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Tomatoes – For the Dogs

August 21, 2012

Or should I say saucy dogs make good tomato sauce?  A reader question the other day had to do with how much area and exercise do Australian Shepherds need?  My answer was not all that much, what seems more important to me about Aussies is that they have their people close by.  My dogs are much more interested in me than chasing a stick or herding everything in sight.  They play and run, but they aren’t allowed to herd or chase, except cats 😉  Our dogs want to know where we are at all times.  As I type this they are laying underfoot waiting for me to check the tomatoes roasting in the oven.  They are tired ;), they’ve already milked, ate breakfast, fed heifers, chased cats, fed hens, gathered eggs, watered the greenhouse, roasted tomatoes, supervised the tomato food mill process, and now it’s nap time and it isn’t even lunch time yet!

First batch of tomato sauce 2012.

Making sure it is really safe to go to the greenhouse.

This post is really supposed to be about harvesting tomatoes and making them into sauce.   Somewhere along the way things went totally awry.  I really love my dogs.  They are funny, smart companions and they never complain about my cooking 😉


Although I’m glad I harvested the first cutting of marjoram!


I’m now having to pick tomatoes every few days.  Besides tomato harvesting, I can use this time to deal with the goosegrass and barnyard grass weeds  that are so ubiquitous with the chicken manure/deep bedding I use for greenhouse fertilizer.  It doesn’t help that we winter housed chickens in these greenhouses before either.  Annual grain crops are notorious for weed seed.  I have some organic COB now for Jane that has some unrecognizable grass seed in it, and it is NOT corn, oats or barley!  Oh well, in a few years I’ll figure out what it is, once it finds it way through Jane, into the compost pile and out into the garden or pasture.

Numex Joe E. Parker.

The sauce tomato row is sandwiched between the peppers and the trellised tomatoes.  Weeding while picking affords me a good view of how the peppers are coming along.


My trusty sidekicks are waiting just on the other side of the peppers.  They  know if I find a slug chewed or rotten tomato I will toss it to them.

If I didn’t know better, I would think they are really paying attention to what I am doing.


Despite reclining in the herbs, for the most part they are pretty careful.

Bellstar OP sauce tomato.


The slugs this year have been awful.  Of course, it doesn’t help that they have lots of cover with my determinate tomatoes mulched with straw. 😦


Slug kabob –  compost thermometers aren’t just for compost!  Side note:  the hummingbirds have been crazy for the Tithonia.


Here is Indigo Rose, the new tomato from OSU.  So far, it looks far better than it tastes.  Definitely an eye-catching plant from infancy to now when the fruit is set, I still think I may get more anthocyanins from eating blueberries and blackberries.  But the jury is still out, the meh flavor may just be because it is early yet… .


These first ones are going in the sauce anyway, where the sum of the parts is greater than the whole.


The best sauce forms organically depending on what needs harvesting, and what needs using up.


I’m dubbing this batch V-7, tomatoes, onions, peppers, garlic, basil, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar.


The reward  – twelve and a half pints of V-7!

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45 Comments leave one →
  1. August 21, 2012 11:08 am

    V-7 lol

    Small-mouth pints. You must have small hands…or do the dogs wash the dishes?

    • August 21, 2012 11:53 am

      I guess it could be V-9 if I counted the salt and pepper 😀

      Funny you should mention the regular pints. I was just washing dishes and dreaming of my canning jars, and thinking how wide mouth jars used to be a luxury that now modern day canners take for granted. I tried explain this the other day to a friend new to canning, and she thought my explanation a bit old fashioned…but really I feel guilty using a wide mouth jar for something that doesn’t require it. Too many years of 4-H canning and frugal mentors. Wide mouth everything costs more, jars, lids etc. I reserve my wide mouth jars for things like nectarines, pears, lard, butter, milk, or molasses for the barn.

