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

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Tomato Update 2013 and, Lots of Links from Past Years Summer and Winter Garden Beds

I was so busy with my kitchen projects that I didn't take a lot of photos of our tomatoes this year.

First of all, we generally only grow Indeterminate tomatoes. We built heavy-duty wood 8 foot cages a few years ago, see the links at the bottom for photos.

We only grew 9 tomato plants this year but boy did we have a nice harvest.  The only one that didn't do as well as the others was San Marzano.  This was a plant that I purchased at a local nursery and maybe it was marked incorrectly because it never grew that tall.  I have heard that there is a semi-determinate San Marzano and that may be what this plant was. It only made it half-way up the 8 foot cage.  It also could have been a hybrid instead of the heirloom or open-pollinated plants that I normally grow.  The fruit on this plant were much shorter than I have had in the past.  Most of them were not much over 3 inches and were not the 'pointy' long looking 5" San Marzano's that I am use to growing.   I also remember that most of the tomatoes came in at the same time which is why I think it was a semi-determinate hybrid.  I only preserved 5 pints of San Marzano this year.  Next year I think I will grow from the seed I get from Baker Creek Rare Seeds

All of the other varieties that we grew did very well.   

Goliath, was a real winner and produced all summer.  It is an early producer and a perfect size for canning or freezing.  The tomatoes are meaty,  4" + across and heavy, 1 to 3 pounds.  They have great flavor and a strong, upright tall indeterminate plant. It reached well over 9-10 feet, two feet over the top of our 8 foot cages; I had to let it bend over the top to the San Marzano cage next to it and it just kept on growing, producing more and more flowers as it grew!  Goliath is an heirloom variety dating back to the late 1800's.  Heavy plant, give it lots of room and support early on. This tomato will be on my list for next year.

Cherokee Purple, was another winner, this is always on our repeat planting list!  This plant was loaded with large, fabulous flavored tomatoes. We had many that were just under the 2# size.  An old Cherokee Indian heirloom, pre-1890. Indeterminate plant, heavy vines, give it lots of room and heavy support.

Gold Medal, is not a heavy producer but if you like the pretty yellow-red stripes on this tomato you will want to add it to your list of winners.  It always produces large, sweet fruit. Many reaching the 2 pound mark.

Dr. Wyche's, one of our all time favorites is another one that is a low producer but worth giving it space.  It is a huge, yellow, sweet tomato.   An Indeterminate, Heirloom variety.

Stupice,  is a small, salad tomato with fantastic flavor. This tomato is originally from Czechoslovakia, it is a heavy producer and an Indeterminate tomato. I still have this one growing as it shows no signs of stopping yet and the plant looks healthy.

Green Zebra, was a volunteer plant from last year that came up next to Stupice.  We decided to leave it and see how it would do. Good thing we did because this was the only green tomato that we had this year. I do love Green Zebra!  Indeterminate tomato.  Not a true Heirloom as it was only developed in 1985 but it is on its way to being America's favorite green-stripe tomato.  This one is still growing and is giving us tomatoes so we will leave it until the end of the month or if the weather holds out, both Stupice and Green Zebra will be still growing until December.

We planted two cherry tomatoes this year. One was an Heirloom Black Cherry and the other was a Super-Sweet 100 Red Cherry.  We loved the Black Cherry, it had nice size round fruit, super sweet with a grape or cherry flavor. Dark purple, it looks like mini Cherokee Purple tomatoes.  Super Sweet 100 was a new hybrid that had tiny fruit and the skins broke at the stem end as soon as you picked it.  This is not good if you want to store them in a bowl on the counter. It encouraged fruit flies in the kitchen.  I kept a bowl of cider vinegar next to the bowl to keep them away but with not much luck.  This one will not be on list for next year, but Black Cherry will definitely go on the list.

Except for Stupice and Green Zebra, we have pulled up the plants and are now preparing the beds for the winter garden. I would have liked to keep the rest of the tomatoes growing until December, but we don't have a lot of space.  I may need to devote more space to veggies and less to flowers in the future. With water costs rising all the time, we can't afford to grow roses! 

