The tyranny of harvest time

I’m running on empty these days. The garage sale to benefit the community garden is coming up and I’m still cleaning, cleaning, cleaning, trying to find more things to donate. I’m even too busy for Harvest Monday this week. Monday is hectic for me anyway, as that is the day I write and file my weekly environmental column for the Huntington Beach Independent.

“All” we harvested from the garden last week was tomatoes anyway, 11 lbs 3 oz. of them. Those tomatoes didn’t care what else I had on my agenda, they demanded action.

One day's harvest of tomatoes, with Brandywines in front and all others in the colander.

So in the midst of cleaning, sorting, washing, rearranging, and deciding which household things to put into the garage sale, I made and canned 6 pints of spaghetti sauce and 5 pints of tomato soup.

I have one more big batch of tomatoes that weren’t quite ready for the soup pot, but they’ll probably want me to do something with them tomorrow. And that will be the last of the big harvests of tomatoes for this season. I’ve never EVER grown this many tomatoes before. But then I’ve never been silly enough to plant 18 tomato plants either. With luck, the surviving plants will produce fresh tomatoes for salads for the next month, but those 10-pounds-a-week harvests are done for 2010.

And of course the chickens need to be fed and watered too. They don’t really care what else I have on my plate. They’re as inconsiderate as the tomatoes.

The mums around the chicken coop look pretty this time of year.

I thought that my apple harvest was over, but then I discovered three lovely big Granny Smith apples that both the neighborhood squirrels and I had missed. I picked them, but I am just too exhausted tonight to make a pie. After the community garden board meeting tonight and another three hours of clearing out the wall units that are going into the sale, a piece of apple pie sure would be nice.

My raised beds were incredibly productive this spring and summer, but they're finally looking bedraggled.

Tomorrow, I’m working with the Orange County Conservation Corps, then I’ll be taking stuff over to the garage sale after work. I’m hoping I have enough energy left to make that pie. On Friday I’ll need to deliver the last of whatever things that I’ve managed to part with, and then I’ll be off to watercolor class. I didn’t do my painting homework this week. Too busy setting up my artist’s studio, futzing in the kitchen, and dealing with those dingdang tomatoes.

This week's harvest includes scarlet runner beans, a handful of tomatoes, a couple of cukes and a couple of tiny eggplants.

Saturday is the big garage sale. We’re still several thousand dollars short of having enough money to get the garden infrastructure completed, so I’m hoping that the sale will help close that gap.

I am dreaming of how much food I’ll be able to grow next year with that nice community garden plot. Will I forget what a nuisance this glut of tomatoes is and plant even more next year? Probably.

About Lou Murray, Ph.D.

I'm a professional writer/photographer, avid gardener, and active environmentalist living in southern California. I am retired from writing a weekly newspaper column on environmental topics in the Huntington Beach Independent, but I am still teaching at the Orange County Conservation Corps. This blog chronicles my efforts to live a green life growing as much food as possible for my husband and myself on a 4,500 sq ft yard that is covered mainly by house, garage, driveway, and sidewalks.
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6 Responses to The tyranny of harvest time

  1. Do I sense a smidge of tomato burnout? 😛 I’ve suffered, ever so slightly from that before. I suggest that perhaps instead of a pie for your lovely apples, with the hassle of pastry, and your crazy schedule, perhaps baking a crisp instead? Much quicker to prepare, and every bit as wonderful a-la-mode! Good luck with the sale, I hope it helps to generate the much needed funds for the garden project.

    • Yep, Clare, I’m suffering from tomato burnout and “things to do” overload. The pressure is off now, though. The garage sale is over and we made over $800 for the community garden. I can hardly wait to get back to working in my own garden.

  2. thyme2garden says:

    You stay impressively busy! I think you definitely deserve a restful break with a slice of delicious apple pie. Or like Curbstone Valley Farm suggested above, an apple crisp sounds even better! I hope your garage sale is successful to raise the necessary funds!

    • Thyme, our garage sale was a big success. We made over $800 for the community garden. I still haven’t had time to make that pie, but the nice thing about apples is that they keep so well. Maybe today will be pie day.

  3. Daphne Gould says:

    11 lbs of tomatoes is a good harvest. I like the apples though. I really can’t wait for mine an they aren’t even planted yet!

    • Daphne, anticipation is a good thing. I’m already dreaming of my new plot at the community garden and the fruit that my trees should produce next summer, God willing and the creek don’t rise.

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