      I had told my friend a story about when I was teaching a co-worker how to can, and she wanted help locating used jars. So I found an ad in the paper, this was in the BCL days (Before Craigslist.) So I went to the jar sellers house and she was a crusty old bird, who viewed me with skepticism because I only wanted pints and a water bath canner. I tried to explain that they were for a friend who wanted to learn how to can and didn’t want to really spend a lot or get in too deep, you know with quart jars ;), anyway she sold me the pints and a canner, and then I inquired if she had anymore canning jars for sale, she wanted to know what size etc., and I replied well, narrow mouth quarts of course. She beamed and decided I was a “real” canner after all, and she took me downstairs to the inner sanctum of jar storage. She had 300 dozen quarts – and I bought 100 dozen. This was before the turn of the century you know, and you just never know when TSWHTF! Anyway I got lots of great stories about her canning game and anything else she could get her hands in Alaska. She was a hoot!

      • August 21, 2012 12:03 pm

        Canning game…have a neighbor who cans deer. That’s more hardcore than me.

        Have you looked at the reusable canning lids?

        I realize the luxury of wide mouth jars but I wash a lot of dishes. And I have dinner plate hands. Think of the description of Ichabod Crane…lol. Maybe not so much nose…

        • August 21, 2012 12:29 pm

          She canned bear, elk, moose and caribou, and I can’t remember if she mentioned deer or not. On a woodstove too…much more hardcore than I want to be!

          I have looked at them…they run about 10 bucks a dozen here, you can get them at RedNecks R Us err, I mean Bimart. I have cases of the others, but they sound like a good idea, just kinda spendy for the budget right now.

          Well, the other side of the NM vs WM is that is what I have the most of anyway, and I wash lots of dishes too, never had a dishwasher, just a old farmhouse sink. You think you wash a lot of dishes now, wait til those Jerseys freshen! Then get back to me, buckets, jars, lids, churns, and then you start over again in the afternoon. If you have a machine then you can add lines etc to the list. Oy vay – dairy takes lots of washing!

        • August 21, 2012 12:48 pm

          It’s nice with the goat. Half-gallon once/day, 3 kids take care of the rest. She’s keeping good condition without grain too.

        • August 21, 2012 1:41 pm

          Definitely a plus to have smaller amounts to deal with. If only I could give up butter 😦

      • August 22, 2012 1:10 pm

        I’m still working on the math of 100 dozen jars. 1200 jars. Let’s see. I think I can fit about 40 quart jars on my counter to dry and still have room to function in the kitchen. Little measuring in the partial basement…I don’t think 1200 jars would fit. Even if they did, what would I put in them? How would I get them home? And where would I find a new wife after I brought all those jars home?

        Yes, I pay about $10/doz and buy about 6 dozen each year. We’re building up but 100 doz all at once? Sheesh.

        • August 22, 2012 2:22 pm

          HFS, Can’t help you on the wife thing, my hubby hauled them home for me 🙂 They were pretty cheap, and I’ve traded a lot of them away, given them to new canners, and stored the rest in their boxes all tucked away. At the time we ate a lot more canned fruit, and I canned about 600 quarts of food a year. With my plan of having two years of canned goods on hand, that left me pretty close to having a lot of jars in use. The problem with our location fruit-wise is that we don’t get fruit every year or at least not enough to put up.

          I’ll be a late adopter I think on the Tattler lids. Oh well, someone has to break trail 😉

  2. August 21, 2012 12:17 pm

    Loving your pics – ha! – Happy Tuesday:)

  3. Chris permalink
    August 21, 2012 12:40 pm

    Happy dogs….great pics…as always! Ever thought of a HE dishwasher…I was skeptical too as I always hand washed everything but the money and water saved, paid for the dishwasher in no time!! Not to mention my time!! 🙂

    • August 21, 2012 12:47 pm

      Chris, I don’t know where I would put it – my kitchen is cramped as it is. I don’t mind washing dishes and the water is gravity flow anyway, so for me it would be an added expense to have a dishwasher.

  4. August 21, 2012 1:16 pm

    Your sauce looks wonderful. Could you give some amounts of the ings. you put in it. Vinegar, olive oil are the ones I am most interested in. Love you blog and the way your live!

    • August 21, 2012 1:33 pm

      Typing on this kindle sure makes mistakes. To touchy for old fingers.

