Tomatoes gone wild

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Tomatoes (left) and Peppers (right)

Plants with branches slumped and sticky hold plump cherry and grape tomatoes in our kitchen garden.  The full sunny days and shower refreshed evenings kept all growing. Over four feet in two months!  Our tomato plants grew beyond their cages and almost touched the deck before they toppled on themselves as vines will do.  We gave string and stake support a little late.  We did not anticipate such rapid growth so they kind of went a little wild beyond their cages.  They needed a supported space – a ring of rope to grow up into.

A reminder for me to anticipate growth as I seek to provide an effective supportive space for my preteen son. He is growing fast, almost as tall as me now.  How will I support him as he looks beyond our home to friends and middle school?  What kind of support can a give to him as he reaches beyond?

A prayer:  Lord, I need your wisdom and guidance to show me how to provide structure and support suitable to the unique talents You gave my son.  May He reach His full potential and grow into a courageous, kind, faithful, loving and fruitful young man. 

Never underestimate the potential for growth in all that you nurture and care for.  You will be amazed!

Tomato Harvest

“Want a date night canning tomatoes, honey?!”
50 pounds of tomatoes first

then another 50 pounds!

We harvested 100 pounds of tomatoes in one week! Our 15 Olivade tomato plants look quite weary now. We did not expect such a big harvest this year. So far, my husband and I canned 13.5 quarts of tomatoes from a little less than half of the tomatoes.

Check out Daphne’s Dandelions to see harvests from other gardens around the world!

Harvest Monday – August 22

Cherry and grape tomatoes getting a bath.

Thanks to Daphne’s Dandelions, the host of Harvest Monday!

Tomatoes were our harvest winners again!  We picked over 40 pounds of tomatoes from our weary tomato plants this week.  On Saturday, my husband and I got a lot of work done at the garden plot while our son stayed at his grandma’s house.   I turned over the soil and planted fall crops. My patient husband picked the cherry and grape tomatoes.   He had the most arduous job of picking and holding the small fruit while crawling and twisting through a jungle of 6 feet high tomato plants and dirt peppered with smashed, split and slimy dropped tomatoes.  We learned two lessons….use black plastic and do not plant tomatoes only 18 inches apart!   The tomato plants with black plastic on the ground around them had less split tomatoes than the plants that did not have it.  The black plastic prevented the plants from getting too much water from recent heavy storms.

Harvest Totals:
Beefsteak and Plum Tomatoes 36.5 pounds
Cherry and Grape Tomatoes 7.75 pounds
Cherry Bomb Peppers .25 pound
Hot Banana Peppers .75 pound
Bell Pepper 2 pounds
Yellow Squash 1 pound
Figs 3 pounds
Cucumber 1 pound
Eggplant 1 pound
Leeks 2 pounds
Shallots .5 pounds

Harvest Preservation:
8 quarts of Tomatoes
3 pints of  Pickled Peppers
2 pints of Fig Jam
2 quart bags of frozen oven-dried cherry and grape tomatoes

Harvest Monday – August 15th

The tomatoes were the star of our garden this week. Despite several rain storms, we picked 97 pounds of tomatoes this week! On Saturday, our plum tomato plants dripped loads of bright red fruit so I continued to pick as the sky darkened and dumped a heavy rain.  My six year old son watched from the car in amazement as his soggy mommy stomped barefoot through puddles and wet spongy grass carrying bags of tomatoes.  After the harvest, my son and I splashed our bare feet in the little waterfalls flowing around the trees and down the hills in the parking lot of our community garden. Harvesting in a summer rain can be fun.

My son's contribution to the tomato harvest

Here are our harvest totals for this week:

Plum and Beefsteak Tomatoes combined
70 pounds

Cherry Tomatoes
27 pounds

Eggplant  5.25 pounds

Peppers  5.0 pounds

Cucumbers  6 pounds

Sweet potato leaves  3 bags

21 Quarts of Tomatoes

Preserved the following produce this week:

21 Quarts of tomatoes
3 Quarts of pickled cucumbers
froze bags of bell and cubanelle peppers, oven-dried cherry tomatoes, and cooked sweet potato leaves

To see amazing harvests from gardens around the world, stop by Daphne’s Dandelions, the host of Harvest Monday.

