While I Can

I may need a whole week of posts titled the same as this one. The weather has me scrambling to get the last of summers bounty processed and stored for the winter.

I had a gift of a box of ripe tomatoes given to me.  I am only able to grow cherry tomatoes with our limited sunlight between our east and west hillsides, and this gift was beautiful, handful sized globes that were ready to eat or process.

(Disclosure note, I did get some second harvest figs along with the tomatoes. The Rogue Valley has been very good to me this year. Since there are not enough to process, I am hoarding the precious figs and am holding myself to four or five a day for fresh eating. One more day of figs and I will be tapped out).

If I had the time and the inclination to spend a day in the kitchen, I would have canned the whole lot of them after saving enough for fresh eating. But rather than torturing myself, I sliced most of them and ran them through the dehydrator. I did save back enough to dice and freeze for wintertime recipes like soups and stews. Both methods of preserving will come in handy when crockpot season is upon us.

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A Little More Each Day

Fresh dug beets from the gardenBeets are big enough to start harvesting. They are one of our favorite vegetables. We cook them and top them with a bit of butter or sour cream or sometimes both. We eat lots of grated raw beets made into  a salad. I even like to eat them cooked and cooled for breakfast. Most of the beets are already good sized but we have been finding that several of the tops are trying to grow seed heads instead of putting their energy into growing the root bases. Daily pulling of the ones trying to go to seed will be needed to keep the whole row from trying to do the same thing. Continue reading

Next Row Of Tires Planted

tires planted in gardenWith the row of potato sets planted in the right side row, the tomatoes are the next to be planted.

A total of twelve tomatoes have survived and thrived in containers and it is well past time to get them into the garden where they will be able to stretch out their roots and their tops. About half of the plants already have tomatoes set on and hopefully they will not get too upset about this move which could cause the plants to drop the fruit rather than growing to the ripe stage.

Tomato Travels

Tomato starts set outside in the sun.The leggy tomato starts are loving the opportunity to be moved outside each day. Even though the nights are still cold and dipping into the high 20’s, the bright sun warms the side of the house above 50 degrees during the day.

Each day the plants are moved out once the temperature nears 50 and each evening moved back into the garage so they don’t freeze. These plants are very willowy from their extended house-bound stint. It’s important to move them back and forth each day to give them the opportunity to strengthen in the breeze and soak in the sunshine.

Several of the plants have blooms beginning to open and it is encouraging to see pollinators flying by to stop at the seedlings. I can imagine the taste of fresh tomatoes each time I move the plants back and forth.

Fifty Degrees Snuck Up On Me

Fifty is the magic number when I like to take my tender tomato starts out off the sunny window ledge inside the house and temporarily set them outside to get some real world sun and breeze. Twice this year we have had temps that made it to the 50 degree mark and slightly above, I missed both of them.  One of the days we were transplanting trees up on the hill and the other day I was away from the farm.  Continue reading

4 Inch Pots For Tomatoes

The second set of leaves have formed on the tomato seedlings so it was time to upgrade the size of the homes for these cuties.

seedling tomatoes in 4 inch black pots.The 4 inch pots are just barely able to fit into my single width trays. But the twelve plants still fit onto the ledge of the sunniest window of the house so all they need to survive at this point is water every other day and a good story from me (yes I talk to my seedlings, trees, cows, cats, dogs and the eagles as they soar overhead).

The next upgrade will mean moving the plants out of the house proper and out into the garage where they will be moved inside and outside as weather dictates. My little garden cart that I like to use has become the kindling cart for the last two months after retiring from the garden in the fall. I may need to get another cart…

Tomato Next Step

seedling tomatoes The tomato seeds that were started are starting to pop with their second set of leaves. It is time to transplant from their bedding tray to 4 inch pots.

I could go to the local plant nursery to get tomato plants for the garden, but these little beauties are a labor of love. I swear that the sweet cherry tomatoes that these plants will eventually produce are well worth all the wintertime coaxing and pampering along the southwest windowsills.

Thinking About The Garden

If I want to see any delicious tomatoes this summer, it is now time to start thinking about getting the seeds germinated. I go goofy over those cherry tomatoes, fresh from the plant, dried in the dehydrator, frozen on cookie sheets, mixed into pasta dishes and winter stews, I just can’t seem to get enough of them. Except for last year, I was over-exuberant with the number of plants. I had seeds germinating in several trays, kept giving away plants in 4 inch and later, gallon pots and still planted two rows of tomatoes in tires totaling more than two dozen plants. Continue reading

Calendar Watching

It is hard to imagine it from the blistering weeks we experienced through August that any day we could have the first frost nip back the garden, but here on the farm we have had frost as early as the first week of September.

Watching the calendar and the thermometer as the days come and go help keep me on track to harvest, dry and freeze all the summer goodness that comes from the garden. We have made it past halfway in the month and have had no close calls with frost yet and the garden is still busy producing squash, beans and loads of tomatoes.

Since the weather has cooled a bit, I have also been sneaking out to the blackberry row on cool mornings and evenings to get my share of the crop that I couldn’t get close to while the bees took over the sweet berries during the warm weather.

Seeing Red

Tomatoes that are starting to turn colors.Last year the tomato crop came early, I had my first ripe one on July 4th. This year, it has been quite a bit slower to bring the fruit. I start the plants from seed in January each year and the plants seemed to struggle to get any growth several months.

Finally I can see some of the fruit starting to turn color, not quite red yet, but I am confident that by August 1st we will be eating delicious tomatoes.