Dry Tomato Branches

Dry tomato branchesI love thinning out a garden. I itch to deadhead roses, pull off crumbling leaves, and remove plants gone brittle. Hot weather persists, but the farm is not fooled. It creeps into autumn and many of the vegetable plants have passed into their eternal rest. Thank you, dear friends. You have fed me and mine well.

Most of the squash and cucumbers withered away during the heat of the summer. I miss the raw slices of patty pans and eight ball zucchini for lunch. Likewise the yellow crook neck and pumpkin mixed into a melange with green onion, sprinkled with shredded parmesan, and baked. Tomato plants, either purchased this year or sprang from seeds from previous years, are mostly gone too. I pile up the dry branches weekly and carry armloads to the yard waste bin. Gone are the heirloom Mennonite yellow slicing tomatoes and the red grape and cherries. I’ll plant more Mennonites and beefsteaks next year as I’ve grown fond of roasted tomatoes. I had to pick the bigger ones green or I’d have none of them from the greedy mourning doves and sparrows. No problem. They ripen nicely on the window sill.

I’m sure to have loads of volunteer cherry and grape tomato plants in the spring. The birds tore through them this year too. I’m okay with sharing. 

October tomatoes 2015I cannot remove plants still green.  Two tomato plants hang in there, the promise of yellow flowers bloom. I still harvest wee golden currents that taste oh so sweet.

In the middle of these October producers and neighboring marigolds, I found a vine of teperary beans, most were dry, but a few still amazingly green. I harvested the tan ones and spread them on a paper towel, making sure they are truly dry before I add them to my bean jar. Teperary beans are tiny, grey speckled beans. Measured out in teaspoons, they’ll add a shot of protein to soups and pastas on wintry nights.

Harvest festivals, Halloween, and All Souls’ Day aptly mix celebration and mourning, as do I while carrying towering piles of dry tomato branches to the bin.


About mlknowlden

In 2011, I left engineering to write full-time. Between the years 1992 and 2011, I’ve published 14 stories with Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine that have featured the hypochondriac detective Micky Cardex and two stories that did not. The 1998 story “No, Thank You, John” was nominated for a Shamus award. Many of these stories have been included in anthologies and translated in multiple languages. With Neal Shusterman, I’ve also published a science fiction story for the More Amazing Stories anthology (Tor) published in 1998 and co-authored with Neal Shusterman an X-Files Young Adult novel (DARK MATTER) for HarperCollins in 1999 under the name Easton Royce. For Simon & Schuster in July 2012, we published an e-novella UNSTRUNG in Neal's UNWIND world. I have graduate degrees in English and Electrical Engineering.
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2 Responses to Dry Tomato Branches

  1. Kaye Klem says:

    You are such a great gardener–it all sounds delicious. I used to try to raise tomatoes in my old house’s yard, but they just burned up in too much sun. Even though tomatoes like quite a lot of sun, not THAT much. I love tomatoes raw and sliced, cooked for pasta, broiled, etc. My yard is all patio or landscape rock–just a border planter next to the fence where I have bushes. I planted some Lantana this year –pretty and purple–which seems to be doing okay. I try to find flowering shrubs which will bloom much of the year. Lost one lady palm due to HOA association insistence all greenery be cut back a foot from the fence for painting–my planter is barely wider than a foot. No way that much needed to be trimmed–the contract painters were some kind of yahoos who came with wide brushes and a single can of paint to do it, didn’t know to use rollers on the inside of wrought-iron fences which they could have done from the other side. Sigh.
    No room to plant tomatoes, and I’m past gardening these days. Just wishing…
    Yummy post from you.

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