Deep Taproots

We got back from our vacation almost a week ago, and I'd like to say that we've been working like mad on the house, but in fact that is not true. The first order of business when we got home was a round of testing on the irrigation system, which had not run at all while we were away. A bug was found in the software, the programmer was beaten and humiliated (OK, maybe not), and the whole thing was patched. It's working again now, just in time for the weather to get cool and damp (not rainy, but foggy). We only lost a few plants, and some of those were marginal, anyway.

Despite major water deprivation, the tomatoes were going gangbusters. We've had one of each variety now, and they're all pretty good. Some are more subtle than others (Persimmon), and some are just phenomenal (Black Krim). Later this year we'll be making tomato sauce for canning, and maybe later some tomato pickles.

Tomatoes of madness

On vacation I did some reading and found out why and how you prune tomatoes. Apparently you prune them into a few single branches facing up, tying them to the tower as you go, and you do this so you can plant more plants in a smaller space. So the fact that I don't prune my plants seems to be Just Fine, as I doubt I will plant as many tomatoes next year. Some of the varieties were just not worth the bother.

Tomato corral

The other thing we did almost immediately was deal with a massive early harvest of quince. Right before we left a neighbor gave us a sack of quince from their tree (not a sweet quince like ours), and while we were away our own tree shed about half its fruit, so we made marmelada, or quince paste. This is a phenomenal confection of boiled-down mushed quince with sugar, and quince has so much pectin that it gets very firm. Here's our stash of marmelada cakes (molded in cupcake tins and roasting pans) waiting for distribution to all the friends who have asked for some (and to the neighbors who donated 1/3 of the quince).

You can eat it with cheese (manchego is traditional) or alone as a confection.

Quince paste

Lastly, here's a reason why I'm looking forward to October, when the last of the Asian pears will come ripe. I noticed Asian pears selling for $2.30 at the store this weekend.

Asian pears on the tree

Now back to work on my design thesis. I have ten more weeks of school, so posting will be light this fall unless a miracle happens (unlikely).

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posted by ayse on 09/13/07


Glad I soaked the garden, then. I did not think the whole system had failed. I thought I was being a little hysterical getting the front yard as well, but it was clearly the right thing to do. Wish I'd gotten to it sooner, but going To The Island while on vacation would have shaken me to the core.

Hey, I'm thankful for what you gave it, and for the heads-up. And after you came by, John went out and watered every day, so it got some water.

The thing that threw me was that the system had been working fine for a few days, and then we, uh, "upgraded" the software and didn't notice that it stopped working. Also, we could still individually turn on circuits, so it didn't occur to us that the chron job would not be running.

It's a good thing most of my plants have lived through a year with me, and have already been selected for drought-tolerance.

My own watering system failures come from hijacking the hoses to wash out the rabbit's litter boxes. I'll attach a pistol grip to the end of the hose, run the water, clean the boxes, go in, and realize that three days have gone by and my strawberries are passing out.

I'm glad John watered after I did. I was wondering if the whole thing had registered with him. He was keen on washing cars amidst the drying foliage, LOL.

Wow, I've heard about using quince in the kitchen, but I had no idea. Fascinating! What does it taste like?

It tastes like sweet, flowery, somewhat apple-like candy. Hard to describe, really, but it's quite tasty.

and.. my mot heer used to make hand lotion out of quince seeds..the recipe used bay rum glycerin, 2 part of one, and one of the other, tho I forget which is which..with seems, about a tablespoon floating in the mix. They thicken it, and it is turns out a lot like cornhuskers commetical brand.

good luck.

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