*** Thanks for all of the commiseration and wisdom regarding my CSA failure. You guys rock! ***
Yowsa! I grew tomatoes in my very shady backyard! This is huge. Granted, the tomatoes themselves are not huge, but they are delish. When I stuck the Roma and cherry tomato starts in the ground sometime in June, I really didn't believe they would produce much of anything, except maybe a little swearing. There's a little patch in my slope-y yard that gets about 3-4 hours of sun, so I figured what the hay? Give it a try. Well, we've been plucking juicy fruit off these plants for the past few weeks now, and they are still going strong. I think our late summer weather helped immensely, but I also stopped watering them in early August. I've always heard that you're supposed to stress out your tomato plants to stimulate the ripening process, and dang, I do believe those garden experts know what they're talking about. Because I stopped watering it, the Roma plant is almost totally brown. It looks dead with the exception of the bright red fruit. Keep going, baby. Romas are probably the biggest tomato we could grow in part sun, so we'll shoot for the big beefsteaks in our sunny front yard next summer.
I'm reading the All New Square Foot Gardening book right now, and he has an interesting take on growing tomatoes. He says to cut off all of the branches so you just have a single stem when the plant is tiny. This forces the plant to put its energy into production, which in turn is suppose to yield more fruit. We'll see.
Since I didn't plan for any tomato harvest, we've mostly been eating them on salads or as snacks. I think it would be cool to plant more Romas next year and actually make and freeze (or can) pasta sauce. One thing I've been doing with these Romas, however, is making a lovely little sauce to go over salmon:
Chive-Tarragon Sauce (Adapted from Mark Bittman's Fish book)
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 tblspns minced fresh chives
3 sprigs fresh tarragon (or approx 1 tsp dried, which is what I use)
2 tblspns butter
2 big tomatoes, or about 4-5 Romas (seeded if you prefer, but I don't) minced
salt & pepper
1/2 lemon (optional)
In a pan, bring wine to boil and let it bubble for about a minute. Add herbs and butter; stir. When butter is melted add tomatoes and cook for 30 seconds or so. If sauce tastes flat after seasoning with salt and pepper, add lemon juice (but I've never had to do this). Spoon sauce over fish. This could serve 4, but I make this amount for just my husband and me (my kids won't touch fish). I like to serve salmon with brown rice and pour this sauce over both, which makes the rice nice and flavorful.
I know I've been writing a lot of food posts lately, but I've really been getting in to cooking and baking now that both of my kids are in school all day (what else am I going to do?). I do feel strongly that cooking healthfully for my family, using local, organic, whole ingredients as much as possible is just as important to environmental health as reduce/reuse/recycle, green cleaners and all the other efforts we all try to make on a daily basis. I will try to branch out a little more. :-)
Oh, and we're going to kick off the EnviroMom Meatless Supper Club next Friday, October 2, so stay tuned!