The End of Tomatoes (Almost)

August 21 – Chris has just gone downstairs to peel and slice and can some of our pears that are ripe. She canned four quarts of them yesterday. We picked the whole crop of them from one tree a few days ago and now are waiting for them to ripen. This was the largest harvest we have ever had from this tree, and I can’t remember what kind of pear it is.

160821_Chestnut

[ Chestnut burrs ]

And speaking of trees, our two Chinese chestnut trees have formed burrs that will ripen in October, and are also reblooming now for a second crop. They may bloom a third time but probably those last nuts will never mature before frosts kill them.

Thursdays are our weekly shopping days as our regular readers know, and we spent most of the morning making the rounds – post office, thrift store, supermarket, bank. We have friends in each place and spend a lot of the time visiting. At the thrift store, as usual, we gathered a lot of books that looked interesting, and are certainly very inexpensive there. When we left, we staggered out to the truck with two heavy boxes of them. If I find that I don’t like any of them, I take them back next week and give them back for free – our cost at ten cents each is certainly cheap enough! This last trip Chris got a lot of Bible dictionaries and commentaries, etc.

Then on the way home we stopped at a garage sale and bought several more books, plus odds and ends. The folks there had just put their mother in an assisted-living home and were getting rid of a lot of her things. One of the odds and ends was a nice flashlight with good batteries and a bright light, for just 25 cents. All the other flashlights cost the same amount, and had no batteries!

160821_Tomatoes

[ Tomatoes, but not for long ]

Our tomato harvest is drawing to a close and we won’t be picking very many more this year. Many of the plants look half dead from leaf blight, but they certainly have produced well this summer. Chris has canned close to 100 quarts of juice. We still have a number of plants with smallish pink tomatoes called Pearly Pinks, which seem to bear heavily and for a longer period than most of the others. The plants grow tall and straight up.

Chris sent some of these tomatoes back to college with grandson Kevin; he is the one who introduced us to them years ago and we have kept them growing ever since. He has now headed back to Lincoln, Nebraska, and has three semesters left before he graduates as a nurse. In the back of his truck was his bicycle, which just might come in handy if he should have a break-down.

Right now I have several jars of water on my workshop bench, with tomato seeds fermenting in them. Soon I will pour them out and remove the pulp and lay the seeds out to dry. There are six kinds of tomato seeds that I want to grow again next year, and I will keep these seeds until then. Roma, Mortgage Lifter, Jersey Devil, SunGold, and a large pink tomato that I don’t remember the name of. Delicious is another favorite and I have a packet of the seed that I didn’t get planted this year. Some of the varieties we grew this year we don’t much care for and won’t raise them again.

It is can still be hot outside, but the recent rains have made it a lot cooler. The weatherman never seems quite sure of his forecast – once I heard him say there was a 100% chance of rain, but before and after that the percentages varied considerably.

160821_Cicada

[ Cicada time ]

The cicadas are singing and remind me of a long-ago time when I was growing up in Southern Rhodesia. Cicadas are called Christmas beetles, for it is near Christmas when they sing there. They sing in the thousands, with a great intensity, and I can recall trying to grab one now and then and usually getting a squirt in the eye from it as it flew away.

Was also reminded of my Africa days of a nasty item that the Africans enjoyed eating – large caterpillars that were maturing about the same time as the cicadas. The African women would walk through the forests of mopane trees that the caterpillars ate the leaves of, and collect the caterpillars. Periodically they would stop and squeeze out the innards and leave them in small mounds, while taking the outer portions home to eat. A factory began canning the caterpillars and having them for sale in stores. They may still be available today. Try checking on mopane/mopani worms on the Internet. Other insects considered edible over there are large tunnel-dwelling crickets, grasshoppers/locusts, and flying termites

160821_Goldenrod

[ Goldenrod – a sign of fall ]

As we walked through the woods recently we kept encountering spider webs spun across the trail at eye level, which we found very annoying and hard to get rid of. The spiders that make them have strange angular abdomens that seem out of proportion to the rest of the spider. Finally I carried a stick along and kept waving it in front of me.

The golden rod is blooming already, and just a few of the white snakeroot flowers are starting to bloom. Snakeroot is a toxic plant and if cows eat much of it, their milk can cause sickness in those who drink it. Later on there will be a great deal of it around our property.  – DALE

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