    • August 21, 2012 1:44 pm

      Anita, I just drizzle some oil in the bottom of the pan, add the toms, etc., and then drizzle the vinegar on top. I’m guessing maybe a scant 1/4 cup of oil, of and 1/8 of vinegar??? The oil on the bottom helps keep the tomatoes from sticking before they release their juices. And adds to the flavor of course 🙂

      • August 22, 2012 11:04 am

        Ok, thanks so much. I want to do that too, but was following the book on it. I want to can it and wasn’t sure about the amounts. Yours look wonderful. Going to make some next time I pick.

  5. August 21, 2012 1:18 pm

    Love your photos. I wish I had a harvest like that. 🙂

  6. August 21, 2012 1:24 pm

    My Indigo Rose are FINALLY ripening slowly. I got several Brandywines before my first I.R. I think the catalog descriptions were a bit optimistic on the Days To Maturity! I’m with you on the flavor, we’ll see…

    • August 21, 2012 1:39 pm

      Yeah, they are ripening slooooowly, and unfortunately for IR it is right next to New Girl, which is SOOOOOO tasty for an early tomato so to give IR a chance, I need to stay out of the New Girls. I can see why Eliot Coleman sells so many, they are just what I like in a tomato for flavor! Wish I had more of them now 😦

  7. August 21, 2012 1:53 pm

    Your dogs are gorgeous! I think of them whenever I pull a carrot (after you wrote in a post ages ago that they pinch your carrots). My girls haven’t worked out where tomatoes come from (which is lucky as they are climbing out of the garden), but the chickens take a few at their eye level. When we had a one dog she would follow my husband everywhere and I didn’t always have a helper, but the second dog comes with me now, so we have one each 🙂 So lovely to have a dog to chat to as you work!

    • August 21, 2012 2:04 pm

      Liz, I couldn’t agree more, they are great companions. Its no wonder they lower our blood pressure, they are so comforting, and they really do listen 😉

      They are in trouble in the carrot patch! As soon as the early carrots got sweet, they got to work :(, to the tune of 5 row feet of missing carrots!! I made them “help” me install the deer netting, much to their chagrin!

  8. Chris permalink
    August 21, 2012 2:57 pm

    Oh, gravity flow water then…that makes a difference… I was thinking if you were hooked up to a municipal water system…then it can get costly! Anyway, your tomatoes look wonderful as does your sauce!! 🙂

  9. Chris permalink
    August 21, 2012 3:01 pm

    PS….What do you roast your V-7 at and for how long and then do you water bath process and if so….for how long?? Thanks!!

    • August 21, 2012 3:38 pm

      I was just going to do a roasting tip post, but here the short version – 400F until soft and slightly brown on the skins, time depends on variety. Sauce type go fast, heirlooms not so much. I usually leave it overnight in a bowl so the flavors really meld, the next morning I pull out the basil stalks, run the tomatoes through the food mill. Then, I cook it down in my crock pots to desired consistency. Then I pressure cook them, instead of water bath. Quicker and uses less water. The whole process from harvest to sauce takes about 2 days. Check your canning book for specified time.

  10. Lani permalink
    August 21, 2012 4:30 pm

    I’m always intrigued by these ‘Aussie Shepherds’ – as an Australian they are a breed that I never see out here in the wide Oz. We have kelpies, collies (different to Lassie), heelers and sometimes other shepherds (german etc) as sheep/working dogs, but I’ve never heard of this “Aussie Shepherd” being used. Their coat is too hot probably for the Aussie bush.

    I assume they are a smaller dog, a bit like many kelpies, with a bit of collie mixed in – I know they are a ‘breed’ in the ASK, and very cute looking, I just wonder what they are like at the hard work?

    Our sheep dogs work hard. They run and run and run. They love to run, they often would prefer to run behind the truck between paddocks (I’ve had one run more than a couple of kilometres at 30kms an hour) rather than get in for a ride (unless it’s a stinking hot middle of the day after a couple of hours on the run already of course), and will snooze in the shade of the vehicle before getting very excited to get up and do it all again. The exercise question about our dogs is “there’s no way you’d get away with less than a one hour of solid physical work twice a day without them destroying everything, and you must have a firm approach with them because they are clever and bored and will get into anything you let them to – give an inch, take a mile kind of dogs”.

