Feb 28th is the last day of the Australian summer, so the demands of harvest must interrupt my dissertation on self-sufficiency as I help the cook process the burgeoning tomato crop.
There is always a hiatus in the garden at this time of year, as heat and lethargy combine to drag our footsteps as we wait for the first rains of autumn to kick-start the soil and the planting of autumn and winter crops. Sheer weariness has set in, as it always does, as we keep water up to growing plants to bring them through to harvest.
But some things are – magically – blooming, especially the sunflower crop, which is a delight to the eye and a feast for the bees. These ‘Multi-Flora’ sunflowers – with many blooms on the same stem - also make wonderful gifts for visitors and birthday celebrations.
Fresh basil, red onions and ripe tomatoes combine in tomato salads to offset the on-going cost of water. Lettuce and avocado also combine in green salads, green beans are a common side dish, and late asparagus shoots still pop up to delight the questing cook.
This year our crop of ’Golden Sunrise’ tomatoes is prolific. This is a variety that was rare enough when I obtained the first seeds from a fellow gardener more than a decade ago. Now they have disappeared altogether from the seed catalogues, and I rejoice that they are still to be found in my garden. Their small 2.5 cm (1”) fruit are low in acidity and less prone to the viral diseases that plague their larger and redder brethren. I pick out the best fruit and carefully scrape out the seeds to carry on their line into future generations.