I bought 20 bags of organic manure and organic soil amendment Saturday.  We dug up the beds yesterday and put in all the goodies, covered the bed with plastic to warm it up and I will plant next week.  The Farmer's Almanac moon planting guides states not to plant seed today, so I will take the day off and relax and plan the gardens.

Here are some links to past years varieties and photos. Since I didn't take a lot of photos this year, these links will give you some idea as to how well tomatoes do for us.

2010 New Tomato Cages and Varieties ( these cages were the first ones we built for the raised beds)

2010 Tomato Photos and Review

2011 Tomato Update

2012 Tomato List

2012 105 Tomatoes in 2 Days

2012 Still Picking

New Cages for 2012  (scroll down to the bottom of the photos to see the new cages.  These are the cages I use along the driveway)

The links below will give you an idea of what we plant and harvest around here in the winter months.

2011 Winter Garden Beds

2012 Winter Garden Beds

2010 Winter Garden Beds


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Kitchen Remodel Update, Finally!!

Many months have passed since I finished the kitchen, I just never took the few minutes to load the photos to the blog.  The summer kept me busy with a few projects, one being the Thrift Store Cabinet that went through a few changes before I finally converted it to open shelving and a wood top.  Originally I wanted to keep the two side doors and at least one of the drawers, but after sanding and painting they just didn't fit right. I don't think they ever did but I just didn't notice when we bought the piece.  The drawers wobbled when you opened and closed them.  They were not designed to hold a lot of weight and with the sliders that were on them they fell forward when open. The finished unit is working out really well for all of the produce.

Click on any of the pictures to enlarge them


We are still going to put wood shelves on the bottom section, the wood is very nice and I think having that on the bottom will make it have a nice finished look.  If you know me at all you know I always have some sort of project waiting to begin or finish; probably the reason the kitchen took me so long in the first place.  I really enjoy projects! 

Now for some photos. If you would like to check out my first blog entry at the beginning of this project, click HERE

The kitchen measures 20 feet from the refrigerator to the wall the hutch is on and from the sliding glass door to the wall by the thrift store cabinet measures 13 feet. It is a nice, large space now that it is all opened up.

This photo shows the thrift store cabinet and rolling island.  This summer the top was covered with tomatoes from my garden; that was the main reason I wanted this long cabinet.  The cabinet looks smaller than it's length of just over 7 feet. It is 20 inches deep and 36 inches high.  The rolling island is 48 x 24 inches on top and 37 inches high.  I have so much counter top space now!

Right now the two lower shelves are used for onion, sweet potatoes, potatoes, citrus and hard squash.  Of course this will change with the season.  Our citrus will start coming in some time in November and go until June if we are lucky.  When they really start to produce the top counter will be used for citrus and I will hopefully have shelves above this cabinet to holds the jars of dry grains, beans, etc.

The granite counter measures 13 feet from one end to just past the sink.

The island that originally was stationary and used where the thrift store cabinet is now, was re-purposed with industrial  casters and moves about the kitchen freely.  It also has a cabinet on the one side that I use to store flours.

If you follow my blog you will know that this area originally had a round table that had a few color changes, three to be exact. Once I had the thrift store cabinet in place I decided I didn't need the 48" table in this area any longer. I always used it for tomato time, but since have moved it to the dining room and donated my really long dining room table with eight chairs to the thrift store. We just don't need it any longer.  

I painted (of course) this little garden table the same color as my cabinets and it is working out perfect for Tony and I do dine at. I love to sit here, planning my garden day and having my breakfast. It is also a special spot to have tea in the afternoon.  Did you notice the donkey and Mexican man along the wall/floor,  I found it at a local antique store and repainted it.

I am cooking up a storm and enjoying my "new kitchen" even though it is not what a lot of people would think is a remodel, if you look at what we had and what we have now, I think you will agree that it is a "new" space.