Well, it has been a few weeks since I wrote last, and I must apologise for my absence. Summer finally hit and we have been very busy at Wicklow Way, and my nights tend to surround my kittens, taking them to the beach, feeding them treats of sardines and almond butter, getting them to chase tin foil balls and saving them out of high trees. When I find the time to relax, my body doesn’t want to do anything, at all! Except I have been drying lots of wild edibles and pickling veggies. In addition to my excuses, my camera finally got enough dirt in it, to stop the lens from opening, so it has deterred me from writing.
It pains me to have a late blog post, and one that is based on tragedy. Late Blight has struck the farm and we lost 50% of our tomato plants over the weekend (we have over 800 plants). It is a sad feeling, but not a surprise, as the weather conditions this summer are perfect for the disease to fester. Late Blight; also known as Phytophthora infestans is a fungal disease that thrives on humidity, and wet conditions. This summer has been a terrible one, as we all know, and the weekly heavy rains without the +30 degree heat is what causes the disease to thrive. A few weeks ago, late blight was announced to appear in Ontario, and has been travelling by air throughout the region, affecting tomato plants everywhere. It swoops in very rapidly and literally kills the tomato plants overnight. Signs of late blight are wet rot spots on leaves, dark strips up the stems, and black hard tumors on the fruit.
At Wicklow way, we have two tomato patches; one in the second meadow, which we have been harvesting from, and one in the third meadow, which was planted over month later and was just starting to have ripening fruits. Unfortunately the patch that got smoked with late blight was the younger one, which we were depending on for fall tomatoes. The first patch of tomatoes, came a bit late this year, and hit strong. We had a few fruits ready for eating and next thing we knew we were harvesting crates and crates full of tomatoes for CSA boxes and markets. Last week we harvested over 1000 lbs of the colourful, soft flavourful fruit, and soon there will be none.
In the spirit of tomatoes we had tomato sandwiches today for lunch, which we eat a few days a week for a number of weeks. Fresh sourdough bread made by Elaina, with mayo, and salt and pepper is classic, easy and so tasty. We are all savouring the last tastes of tomato sandwiches, and a little relieved at the same time that we didn’t have chance to eat so many that we despised the sight of the plump juicy fruits. Luckily for me, I made an extremely delicious batch of peach tomato salsa, and will ration my last two jars for a special occasion.
As I mentioned in one of my first blog posts, Wicklow Way has over 200 varieties of heirloom tomatoes. We have every colour under the rainbow and each are so beautiful. Some are purple with green stripes, some are bright yellow with red bellies, some are bright pink, and some are emerald green. It so much fun harvesting tomatoes and looking at all the gorgeous colours in the crates. Even the sizes vary so much, from cherries to gourmet minis, to full size that can weigh up to 2 lbs for one tomato. The problem with heirloom varieties is that it’s difficult to find a blight resistant tomato that also has flavour and character. In season Heirloom varieties are the only tomatoes worth eating in my opinion, so hurry down to your closest farmers market and buy some of the beautiful Ontario tomatoes, eat as many toasted tomato sandwiches as you can, and enjoy…..before it’s too LATE!!!