Sunday, March 22, 2009

November Weather in March

Today is another day of spring weather I would just as soon skip. Very gray, bone-chilling damp, windy and the ground is covered with melting snow and a mixture of ice, mud and slush. Great day to be inside as much as one can. The forecast for the coming week looks a little bleak, too. Temps barely reaching the 40s for highs, on and off rain/snow/freezing rain. No happy, smiley sun faces showing on this week's weather map. Not that it has to be a sunny day to be a good day by any means, but this time of year I'm a little eager for blue skies with encouraging sunshine and warmth with promises of gardening days to come.

I haven't started any of my seeds inside yet. Up here it's the first of June before we dare transplant seedlings into the garden. And even then we sometimes get stomped on with a surprise late frost. So other than perhaps tomatoes and peppers, in our house nothing gets started under lights until the first of April. Otherwise, the plants just get too leggy.

No tomatoes (except cherry tomatoes that I'm always lucky enough to get bunches of without too much trouble) for me this year. Before last summer, I hadn't planted any full-sized tomatoes for several years. But the past couple of growing seasons had been a little warmer so once again, I was lured into thinking that with a little extra effort, maybe I could get those round, red devils to ripen for me. Last year I did lots of experimenting in the garden (with LOTS of tomato plants) with the thought of trying my darndest to get a bunch of full-sized tomatoes to harvest. I use a lot of stewed tomatoes in soups and casseroles and really wanted to can our year's supply. Remember how I did? Dismal failure. In our climate, you truly do need a greenhouse to be assured of having tomatoes ripen on the vine. Wonder why I can't get that through my head? (Hope springs eternal, as they say!)

Peppers grow on a small enough "bush" for me to protect them with a cold frame type affair over one of my 4' x 8' garden beds so even if the started plants are just eight weeks old when I put them out, they end the season giving us lots of red and green fruits.

Roy just came in from doing some afternoon chores outside and remarked, "Dang, that wind is cold!" I can hear it moaning and see the trees swaying as I look out the window above my computer screen. Yup, mighty good imitation of a barren November day Mother Nature's got going out there. Wonder if the birds zooming back and forth from feeders to trees know it's spring rather than fall? They sure look like they're stocking up for cold weather. But, no fear, they're smart. They know spring is around the corner; their little bird brains are no doubt centered on nest building and laying eggs in the near future. Just as I know I'll be poking little seeds into warm soil before many more weeks go by. We never do get much of a spring season up here. One day it's cold and damp and the next it's 70 degrees and summer has arrived. And, woo-hoo, right now that sounds pretty good!


MaineCelt said...

Thank heavens I'm not the only one who hasn't started seeds yet... with snowdrifts, financial stress and the plumbing debacle, I've just been too depressed! Hopefully I'll get some things going later this week.

I love experimenting with tomatoes, too. I've had the best luck with "Glacier" for a beefsteak-type that will reliably ripen in Maine. The Russian heirlooms (Black Krim & Cosmonaut Volkov) also do well, as does Green Zebra.

This year I'm planning to try dehydrating some of my cherry tomatoes. I tried another farmer's dehydrated sungolds that were like tangy little candies!

Mama Pea said...

Hi, MaineCelt - I always have more cherry tomatoes than I can use or give away but never thought of dehydrating them . . . duh! I'm assuming one would cut them in half first??

Thanks for passing on the full-sized tomato varieties.

MaineCelt said...

Exactly. Cut them in half, then dry them. Our summers are too moisture-laden to do any sun-drying here, but I know a lady who makes amazing "sun-dried" tomatoes by drying them to the slightly-moist-and-chewy stage in a dehydrater, then putting them in mason jars, pouring olive oil over them, sealing them up and storing them in the root cellar. She always uses them on the fancy salads she brings to potlucks, and everyone raves about them. (I did try this method once myself, on a small scale, but I don't have a root cellar & got nervous about safe storage, so I just kept a couple jars in the back of the fridge.

Mama Pea said...

Dehyrating some cherry toms is definitely on my list of things to try this summer. Thanks so much for the suggestion!

I'd like to try the olive oil method, too, but will most likely just do a jar to keep in the back of the refrig like you did. Can't imagine doing a bunch of jars and filling with olive oil . . . wouldn't that be prohibitively expensive?