Greenhouse Gardening – Tomatoes in October? No Way!

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magnum glass greenhouse

Baby it’s cold outside! My goodness. I went out to water the plants in the greenhouse this morning and it was pretty darn chilly.  I need to get a warmer bathrobe if I’m going to be out watering my plants at 10 am. ;)

perennial herbs

So far the sage, thyme and chives I transplanted alongside the greenhouse last month are hanging in there.

perennial herbs

The oregano, rosemary and garlic chives are thriving too.

sun gold tomatoes

But check this out. Sun Gold tomatoes. In October. How cool is that? These are real ones too. ;) Not those tasteless ones you find at the grocery store that were picked last week and then ripened in the back of a truck as they were shipped across the country.

green zebra tomatoes

I’m not sure how much longer the tomatoes will last, but for now, I’m enjoying every one that I can. Even these green zebra tomatoes. Aren’t they pretty?

old barrel water spout

Oh, and thanks to the One Hundred Dollars a Month Reader who suggested I move my rain barrel into the greenhouse. You suggested I fill it up to let the afternoon sun warm up the water {thus warming up the greenhouse}. So far so good.

Okay, so maybe I don’t know if it’s actually warming up the greenhouse at this point, but you know what? I don’t have to drag the hose out there so I’m happy. ;)

growing lettuce in containers

And last but not least, take a look at the lettuce I have growing in a 3-tiered planter. How cool is that?

Looks like salad is on the menu tonight.

Peace Out Girl Scouts,

I’m off to plant some seeds.

~Mavis

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Heirloom Tomato Harvest

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purple Cherokee heirloom tomato

Mama Mia! Check out this Cherokee Purple Tomato I found yesterday while I was picking tomatoes.

This gorgeous heirloom tomato weighed in at 1 pound 5 ounces. Not too shabby if you ask me. After I spotted the Cherokee Purple tomato I ran inside and made the HH come out and take a picture of me holding it. Ha! And yes, he thinks I am a total nut.

But I couldn’t help myself. Heirloom tomatoes are beautiful.

Here are a few other tomato pictures I snapped:

speckled Roman tomato

Speckled Roman Tomato. Have you tried growing these? Speckled Roman tomatoes are great for making sauce. {And they look cool} I love, love, love these!
green zebra tomato

Green Zebra Tomatoes. You know these are ripe when they start to turn a wee bit yellow. Green Zebra tomatoes are a little tangy, but oh so good.yellow pear tomatoes

Yellow Pear Tomatoes. I grow these every year for The Girl, and because they are great in salads and add a nice color to salsa recipes too.

Principe Borghese

Principe Borghese Tomatoes. Oh my word are these good. You totally need to add these to your seed wish list for next year. This is my first time growing these and I’ll be growing them next year for sure.

red zebra tomato

Red Zebra. These are great too!ace bush tomato

Ace bush tomatoes are an excellent slicer as well as great for sauce.

Italian Roma bush tomato

Italian Roma Bush Tomato. These are just like the ones you’d get at the grocery. Well, not exactly, these ones taste 180 million times better because they were homegrown. ;)

heirloom tomatoes

Here’s yesterday’s harvest. Pretty stinkin’ awesome if you ask me. Too bad we can’t grow vegetables like this year round in Western Washington.

~Mavis

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Mavis Garden Blog – Late Fall Tomato Harvest

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I’m exhausted.

I’ve been working in the garden all afternoon and for the life of me I couldn’t figure out what was taking me so long to harvest and pull up all the tomato plants.

Then I realized what I had eaten today. 11 homemade chocolate chip cookies, and about 22 cups of hot tea. No wonder I feel like such a slacker, I’ve been wandering around the backyard all afternoon in a sugar coma unable to focus.

Yes, some days I eat like a teenage boy.  I mean c’mon, I can’t healthy things like kale and smoothies everyday of the week now can I?  That would be totally boring.

Take a look at these heirloom tomato.  Aren’t they beautiful?

I haven’t gotten all the tomatoes picked yet, but I’m almost there.  Only 6 more plants to go and then I’ll be done.  They I get to plant some Swiss chard.  Geez wiz… That sounds like fun huh?

What did you do this afternoon… Or rather what did you eat?

Hopefully it was a wee bit more nutritious than cookies and tea.

~Mavis

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Ripen Tomatoes on The Vine – Hang Tomatoes Upside Down

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A few days ago I decided it was finally time to get serious about picking and clearing out our heirloom tomato beds.  Each raised garden bed contained about 8 tomato plants, so there was a pretty significant amount of tomatoes to harvest.

After pulling up the plants and sorting the tomatoes into piles {green tomatoes and ripening tomatoes}, I sifted through the dirt for stragglers.

Then, I did something I have never done before, I decided to take YOUR advise, and hang one of our red pear tomato plants upside down in our unheated garage.  According to several readers, this old school tomato ripening method really works.

I have a feeling if I were to hang the tomato plants inside the house where it’s a bit warmer, the tomatoes might ripen a bit faster.  But clearly, there is NO WAY ON EARTH, the Handsome Husband would put up with that.  Not in a million years.

