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No Turning Back Now

August 10, 2012

The first real harvest of tomatoes before the floodgates open.  It’s surprising how quickly the tomatoes go from something you anticipate to something you dread checking on.  I’m for sure not to dreading them yet, but as fast as fall creeps up on us, I know that day will be here soon 😦  For now we’re enjoying that first scent of roasting vine ripened tomatoes!


We gleaned 23# off the Bellstar row, too much to eat up, and not enough to make sauce with yet.  So these are going in the oven with some what-have-you, bolted basil, puny onions, bell pepper, a sprig of oregano and some olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  It never matters how it looks, it always tastes good, and it’s a good cook-with-what-you have kind of “recipe.”

Since I am not ready to get out all the sauce making paraphernalia yet, I’ll just can these as roasted tomatoes.  Quick and easy.


On a tomato gardening note, the Bellstar row I picked is between the trellised indeterminate tomatoes and the staked peppers.  Growing a determinate sauce tomato really fits in with my harvesting and labor schedule.  It produces quickly and then is done, and by the time I need to get to those trellised long season tomatoes, I can pull the Bellstar determinates and have lots of room to navigate for harvesting the later tomatoes and the peppers.

This year I tried the SMR mulch again with the indeterminate row only, the Bellstar tomatoes are growing on a straw mulch to keep them off the soil and clean.  When comparing the red plastic mulch to the straw in greenhouse, the only benefit I see to the red mulch is a little bit of weed suppression, since they are on four-foot centers which leaves some open row until the plants fill in.  That’s a plus, and the tomatoes may be ripening a week earlier than previous years.  I also planted earlier, so that may account for the earlier ripening date.  If you asked me today, I would say I probably would not purchase any more of the red mulch, for the cost and pain of installing it, there isn’t much benefit.    Straw may be more helpful, and easier to get and utilize for soil building, but the slugs under that have been a nightmare.  The snakes are under the red mulch for warmth, and the slugs are under the straw for coolness and protection.  I can’t win 😦

I think the canning season has begun!

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25 Comments leave one →
  1. Kay permalink
    August 10, 2012 1:40 pm

    Your tomatoes look lovely. I had the most wonderful looking tomatoes, but my chickens got to them. Next year, fencing will have to be placed around them. Dang chickens.

  2. August 10, 2012 4:45 pm

    Those are some gorgeous tomatoes. I’m excited because I picked my first tomato and bell pepper of the season today. I’ve got a couple more weeks to go before I’ll see anything like what you picked today.

  3. August 10, 2012 6:46 pm

    I’m just sitting here wiping the drool off my chin. No garden for me this season at all, having got here way too late and way too busy with cow stuff. Timing, is everything!

    • August 10, 2012 7:54 pm

      TD, I’ve been thinking of you! Wondering how it going…

      You know the drool is payback for all the times I was drooling over your San Diego garden in December!

  4. August 10, 2012 9:23 pm

    I throw all the tomatoes in a slow cooker, a dash of balsamic vinegar, garlic, celery leaves dried from previous year and salt – a slight adaptation from the cottage smallholder (http://www.cottagesmallholder.com/the-slow-cooker-chef-easy-passata-recipe-4915/) I don’t process to remove skin and seeds I just use a stick blender to whizz it all together and then open up the lid to let the water evaporate and bottle when thick enough. That’s fairly easy too and I can leave the whole thing to cook without worrying about burning it.

    • August 10, 2012 9:47 pm

      Yum sounds good Joanna! That’s similar to how I make my sauce, only I roast first, then food mill, then slow cooker for thickening. The kitchen smelled like tomato soup all day – wonderful!

      • August 11, 2012 9:52 pm

        Might try that today as it might be quicker. I need the slow cooker for later on today but need to process tomatoes asap. The other approach I have is to use a dehydrator (our sun hasn’t been good enough to use the solar dryer), we have two electric ones and they are great for producing dried food that doesn’t take up much space in the cupboard and tastes delicious

  5. Bev permalink
    August 11, 2012 8:10 am

    Your tomatoes are beautiful. Time for a bacon and tomatoe sandwhich. To us they are a seasonal thing. Had to laugh, our Aussie Mischief stands right next to us when picking green beans. She loves them. This morning she played Hide & Seek in the corn patch. Sure makes gardening fun We are like you, it is stockpiling time with fall around the corner..

  6. Brindel permalink
    August 11, 2012 8:31 am

    I’m new to your blog, and I absolutely love it. I’m a city-kid right now, but I grew up in a farming family (Aunt and cousin both still raise cows) and I’ve been seriously considering a move back to the family farm. (The plot nextdoor to my cousin’s land may be up for sale within the year.)