    • August 22, 2012 5:02 am

      Lani, I have no idea why they call them Australian Shepherds! Since they originated here as a breed in the US. Some say Spain is where they came from. Depends on who you ask… You’re right about the coat, they do not like the heat. As for working there are working lines and show lines. My black dog is from working lines, and the blue one is from I have no idea what. They weigh in at 80 pounds so they are not as small as a Kelpie of cattle dog.

      Your sheepdogs sound like the Border Collies that are so popular here right now. They really need a job, and lots of times end up with people who see them on all the TV commercials and want one. They can be a wonder to watch herding with a good handler, and very sad to see when they are with someone who just wants a sheepdog.

      Your dogs sound wonderful!

      • Lani permalink
        August 22, 2012 5:12 am

        They are wonderful – they are tireless workers, unexhaustable. They thrive on the challenge, and if you get the right one (which takes some careful choosing, because you start the ‘training’ at six to eight weeks) they’ll be firm, determined, loyal and gentle with the sheep (as gentle as you can be with a rather stubborn sheep!).

        I guess they are border collies – blacks and browns,, mid to large sized dog, thick coat but not overly long. I prefer kelpies – sleek little running machines, and intensely loyal to a preferred owner usually (my husband has no chance of getting anything out of the dog!).

        They are pretty amazing, but if you don’t exercise their minds as much as their bodies they get bored very quickly and will destroy every element of your garden, rip up your reticulation, tear the plants from the ground for sheer joy, dig under the fence and chase the rabbits and that’s all before breakfast.

  11. August 21, 2012 7:03 pm

    I canned an entire elk once, long ago, on a wood-burning cook stove. Cut the dang thing up m’self too. Had no freezer so it was the only option, really. Personally, I like canned meat, it’s very versatile and so easy to store.

    My little cattle dog has demonstrated he will eat most anything that grows in the ground… no garden yet here, but we’ll see how much of a thief he is once I get something growing… his manners thus far would lead me to believe he would only take what I throw him, but time will tell.

    • August 22, 2012 4:54 am

      TD, I love canned meat, the flavor is fantastic! I feel guilty having a freezer full of meat, and am always going to can more meat, and then I never do. I’ve really slowed down my vegetable freezing though, by getting better at my succession planting and variety selection.

      For the most part the dogs are pretty polite, the carrots seem to be the one thing though that I need to keep them out of. Right now they are eating windfall apples and blackberries. I appreciate their knowing that most things I set down are not open season, like the milk bucket or eggs etc., they actually keep the cats at bay while I am milking, since the cats seem to have no governor on what they deem theirs 😦

  12. Chris permalink
    August 22, 2012 7:05 am

    Thank-you!!

  13. Diana permalink
    August 22, 2012 9:22 am

    I won’t be growing Indigo Rose again even if they are tastier then the first few I’ve tried because they take too long to ripen. I’ll stick with my tried and true Juane Flamme and Sungold ( the only hybrid tomato in the garden this year) for my small tomato crop.

    Busy canning plums and making peachbutter (auto corrected to peach utter :-)) today then I’ve got to tackle beans. I love this time of year!!

    • August 22, 2012 9:50 am

      Diana, I’m with you, not worth the trouble, I picked 6 pounds of my SunSugar cherries just to get them off the vine and they do fine in sauce too adding a whole different flavor – we’ve been eating them for weeks now while waiting for Indigo Rose!

      The garden is at the stage where I don’t want it change, because that means fall is on the way 😦

  14. August 22, 2012 1:04 pm

    Beautiful pictures. Here in Australia I’m just about to plant my tomato seeds so I’m looking forward to Spring. We’ve just about run out of tomato sauce from last Summer.

    Mel:)

    • August 22, 2012 2:17 pm

      Melissa, how exciting to read of your garden! I wish I could start over right now, our spring was very cold 😦

  15. August 25, 2012 4:11 am

    Wow, your sauce looks awesome! V-7! Very clever. 🙂

    I’m about to dig in with my first batch of canning (ever). My boyfriend and I are neck deep in tomatoes right now, so I know I have to get over my first-canning-experience-ever jitters and just jump in! I have a canning recipe book and I think I’m going to tackle marinara and tomato sauce.

    Have you ever made tomato juice out of tomatoes? I love tomato juice and I actually only put two and two together (tomato juice comes from tomatoes, of which you have a ‘million’), because I’m a silly first-time gardener. I’m interested in making my own.

