Flesh Wouldn’t Yield

LAKE MACBRIDE— Friday morning the frost was thick. While walking the kitchen compost jar to the bin, the blades of grass crunched under my plastic shoes, leaving green footprints in the frosty lawn. After emptying the jar, I stopped by the vegetable plots, and as expected the tomatoes and peppers were bitten. Chard, collards, turnips and arugula looked like they might recover this time, but another milestone in a season of gardening has been passed.

Work called me to a farm where I was hired to help clear the field. The biggest part of the work so far has been deconstructing the tomato cages. Tomatoes are an important part of a CSA, so producing enough good looking ones is important. Some put in a lot of plants, hoping to glean the best for customers and offer bulk crates of seconds for those who may want them. Others cast the die in an amount that seems right based on prior experience. Tomatoes were a mixed bag around the county this year, and those who had a surplus of good ones sold them to others who didn’t. There were plenty of seconds for processing and my pantry .contains plenty of canned tomatoes.

When I arrived at the work site, we walked through the pepper patch. When I tried to take a bite from a perfect looking green bell pepper, the flesh wouldn’t yield. Frozen solid and ready to be plowed under. I thought, if the rest of the good peppers were harvested and placed in the freezer now, they could be preserved for later use. However, there was other work to do and once the day thawed, it would be too late. The exigencies of work life intervened with my frugal impulse.

The rest of the day we dug potatoes, harvested Brussels sprouts and polished green peppers picked before the frost. We also continued the tomato cage work, although a few hours remain to be finished. The focus was on getting the fall share out Monday, and there is an abundance of produce to be processed for delivery.

As winter arrives, and food thoughts turn to the pantry, I stopped at the orchard and bought a bushel of WineCrisp™ apples for their storage capabilities. When they are ripe, I’ll buy a bushel of GoldRush for the same reason. While it is kind of apple-geeky, you should know about the propagation work being done at Rutgers, Purdue and the University of Illinois in developing these apples without genetic engineering. Fit reading as we move indoors and settle in for a winter not far away.