Tasty Green Tomatoes

My green tomatoes

Here are some of the green tomatoes that I picked from my toppled tomato plants.  I had a  grocery bag full of these green rebels.   I could have put them in a bag with a banana to ripen, but tomatoes ripened off the vine are not as tasty to me.  Not wanting to waste them,  I searched for green tomato recipes.  Most of the recipes had too much sugar so I adapted  A Green Tomato Cake.

My changes:   2 cups white flour and 1 cup whole wheat flour instead of 3 cups white flour; ( 3/4 cup sugar, 1 ripe banana, 1/3 cup Agave ) instead of 2 cups sugar; 2 and 1/2 eggs instead of 3 eggs and 1 cup raisins instead of 1/2 cup raisins. 

It was yummy!  My son liked it so much he hugged me for making it.  He did not know it had tomatoes in it!  My husband savored it over coffee after dinner.  Don’t wait for the green tomatoes to turn red.  Enjoy them now.  A good little lesson from the garden ….live in the present with those around you, don’t wait for them to change.

The Unexpected Sprouts

A clear blue sky, crisp cool air, warm sunshine plus adventure equals a perfect Saturday in autumn.  We headed for our garden plot this afternoon but had a few diversions before arriving there.    We stopped at a pet store and a fall festival.  We went to the pet store to purchase biscuits for our dog and my son discovered a playful kitten.  My son slipped a thin metal wire through the kitten’s cage.  The cat flipped, batted, jumped and kicked at the bunch of cardboard strips hanging at the wire’s tip.  My son roared in laughter.  He did not want to leave the pet store.  We redirected  him with hope of a hayride at our community garden site.    The Howard County Conservancy was full of activities for its fall festival.   We bumped through rolling fields and woods on a hayride pulled by a tractor with wheels taller than my son.   A master gardener at the compost demo gave my son a bunch of pink and blue balloons.  My son slurped honey from a straw and chatted about bees with a woman from the Howard County Beekeepers Association.  We listened to steel pounding on steel as a blacksmith hammered a hot orange metal rod into a fork after heating it in a coal fire stoked by large bellows.  My son said the banging was his favorite.   While my husband and son lingered and asked questions  in the blacksmith shop,  I finally visited our garden plot.

 

Turnip Seedling

 

Our plot is still producing tomatoes, peppers and beans.  I picked two grocery bags full of red and green tomatoes and peppers.  I pulled out and composted three tomato plants that had toppled to the ground.  Our fall plantings sprouted!  Radish, turnip, spinach and lettuce seedlings  now sprinkle the brown earth in unplanned patterns of curving rows, circles, clumps, pairs and triples.  Some extra seeds must have dropped from my hand during planting.  Many seedlings will need to be pulled out to allow more space for underground growth.

Those unexpected sprouts remind me of our day.   Unexpected adventure and fun popped up despite my plans.  Thank you God, for your goodness and for dropping some extra seeds outside my rows of plans.

Tomato Tales

Traveling Tomatoes

Some of our  tomato plants are still producing small amounts of grape and cherry tomatoes.  We planted indeterminant tomato plants this year. An indeterminate tomato variety will continue to set and ripen fruit until killed off by frost.  We collected thousands of these sweeties this season.  Picking them can be tedious, but tasty.  My husband and son would pop them right into their mouths as they picked.  I tried several ways to cook and preserve these little guys.  I roasted them (at 250 degrees for 2 hours)  until they became shriveled like a sun dried tomato, then froze them in little baggies.  I sauteed them with garlic and olive oil and tossed in penne pasta.  I gave them away to friends and family.  This week, the batch in the photo traveled to the Howard County Food Bank.  A much appreciative staff carried them away to a refrigerator.  I am sure they will be enjoyed.  I hope more produce from our garden will travel to the food bank this season and  future seasons.