August 11 – Another tomato juice canning day is upon us. Early this morning Chris was downstairs with two large containers of cut tomatoes on the stove, heating up to be run through the juicer. Last night she cut up those tomatoes while I was watching America’s Got Talent.She had just started running the first dipper of tomatoes through the juicer this morning when I got down there to turn the handle myself. It’s a bit of a messy operation but it’s great to see that flow of juice mostly running out into the container below. There is a large can below the juicer that catches the small amounts of juice that don’t go where they are supposed to, and are later poured down the drain. There are 22 quarts of juice sitting on the counter down stairs, and hopefully they will all seal. A couple of days ago there were 27 quarts sitting there, and they are now on the big shelves a few feet away.
We have a number of varieties of tomatoes – from the little SunGold to the much larger Mortgage Lifter and Jersey Devil, Roma, and a couple of others I don’t remember the names of. One of our favorites is Pearly Pink, a small plum-sized tomato that is a bright pink color and very tasty and prolific.Yesterday afternoon we went out to the tomato patch with buckets to gather the ripe tomatoes. Chris has a badly stained set of clothes she uses when she picks tomatoes, for the leaves turn things green when brushed against. I am told not to pick those particular tomatoes, for one set of dirty clothes and arms is enough. I do walk around the patch edge and pick a few tomatoes that are within easy reach, and also help to pick the little SunGold tomatoes on the outer edge while Chris picks the ones on the other side.
Once we have picked out an assortment for family and friends, all the tomatoes are dumped big kettles and are destined to have their juices mingled together. I think we must have had a bushel or so of tomatoes yesterday. While Chris picks, I carry the filled buckets up to the house and take them down into the basement.We also picked our cucumbers, and Chris is thinking of making pickles out of the surplus. A few cucumbers are usually overlooked amidst the foliage and not noticed until their golden glow gives them away. It’s a shame such colorful items have to be thrown away but we don’t know of any good use for them, and they end up in the compost heap. Supposedly, cucumbers that ripen on the vine tend to shut down the production of future ones, so we try to keep them picked as cleanly as we can. Chris picked our sweet peppers and will have to find good uses for them, for we can’t eat that many. We have several white datura plants right in the garden where they grew from seed dropped by last year’s plants. These plants must measure maybe four or five feet across, and in the early mornings the large white blooms shine brightly before dying away, while new buds stand large and strong waiting for the cool of the evening to open to their full size. Just about every day I inspect our row of Heavenly Blue morning glory vines out on the front fence, looking for the first flower buds. The vines thrive but are always slow to produce flowers. Once they begin to bloom, the mass of blue color is glorious. Oddly, this variety of morning glory won’t set seed here, and I notice on the seed packets that they are produced in Japan.
Today was our weekly shopping trip to Pleasant Hill, and it is supposed to be the hottest day of the week, up into the mid-nineties. At least our truck and all the stores we will be in will have air conditioning. Were sad to hear last week that our son-in-law’s parents didn’t have any air conditioning for a couple of days while waiting for the repairman to fix their air conditioner. Our son cautions us frequently to stay out of the sun and heat, and I am going to follow his instructions as much as possible. His mother tends to venture out more often and for longer periods of time!Yesterday Chris noticed that a squirrel had been busy eating our sunflower seeds in the garage. They were in a 25-lb bag and the squirrel had gnawed a hole in it and eaten a good many seeds before the theft was discovered. So I had to get out a couple of sturdy containers and pour the seed into them. Take that, squirrel! – DALE