    • August 25, 2012 5:22 am

      Jenna, thanks!

      Tomatoes are a good gateway drug for getting started in canning…pretty easy, and tasty 🙂

      Yes, I have made tomato juice when I have been over-run with tomatoes, it is delicious! I planted less this year, so no juice for me this time 😦

  16. August 26, 2012 9:43 am

    I want to thank you for posting this, I went to the farmers market today and got some tomatoes and am going to try this recipe myself. It looks very tasty.

  17. Kirk permalink
    August 26, 2012 11:16 am

    I bet the Indigo Rose was bred to go with an orange tomato like SunGold. Black & Orange for those alums! (Spent 3 1/2 years @ OSU.)

  18. September 2, 2012 3:13 am

    Any chance of an overview of your approach to pruning indeterminate tomatoes (both at the start and toward the end of the season)? A brief 101 on tomato growing? (I am having a really poor year again this year both indoors and out – I begin to suspect there’s much I don’t know about successful tomato growing in an uneven climate.)

    I’m slowly reading through the whole blog and have found reference to Carolyn J Male (book unavailable in UK) and Charles H. Wilber (book available) but a ‘bringing it all together’ post would help me. (Perhaps you’ve done it and I’ve not found it yet? In which case, apologies.)

  19. Rebecca permalink
    September 5, 2012 2:41 pm

    My understanding is IR was bred for the anthocyanins, not for flavor. I think I read they are hoping to breed a tomato with both next. I am experiencing the same lag in ripening. My IR plant started forming fruit early, but is definitely taking it’s time with the ripening process.

    I found myself with a glut of tomatoes all of a sudden (non IR varieties) and out of desperation decided to roast them, partially because of your posts, but also because I happened to stumble on a version of the recipe in “The Vegetarian Epicure.” Oh my! The windows of our house were open and our whole yard smelled like a posh restaurant. I look forward to a year when I can grow many more tomatoes, and perhaps can some roasted tomatoes as you do, but with a toddler in tow, I just don’t know when that will happen.

    Which reminds me that I’ve been meaning to ask you how you ran a farm when your daughter was young. I find my small-scale farming attempts are always at odds with rearing a child. Thankfully, my son loves garden produce, so perhaps there is hope.

    • September 5, 2012 2:58 pm

      Rebecca, IR actually tastes better than some tomatoes I have tasted, and it’s such a beautiful plant it’s worth growing for ornamental purposes IMHO 🙂

      They do smell good don’t they?

      Regarding children and farms, they are naturals together. We just took her everywhere and involved her in every job, much to the chagrin of the teens helping us haul hay. We would stop for a diaper change, and they would roll their eyes, now they have kids of their own so they understand 😀 A jogging stroller helped for naps in the garden and for getting over rough terrain, and actually I have to give my DH a lot of the credit, he was the SAH parent while I worked off the farm. You’d be surprised at how much of the 3 R’s you can teach in a natural setting too, my daughter learned lots of letters by reading seed packets, math counting eggs, chicks, and lots of life lessons too with birthing and timely and untimely deaths. A real education you might say…

      • Rebecca permalink
        September 6, 2012 12:21 pm

        Yes, I agree that IR tastes far superior to a supermarket tomato, for one. 🙂 And yes, the fruit is attractive. It also appears to be a less thirsty, while also more abundantly fruiting, tomato plant than the others I am growing.

        Thank you for addressing my question about children and farming. Once again I surmise I just have a difficult child. Napping in the summer goes against his grain (it always has) and he only willingly sits still if he is watching Sesame Street. There are days I can convince him to go with me to get something done (although it may take all morning to do one simple task, as there are many distractions along the way), and then other days when he decides it is more fun to run down the hill and pick huckleberries. And so it is that I get the most accomplished when he is in “time-out.” Some day I am sure it will be easier for me to get my chores done and the lifestyle will no doubt offer a multitude of great learning experiences for him, but right now there is a part of me that envies parents who live in apartments. Heck, I even truly believe the teenage years will be much, much, much, much easier.

        On a positive note, since watching chicken eggs incubate my son loves to read stories that feature birds hatching from eggs. 🙂

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