It’s tomato time. Before you get too excited, you all know it is not nearly time to eat tomatoes, that friends, is still a long way off. It is the time to get them in the ground. Usually our favorite summer fruits are planted already, but this long cold and wet spring had us holding off. Tomatoes like the sun, they actually thrive in the drought years more so than in the wet ones. Planting them when ground temperatures are cold and the earth still soggy, has proven to be a mistake for us, here in our hollow especially. So, we waited (spring patience is a much sought after virtue among farmers)and luckily we did for we had a late season frost just last week that would have zapped our heat loving delights. Now, as May draws to a close, and a week of hot temperatures warmed the earth some, we spent most of this past week getting some of these tomatoes in. You might already know tomato plants can get huge and their leafy sprawl has to hold up the weight of countless fruits. Add to this the fact that with a long production season, the plants are in the ground for months. They need help. There are many ways to manage tomatoes: staking, trellising, caging. We opt for caging. Each plant (and we set hundreds of them) has one white oak stake pounded next to it and a 5 foot high rebar tube set around it and tied to the stake. To offset weed pressure and hold summer’s dwindling moisture in the ground, at planting time, we also mulch heavily around the plant, cage and all. Whew, long explanation and even longer process, but with the many hands and lovely week behind us, we have nearly 300 tomatoes set, caged and mulched. We certainly have more ahead, but in are the Black Krims, Bobcats, Amish Paste and Cherokee Purples. Don’t see your favorite on the list, fear not, more to come. In the meantime as you dream of salsas and tomato sandwiches, take a moment to enjoy the burgeoning diversity in this week’s basket, the season really is underway!
week four in your basket:
Chinese Cabbage Stir Fry
2 tablespoons peanut oil
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 head Chinese cabbage, shredded
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon rice wine
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon minced gingerroot
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
Stir together rice wine, soy sauce, sesame oil, and ginger root in a small bowl; set aside.
Heat the oil in a wok over medium-high heat.Add red pepper flakes and minced garlic, and stir-fry until it becomes aromatic but not scorched. Add shredded cabbage and stir-fry until limp, but not mushy. Add contents of seasoning bowl and cook, stirring, 1-2 minutes more, until liquid is almost absorbed. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and serve.
Chinese Cabbage Salad with Sesame Dressing
3 tablespoons rice or white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons sesame seed, toasted
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 cups finely shredded Chinese cabbage
1/4 cup chopped jicama
1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/4 cup coarsely shredded carrot
In tightly covered container, shake all dressing ingredients.
In medium glass or plastic bowl, toss salad ingredients and dressing. Cover and refrigerate until serving time.