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This is a more general “veggie reviews”. Not going over specific kids of veggies, but just what veggies I will and will not plan on growing next year in the garden. Might help you if you’ve got a similar garden situation. For reference, my garden is 4 raised beds and one rocky, in-ground bed about the size of a raised bed. The in-ground bed hasn’t gotten a lot of water this year as we’ve had a drought (I give it some sprinkler time as needed), but the raised beds are watered by a soaker hose daily. I of course of have pictures of all of these plants, but don’t feel like searching for them! Use the search box at left to find out more about what I’ve done with each of these throughout the year.

Beans
Grew this year: royal burgundy, pencil pod, dragon tongue, maxibel bush, a couple others
No. As much as I absolutely LOVE fresh beans from the garden, I don’t think I’m going to grow them again next year, other than maybe a plant or two to snack on fresh beans from while outside. I haven’t had great results from the beans I’ve planted. They look scraggly and I don’t catch the beans until they’ve gone hard, or the beans are skinny and don’t taste great (heat, maybe?). And in order to really have enough beans to occasionally use as a side dish, I’d really have to have a whole bed of beans. Beans are readily available from local farmers, both Amish and non, so I think I’ll just get my beans from them next year. The ones I most frequently snack on, dragon tongue and royal burgundy, I may grow a plant or two of.

peas3Peas
Grew this year: Wando and another variety I forget. They tasted and performed the same.
Yes! I so enjoyed growing my own peas this spring, and because they’re just a spring crop, you pull them and they don’t take up space the whole summer. Next year I will plant more peas and plan better where they go (to account for them being replaced with something else), but I will for sure grow them again.

Carrots
Grew this year: tonda di parigi, danvers half long
Yes! I lost about half of my carrots this year because hornworms ate the foliage off of all the ones in my raised bed, so they stopped growing. Consequently, I didn’t get any of the little round tonda di parigi carrots I was so excited about! The carrots I planted in a large pot and kept in a more shaded area did very well, though, so I plan on doing that next year and using raised bed space for something else.

radishRadishes and beets
Grew this year: early scarlet globe radish, detroit dark red beet
Yes! I am also going to try to grow these again in the fall, and will be more conscious of sowing more next year in succession, so I get more than one crop. Both were very easy to grow, weren’t bothered by pests, and tasted great. Plus they are another spring crop like the peas that you get to plant something else in after they’re done (again, I will plan better for that next year). May try some more varieties of each next year.

Peppers
Grew this year: sweet banana, cayenne, jalapeno, marconi, chili, habanero, fish, sweet red cherry
Yes! Though I’m not a fan of peppers on their own, I LOVE making my own salsa over the summer and these guys are a key ingredient. Unfortunately, I lost ALL the peppers I’d started from seed this year in the Great Plant Fry of 2010, so all the peppers I have were from a plant exchange or purchased as seedlings. Botanical Interests is having a free shipping deal this weekend (friend them on facebook for details), so I am planning on making a small purchase, and peppers are in the mix.

Broccoli and Brussels Sprouts

Grew this year: Di cicco and Long Island Improved
Ask me after the fall. Cabbage worms ate the hell out of them in the spring, then it got too hot too fast, so I pulled them and gave up.

Ground Cherries
Grew this year: Whatever kind @snarkyvegan gave me?
Yes! I’ve really enjoyed these weird little plants. I’ve already made a sauce that I used on turkey and last night on my portobello burger (hubby had jalapeno jack burgers) and very delicious bread that I need to share the recipe for. I’m going to try to save some seeds, but if not I’ll purchase more. These are tasty and there’s no way I’d find them if I didn’t grow them myself.

Zucchini
Grew this year: Black Beauty
Maybe. I’m not a big zuc fan and hubby doesn’t like them. I just bought these because Lowe’s was having a sale. They’re not producing like crazy (yet?), prob because they’re in the old garden and haven’t gotten a lot of water.

Okra
Grew this year: whatever Lowe’s had
Nope. Just like the beans, you have to plant too many to get anything worthwhile. I’ve gotten 3 so far and ended up composting them bc what do you do with 3 okra? Also the only thing I ever do with them is fry them, so frozen or random local is fine.