So what do YOU think?  Have you tried this before? Does it really work?

Should I go ahead and pull up the rest of my tomatoes and hang them upside down?

~Mavis

Mavis Garden Blog – 5 Tips for Ripening Tomatoes on the Vine

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Bartering with Mavis – Trading with Mrs. Hillbilly

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This morning Mrs. Hillbilly stopped by to do a little bartering.  She was looking for some vegetables, and I was looking for some sour cream and nuts.

To me it was the perfect trade.  I’m a heavy on Hubbard squash and tomatoes right now, so I was more than happy to get a few heirloom tomatoes off my counter, and a few squash off my back porch.  Sometimes growing your own food is fun, and other times it seems like you’ll never get caught up on processing it all for winter storage.  So when a neighbor comes along at just the right time and wants to barter, I greet them with open arms.

A new 2 pound tub of sour cream, 1 pound of almonds, 12 ounces of peanuts and 5 ounces of shelled pistachios.  Hot diggety, I’m happy with that.

Do you barter with your friends and family too?  Well you should. Don’t be afraid to ask, the worst thing they’ll tell you is no.

~ Mavis

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Recipe – Sweet and Spicy Heirloom Tomato Jam

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Have I ever told you how much I love it when you send in recipes for me to try? Last week Lauden sent me a link to a sweet and spicy tomato recipe that called for only 1 pound of tomatoes. Which was perfect of course because our tomatoes are still just trickling in.

Since we have so jars of jam in the cupboard already to enjoy this winter, I was rather relived to finally find a small batch recipe to try out.

Although the original recipe says you can can it, I didn’t bother. The recipe only makes {1} 8 oz jar of jam. I just bottled the tomato jam up and placed it in the fridge. Technically the jam should last a few weeks, but I have a feeling it won’t make it to next Friday because it’s so good!

Here is the recipe:

Ingredients

1 lb  tomatoes, roughly cut
1/2 c  sugar
1/2 Serrano chili, seeded & finely diced
4 whole cloves
2″ stick cinnamon
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1  1/2 tablespoons lime juice {I used bottled}

Directions

Combine all ingredients in a heavy saucepan and simmer over low heat. Stir about every 5 – 10 minutes or for about an hour, or until it reaches a jam like consistency.

Pour jam into a hot sterilized 16 oz  jar, and let it cool for about half an hour.  Cover with a lid and place in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.

I plan on using this heirloom tomato jam on toast with a wee bit on cream cheese.  Yum!

*Thanks Lauden for sharing this awesome recipe with me!

Recipe Source: WhiteOnRiceCouple

See More Canning Recipes

If you are looking for a food mill, Amazon has the Mirro Foley 3.5-Quart Stainless Steel Food Mill in stock and ready to ship.

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Recipe – Homemade Pizza Sauce Using Heirloom Tomatoes

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Last night I fired up the crock pot and made a batch of homemade pizza sauce while everyone was sleeping.  When we woke up this morning the house smelled like a pizza parlor.  It was awesome.

Our heirloom tomatoes are trickling in at a rate of 5-10 pounds every few days or so.  And while there isn’t enough to break out the canning equipment just yet, there are plenty of tomatoes to snack on and to make a few batches of pizza sauce to use later this winter.

This recipe will yield 10 1 cup portions.  Depending on how thick you like to pour on your sauce, each bag should be enough for 2 homemade pizzas.

Ingredients

8 pounds heirloom tomatoes
12 oz tomato paste
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 bell peppers, chopped
1 mysterious hot pepper
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions

Toss all of the ingredients into a large crock pot {if you have OCD please take careful consideration to the placement of your tomatoes to best represent the color of your heirlooms}.

Turn the crock pot on low and cook overnight for 8 hours to 10 hours.

Remove lid and cool sauce for a bit.

Run the sauce through a food mill or a Victorio food strainer to remove seeds and peels and any excess pulp.

Pour 1 cup portions into freezer bags, and store in the freezer for later use.

That’s Amore!

Have you seen Mystic Pizza?  Amazon has it on sale right now for only $7.99!

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Mavis Garden Blog – Heirloom Tomatoes

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Last night, right before dark I went around to all the tomato plants and picked as many near ripe tomatoes as I could.  As much as I would like all my tomatoes to ripen on the vine this year, it’s just not going to happen.

We are already a week into September and although there are plenty of green tomatoes in the garden, the red ones are a little harder to come by.  I figure I have about 3 more weeks for these babies to ripen.

So by picking the almost ripe ones, I am actually doing the rest of the tomatoes a favor by freeing up the plants energy to concentrate on the other tomatoes.

Maybe it’s time to start playing classical music, or giving them a daily pep talk and telling them it’s okay to ripen.  Dear Tomato, please ripen so I can eat you. Because if you don’t, I will leave you on the vine to shrivel up and die a slow, moldy, frost bitten death.

Roma, Hartman’s Yellow Gooseberry, Super Sweet 100, Brown Berry, Amish Paste, Italian Heirloom, Sun Gold, Moonglow, Red Pear, Green Zebra, Beefsteak

C’mon tomatoes… get your act together.

