I’ve been trying to keep up with the ripening tomatoes since the first red alert cherries appeared, but somewhere along that timeline I fell pretty far behind, and my garden that used to be a sea of green has been blanketed with reddish orange romas and brandywines. Davy, Sandy and I spent about 30 minutes to an hour collecting the tomatoes that we hope to give away. You see we are all pretty sick of processing tomatoes, and now that we have 120 jars full, we see no need to continue stocking up.
Now that I’ve grown more tomatoes then I ever thought I’d see in a lifetime, I’m wondering just how many of these plants I should start in next years garden. While we got far more tomatoes then we need, none of them will go to waste. I may trim the plant count a bit, but I don’t think 100 plants would be too many. I can then use the space that would have gone to tomato plants for starting fruit trees in the greenhouse this spring.
After cleaning up the tomato patch, Jessica and I moved onto the pepper patch, and quickly filled a crate with Chablis, Flexnum and California Wonder peppers. Somehow a Purple Kohlrabi wound up in the mix.
After a cup of coffee or two, it was time to move onto picking grapes. We picked Concord grapes from three native vines, then sorted them out removing all of the rotten and dried out grapes.
Instead of making wine we decided to try out grape juice production just to see how hard it would be, and how much work was involved. As the photo shows, many hands make quick work. I haven”t yet tried the taste of the juice once it’s been chilled, and if it’s worthwhile, I’ll share the recipe.
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I finally got enough other work done to begin constructing the first door for my shed. I built the basic frame, and with Davies help attached it to the hinges. At this point, I decided to take a break. I had an idea for how I wanted to build my doors, but these doors would be like no other, so I decided to take a few hours and think about it while working on another project.
After clearing some brush I decided I was going to go through with my somewhat radical plan. The doors would overlap each other, and fit together like doors in an air lock. Why did I build these odd looking doors ? Mostly because I could, but this design eliminates the vertical gap that usually separates two doors. Without the vertical gap, less air will leak through in the winter.
So there they are, my unconventional doors. Whatcha think ?
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It’s that time of year when storing away garden goodies isn’t the only priority. This is a ripe time to save seeds for next years garden, and if you’ve looked through a seed catalog, or lived anywhere other then below a large rock, you too may have noticed just how much seeds are selling for these days. If I had to buy seeds to replace the four varieties shown in the picture, I’m sure I would spend at least $10 on seeds, and I would probably get about 120 seeds for my money. Saving these seeds took very little time, and I’ve probably got about 500 seeds on the four trays.
Saving Tomato Seeds:
Cut open a tomato, and allow the seeds to drain onto a layer of newsprint, then simply let the seeds dry. When there is no more moisture, carefully peel the seeds from the paper, and store them for the spring.
I’ve also purchased quite a few seeds packets. I ordered the seeds on the right as our government was foolishly debating raising the debt ceiling. I was going to order them later in the season anyway, but I decided I would sleep easier if I ordered them before the debt deadline. I tend to sleep easy when I’m prepared for an outcome that is far worse then what I expect.
I’ve also been kicking around the idea of making a new garden area. It’s more or less a rough idea at this point, but the dirt is nice, the slope is less steep then the current plot, and there is lots of water nearby. It could be an additional garden, or maybe a replacement. I guess I’ll see where the world is headed during the winter months, and figure things out from there.
I knew I was growing a lot of tomato plants when I was planting seeds this spring, and I realized that I would probably get a lot of tomatoes no mater what happened, but I didn’t imagine what would be done with them all. I figured that if I grew lots of tomatoes, everyone on the farm would find lots of uses for them, and we have. Lately everyone has been working on one task more then most others: Canning Tomatoes. The process begins by sterilizing the jars which will contain the veggies.
The tomatoes need to be washed off, rinsed, dried and finally diced into smaller chunks. The amount shown above will fill about seven large jars.
Before putting the lid on the jars, we added a small amount of “Fruit Fresh”, and added water until it was within one inch of the lid. The right amount of water is important for the jar to seal.
After placing the lids on the jars it’s time for a good half of an hour bath in boiling water. Be careful not to get burnt by the hot water.
Each batch yields about seven jars, so you can imagine that we have been canning quite often. All of the tomatoes shown have come from one of three gardens including my sisters, my mothers and my own garden.
We even tried out some yellow tomatoes after hearing that any color tomato is safe to can.
After helping with two batches of cans on Sunday, I figured I would go pick some more tomatoes. I have been trying to pick the tomatoes every four or five days, which gives the green tomatoes some time to start ripening. For now, I’ll pick any tomato that’s not green.
I set out to pick more tomatoes the other day, and I soon found a few helpers. While they were looking for tomatoes, I decided to have a look at my pepper plants. I’ve only gotten a few early surprises so far this year, but this time it was different. I found about twenty peppers that were large enough to pick, and quite a few that were just starting to grow. If I remember correctly, the pepper plants were growing well into October last year, so I should be getting lots more green and red surprises in the next few weeks.
Chablis hybrid peppers have stole the show again this year, with a flexnum hybrid peppers coming in a close second. I’ll plant both of these types next year, but I hope to place a lot of effort trying to develop a new variety.
I planted quite a few pepper seeds directly into the soil as one of my many experiments. Several of these plants have grown large enough for peppers, and one has already succeeded in passing on it’s genes. I’ll take good care of the seeds till next year, and encourage them to grow directly from seed once again. The long term goal is to develop a pepper plant that grows faster, and is more compatible to the growing season this far north.