that I'd be picking 'Sun Gold' tomatoes in the rain on 22 October, I would have said, "Awwwww, go on with ya!" Except I would have believed the rain part.

However, I'm cooking down a few more tomatoes for the saucepot this afternoon. It's been a great year for 'Sun Gold.'

A few months ago, Ken Druse talked with Steve Bogash, Penn State Extension regional horticulture educator, who is known in vegetable circles (eh? what's that?) as Mr. Tomato. Last night B and I listened to the podcast with great interest. A few takeaways:
  • Who knew? Tomatoes like a slightly acid soil, somewhere between 6.2 and 6.8. Better yields with that pH. Most garden soil is pretty neutral. Don't lime the soil where you'll be growing tomatoes!
  • Favorite reds/pinks: 'Big Beef' from Park's Seeds; 'Brandy Boy' and 'Bush Early Girl' from Burpee.
  • Favorite yellow cherry: 'Sun Gold' (when he said that, B turned to me and smiled); however, it has a tendency to split, which is our experience.
  • Favorite yellow grape: 'Solid Gold,' which doesn't split, and which Ken Druse grows and loves.
The tomatoes that did best for us this unusual year were 'San Marzano' and 'Sun Gold,' both small varieties. We did our usual heirlooms, and they produced very few edible fruit. We bought one that was supposed to be early and had a horrible name: 'Sophie's Choice.' Isn't that awful? She limped along until the wilt took her away. Good riddance. We had lots of rot this year. Very disappointing.

But I'm not complaining this afternoon, with a nice pot of tomatoes cooking down on the stove.