Pumpkin
Grew this year: the seed that came with the compost
Maybe. I grew this one on accident and it’s kind of fun. Only one pumpkin on there and I don’t see more blooms, but again it’s in the garden that hasn’t gotten any water. I like my little pumpkin, but I don’t think it’ll make it to Halloween 😦

Luffa
Grew this year: luffa from Botanical Interests
Maybe. I was SO SUPER EXCITED about this, but the dang thing still hasn’t fruited! I don’t get it. I had just grand plans for Christmas presents! So we’ll see. I’m giving you a chance, luffa.

lemon spacemaster
Cucumbers
Grew this year: spacemaster and lemon
Yes! I adore cucumbers and the ones in the raised bed are producing like crazy. The lemon isn’t doing as well, so next year I’ll make sure to plant all cucumbers in a raised bed with plenty of room for climbing.

Lettuce
Grew this year: Baby greens mesclun mix from Botanical Interests, black seeded simpson lettuce
Yes! But next year I’ll plan it better. This is something else that gets pulled when it gets too hot, and this year it got so hot so quick I really only got one harvest before it started to bolt and get bitter. Next year I will plant earlier and more in succession to get more harvests, and I will also plan for them being pulled up by planting them in the bed with the other spring crops.

Tomaotes
Grew this year: Black from Tula, Eva purple ball, speckled roman, better boy, early girl, sungold, russian rose
Let’s not be silly. Of course! I lost a bunch in the plant fry, but I lucked out and still ended up with a nice selection between stores, family, and plant exchanges. I’ll be doing separate reviews of some of these, but tomatoes will definitely get at least one bed in the garden next year as well.

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#wordlesswednesday

NOTE: Crabs not pictured.

Crappy pics because there is a TON of noise in my pics lately for some reason and I wanted to eat the dang tomato so I rushed.

First tomato – Early Girl bought from the Amish (so I didn’t start this particular one from seed) with a few flowers on it at the end of April. Served with peas and beans from my garden. Eaten on 6/15/10 (scheduling this post for later in the week).

Verdict – DELICIOUS. More, please!

On the vine.

On the plate.

on the plate

and about to me in my tummy.

And about to be in my belly.

Fun fact: Did you know serrated knives work best for slicing tomatoes? The serrated edges grip the skin and slice through instead of slipping around all crazy like. I learned that in an episode of Good Eats and it’s totally true. I use steak knives. (Incidentally, I use my big chef’s knife and my steak knives for like everything. My paring knives never see any action!)

Last year the only veggie seeds I saved were for Peachy Mama peppers. We got these lots of times from the CSA I was a member of, and while I normally don’t like peppers except in salsa, I actually liked the sweet, fruity taste of these. Knowing I probably wouldn’t join the CSA this season, I saved a ton of Peachy Mama Pepper seeds. They’re an heirloom variety and really the only mention of them on the web I can find hooks them up to my former CSA. I’d save the tops with their seeds when I used them and leave them on the window sill to dry out.

This year, come seed-starting time, I dug out the little package I had made of seeds marked “peachy mama” and lovingly started them (also a few that were still in the dried pepper tops). They did very well! I even donated some to the Sotterley Plant Exchange. I planted mine in my garden. The bigger, it got, the more tomato-like the plant started looking. “Huh, weird,” I thought. “This must be an odd pepper plant!”

peachy mama

Buddha puts his hands up in confusion.

Except now my odd pepper plant is…making tomatoes?!?!

I have several problems with this:

  1. I DID NOT SAVE ANY TOMATO SEEDS AT ALL! Didn’t even try!
  2. These appear to be pear tomatoes. I did not grow or eat pear tomatoes at any time last year.
  3. I swear, those were Peachy Mama Pepper seeds I planted!!!

So I give up. I moved the pepper plants that surrounded it (and would have been appropriately spaced, had these 3 also been pepper plants and not mutant pepper tomato plants) to the bed where the broccoli and brussels sprouts were pulled up from. We’ll see what kind of tomatoes I get. But I am still UTTERLY CONFUSED, considering points 1 and 2 from above. wtf?!?

And now some other veggie garden pics, just because.

tomato bed

tomato bed - with 2 pepper plants, marigolds, and baby zinnias

veggie beds - back

A back view of the veggie beds, with proof you CAN see them (very well) from the road.

