East Sac Edible


2 Comments

Seedling and Garden Updates

DSC_0725 DSC_0726DSC_0732 DSC_0733 DSC_0734A few weeks ago, my seed starting operation was in full swing and I was at a tipping point of having too many seedlings and nowhere to put them! I have a heat mat which can hold four trays of seeds. Each tray can hold 8 six-packs of seeds although I only use space for 7 for easier watering access. I start fast growing things such as lettuces, spinach, kales in six-packs. I start bigger plants in larger containers mainly because I want to do as little up-potting as I can before the plants go out in the ground.

At the beginning of March, my problem was that I have three trays on my grow light system and it was filled to the max. This means I had to do a lot of shuffling around when my newly sprouted seeds come indoors to the grow lights. My top tray is for seedlings in their first week of life and as the plants grow bigger they get kicked down to the medium tray and finally to the bottom tray. I have rigged the lights on each level at various heights. Now the problem lies with the lowest tray which has the tallest plants. These plants look big enough to be transplanted outside but one always worries about the impending last frost (that may or may not happen). So a few plants are now bravely outside.

DSC_0735Last weekend, I finally got out and added some plants into the ground. I first sifted my large compost pile and dug big holes into the ground. I put in a huge bucketful of my compost into each hole, added egg shell powder and some E.B. Stone Tomato and Vegetable Food into each hole. DSC_0723DSC_0740DSC_0741DSC_0742DSC_0743DSC_0744DSC_0745DSC_0746

After preparing the soil, I planted some tomatoes. My front yard has a little strip of land between my driveway and my neighbor’s. This would normally would be non-productive grass but I converted the space to be one of my main tomato beds. Amongst the lavender and fruit trees I planted 5 tomato plants. I used one of my raised beds in my backyard for the rest of the tomatoes.

Here are the varieties of tomatoes I have in the ground so far:

  • Hillbilly
  • Fox Cherry
  • John Baer
  • Better Bush
  • Moonglow
  • Persimmon (2)
  • Big Boy
  • German Pink
  • beefsteak
  • Black Krim

I interplanted tomatoes with basil, borage and nasturtiums. I am really hopeful that this year is my year for tomatoes since last year was so pathetic. I’ll keep you all posted on the progress. Wish me luck!

Here are a few photos from my garden today:

DSC_1004 DSC_1005 DSC_1006 DSC_1007 DSC_1008 DSC_1009 DSC_1010 DSC_1011 DSC_1012 DSC_1013 DSC_1014

I haven’t been good about my garden tally lately but February was a one-veggie-harvest. All I harvested was kale! I have been eating about 4 cups of kale a day in my delicious kale caesar salad which has completely stripped my Lacinato plant bare. I had to give it a rest and let it grow a bit so it was the first month I actually had to BUY kale. All to feed my kale habit. March added lettuces and strawberries to the harvest. I’m looking forward to my upcoming harvests!

 

 

Advertisements


2 Comments

From Garden To Table: Roasted Tomato Sauce

DSC_2607
During the summer months there is always a glut of tomatoes to harvest although this year my tomato harvest has been quite disappointing. Nevertheless, I love this roasted tomato sauce recipe from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Veg cookbook. The recipe is easy, and can be used many different ways. I was excited that I had all the ingredients on hand from my garden (minus the olive oil and salt and pepper)! It was really nice to know that everything in this particular batch of tomato sauce came straight from the garden.  DSC_2608

Roasted Tomato Sauce

from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Veg

Ingredients

  • 3 to 4 pounds of tomatoes, larger ones halved
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • A few springs of thyme
  • A couple springs of marjoram (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lay the tomatoes, cut side up if halved, on a baking sheet. Scatter over the garlic and herbs and trickle over the oil. Season with plenty of salt and pepper. Put the baking sheet in the oven for about an hour, maybe a bit longer, until the tomatoes are completely soft and pulpy, and starting to crinkle and caramelize on top. Set the tomatoes aside to cool for half an hour or so. Then tip them into a large sieve set over a bowl and rub the pulp through with a wooden spoon or use a food mill. Discard the skins and seeds. Your tomato sauce is now ready to use.
My notes:
I don’t use marjoram but replace it with a few springs of fresh rosemary. Also, after I pull the tomatoes out of the oven and they have cooled, I put the tomatoes in my food processor for a few whirls until I get a nice sauce-like texture. I don’t bother to food mill my sauce because I don’t mind skins in my sauce. I transfer my whirled sauce into a sauce pan and let it gently simmer on low heat for about a half hour. Then I season to taste.
If I am not going to use my sauce right away I put it in mason jars and freeze it. Because there is a bit of oil in this recipe, I don’t can it.

DSC_2609DSC_2615DSC_2616DSC_2618DSC_2619


2 Comments

Tomato Issues Begin!

Well you started your tomatoes early from seed, sheltered them through the cold months under grow lights, transplanted them with your best homemade compost, mulched them and now you just have to wait to see which problems will arise. Tomatoes are so easy to grow but there are lots of problems that can occur which quickly turns my “I can’t wait to bite into my first homegrown tomato” moment into “Ugh, what if I get horn worms!” “Ugh bottom end rot!” “Curly virus!” “Nutrient deficiency!” “Under watering” “Over watering!” The list of things that can go wrong keeps me up at night. DSC_1699 So I was reading some blogs the other day… minding my own business… not even worried about my tomatoes… yet. Until I came across this blog post from The Demo Garden Blog entitled “Watch for Disease in your Garden” with a picture of a tomato infected with early blight. Then I remember earlier in the day, I was talking to my tomato plants and I noticed the Striped German kind of had some yellowing going on (yes, that is a technical gardening term). I didn’t really think about it. Not until I read that post. Argh! Why do I read gardening blogs?? I was so ignorantly blissful not knowing the “yellowing going on” in my garden was a problem. DSC_1700 Well I decided to tackle my Septoria Leaf Spot or Early Blight problem, which really isn’t much of a problem. I read the recommendations over at the Demo Garden Blog and decided to cut back all the infected leaves. It really was contained to the lower portion of the plant. I planted my Striped German right next to my Persimmon so I took a closer look at the Persimmon plant to make sure it hadn’t spread from plant to plant. Luckily, the Persimmon plant looks unaffected. DSC_1701 I’m not going to use fungicides on my plants and since it is has been in the mid 90s this week (and only going to get warmer in the summer months), I am fairly confident this wont be a long-term problem. Also I am going to be more careful when I water not to splash up water onto the bottom leaves which should help as well. I am going to do more pruning of my tomatoes this year to encourage more air flow. Thanks Demo Garden Blog for enlightening me!DSC_1702 DSC_1703


2 Comments

Texas Tomato Cages


DSC_1608

Last year I used generic wire tomato cages in my garden. Because I am growing my vegetables so close together my tomatoes easily outgrew their cages and by the end of the season some toppled over making it impossible to walk through my pathways. This also made harvesting pretty tricky as well. I knew these cheap cages were not going to work for my garden especially since I am trying to make the most out of every square foot.

DSC_1605

This year my husband bought me Texas Tomato Cages for a Christmas gift. They are heavy duty galvanized steel cages that are 6 foot tall and also come in 2 foot extensions. They are super sturdy and the best part is that they collapse so they are easy to store flat which is perfect if you have limited storage space. I am super excited to use these in my garden and hope they are as good as the reviews say. They are expensive so I hope they will last me a lifetime of growing tomatoes. Below is a picture without an extension and one with an extension so you can see how tall the tomatoes can grow!

DSC_1606 DSC_1607
.