Thursday, October 25, 2012

Green Tomatoes

We had some pretty devastating frosts a couple weeks ago. All of our tomato plants are now dead. Before the frost I collected hundreds and hundreds of green tomatoes. I have no plans to ripen them. I just want to let them ripen on their own and use them accordingly. 

I forgot to check on them for a week and some rotted in one of the bags I had them stored in. The next time I do this I plan on building a screen rack system to hold them in one layer. This screen rack system will double as a drying rack for herbs and other garden produce.

The tomatoes are now in various stages of ripening. Our plan is to have garden tomatoes in November. I believe this goal will be achieved this year. Next year we plan on making it into December! One thing I learned is if there is even a tiny bit of frost damage, just compost it. I have noticed the green tomatoes that are rotting are the ones I collected with just a tiny bit of frost damage. Next year I will watch the weather closely and pick the night before the first frost, not the next day. 

We are still getting peppers! This is due to the fact that I went out every night that had a frost warning and covered the pepper plants with sheets. If I had more sheets I could have saved some tomato plants since the frosts only lasted a few days. It is 80 degrees today, October 25th. We will get better at this as we get more experience. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Tea and the Ugly Tomato

I saw some ripe rose hips on my beach rose (Rosa rugosa) on a walk around the garden last night. I picked them and a handful of mountain mint (Pycnanthemum muticum). I added another mint and some borage flowers as well. I boiled the rose hips for 3 minutes and then added everything else and steeped for 10 minutes in the kettle. 

The only ingredient I added that was not form the back yard was some honey. This spring I should be harvesting my own honey so I could make this next year completely from the back yard. It had a great flavor and was very calming. 

Okay, this is the ugliest tomato I have ever grown. It looks like I super glued a bunch of small tomatoes together. But I bet if this tomato was ripe it would be delicious! I had to pick all of the green tomatoes due to the frost coming. I will post on what I am doing with them later. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Oven Dried Tomatoes

These tomatoes are specifically bred for sun dried tomatoes. The strain, Principe Borghese
(Lycopersicon lycopersicum), originally comes from Italy. I purchased these through, I highly recommend their products. The Mason jar contains gin and grapefruit juice, an absolute necessity for this process.

After much experimenting I discovered the fastest most efficient method to process the tomatoes is to cut just to the side of the stem leaving one half with the whole stem area. Now you cut the stem out of one side instead of two if you had split it evenly.  

I put them on large cookie sheets, salted them with sea salt and placed them in the oven pre-heated to 175 degrees. The amount of time it takes to dry them depends on the size of the tomatoes, moisture content and temperature.

Here they are dried out after about 18 hours. At this point they were perfect. They felt like a firm raisin with a little bend to it. So of course I turn the oven off and go do something else with them still in. They dried out completely becoming brittle. They still taste good but you have to watch them towards the end to get them at the perfect time. 

I placed them in Mason jars and filled them up with olive oil. These should keep on the counter for a while. Some people refrigerate them at this point. I am not suggesting either method yet, I plan on doing both. I will be doing more soon and I think I will try freezing and dry storage in mason jars. We shall see which method is the best. 

If you spoon some of these out into a hot skillet with butter, add some chopped onions and garlic and toss with spaghetti squash you will be in classico heaven.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Harvest 10/06/12

Here is a great harvest I picked this past Saturday. We have beets, chard, pumpkins, watermelon, bell peppers, tomatoes, jalapenos, spaghetti squash and butternut squash. The small red tomatoes are a variety bred to make sun dried tomatoes out of. A post of that process will be coming soon. We got some light frost last night, hopefully everything made it. I put some cardboard over a raised bed of lettuce to protect it. I realized I do not have any plastic for the rest of the garden. I will have to stop at the hardware store on the way home.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Garden Update 10-01-12

So this is weird. I planted a hundred or so winter peas and this one came up yellow. It is not over watered or sick, it is very healthy and looks just like all the others except, its bright yellow. I hope I get a harvest before the hard frost comes. I may make row covers over this area if I can do it cheap.

Our first brussel sprouts ever. I have tried to grow them before and have not had any luck. I started these in February indoors. I can't wait to have some sauteed sprouts!

This is our second year wormwood (Artemisia absinthium). This is a beautiful plant that can help deter insects around the garden. It can also be used in doors to repel fleas and moths.

Here is another cabbage. We are having a great year for cabbage. We just need to make sure to eat them when they are ready. I kept letting one get bigger and bigger and then it rotted before I remembered to pick it. 

We are still getting broccoli. In fact, the plants only stopped producing during the heat of the summer when it went to flower. As soon as it cooled off again it started putting on broccoli. I consider broccoli plants a garden staple from early spring to early winter.

Here is the garlic bed I planted a couple weeks ago. I threw hundreds of lettuce seeds in the box after I planted the garlic. I plan on making a cover for this bed so we can harvest the lettuce through early winter.