BY VALERIE BELDEN WILDER
Columbia County, New York I Friday, 27 July 2018
Oftentimes, the color red isn’t such a good thing.
Think about it. Red traffic lights when you’re in a hurry, endless red tape when you’re working on something involving the government, too many red pencil marks on your grade school papers, flashing red lights behind you when you’ve been speeding, a budget which is in the red, etc.
But when July rolls around and you’ve seen months of springtime green, red can be a very good thing.
It was around the beginning of July when I first saw some little bits of red which made my heart happy. I finally glimpsed some orangey-red on my cherry tomato plants, which had been green for a very long time. And then I saw the first hint of red on the raspberry bush, which previously had nothing but small, greyish berries.
Now the raspberry bush is loaded with ripe berries, but some of them are impossible to get to, in the very center of the huge old bush. I’ve determined this fall and next spring I HAVE TO devise more pathways into that raspberry bush. You should see it, it’s enormous. But those big, red, ripe raspberries in the middle are positively taunting me.
The other night I picked a bunch of raspberries and forced myself not to eat them. Usually, they go from bush to hand to mouth pretty darn quick. I don’t even take a container to pick them into.
But this time I saved all the berries until morning, and then made Smashed Berry Toast. That’s simply a piece of toast with butter, with whole berries placed on top, slightly smashed into the bread with the back of a fork, so they don’t roll off. Kind of like jam, but without all the sugar!
Isn’t that a pretty plate the raspberries are on? Yes, it came from Goodwill. There were two of them, and they were marked $1.99 each, but the green tags were half off that week, so I snapped them both up for $1.99. They’re kind of small, about the size of a saucer, but I plan to use them for dessert plates.
This photo, taken on the 3rd of July, is the first hint of red I saw on my tomato plants. Since then, I’ve eaten the first seven red tomatoes to come off the bushes. I put them in a tuna and cucumber salad, made with iceberg lettuce, mandarin oranges, water chestnuts, and Asian salad dressing. Now, there are lots of clusters of green which I’m anxiously watching, as they begin to change color.
There have been some garden failures, though. My salad bowl, which I had inside, has sadly died. I don’t know what happened. It was doing really well (and YES, I did remember to water it) and then it just started to die. I haven’t seen hide nor hair of any cucumber plants in the outside garden, either.
But as far as the rest of the things in my garden go, I’ve started to see some small red potatoes breaking the surface of the soil. I’ve also eaten a few sugar snap peas right off the vine. (Remind me to stake them up next year, they trailed along the ground too much and are looking a bit yellow and lifeless.) The other day, I also pulled up a small onion and chopped it up fine, to go in a tuna fish sandwich.
It looks like I’ll have a bumper crop of cherry tomatoes, and that will be my biggest garden success this year, the year of my first veggie garden.
I think I’ll just take my salt shaker to the garden and eat them there, warm from the vine. Or in another salad, maybe.