"Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant."
Robert Louis Stevenson

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Finally.....I made Lemon Verbena Jelly

I have been meaning to make Lemon Verbena Lady's jelly for a few months and kept forgetting to do so.  I finally made it yesterday morning.  Check out my recipe blog for photos of my jelly,  My plant thrives in the heat here.  click here Lemon Verbena Jelly

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Still Picking Tomatoes...

I am picking about 100+ tomatoes every other day, or so.  My dining room table has become the holding place until I can get to them to can and freeze. So far I have put up 16 quarts.  About a third of these are stewed tomatoes and the rest whole or cut tomatoes and a few pints of sauce. 

The San Marzano tomato plants were pretty much a loss this year. Most ended up with blossom end rot.  I have planted two more plants in different locations in the hopes that we will have a long summer and they will produce the wonderful plum tomato I like to use for roasting for sauce.  If not I will just use the tomatoes we are so lucky to have now.

This year the Ponderosa, a new variety for me, is really doing well.  The plant is loaded and for the last week I have been picking daily.

Mortgage Lifter is another heavy producer but these are salad size tomatoes and take a lot of time to fill a jar for canning.  I don't think I will bother with this one next year. If you are looking for a good salad tomato, this would be the right one to choose.

Gold Medal is a large yellow tomato with red stripes, a beefsteak tomato.  We have two or three of these plants and they are all producing huge fruit, I picked one a couple of days ago and it weighed in at 1.5 pounds.

Big White Pink Stripe is not a white tomato at all but a yellow with red stripes.  Huge fruit and very meaty like a beefsteak.  I like this one and it is visually pleasing on the plate.  It is very similar to Gold Medal.

Also doing well is Green Zebra and Black Krim. Black Krim is another beauty when sliced.  I have canned all but the Green Zebra as it is just ripening now.  The Black Krim, Cherokee Purple and Annas Russian Pink look beautiful in the jars. Black Krim of course is gorgeous with the dark purple color and green seeds.  Probably the prettiest canned tomatoes I have ever made.

Paul Robeson Black did not produce well for me but what I did get was good and very pretty.  All of the tomatoes I planted this year have had wonderful flavor.

Persimmon, a yellow/orange tomato is not ripe yet but should be coming in soon.  The plants are sparse with fruit; not sure what happened but last year I had a lot of this variety.  German Queen is ripening now and will be a good one to can. 

Purple Russian is one I will repeat next year. It is a dark purple egg shaped fruit and is very meaty.  I made some sauce with this one and it was very tasty and the color was fantastic.

Southern Night is another dark purple tomato.  The plants are loaded with fruit, I am picking over 12 a day.

I also managed to make some Peach Jam and Jalapeno Peach Jam.  

I Bought A Pet Tomato

I bought a pet tomato
and I tried to teach him tricks,
but he wasn't any good at
catching balls or fetching sticks.

He could never catch a Frisbee,
and he wouldn't sit or speak,
though we practiced every afternoon
and evening for a week.

He refused to shake or wave or crawl
or beg or take a bow,
and I tried, but couldn't make him bark
or get him to meow.

He was excellent at playing dead.
However, he couldn't jump a rope.
When he wouldn't do a single trick
I simply gave up hope.

Though I liked my pet tomato,
I returned him with regret.
Boy, I sure do hope this watermelon
makes a better pet.
 -Devang Gandhi

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

105 Tomatoes in Two Days

They are really coming in now.  I picked a total of 105 on Sunday and Monday.  Many of these were small, but I was able to get a few large Cherokee Purple and Southern Night.  Some of Ponderosa are coming in now too.  San Marzano continues to struggle and I will probably pull it out.  I do have two that I planted a couple of weeks ago and hopefully these will do better. I think the problem with San Marzano may be due to the cooler weather this spring and summer. 

The last couple of nights was down to 61 degrees, days only reaching around 79.  Seems very cool for the middle of July.  This is the reason I keep planting more tomato seedlings that I still have left.  I feel that we will have a late summer and why not add more plants...I pulled out a couple of the summer squash plants that had started to spread.  When this happens I know the plant is beginning to slow down. I can't see using up that space when I would only get a few squash a day. I still have plenty in the refrigerator and I do have several other summer squash plants still growing and supplying us with plenty of squash each day.  I will plant another German Queen and maybe another Ponderosa or Black Krim.  I am hoping to have a huge crop of tomatoes to can and freeze.  Not sure how many I will be roasting this year as I think my oven is on the blink (again).  It is an electric Kitchenaid stove.  I had one of the heating elements replaced a year or two ago, but when I went to roast a pan of squash on Sunday, the oven didn't seem to heat up.  I guess I will call a repairman again and see what's up.  Appliances just don't last very long anymore. You are lucky to get 5 years out of them!