#wordlesswednesday

Actually, I think cats aren’t supposes to eat tomatoes (at least not green ones or tomato plants). But since I have nothing else to say and I just ran across these (thank you icanhascheezburger widget!, here are some lolcats. Note: Kittehs pictured are not my kittehs.

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

Does that last one look familiar? Yes, I think it does.

I happened upon this little gem (don’t even remember how) the other day and joined. So hello to all you others! So every time I post a CSA-involved recipe or whatever now, I’m going to link back there. Now if only I could manage to take better food pics. My kitchen really doesn’t have great lighting for it, which certainly isn’t helped by the fact that this stuff is usually done at night. Oh well. Trust me, if I share a recipe, it’s good!
CAMC_1_png_242
I’m going to get this week’s CSA stuff tomorrow after work (partner wasn’t able to pick it up today), but I have stuff to share anyway. I am STILL drowning in tomatoes (and this week’s CSA declared that it is “the year of the tomato” at Even’ Star Farms – so uhhhh more to come), and I think I’ve perfected my tomato sauce recipe. While this one is good, I have a variation…

Picture 12Jennah’s EVEN BETTER Fresh Summer Tomato Sauce

1. Cut the tops off a bunch of tomatoes. Paste tomatoes or roma preferred, but throwing in a few slicing tomatoes, grapes, or cherries is good.

2. Throw them in a large pot of boiling water. Boil until the skins start to peel back. Then spoon out tomatoes and put them in a bowl of ice water.

3. Once cooled enough to handle, remove skins by squeezing tomatoes into a blender. Puree tomatoes, discard skins.

4. Chop up (throw in blender or by hand) a handful of oregano and basil. A little lemon balm too, if you have it.

5. Put it all in a sauce pan and add some olive oil. Also a small amount of white wine, if you have it. Also add to taste: sugar, salt and a bit of pepper.

6. Add tomato paste and stir (without the paste, it tends to be too runny and won’t stick to any noodles). Depending on how thick you want your sauce, you may want more of less paste. (I like a bit more.) Cook on med-low covered until it starts to bubble, then turn it all the way down to low for about 10 minutes uncovered. Stir occasionally (you’ll need to mix in that paste once it starts to warm up).

5. Enjoy! It’s best after being in the fridge for a day or so, but also great right away. And I have quite a few bags in the freezer for winter as well.


Picture 13Simple Squash Fritters

These are SO GOOD. My husband wasn’t quite as excited as I was about them, but he really enjoyed them too (he doesn’t get excited easily – possibly I do). This is a great way to use a ton of squash. Kids would love them too, trust me. Sorry – you are forewarned that I don’t really measure in the recipe. It’s based on this recipe, but modified a little.

1. Roughly slice up some squash and stew/boil until soft. No need to peel. Once soft, strain/drain and puree the squash. Put a pan of oil (I used vegetable oil) on med-high to start it getting warm.

Picture 142. Mix in the following ingredients to taste (you can taste as you go) until you get a slightly un-firm batter. I am listing the ingredients from MOST to LEAST: squash puree, corn meal, flour, sugar, salt (just a touch), baking powder (just a touch).(Ignore the random herb leaf in my pic.)

3.Put small spoonfulls (maybe quarter size) into the hot oil. They don’t need to be covered all the way. Once the start to turn golden brown, flip them over. Once done, put them on a paper towel/rack to dry/drain. It only takes a minute or so for each batch to fry.

4. Enjoy! Soooo good. THe outside is crispy and the inside is gooey/bready with the sweetness of the sugar and squash. Yum! This would probably also be good with various winter squashes or other veggies – zucchini, eggplant maybe?


Oven-Dried Tomatoes
Picture 16
I also dried some tomatoes. There are a ton of recipes out there for this, but the time was WAY off on all I looked at. They took FOREVER and still aren’t totally dry (they were very ripe/juicy – I head from others on Twitter that theirs too way longer than they thought, too), but I figure instead of storing them, I’ll just use them up over the next week or so. I cut them thin, sprayed them with olive oil and sprinkled salt and pepper. Put them in the oven on 200° for probably about 6 or 7 hours total (3 last night, then covered and left them sitting out today, then a few more hours tonight). They’re very good. They taste like seasoned sun-dried tomatoes. This might be good to do with sub-par grocery store tomatoes in the winter.

