Gardener's Grapevine 2011.06.22

Written by David Green.

It was another beautiful Sunday and Father’s Day to boot. My dad and I took a drive down to Maumee for lunch, and the farmers appear to have some nice crops coming this year. The wheat looked very nice. 

We have some great looking tomatoes on the vine; I can’t wait for BLTs. That first ripe tomato makes all the hard work worth it. The tomatoes are the size of golf balls right now, but in about another week we’ll have green fried tomatoes and in hopefully two more weeks we’ll have ripe tomatoes, and then canning.

Canning is a dreaded chore for some people, but I actually like doing it. There is an odd sense of satisfaction in seeing those jars lined up for winter.

The squash is really growing, too. It won’t be long until we’ll be slicing that up for supper and mmm...is that good. Just add a little garlic, butter, and salt and you’re all set.

The black raspberries, which are the tiny sweet heritage ones, look great. In another week we’ll be picking them. The red raspberries are almost ready, also. A co-worker gave me the starts and this is year three for them. The vines started out as three small sticks and are now covering most of the back fence of the garden which is around 25 feet long. They were a good gift, as they bloom and produce two times a season and the berries freeze exceptionally well.

We have found an excellent way to freeze berries for the winter. Rinse them lightly, let them drain a few minutes, place them on a cookie sheet in a single layer, and they will freeze solid in two hours. Then put them in a freezer Ziploc bag, remove as much air as is possible and put the bag back in the freezer until you’re ready to use them.

On the topic of freezing food for winter, my daughter Jacquie works a lot of hours and is an avid gardener. Last year she was short on time and had a lot of tomatoes that needed to be put up. She rinsed the whole tomato—skin, core and all—then put them in freezer bags, removed the air, and dropped them in the deep freeze. I wondered how this would turn out for cooking. The answer is fabulous!

I took a package of them and put them in a stock pot with a little water and let them cook. Then I strained out the skins and cores, and it left me with an excellent tomato base for chili or sauce. This is a very easy way to put up tomatoes for the cold season. Tomatoes are a base for so many easy recipes and one of my favorites is old-fashioned tomato soup with grilled cheese sandwiches made from sharp cheddar cheese slices.

Thinking of these delicious recipes on a freezing cold day makes fighting the mosquitos to plant and harvest worth it. It amazes me how thick and huge the mosquitos are this year. A real bumper crop. The bats will be so fat they won’t be able to get into our houses and create havoc.

Speaking of which, a week ago today we were enjoying a nice coffee hour after church when a visitor came in. A bat had somehow made it into the fellowship hall and what a sight it was—women yelling and covering their heads with purses, my aunt and son swinging a badminton racket at it, and Wilma Fink trying to knock it down with her hands! The poor thing was so worked up it kept swooping down and flying back and forth in the hall. Sharon Bruce’s granddaughter was not amused, but her grandson said he loved his first batting! Has to be a guy thing!

  • Front.batter
    THE DERBY—Tyler “Smallpox” Flakne of Minnesota’s Home Run League All-Stars goes for the fence Friday night during the National Wiffle League Association’s home run derby in Morenci. This year the wiffleball national tournament moved from Dublin, Ohio, to Morenci’s Wakefield Park. During the derby, competitors had two minutes to hit as many home runs as possible. The winner this year finished with 21. See page 6 and 7 for additional photos.
  • Front.green Screen
    OUT OF THIS WORLD—Elizabeth McFadden and Elise Christle pose in front of the green screen as VolunTeen Noah Gilson makes them appear as though they are standing on the Moon. More photos from the Stair District Library’s NASA @ My Library program are on page 12.
  • Front.snake
    Lannis Smith of the Leslie Science and Nature Center in Ann Arbor shows off a python last week at Stair District Library's Summer Reading Program.
  • Front.fireworks
    FIREWORKS erupt Saturday night over Morenci’s Wakefield Park during the waning hours of the Town and Country Festival. Additional festival photos are inside.
  • Pipeline Spread
    LINED UP—Lengths of pipe were put in place last week along the route of the Rover natural gas pipeline that will stretch from Defiance, Ohio, to Ontario, Canada. Topsoil was removed before the pipes were laid out. The 42-inch diameter pipeline is scheduled for completion in November.
  • Front.F.school
    PROGRESS continues on the agriculture classroom addition at Fayette High School. The project will add 2,900 square feet of space and include an overhead door that would allow equipment to be driven inside. The building should be ready for the start of school in August. Work on ball fields and a running track is also underway.
  • Front.rock Study
    ROCKHOUNDS—From the left, Joseph McCullough, Sean Pagett and Jonathan McCullough peer through hand lenses to study rocks. The project is part of Morenci Elementary School’s summer camp that continues into August.

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