Tomato Love & Favs

I will admit it. My FAVORITE thing to grow is tomatoes. I grow about 90 tomato plants each year in my garden. I am dreaming about tomatoes and cannot wait to start my babies again. You may call that obsessive or perhaps addictive and well, you would be right.

I have grown a number of tomatoes over the last 3 summers. Some were a disappointment and some I bring back for an encore each year.

I love growing roma tomatoes. Below are Granadero from Johnny’s. Along with San Marzano from High Mowing these two are my favorites for canning – whole, sauced, soup, pizza sauce and roasted. I will even halve these and freeze them. My garden would not be complete without them.

For little cherry type tomatoes I love Yellow Pear and Sakura. I have learned that I do not need more than 2 of each of these plants. They are prolific and give us more tomatoes for salads than we can eat and share.  Yellow Pear do crack but we have not found that to be a deterrent. The Sakura are red and crack resistant and oh so sweet.

Below are Brandywine. I love they way they taste. I never get many from a plant, but I will continue to grow them.

One of my all time favs are my Purple Cherokees. I typically pick them fairly green and let them ripen in the house. If I leave them on the vine until they are purple, the bugs seem to find them. AND the bugs love them as much as me! So I grab first. I share these with my friends and they come back for more.

A couple years ago I started also ordering from Seeds from Italy. I wish I could have located a picture today but I could not. You will have to take my word that some of these tomatoes are 3 + pounds, very meaty with few seeds. They paste and sauce really well. I have ordered Pomodoro Ace and Pomodoro Red Pear. I will continue to plant these in my garden. I will warn you that these plants grow and grow and grow (they are indeterminate). My rows are 4 feet apart and I cannot walk through these after they get going.

I tried the Indigo Rose last year and found them to be so-so. They are really pretty as they are purple and green and about 2 – 3 inches. But I felt they looked better than they tasted. I will add one of these in the garden this year but not more than that. The verdict is still out on whether they will be a returning plant each year.

I also planted, after many recommendations, Green Zebras last year. Yum and yum! BUT I planted way too many; these babies put out a BUNCH of tomatoes. Two plants will get planted this year. These will be a returning plant year after year; pretty and yummy is a combo you have to go with!

I will try a couple new ones this year simply because I cannot resist!

My most favorite tomato however is the one that I can slice

And add to a sandwich. Oh my mouth is watering! I can’t wait to repeat this picture in July!

Do you have a favorite tomato that you grow? I would love to know what you would have my try to add to my garden.

Happy Unleashing!

FGU

Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop #225

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Welcome to the Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop!

This week has been a fun week of planting and working on our kitchen. Never a dull moment but that is how I like it!

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Gardening makes me dream of tomatoes and squash and the Sunny Italian Stew Recipe from Claudia at Avalon Media last week hit the spot! She said it was inspired by her time in Italy as a child and it looks wonderful! Be sure to check it out!

Tips for Gardening with a One Year Old was also delightful! Since we just came back from playing in the dirt with our daughter’s family (which includes an almost 2 year old) it seemed to be perfect timing for this read. Thank you Frugal Mama for sharing!

What are you up to? Late spring is full of action isn’t it?

Time to hop!

Welcome to all and thank you for joining!

It would not be a hop if you did not join in. 🙂

Here’s some simple guidelines!

  1. Write a post about your farmgirl lifestyle and brag a little about your farmgirl talents while your at it! Share what being a farmgirl means to you. Include lots of photos of your farm, crafts, animals,  quilts, home decor projects and thrifty make overs, your backyard garden, chicken coop, recipes, studio or workshop. You get the idea!
  2. Leave your entry in the  Linky tools space to your  Farmgirl Friday post.
  3. Please include the Farmgirl Friday button ( or link back here ) in your post and remember to share this hop with all of your blogging friends!
  4. Enter up to three entries per hop

Thank you for joining and sharing and visiting each other!

Farmgirl is a Condition of the Heart – MaryJaneButters



First Green Babies Hit the Ground!

The rain gave us a break this week which meant some of my green babies got in the ground!

This batch had been hardening off and I imagine they were excited to get in the back of Ms. Tupelo to ride back to their garden home.

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These were truly the strongest bunch of plants I have ever had. They all looked awesome as they went in.

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I plant so many varieties of tomatoes that I decided to color code them with tie wraps this year. Early in year I can recall my layout. Later in the year when it is a tomato jungle out there, it becomes more difficult to distinguish. The difference between a Green Zebra and Purple Cherokee is obvious but 5 different Romas can become challenging as they all start to intertwine with one another.

