Here we are . . . the end of another summer. I know the following sentence bespeaks my advancing age . . . where does the time go? Wasn’t Memorial Day just a few weeks ago?
The vegetable garden is bursting at its seams. Picking has now taken priority over weeding, planting, mulching and staking. Tomatoes are lying all over the ground. (This, of course, is a result of my having neglected stakes and string.) It is a big rush to pick them before some critter gets at them. Hence, most need a few days to ripen sprawled all over my kitchen counters. In my perfect world, I process them before, one-by-one, they go into the compost bucket.
Saturday night Violet and I hauled out the Squeezo-Strainer and made enough tomato juice to fill my huge crock pot. It is reducing itself by at least half as I write.
The Squeeze-Strainer is an invaluable piece of equipment. The washed and cored tomato goes into the hopper and comes out as a seedless and skinless wonderful juice. If you are lucky to have a willing child, she will turn the crank for you.
After I drink as much juice as is humanly possible, the rest can be heated and canned for winter soups and sauces. I usually put the filled jars into my pressure cooker/canner, whip it up to 10 pounds of pressure, turn off the heat and walk away.
If other produce, such as onions, garlic, zucchini, peppers are added to the juice, you must process at 10 pounds pressure for the most time an individual vegetable requires. Any good canning book, such as Stocking Up or Putting Food By will give you the proper timing. This is to prevent botulism, a soil-borne organism that can live without oxygen in a jar of something low-acid.
I’ve canned for at least four decades and haven’t died. Don’t be scared — just follow directions and keep things clean.
My friend Sharlee and I used to make day-long projects of canning. We had small children running around and bushels of produce to be processed. Back in those days, we needed that food to get us through some pretty lean winters. The economy on the Vineyard in the 70s was certainly different for those of us with young families back then.
I have an extended family of turkeys in my yard. It is three mothers with three different ages of babies. They are a bit of a nuisance but I’ve grown quite fond of them. They are hanging around my apple trees and eating the bruised drops. If times get really tough I suppose I could eat one. I’ve done it before. They are small and tough once the feathers are removed but, hey, free food and talk about low-cal!
There are several lovely fields in West Tisbury filled with goldenrod and/or Queen Anne’s lace — a couple on Music street, one across from the West Tisbury School and the Child property on Old County Road.
How about Whiting’s Pond? It is absolutely stunning with the cattails and red lobelia. The next time someone says “We’ve had all that rain,” have them check out the water level in that pond.
Lobelia cardinalis is a Native American plant found in wetlands and swamps of eastern North America and Canada. It was probably named after the outfits of the Vatican cardinals. It attracts and is pollinated by the ruby-throated hummingbird. It is non-invasive and can be propagated by seeds. Be careful not to disturb a wild planting if you take any seeds. Do not take the roots as it does not spread rapidly and wants to stay in the wild.
Last week’s column said I bought a sprinkler on impulse . . . It is actually called an “impulse sprinkler” — just saying!
I followed conventional wisdom and did not plant impatiens this summer. A soil-borne fungus ruined most of them last year. I did pot up a few in window boxes and they did just fine. I used new soil and kept a close watch. Good to know for next season.
Honestly, President Obama cannot catch a break. First, everyone was mad that he wanted to go into Syria unilaterally and now they are criticizing him for seeking congressional approval first.
Last week I passed a tiny “demonstration” at the five corners. A sign read: Syria = WW III Impeach Obama. I couldn’t figure out which side they were taking until I saw three posters of the president with a Hitler mustache. Really! Is he a socialist or a fascist? People, go back to civics class and pay attention this time.