Green Tomatoes anyone?

Green Tomato Mincemeat? Fried Green Tomatoes? Green Tomato Pickle? Green Tomato Marmalade?

I have every freezing, canning, and preserving cookbook I own out on my kitchen counters as I search for recipes for green tomatoes. Some little green pear tomatoes that were reluctant to turn yellow are pickling in a brine crock right now. I have all the ingredients on the butcher block to make green tomato mincemeat. Finding more green tomatoes for more heirloom recipes won’t be a problem. The only tomatoes in my garden are green tomatoes.

Apparently most other local gardeners have the same situation on their hands. The fellow gardeners I have bumped into lately all want to talk about this strange gardening season. Eventually, everyone gets around to their green tomatoes. This Saturday, someone at the Cornish Farmer’s Market had a box of about forty ripe tomatoes for sale. I was impressed and wondered what she had done differently than the rest of us. As I complimented her on having ripe tomatoes, she noted that the only reason she had that many was that she had eighty five tomato plants. She too had nothing but green tomatoes.

There is something going on with the tomatoes this year. They just aren’t ripening.


When I plan the gardens with the Angels each winter, the designs for the gardens are very precise. A geometric pattern is set by the Angels for each space. Then I receive guidance about what kind of vegetables to grow, specific varieties to use, and numbers of greenhouse grown seedlings to transplant into each garden.

This year, the main vegetable garden and the second big vegetable garden had no tomatoes as part of their design. Even though one is a sixty foot in diameter circle and the other a forty foot diameter, the Angels did not include tomatoes. I didn’t listen to the subtext here. I never really want to know what it means when the Angels say no melons, no eggplants, no tomatoes or any other heat loving vegetables this year. I don’t want to know in January that I will be using my down quilt all but about three days all summer as was the case this year.

So, I pretended the writing was not on the wall. I asked if I could put in a few tomatoes in a small garden area down by the raspberries that was open for planting. The Angels said fine, but to grow only a very few. It was sort of a “whatever” message that clearly indicated that it was a waste of time and garden space to grow tomatoes this year, but I didn’t want to listen. No heat? No sunshine? I all but blocked my ears and sang “I’m not listening”.

That first weekend in March, I started what I thought was a very small but colorful array of tomato varieties. My problem came when I went to plant these tomatoes and realized I had more than I thought. I hate composting a perfectly good little seedling, especially this year when it had been such courageous work for any seedling in there to survive a greenhouse season with virtually no sun. So I planted the thirty or forty plants.

And there they sit, a reminder to listen better. Yesterday after hoarding semi ripe tomatoes for a week, I had enough tomatoes for one very small batch of sauce. I was surprised the sauce was even red. I mostly used cream colored, yellow pear, purple cherokee, and orange tomatoes because they were the only ones ripe. And we are not talking dozens of tomatoes making up this sauce batch. We are talking the saddest little pile of woebegone tomatoes ever.

I mean, you know you have a problem when even the cherry tomato varieties stay green.

So the bigger picture here is how are we going to navigate climate change? It’s hard not to notice that we live in a different micro climate than a few years back. I recently read an article of dire predictions about world wide crop failures as the climate shifts globally. It occurred to me that beyond the obvious solution of planting a diversity of crops wherever you live, it will be vital to listen carefully to what the Angels suggest we grow, all of us, even folks outside this frame of reference.

It was a good learning experience for me to be so graphically reminded that the Angels really do know what they are talking about. They had me plant an enormous amount of potatoes this year. Probably four times what I have ever grown before. With all the rain and gray weather, potatoes have done fabulously. Irish summer= Irish crops= Good harvest.

Their choice of vegetables to grow this year was narrow, but it was spot on. My second big vegetable garden was just potatoes and brassicas. But everything they guided me to grow has flourished. The tomatoes, chosen on my watch, may not feed me, but they taught me a lot. I don’t have to fear climate changes so much as stay with my guidance.

Right now, I can still go out to my local coop and fill in the gaps of missing produce. But with fuel costs skyrocketing, I think it is not a Cassandra like suggestion to think that we will all be more and more dependent on locally grown foods in the years to come, that perhaps the gaps won’t be so easily filled by apples from Chile and eggplants from Israel. It may not be just a question of fuel costs. My friend from Chile tells me that they are experiencing 70 degree temperatures this winter with everything blooming way too early to set fruit. Who knows if there will always be great volume of produce to import from Chile or anywhere else?

Given the unpredictable nature of the climate changes, there really is no sensible alternative to listening to the intelligence in nature. We have to do this on a grass roots level, garden by garden, and not expect Del Monte to take care of us. By the time Del Monte realizes it has to switch gears about what to grow, we may be pretty hungry!

Working with the Angels and Elementals in a garden is not rocket science. The same kind of kinesiology I describe in the Guide works well for talking to the Angels and Elementals of the vegetable garden. They are happy to talk and they know what they are talking about. Over time, the communication gets easier and easier. My mistakes don’t reflect on them and their wisdom. It’s just me listening inattentively that clogs the works.

But no use crying over spilt milk. I am deeply grateful that the Angels and Elementals will be there come the Winter Solstice, ready to begin again to plan our 2007 gardens with me an even more attentive partner. And they will be there with you, if you want to work with them.

Let me know any way I can encourage any of you to join in this cooperative effort. I have green tomatoes because I didn’t listen and potatoes to feed an army because I did listen. And blessedly my partners, the very ones that would be your partners too, are so kind. They celebrate all my learning no matter how it happened. They’ll celebrate yours too!

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