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Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Tomatoes and Tortoises

This is the second year we have grown tomatoes here.  Last year's crop were disappointing.  There were plenty of them but they were tough, woody, and not juicy at all.  I made chutney from the best of them, but wasn't keen to attempt growing them again.

However, not to be deterred, Mr A planted more tomatoes this year and they are absolutely fantastic.  I would take a photo, but my camera's on the blink again.  I cannot believe the volume of tomatoes that keep appearing on about 10 plants, over and over again.   I pick huge amounts at a time, and no sooner have I turned my back, than there's another crop of  fruit waiting to be gathered.

I love tomatoes but can't eat too many as they play havoc with my IBS, so I've been sharing them with the neighbours.  I have given several kilos to Dursune, Mehmet, Sevke, and Sevke's daughter who was visiting her today.  Mr A has also taken large quantities back to Gumbet with him to share with his boss.  And I still have mountains of them left.  But I have also made lots of tomato chutney.  I would normally use the green tomatoes for this, but the red ones are fine as long as they are firm.

I don't have a recipe, or measure anything.  I have a large aluminium pan which I use for jams and chutney, and I just chop up the tomatoes, add chopped onions, a few chopped green peppers (also from the garden), some pul biber (crushed red pepper), a pinch of salt and some sugar and a small amount of vinegar.  Then I just boil and simmer until it's ready.   The tomatoes of course produce a fair amount of liquid so I drain this off before transferring the chutney to sterilised jars.

The liquid is not wasted.  There is usually enough to use for one or two more batches of chutney  as a substitute for the vinegar.  Each time I make chutney it is never quite the same as the last batch, but it's always delicious.  Mr A's boss has already demolished two large jars of my chutney and is requesting more.

I am utterly fascinated by the three tortoises in my garden.  Well it's too hot to do anything else but sit in the shade and watch them.  I'll never know why people think tortoises are slow movers.  They get around this garden at a rapid rate.  What I also find interesting is how well they can climb.  They manage to climb the wall around the garden and the steps up from the gazebo and back down again.  I panic when they fall and turn upside down, and if I see this happen I rush to turn them over, which makes them hiss at me.

It occurred to me that this must happen frequently when there's no-one around to give assistance, so when I saw it happen today I didn't rush to help.   Within a few minutes, after the tortoise frantically kicked his little legs, he managed to turn himself up the right way.  Clever creatures.


15 comments:

  1. I like tortoises very much.
    They inhabited the quad at school and took priority of everyone, and, as you say, they can beetle about quite rapidly.
    We were offered babies when in Tunisia...and I must say i was tempted before coming to my senses.

    We're not having much joy with tomatoes this year...the plum ones are all right, but the round ones have large dry cores and not much juice...so I'll be looking for fresh seed.

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    1. I like tortoises too Helen.I had one when I was a child and was very fond of it. I'm so glad we have them here.

      I'm wondering whether it makes a difference where the tomatoes are planted? It seems that the plants we have this year are the same as last year, but we've planted them in a different part of the garden.

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  2. Wow you sure have lots of tomatoes....my tomatoes are still the size of lil' green marbles..... I usually like to pick some when they are green and just do 'fried green tomatoes'...they are my favourite.
    Your recipe sounds good for chutney....must try some myself.

    Thats nice you hand them out to your friends and neighbours...you and Mr. A must have gold green thumbs this year with that bumper crop. :-)

    take care....so hot and very humid here, UGH!

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    1. Very hot and humid here too Erica. I'm happy to share tomatoes with the neighbours. They also share things with me. Dursune gives me eggs sometimes from her chickens. Sevke gives me olives. And dear kind Mehmet brings my post up from the village and takes my rubbish down for me. It's nice for us to help each other.

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    2. Oh I forgot about the 'tortoises'....I love them guys. That's cute how they help each other. Are they big in size? I've only seen them at Sea World and we don't have any here....funny I didn't know they could hiss.

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    3. These three are quite big Erica. We usually have baby tortoises each year but haven't seen any this year yet. They make quite a loud hiss when you pick them up.

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  3. I'm impressed with the chutney making. I can't stand being in the kitchen for any more than a few minutes. Too hot!

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    1. Well the dogs are getting me up around 5 to 5.30am BtoB. This is when I cook. Any other time and I would pass out from the heat.

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  4. I loved this post, Ayak. You captured so much with your words - I could smell the chutney bubbling! And tortoises are wonderful creatures. We had two when I was little - Bela and Bartok - and Bartok, who had a limp, was incredibly fast! No one believed me but he could 'run away' when he felt like it.
    We've just received about 15kg of cherries from a neighbour, on top of the ones we picked the other week. I must go and stone them and start a batch of cherry conserve, I think. We're growing cherry tomatoes on Sergio's plot and they're coming on nicely but not quite ready.
    Axxx

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    1. Thanks Annie. For some reason I seemed to have missed out on the cherries this year. I love them. Your conserve will be lovely if your cherry pies are anything to go by/

      Well I wasn't going to own up to giving the tortoises names, but as you've disclosed the names of the ones you had, mine are called Tom, Tim and Ted. Although I have no idea if they are male or female!

      (We had a large gekko until recently which I named Gus but he seems to have disappeared...I think I'm slowly cracking up!)

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  5. Our tortoise lives wild in the garden. Digs itself in in the winter and he/she loves strawberries, which I grow just for him/her. One day I was standing in the garden chatting to the neighbour and felt something sharp on my toe. I looked down and there was Bennie trying to eat my newly painted toe nails. Like you, he has a habit of going up the top of the garden and ending on his back and I always rush to help him. I do give him/her some tortoise pellets to ensure he/she has calcuim, but Bennie has lived happily like that for 30 years in the garden. And yes, if the strawberriwes have gone and I am down one end of the garden with my painted toe nails, Bennie positively sprints along the path to investigate them. The first time I saw him/her do it, it was quite a shock

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    1. He sounds quite a character Carol. I'm sure your toenails aren't quite as delicious as his strawberries!

      I do recognise one of our tortoises as being the first one I saw in the garden 4 years ago, but the other two are new this year. Well, maybe one of them is one of the babies that grew? I have no idea how long they take to grow.

      They are fascinating creatures. I love them.

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  6. Ooo, a glut of tomatoes. what wouldn't I give for that, Ayak! It sounds like you're making very good use of your bounty, but you'll probably only want to have half that number of plants next year. :-) Here in Normandy our trees have cherries on them, but they just aren't ripening because it's been such a cold spring. Sigh....

    I love tortoises too. We had one when I was a child and I used to love watching it wandering round the back garden and climbing over obstacles. Happy memories. :-)

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  7. I've just joined a community garden at work, and have planted my first tomato plant... sounds like I may have to wait a couple of years for my first bumper crop!

    By the way... I just started an Expat Blog Carnival... and the theme was around flora and fauna ... so I've added you to the Carnival!

    thanks, Jay

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    1. Thankyou Jay! Good luck with the tomatoes x

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