 "For him in vain the envious seasons roll
Who bears eternal summer in his soul."
Oliver Wendell Holmes, The Old Player

 Better get busy outdoors now.  Here are a few photos just to keep my blog up to date for review.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

We're picking Tomatoes, Onions, Garlic and More Squash!

Tomatoes are coming in now.  I picked a few Anna Russian Pink, Purple Russian and Paul Robeson Black. The Green Zebra are also starting to ripen now and I picked a couple of those yesterday.  The San Marzano's seem a bit behind this year. One of my plants is struggling, but hopefully, I will get plenty from the other plant.

The green ones are from a San Marzano plant that I pulled out this morning. The plant looked sick, I don't have space for sick plants!  

 A couple of Mango's off to the left side are from the Farmer's Market.

Mortgage Lifter is loaded with green tomatoes.  The Ponderosa plant that is on the driveway bank is over 8 feet tall now and has more tomatoes on that one plant than I see on any of my others.  Although, Southern Night and Cherokee Purple are not far behind.  I picked about 6 Southern Night yesterday afternoon.

Persimmon Orange only has a few tomatoes on it.  I don't understand why, last year this variety gave us a lot of fruit.  This is in the same bed as the San Marzano so maybe the soil needs some boosting for next year.  I have been fertilizing on a regular schedule of every two to three weeks and they all get the same amount so it can't be lack of that.  The plants look good, just not much fruit.

Crimson Carmello is coming in now to and is loaded with fruit.  German Queen and Gold Medal will be a little later, but have a nice amount of fruit.

I planted 3 more San Marzano plants today, and another Cherokee Purple.  I had the plants and couldn't bring myself to tossing them. I still have more plants and if I can find space I will plant them.  I think we will have a long summer this season.  The plants I have in now will be ripening very soon so these will be my backups for September harvesting.

I also planted a few pepper plants I had , a Mexico Chili and a Sweet Pimento pepper.  These I planted in bed 4 after I removed the onions.

This is an 8 foot table.  Small ones on this end and the larger ones on the far end. I was up until 9:30 last night cleaning and removing the greens.  I let them dry a few days in the ground first, and now they will dry and cure a few more weeks. I will be putting them on drying racks today so the air will circulate under them.

 I grew all of these from seeds that we started last fall. We pulled a lot for spring onions, then left the rest to grow to full size. I do have a lot that are small and may plant these again later on in the fall, they were crowded.  I need to leave more space for them next year.  I am pretty proud of these because onions do take a long time to grow to full size and you must fertilize often as they are high feeders. And keep the weeds out too, I have found that they don't like weeds!

Tons of summer squash this year.  This is just a sampling of what we have picked, I generally get 10-20 every couple of days and have been picking since June.  The Scallop squash has been incredibly prolific this year.  I have been cutting them in half and roasting on a sheet pan at 400 degrees for about 40 minutes. This gives them a nice caramel color and are so yummy, then I put 4 or 5 in bags and freeze them.  I think I have about 20 bags in the freezer already, just of the patty pan!

I grate the zucchini and freeze it raw, this works fine for muffins and breads when the winter months come around and I want zucchini bread. I also grate the other squash when I find the ones that have grown too large for cooking.

My new idea:  When the tomato plants get so big and spread over the cages I have a hard time getting to the tag that I have in the ground.  This year I decided to make some tags that I could staple to the racks, up high so I can read them.  This is working out nice and I will do this again next year.  I don't have a laminator so I used packing/mailing tape to double wrap the label, so far it is holding up.

You can see here just how big the tomatoes are this year.  This is Ponderosa at around 8 feet, there is no way I can find the marker at the bottom of the plant, but with my new tags I can see it easily.  Of course if my memory was what it used to be I wouldn't need tags at all.

My garlic did pretty well, but I have a lot of small ones that I think I will replant in the fall.

Shallots did not do well at all.  I will plant these again in the fall.

On the other hand the Grapefruit are huge this year!

When the heat like a mist veil floats,
And poppies flame in the rye,
And the silver note in the streamlet’s throat
Has softened almost to a sigh.
It is July.
 –Susan Hartley Swett (1860–1907)