This is the time of year many gardeners wait for in the Pacific Northwest – when the tomatoes are coming on strong.
At our house we’ve been eating tomatoes for about three weeks, but last week was when I finally had enough to can the first batch of Addictive Tomato Chutney as well as the first quarts of frozen Roasted Tomato Sauce.
We ate our first tomato on August 6th and it was an ultra-early variety called “Stupice” (they are one of the smaller tomatoes pictured in the basket). It also happened to be one of the seedlings that my sweet friend, Shannan, had given me after I confessed that I hadn’t started any of my own seeds for the first time in years.
Shannan’s seedlings were pretty small when I picked them up in May, so I rounded out my tomato plantings with some gallon-sized tomatoes from the nursery, with the thought that the bigger plants would give me August tomatoes. And yet Shannan’s little seedling gave us our first tomatoes- sweet!
We’ve even had heirloom tomatoes that have ripened – including two in this basket (Brandywine and Pineapple – the Pineapple seedling came from Shannan, too – woot!). This is pretty early for me, as heirlooms are larger and usually don’t start ripening until late August to early September.
And oh man, is that first big slice of an heirloom tomato worth the wait. They are so flavorful.
I also had to share with you this black and yellow garden spider that my daughter photographed on a wild blackberry bush during a bike ride last week. They are a late-summer spider in our area, and we’ve only had them in our garden a couple of times.
I first saw one of these huge spiders at our friend’s house the fall after we moved here. I was so amazed by the neon colors and markings (and size!) that I drove home to get the rest of my family so we could all marvel at it.
My friend just laughed – you can tell we were “city folk.” She insisted it was just a garden spider, but I wouldn’t believe it. I thought for sure it would have some exotic-sounding name – one that would go with it’s coloring. I came home and Googled it only to find that it was called a…garden spider.
But look at this close-up of the spider and tell me: on the spider’s back do you see the large-headed movie alien with it’s hands on it’s hips?
I certainly would’ve come up with a better name for a spider like this.