So allllll that, and I still have this many tomatoes left! Plus I have a bag from the neighbors’ that I will force upon my CSA sharer, plus I have more coming from the CSA tomorrow.

Picture 17

And you know, I might be going crazy, because it almost seems as if the tomatoes are MAKING FACES AT ME!! This is clearly bad.

The tomatoes are mocking me.

The tomatoes are mocking me.

So the other day I mentioned that our neighbors across the street came over to my hubby when he was outside and said that they would be on vacation this week and we should take as many tomatoes as we wanted to they wouldn’t go to waste. Also the other day you saw the nice stash of tomatoes I have from my garden and the CSA. I was planning on making some sauce and salsa today to freeze, so I figured I’d go over and pick some tomatoes to use for that. When I was done…

tomatoes, anyone?

tomatoes, anyone?


…I ended up with 4 giant canvas shopping bags FULL of tomatoes!! (Like, it was actually a bit of a struggle to run across the street with them.) I already called my aunt who lives nearby and she doesn’t need any, but will take some so her customers can grab some (she cuts hair). I’ll also give some to my mom and hubby’s mom, and maybe my CSA partner if they’re OK that long?? There are a variety of kinds – mostly large red slicer varieties, but also some roma/paste-types. some were labeled – will have to check next time I go. I figure I can probably get at LEAST one more bag full mid-week, then I can leave the rest to be ripe when they get back. I’ll also clean up the pile of rotted ones I made and put that in my composter.

This dude should meet the orange guy from the CSA.

This dude should meet the orange guy from the CSA.


Each plant had at least 4 or 5 that needed to be picked, 3 more that could be, plus a lot of green maters.

Each plant had at least 4 or 5 that needed to be picked, 3 more that could be, plus a lot of green maters.


clearly these are happy tomato plants - weeds are blocked with newspaper I noticed - and do a pretty darn good job

clearly these are happy tomato plants


They also have cantaloupes, corn, peppers, and squash.

They also have cantaloupes, corn, peppers, and squash.


My normal envious view (from my driveway).

My normal envious view (from my driveway).

This week our CSA guy dubbed “the week of tomatoes” – and holycrap he was right! Combine what we got with the CSA stuff and garden stuff I had from last week and ummm I’m going to be making some salsa and sauce and freezing it or SOMETHING! Plus today apparently our neighbors across the street came over while my hubby was outside and said that they are going on vacation next week, so we could take as many tomatoes as we wanted from their (VERY large tomato section) garden so they won’t go to waste. How nice is that?! I’m going to leave them a nice little thank you note, and maybe some dried herbs in their door with it? Or would the herbs be weird? I guess I can see if they have any of their own, and if not it might be nice. I don’t really know when they’re coming back, so I don’t want to leave anything that will spoil. hmm. (Yup, I will probably also sneak a couple pics.)

from my garden: jalapenos, golden sunburst tomatoes, roma tomatoes

from my garden: jalapenos, golden sunburst tomatoes, roma tomatoes

CSA stuff plus my stuff - actually more than it looks like, believe it or not!! And again, this is only half a membership.

CSA stuff plus my stuff - actually more than it looks like, believe it or not!!

How cute is this guy?! He looks sad/confused/contemplative.

How cute is this guy?! He looks sad/confused/contemplative.

Not a good pic bc it was night, but eggplants are SO photogenic and adorable.

Not a good pic bc it was night, but eggplants are SO photogenic and adorable.

practically knee-deep in tomatoes, I swear!

practically knee-deep in tomatoes, I swear!

TO DO:

  • cut dead blooms off of heucheras
  • pull dead foliage off of daylilies
  • pull dead bloom sticks off of daylilies and harvest seeds
  • cut back cosmos and save some more seeds to share with others
  • trim evergreens in pots so that some of the trunk is showing – this will hopefully allow them to get water better, since they’re drying out
  • have hubby help plant the last of the perennials I got on sale – heuchera, echinacea, aster, rudbeckia, hosta
  • also plant the chamomile I started from seed not too long ago so it can bloom and go to seed this year and spread next year – somewhere in the side garden
  • clean car
  • watch hubby play vs local radio station in softball game
  • do Bloom Day post
  • do post on our Cash for Clunkers experience (we got a new truck!)

