Tomatoes and Gnocchi
I have had a really lucky month. I planted dozens and dozens of tomato plants in spring. My plan had been to grow enough tomatoes to make a year’s worth of passata. But I had grown far more than a year’s worth and after reaching my goal of 100 bottles of passata and after making relishes, drying tomatoes and tomato soups I decided I needed to do something else with the others, something that did not involve me doing more cooking and preserving.
My dream for my life here in Blampied, is to be able to make a modest income from our property so that I will not need to find work off it. I have worked in an office environment for 25 years. And although I have loved my work very much and continue to enjoy sporadic moments working in an office, I crave to be outdoors and in my garden more than anything else.
Two nights ago I watched the wonderful documentary called Living the Change by the really wonderful crew ‘Happen Films’. In the footage was a young doctor who was describing how he felt when he was in his fruit and vegetable garden. He said he felt in love, in love with the garden and it reminded me of how often, back in Melbourne, in my established garden with chooks and bees, how very often I felt that emotion. I felt this very deep sense of love for life that was so fulfilling, so enriching, so energising that no trip overseas, no exotic location, no fame could possibly attain.
So with the surplus of tomatoes and with the collaboration of social media, I was able to tell people in my local community that I had tomatoes for sale. Through Instagram and Facebook the emails and texts of tomato orders started to arrive. An order for 5kg, then 10kg, then 45kg, then 60kg and so on and all these orders including the tomatoes that I myself used for preserving has added to a total of about 700kg of tomatoes grown in my kitchen garden this year! And I am soooo pleased because it has kept me financially supported through the month of February and March.
Now I am thinking of my soil and pests and climate and that next year I must grow my crop in another part of the garden. And I will do that. I am also aware that it was a good year for tomatoes and that my kitchen garden is protected to the south and north by wind breaks and that was a good thing. Also this year I did not prune (and never will) and I planned to stake but it did not happen and most of the tomato plants grew on the ground. What will I do next year? I won’t prune that is for sure…but I will stake I hope to make harvesting easier. But I will once again plant them very close because the warm microclimate this creates I think helped immensely with the their colouring. But I was lucky that it was not a humid sumer and if next year is humid then small spacing’s will create possible fungal growth…so I am thinking about it all right now.
In the next couple of weeks I will be sowing more peas and beans and legumes to give my tomato growing soil a break from hungry tomatoes. And I will be sowing garlic where my broad beans were recently grown.
This month I have also had another really gorgeous Work Away staying with me called Maria, from Veneto Italy. Good Work Away’s are so much help and so much good company. She like others before her, is truly fantastic!!! and I have had the opportunity to speak my native language on a daily basis. Maria brought with her a piece of advice that I cherish…’to make consistently good gnocchi you need a potato presser’…and with this invaluable piece of news we made gnocchi with a tomato ragu` of course.
Hello and happy Easter to you all, lots of kisses from me. Mara
I wanted to post pictures of the last few steps and the finished meal but we were so hungry that we forgot to take photos before eating!