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I also am planting eggplant this year. I hope they do well. I am looking forward to Eggplant Parmesan from these and my tomatoes.

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Bottom line is that these first green babies are happy to be in and this farmgirl was even happier to get some soil under the nails and sunshine!

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Happy Unleashing!

FGU

Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop #224

FGF LogoV2Welcome to the Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop!

Well we are back from Georgia. We had so much fun visiting our family, building a raised bed, cleaning out some other areas around the house and planting in them and of course spending time with our rockstar of a grandson!

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A blog will be forthcoming on our outside fun!

All our entries on our little blog hop here as so awesome on a weekly basis. One of the blogs I love to read are the ones titled “Homestead Hack” and then it can be on a variety of topics. We all love hacks so I always check those out. Last week, a simple yet effective way to dice tomatoes and not have juice dripping down your cabinets was great! And the best thing about it was, as all hacks, you probably have what you need laying around your house. Thank you Taylor for sharing! (I am going to make you head over there for the hack instead of spoiling it for you).

Let’s get going on this week’s shall we? Brag on what you are up to this week. Here are some guidelines if you are new here.

Welcome to all and thank you for joining!

It would not be a hop if you did not join in. 🙂

Here’s some simple guidelines!

  1. Write a post about your farmgirl lifestyle and brag a little about your farmgirl talents while your at it! Share what being a farmgirl means to you. Include lots of photos of your farm, crafts, animals,  quilts, home decor projects and thrifty make overs, your backyard garden, chicken coop, recipes, studio or workshop. You get the idea!
  2. Leave your entry in the  Linky tools space to your  Farmgirl Friday post.
  3. Please include the Farmgirl Friday button ( or link back here ) in your post and remember to share this hop with all of your blogging friends!
  4. Enter up to three entries per hop

Thank you for joining and sharing and visiting each other!

Farmgirl is a Condition of the Heart – MaryJaneButters



Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop #221

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Welcome to the Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop!

Beautiful skies here today but much, much rain is coming in so I don’t think it will be a gardening weekend (much to my dismay).

I love starting green babies and I am obsessed with tomatoes so I really enjoyed reading “How to Start Heirloom Tomatoes from Seed” from The Modern Day Settler. 

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Aren’t they just beautiful?? I love, love, love varieties on the tomato front. I cannot wait to sink my teeth into my first tomato of the season (still several weeks off…). Thanks for sharing on the hop some great tips and pictures!

IMG_20160426_165528002I couldn’t resist and popped a couple of our tomato plants in large pots on the deck this week. It is too early for ground here, but I could bring a pot in if I had to. And these darn things are jumping out of their starter pots and getting blooms. They are itching for the garden!

IMG_20160427_201640974So this weekend without the garden, means more work in the kitchen!

Yipee. Hubby is getting the shelving in that he has been crafting. It is so pretty! I could not resist and grabbed a couple of things to pop on the top shelf after it was done! The rest will get into day and tomorrow.

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What are you up to? Ready to join the hop and brag a little about what is going on with you?

Let’s get hopping! AND be sure to visit the others!

Here’s some simple guidelines!

  1. Write a post about your farmgirl lifestyle and brag a little about your farmgirl talents while your at it! Share what being a farmgirl means to you. Include lots of photos of your farm, crafts, animals,  quilts, home decor projects and thrifty make overs, your backyard garden, chicken coop, recipes, studio or workshop. You get the idea!
  2. Leave your entry in the  Linky tools space to your  Farmgirl Friday post.
  3. Please include the Farmgirl Friday button ( or link back here ) in your post and remember to share this hop with all of your blogging friends!
  4. Enter up to three entries per hop

Thank you for joining and sharing!

Farmgirl is a Condition of the Heart – MaryJaneButters

 



Tomatoes are Rocking! (early)

Previously I shared with you that I changed up a couple things this year with my green babies (who doesn’t like to experiment right?).

Hubby built a beautiful (and very functional) grown shelf-

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I bought a system of trays that are sturdy, domed (until sprouting) and bottom waterers-

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Well my little green babies popped up in a matter of 48 hours! They have been going strong, strong, strong.

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The addition of cinnamon has seriously stomped out the ground gnats and damping off. And I have been adding a bit of fish emulsion to the water every other week. That does make for some interesting smells in the basement. 🙂

The broccoli and cabbages got planted about 1 week ago. Perfect timing for them.