This is your chance to be something great…

Like pasta sauce, or salsa.

Let’s get the show on the road before I get hauled off to the loony bin for talking to produce.

By the way, how are your tomatoes doing?

Have you started cursing talking to them yet, or am I just losing my mind?

~Mavis

The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Cookbook  ~ Amazon

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How to Grow Your Own Food – Weigh In Wednesday

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This year my goal is to grow 2,000 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables. I think I can do it. With 16 raised garden beds, a greenhouse, a raspberry patch and a few more planting beds sprinkled throughout our property, I believe growing 2,000 pounds of food is an attainable goal. Even if I do live right in the middle of high maintenance suburbia, and my neighbors think I’m nuts. ~Mavis

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This past week were were able to harvest over 80 pounds of goodies from the garden, mostly in the form of squash.  The Girl Who Thinks She’s a Bird had been begging to pick her first pumpkin of the season, and when she did, she was surprised it weighed in at over 24 pounds.  We could have picked more vegetables, but with school starting up and lot’s and lot’s of canning to do, we decided the harvesting could wait a few more days.

I am starting to get a little worried about the heirloom tomatoes.  With so many green tomatoes, and the chilly mornings ahead, I hope most of the tomatoes will able to ripen before the cold weather really starts to set in.  We shall see.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Here is what I have harvested so far this year:

Basil 1 lb 9 oz {how to make pesto}

Beans 21 lbs 3 {green bean salad, how to can green beans, dilly beans}

Beets 58 lb 20z {how to can beets}

Blueberries 3 lb 15 oz {mixed berry pie recipe}

Broccoli 4lb 14 oz {pasta salad with broccoli, carrots, and sun dried tomatoes}

Broccoli Rabb 1lb 6 oz {chickpeas with broccoli raab and bacon}

Cabbage 53lb 14 oz {how to make sauerkraut}

Carrots 116lbs 12 oz {carrot cake recipe}

Cauliflower 4lbs 11 oz {cauliflower hummus rocks!}

Chives 1lb 1 oz {chalkboard painted herb pots}

Cucumbers 29 lbs 7 oz

Hubbard Squash 29 lbs 2 ounces

Kale 1 lb 1oz {how to make kale chips}

Lettuce 14 lb 6 oz {bbq chicken salad}

Mint 4 lbs 12 oz {Fresh Pea Salad with Spinach, Feta and Mint}

Onions 23 lbs 12 oz {Kentucky Fried Chicken Cole Slaw}

Oregano 4 lbs 15 oz

Mushrooms 9.25 oz {read more about how I grew mushrooms}

Peas 38 lb13 oz {fresh peas and bacon recipe}

Pears 8 lbs 5 oz {how to make pear jam}

Peppers 4 lb 1 oz

Potatoes 40lb 8oz {potato soup recipe}

Pumpkins 24 pounds 3 oz

Radish 15lb 12 oz {how I bartered radishes for avocados}

Raspberries 2 lb 7 oz {how to make a raspberry buckle}

Spinach 2lb 5 oz {garlic spinach dip recipe}

Sprouts 10 oz {how to grow sprouts}

Strawberries 13lbs 6 oz {dehydrated strawberries are awesome}

Swiss Chard 22 lb 1 oz {rainbow Swiss chard recipe}

Tomatoes 15 lb 2oz {roasted corn salad with tomatoes and feta}

Zucchini 177 lb 8oz {how to make zucchini relish, zucchini salad, zucchini brownies}

Miscellaneous 8lb 2 oz {This means we let someone come and pick vegetables, or did not get a chance to weigh them individually, and this was the total weight of all the vegetables combined}

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

So that’s what I’ve grown so far this year… How about YOU?

How is YOUR garden doing?

Total Food Harvested in 2012: 777 lbs 11.25 oz

I have spent a total of $509.05 on seeds, soil, plants and supplies for this year.

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How To Grow Your Own Food – Mavis’ Vegetable Garden Tour

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I am in love with my garden right now. There are so many different vegetables beginning  to ripen, it’s intoxicating.  So many tomatoes on the horizon, so many gorgeous pumpkins on the vine.  It makes mornings like this, a sure joy to walk out the back door and snap a few pictures to record this summers bounty.

The red potatoes I planted in the oak barrel will be used for winter soups.

Dinosaur kale and fall onions.

Zucchini and cucumber patch.

Big Max the volunteer pumpkin.

Hubby the Hubbard squash… There are about 20 of these in the garden right now.  Yikes!

The acorn squash have finally started to take shape.

The biggest, baddest, bean teepee in the world.

Italian Heirloom tomato. My record for this variety was 2 pounds 10 ounces back in 2009.

Stupice tomatoes.  The easiest tomato to grow on the planet.

Green zebra tomatoes growing in the greenhouse.

Purple cabbage.  I’m growing this for the Handsome Husband.

Fall potatoes.  I wonder how many pounds we’ll get?

Magical pumpkin on the vine.

Be still my heart.  A Cinderella pumpkin.

Amish pie pumpkin.  Perfect for Thanksgiving pies.

Fall is creeping up on us… Are you ready?

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