    I can remember shelling peas til my fingers were purple, shucking what felt like acres of corn,and helping my grandparents work and weed in the garden as a kid. They are some of the best memories of my childhood and I’m sure part of my desire for the land back home is nostalgia for those memories.

    A big part of what I deeply appreciate about your blog is the reminder of the vast amount of work and planning that goes into a well-run farm. I knew moving back wasn’t a decision to be made lightly, but this has given me a much clearer and more realistic look at what will truly be involved. I hasn’t changed my mind one bit, but I think I will be much more prepared for some of what to expect now than I would have been without this and for that I must thank you. 🙂

    As a side note, how are you dealing with the slugs? My husband mentioned the beer trap trick, have you tried it? If so, did it work for you?

    Thank you again for this look at a beautifully run farm.

    • August 11, 2012 11:46 am

      Brindel, I’m sure you’ll do fine, since you have real idea how diligent you have to be to grow your own food. Nice memories you have, they sound a lot like mine 🙂

      For the slugs, I use the hunt and stab method. A girl can never be without her pocketknife! I tried the beer thing and it worked for a while and then it just seemed like I should just drink the beer and wait for the slugs to come out at dusk 😉

  7. epeavey1 permalink
    August 11, 2012 9:36 am

    I really like the tomato’s, we planted 60 plants and it has been great now slowing down because of the thunder showers and the clouds. I didn’t use any mulch at all and I got a tomato jungle, I have to deal with rats and birds eating them, but that is okay the 60 plants will leave some for theft and disease and enough to can. We still have hot peppers coming on also, more canning ahead of us and freezing. Ellen from Georgia

  8. August 11, 2012 8:51 pm

    The slugs didn’t like our upscale beer. Maybe since they’re Georgia slugs they would have preferred Bud Lite! 😀 I like your solution for the beer, MOH.

    Thank you for letting me know that snakes like the red mulch. I will NEVER buy it! Snakes make me shudder! I know there are good snakes, but I want them to be like the rabbi’s blessing for the Tsar in “Fiddler on the Roof”: “God bless the Tsar and keep him far away from us!” We get copperheads and rattlers around here, and I’m not going to do anything that might make them like us! A baby copperhead in my sandpaper bin on the barn shelves was already too much for this wimp.

    • August 11, 2012 10:06 pm

      Susan, and they like the greenhouse. Luckily I have nerves of steel! Ha Ha NOT! It doesn’t help that I placed a snake-like soaker hose in the row near the mulch, so most of the time I think I am seeing the hose, but sometimes not 😦 We only have garter snakes, so I have nothing to fear…I’m glad we don’t have poisonous snakes here!

  9. August 12, 2012 3:51 am

    The dryer (food, not laundry!) and the oven are my tomato happy places! I love making sauce – I charmed a secret recipe out from a Sicilian – but nothing beats 1/4″ slices or Sungold cherries sliced in half and stuck in the dryer or an oven on the lowest setting all night.

    They’re so sugary when they come out they taste like tomato candy bombs and I rarely have any leftover for the winter…that reason I’m drying them out in the first place!

    It’s 8:00 a.m. and I have an oven full right now. The whole house smells like intense tomato-y, sweet potato-y deliciousness!

    • August 12, 2012 5:24 am

      I have to admit I never got into the dried tomato taste…:( I still have a gallon of dried ones from the last try- Principe Borghese I think. But they sure will come in handy for a pinch. I might try some of my Sunsugars though, maybe they would taste better.

      The smell of the roasting is almost the best part! When I came in from milking the other night the scent was wafting outside, and it was “ahh, the scent of canning season!” Yum!

      • August 12, 2012 7:40 am

        Much preferred to the “scent of weeding season!” xx

        • August 12, 2012 8:22 am

          I agree!! But we do have a weed that smells divine – when we’re weeding. We call it Flatweed but I think it is Oakleaf Goosefoot.

  10. Christie permalink
    August 12, 2012 11:33 am

    Ooo, I just canned a few tiny jars of roasted tomatoes yesterday! Seriously, it makes the best “sauce” for pizzas. Yum. Your tomatoes are gorgeous and, apprehensive of the hours of work undoubtedly ahead of you or not, I’m jealous! 🙂

  11. epeavey1 permalink
    August 12, 2012 1:48 pm

    Hi Christie would really like the recipe for roasted tomato’s we love to make home made pizza here. Thanks Ellen from Georgia

  12. Patty permalink
    August 17, 2012 7:57 am

    Great tomato post! This has helped clear up some of my determinate/indeterminate questions. I’ve bookmarked it for later. Thanks so much for sharing all your knowledge with us! 🙂

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