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The first tomato plants that I started have been jumping out of their pots. You can see that I have already transplanted many to 4″ pots.

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You can also see these are strong stems that have many leaves. Below are blossoms.

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We are in 6a so it is too soon for me to put them in the garden. I do not tempt fate out there and my last frost date is still 2 1/2 weeks away. I typically wait a week or so after that before planting so I don’t get any surprises.

BUT I could not resist grabbing a couple of these guys and putting them in large pots on the deck. I can bring them in if the weather does snap. It was so exciting to see them outside in these large pots.

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Then it stormed… I mean wind and hard, hard rain, multiple times last evening and overnight. It was so bad that Jasmine our pup slept on the floor in our room. She was a nervous, pacing doggie.

But my over-sized (I mean that in a good way) green babies weathered (ha ha) the storm and were looking good this morning!

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I planted some herb and flower seeds in pots yesterday too. I hope they did not wash or splash away. Only time will tell me their fate. But for my tomato teenagers, they seem to be A-OK!

Are you jumping the gun on planting anything? It is hard to resist isn’t it?

Happy Unleashing!

FGU

Roasted Tomato Sauce

I love canning tomatoes. I love trying different things with them. I have several ways that are my “tried and true”. But Roasted Tomato Sauce is a favorite. Not just because of how it tastes but because it is EASY. AND easy is my friend this year. I have short periods of time that my stove is plugged in and available since floors and walls are being done in the kitchen. This past Sunday, with no construction folks around, I took to another round of canning. One thing I made was this sauce. Super easy! Here’s how you do it!

Half your tomatoes and pop them on a cookie sheet. Roast for 25 – 30 minutes on 375. No need to peel or season. Just roast.

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Note: These are Granderos which are a type of Roma. I highly recommend adding them to your garden. They just keep going and going and going. I am in Indiana and I just picked another 25 pounds yesterday! (yes on November 2). 

When they come out you can peel them. But like I said I do this because it is easy so for me that means NO PEELING. Yipee!! I throw them in the Vitamix and puree.

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That takes a few seconds. You can see how taxing this process is. 🙂

Then grab your strainer and pour that lovely sauce from the Vitamix into it. Turn your handle a few times and the seeds and remaining peels are removed. Since they have been roasted and pureed this is the easiest thing you will ever do in your strainer!

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Minimal waste. Below pic shows all the waste. AND this is not a large bowl, it is a little cereal bowl to give you some perspective. Easy and efficient. Even better huh?

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Pour the lovely sauce into a pan. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 15 – 20 minutes or longer for a thicker sauce. I do not season this sauce. I prefer the sauce plain to season as I use it.

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It is such beautiful sauce.

I add 1/4 tsp citric acid to each jar and add the sauce. I follow my water bath directions to a T. Mine said to process 35 minutes, lid off, wait 5 and remove jars. Follow your directions for safety!

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It is pretty, easy and delicious! If you still have some tomatoes to get through I would encourage you to try this.

Do you have a favorite canning recipe?

Happy Unleashing!

FGU

Canning While Remodeling

Our kitchen is in major disarray. No cabinets remain except the one that is holding up the sink. No cabinets mean no counters. The stove gets moved around on a daily basis, so it could be anywhere at any given time.

With the garden slow to produce this summer I have not had to figure out how to preserve and can food. That was a little blessing in disguise, but as I shared recently, we did all that we could to extend our season and the fruits of our bounty are now here and awaiting attention.

With the assistance of a couple carts on wheels from the basement I put together a nice area to can in.

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The long cart is actually longer than my previous counter so I had an added luxury here of space. After I set up everything, I was on a roll.

First came the whole tomatoes. This is just the first round of many to come and it felt so good to be canning after a long summer’s wait. I love the clickity clack of the canner as it comes and stays on a boil.

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I am not sure if it is the late harvest or what the cause, but the tomatoes peeled beautifully this year. Better than years past. Blanching and ice water is my typical process (sometimes I roast them), but the skins literally slid off for me making the process fast. Before I knew it I was done smashing whole tomatoes into jars and they were hanging out in the canner.

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Seven pints came out looking good.

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With that under my belt and my rolling carts working so well, I decided to tackle the tomatillos. We have already had several harvests of these. For those of you that grow these you know that quantity is never an issue! They are pretty prolific. Previously I roasted them with jalapenos and garlic, pureed with some cilantro and we ate it right away and then froze a bunch too. With the canner hot and ready I decided to can this round of them. I still roasted the jalapenos, but not the tomatillos.

