The end of a season in Michigan can be easily marked. Cooling temperatures of the evening slowly begin to erase green from the tops of the trees, urging them to change into oranges and yellows by the morning. And in it’s path, it warns us to take late night wanderings through the garden, to pluck any last tomatoes we can find, to bring them in and preserve them for the long winter months to follow. Like squirrels we begin hoarding the freshness of summer, fearing an opportunity loss by the morning. And as the warmth of these September days surrender themselves, a breeze hits our dining room table, telling me to turn off our ceiling fan and find a sweater. Come bedtime I have found socks for my feet and a heated blanket for my bed just in case.
Fall is tricky like that around here. Even though you aren’t ready for it to come, it is already in motion. Without my recognition, our tomato plants have begun to slow their production. Our sandwich tomatoes are becoming smaller the colder it gets at night. The last of our cherry tomatoes, which have been hanging on the vine green for some time now, have begun to drop prematurely from their branches, not yet red. I am not ready for this transition. It has been months since we have had to go to the Farmers’ Market or grocery store for tomatoes. For a season I have taken advantage of our tomato plants, happily pawing through them each evening before I go up to our apartment to start dinner.
But all good things must come to an end, and when Mother Nature closes a doors, she opens a window… isn’t that how that cliche goes? Either way. Cliche or no cliche, Fall is here, in Michigan. And our garden, that we spent hours tending to, is now ready to be rooted out so our soil can be cleansed for next year’s crop.
Hello, Fall. I’m so glad you’re here.
And, until I can venture out to the garden again, I’ll be sure to spend some extra time in our botanical living room, where the sun is always sure to pour in and I can smell the coffee from the other room.
Happy Wednesday, y’all. We’re half way through the week!
Let’s celebrate, people! Our tomato plants are producing red, ripe vegetables, ready for dinner and delightful! Witnessing all our hard work fills a body with pride and reminds me of my carefree evenings growing up in Leelanau. As a child, my parents always kept a garden filled with rows of corn and beans, tomatoes and other vegetables in long rows one after the other. After dinner, my dad would take the youngest children into the garden so we could “help” (but being the youngest of five I hardly ever did what I was supposed to). My twin sister, Brittany, would find herself seated in the green bean aisle, crunching away at the beans she would rub on her pants to clean. I would yell at her that beans were nasty and dodge into the next row before she could swat me away. (If only my six year old self could see my eating habits now). My brother, Alex, ever the serious farmer would carry his empty gallon ice cream container from plant to plant diligently filling it. And me? I would continue racing around and eventually end up on the swing set, kicking my shoes into the garden, then race to get them and run back to the swing and repeat it all over again. For years, bugs weren’t the only pests in my parents garden. Now, as I tend to my own small garden, I can’t believe how much I have grown and evolved, and be ever thankful for my parents immense levels of patience with gardening and me. When I went out to the garden earlier this week, only the small cherry tomatoes were producing, but now from the vine I spy a large sandwich tomato as well. I’ve been keeping my eye on them and plotting the first perfect meal to make with them and all of my fresh basil. Details to come… and no surprise here, but I think I’ll be putting them on a tortilla… Until then here’s a glance at our garden and all the red filling our kitchen!
I am happy to report that we have tomatoes, growing, on the vine and flourishing! Yip yip! Having a community garden doesn’t come without challenge. It’s a lot of work to haul water and to remember to haul water, from our apartment to the garden. But even with tired back, I get excited to see tomatoes sprouting and blooming! Keep growing little veggies! One thing we have learned is that we really have to mist the leaves on a regular basis. This changing Michigan weather makes it challenging to say what does and doesn’t work from day to day, but misting the leaves helps them maintain their moisture.
What are your gardening tips? Do you have a cute farm hand like I do?
In addition to having these great high ceilings and monster windows (that never stay up on their own, but have classic white trim around them) inside our apartment, Sean and I are also pretty darn fortunate to have a community garden outside on the property to use. Last summer, Sean was gone and I was too bummed out to take advantage of this opportunity. Shame on me. But, this year, we’ve decided to try our hand at growing some tomatoes and hopefully giving life back into an awesome rosemary plant his mom gave us. We’re crossing our fingers and giving it our all.
I bought our tomato plants at the Farmers Market earlier this month. I almost considered starting from seed, but since we’ve had some unusual weather in our neck of the woods, I decided to get some that were already thriving. And yes, this was just a lot easier for us (and as anyone who knows me knows: I always try to take the easiest path). So now, Sean and I are farmers. In the city. An oxymoron if I’ve ever heard one, that I’m excited to make a reality.
Whenever we go out to our car, I have to check our tomatoes. Whenever I get home from work, I have to check our tomatoes. Whenever we finish dinner and go for a walk, I have to check on the tomatoes. I tell Sean, it helps them when we pet them. He smiles and said, he isn’t sure but maybe I’m right. And whenever Sean waters them I sing, “we’re farmers, we’re farming” in a ridiculous voice. This definitely helps– plants love songs.
And in another fun fact: we didn’t actually have a shovel to plant our tomatoes, so like any other resourceful city gal, I used a serving spoon and measuring cup. I figure because we will be eating them it’s okay to use our kitchen utensils in helping them grow.
I’m excited for my tomatoes to start turning red, my favorite color. There is nothing better than fresh vegetables on a summer’s day!