By LYNNE IRONS
Don’t even get me started about the use of public land by private corporations. How about all those cattle barons using our tax-supported acreage out west? Never mind that the cattle have overgrazed it to the point of erosion.
Nevertheless, I have noticed two uses in Edgartown last week. Just as I was passing the Federated Church about to enter South Water street, I noticed a lovely red flowering vine climbing the utility pole to my right.
Let me mention as I was admiring how sweet it was, the church bells began playing Be Thou My Vision, an ancient Irish melody versed by Eleanor Hull in the late 19th century. The music goes back to the eighth century. You lucky few who live near the Federated. Even the committed secular have to enjoy hymns with their morning coffee.
As serendipity has a way, I received a call from Lee Devitt in the Midwest who happened to mention her hummingbird vine was blooming and attracting the tiny creatures like crazy. When I described the vine climbing the telephone pole in Edgartown, she confirmed its identity. She promised to send along some seeds.
I love seed trading. This practice kept our agricultural heritage alive for millennia. Remember this winter when I went on a rampage about the Monsanto Company in its greedy quest to own the seed that it had genetically modified. The company spliced into seeds a gene called the Terminator that renders the send unable to reproduce. Therefor the big agricultural producers need to purchase seed from the company.
Saving seeds of heritage plants is relatively simple. I use paper envelopes and keep them dry. My labeling is only recognized by me. Pity my children after my demise. They will have to torch the place. I probably have every piece of macaroni glued on construction paper in nursery school up in my attic.
I do digress. Back to the proper (in my opinion) use of public land. How about the mandevilla climbing the utility pole at the funeral home on the Edgartown Road? Also, I have admired the folks who have planted along the tiny strip between the sidewalk and the street in front of their homes. Some look like the meadow-in-a-can seeded wildflowers. Others are a bit more tended. All in all, the effect is great.
My friend Sharlee was so happy with her tomato preservation method last summer. She cleaned and cored the tomatoes and tossed them into a plastic bag for the freezer. To use in the winter, simply run the still-frozen tomatoes under cold water. The skins will slip right off. Sauces and soups can then simmer along when you need the extra heat in the kitchen.
For years, I have canned tomatoes and probably still will but this method is great when just a few extra come in every day. However, when bushels start happening and the days are a bit cooler, I love to make tomato juice. I use a hand-powered piece of equipment called the Squeezo-Strainer. The washed tomato is fed into a hopper and out comes delicious, fresh, seedless and skinless juice. After I drink more than is humanly possible, I pour the rest into sterilized jars.
I use a pressure canner. It is a bit daunting at first but a wonderful addition to the farm kitchen. It only uses two inches of water. It brings the jars up to 240 degrees and therefore kills botulism. Botulism grows in air-tight containers and comes from an inadvertently missed speck of dirt. Low-acid vegetables are especially at risk. Because of hybridizing, tomatoes can be lower in acid than in the past, so the pressure canner is therefore the best choice. I whip them up to 10 pounds of pressure and turn it off. It sure beats a boiling water bath bubbling away for half an hour. The resulting juice can be cooked down in January for a killer sauce.
If I use other vegetables in the juice, ie., onions, basil, garlic, carrots or celery, I check my canning book, Stocking Up, for the most time required for any ingredient. Better safe than sorry. I am still alive and have done this for at least three decades.
I shall close with a commercial. I just finished mowing my lawn with my Neuton mower. It is battery-powered, quiet and requires no pesky handling of gas cans.