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I simmered onions, jalenpenos, tomatillos, red peppers and lots of seasonings. And I mean lots– I thought the cumin said TBL when it actually said tsp in the recipe. Good thing we like it!

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It turned out beautifully- I got 8 1/2 pints and 1 full pint. It smelled so fantastic. I can’t wait to dump some on top of a burrito or quesadilla or eggs.

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I still had a little time left and the canner was still hot and available. I made some terrific chunky Italian tomato sauce and threw it in as well. That produced 7 jars as well I still have a ways to go on the preserving, but I made a good dent! I froze some peppers and put the basil in the dehydrator. All in all and great day! Since my pantry is a bit cluttered right now, I cooled my jars on my currently empty shelves in the dining room area.

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The day gave me hope that even with a kitchen torn up I could figure out how to do this. When our contractor came last night he asked me if it was ok to work. He said his mom did not like movement in the house on canning days. 🙂

Do you like canning? Freezing? Just eating it fresh?

Happy Unleashing!
FGU

Late Harvest

The weekend of the 17th and 18th was the first frost and hard freeze of the season. We had about 300 pounds of veggies still in the garden and we thought we would do our best to try to save stuff. We built a structure out of cages and PVC and started building.IMG_20151016_175041630

We draped with frost cloth and had our tent.

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The frost and freeze came. The plants looked rough but the veggies still looked great. We kept it covered through last week; Friday we removed it as we were expecting rain and the cold temps had left (for now).

Last night, I went out and harvested all of this!

Green tomatoes that will turn into beautiful slicers in a week or so.

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Bags of 3 kinds of lettuce, beets and radishes.

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A five gallon bucket was 1/2 filled with tomatillos. Roasted salsa verde is coming!

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Beautiful romas that will be canned today.

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Our cold frames not only survived but the stuff is so huge that we will be adding height to them this week before we need to cover them again.

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The best part was a delicious salad last night with the goodies topped with a vinaigrette and smoked mozzarella. Oh my goodness.

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IMG_20151026_200656292I am so glad we took the time to cover our stuff. The season has been an odd one and my summer garden still had work to do! We bought ourselves about 2 1/2 weeks more of harvest. We have now peaked 300 pounds of veggies picked and we have some still to go.

Are you still gardening or is your season totally at a close? Do you garden in cold frames or tunnels to extend your season?

Happy Unleashing today!

FGU

 

Patience is a Virtue (but a Challenge!)

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I finally was able to pick a BUNCH of veggies today. 15 pounds of summer squash, 5 pounds of green beans, alot of beets and greens, beautiful lettuce and a couple pounds of basil!

My hubby accused me of being an “impatient” gardener a couple of weeks ago. Honestly that is so true! And I am working on it… but fine tuning virtuous characteristics takes some time (there’s my impatience again!).

We planted late due to the rainy spring, one large garden was drown and killed and well… I still want to be harvesting like I did last year and on the same time frame.

So just like watching a pot of water and waiting for it to boil, I am watching and trying to hurry things along.

Today, I saw tomatoes turning red. The plants are gorgeous and have tons of tomatoes, green ones that is. But in the last couple of days red is appearing!

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My zucchini that was a goner (or so I thought) has made an amazing come back and is giving me lots of beautiful zucchini as a bumper crop!

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The squash that I planted very late in July, is thriving and has more yellow squash than I can eat! So freezing was the game today.

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Our garden that drown earlier in the year was the one with our beans. I had several varieties and none of them made it. I planted some bush beans in early August and I picked 5 pounds of them today!

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Lettuce and beets also filled my basket

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and we will be indulging in those tonight along with the pesto pizza which is courtesy of our basil that is happy and growing into bushes. I did have to fight our bees to get some today!

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I am so happy to be picking and eating from our gardens. It has been a wait this year! I am trying to be more patient and to be aware when my words and actions aren’t in line with that. The seasons have their own time frame. I need to enjoy and appreciate it.

I planted a cover crop on the washed out garden. It looks beautiful and is starting to come up.

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I think however that a winter cover crop is the ultimate in teaching me some patience as I won’t see the results of this until after the fall, after snow and after blooms in the spring begin. It will be some of our bee’s first food. We will all just wait until it is ready….

Happy Unleashing!

FGU