Picture 12I feel like all I’m posting lately is my CSA goods! Oh well. I just haven’t been doing much in my own garden lately, though I do hope to get the rest of the perennials in the ground next weekend with my hubby’s help. I’ve been heavy into tomatoes lately, which is fine. Between the CSA and my garden, I have a ton! I’ve lately moved on from salsa and have started making my own spaghetti sauce with actual tomatoes (I usually make my own sauce anyway so I don’t have to deal with onions or meat, but I used a can of tomato sauce and and a can of paste and my own herbs and seasonings. Using actual tomatoes is a very different taste – both are good, but this one feels very fresh and summery. Perfect with some angel hair pasta.). So before the CSA tour, a quick recipe.

Tomato sauce is hard to photograph well, especially at night! But trust me, it's yummy!

Tomato sauce is hard to photograph well, especially at night! But trust me, it's yummy!

Jennah’s Fresh Summer Tomato Sauce
OR try Jennah’s EVEN BETTER Summer Tomato Sauce on a later post…

1. Chop and mince well (I use my small electric chopper – a food processor or blender would probably also work well) about a quart or so of roma and cherry tomatoes. Throw in some yellow and orange cherries if you can. If you are using very juicy tomatoes instead of roma, you may want to strain them a bit before adding them to the saucepan.

2. Chop up (in chopper or by hand) a handful of oregano and basil. A little lemon balm too, if you have it.

3. Put it all in a sauce pan and add about 2 tablespoons or so of olive oil. Also about 1/4 cup of white wine, if you have it. Also add: about 1/2 cup of sugar, salt to taste (about 1 teaspoon?) and a bit of pepper.

4. Add 1 small can of tomato paste and stir (without the paste, it tends to be too runny and won’t stick to any noodles). Cook on med-low covered until it starts to bubble, then turn it all the way down to low for about 10 minutes uncovered. Stir occasionally (you’ll need to mix in that paste once it starts to warm up).

5. Enjoy! It’s best after being in the fridge for a day or so, but also great right away. Lmk if you try it!

And now for the tour of Even’ Star Farms, my CSA. The farm is very pretty, but I will say it’s not “neat.” Certainly they have better things to worry about than cutting the grass and (gah) trimming, but it is a bit hairy (it’s also organic, so no evil things to get rid of weeds, I suppose). Not that I care, just sayin’ sometimes I want to bring over my lawnmower and tidy it up, as is my nature as a neat-freak. I’d also just love to stroll around the place because it’s sooooo tranquil and gorgeous. Most of it is edible farming, but they also have several areas of cut flowers and just decorative flowers (sometimes they include cut flowers with CSA membership stuff, reportedly) which I haven’t explored as much, especially up closer to the house, which you pass when going to pick up your goods (people DO live there, after all!). Such a pretty place, though! Farm pick-up members just drive up, park, walk to a room in the barn, and pick stuff up! I was a little confused this Thursday because the door I usually use was bolted, but I figured out that we were supposed to use the back door.

driving to the CSA on a rainy day - tomato field on the left, behind trees

driving to the CSA on a rainy day - tomato field on the left, behind (apple?) trees

the fields

the fields

raindrops on roses

raindrops on roses

whiskers on...chickens?

whiskers on...chickens?

sooo tempting - their tomatoes ready to be delivered to various farmers' markets

sooo tempting - their tomatoes ready to be delivered to various farmers' markets

Grab one! Boxes ready for "farm pick-up" members in the shed

Grab one! Boxes ready for "farm pick-up" members in the shed

our full box of goodies

our full box of goodies

seriously, SO tempting! But farm pick-up members do get bonuses, like extra cukes this week.

seriously, SO tempting! But farm pick-up members do get bonuses, like extra cukes this week.

path back to the parking area - very mucky today.

path back to the parking area - very mucky today.

puddles and cart

puddles and cart

corn and flowers - can't wait to get some corn!

corn and flowers - can't wait to get some corn!

hibiscus? near the parking area

hibiscus? near the parking area

hibiscus? close-up

hibiscus? close-up

I think this must be the cutting garden - not much to cut atm.

I think this must be the cutting garden - not much to cut atm.

my half-share back at home - I used about half those rainbow cherries for my tomato sauce

my half-share back at home - I used about half those rainbow cherries for my tomato sauce

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