Garden Journal – 2nd Week of August

Garden Journal – 2nd Week of August

This past week was one of the busiest of the summer for your’s truly.  Our annual “Tomato Lovers’ Dinner” was scheduled for the end of the week and I put together an impossible list of things that I wanted done before this event.  They included non-gardening items like repairing part of the patio, installing a new door on the patio side of the workshop, removing all of the weeds from between the pavers in the garden, etc.  Needless to say, I was one tired puppy at the end of each day.

The garden did get some attention.  I managed to perform my weekly tomato maintenance with the added task of pruning off some of the leaves to encourage ripening.  Almost every variety was available for the dinner.  The only tomato that didn’t make the cut was a variety call “Zapotek”, native to Mexico.  Not a big deal.  One fact that I did not know when I bought the seeds was that this variety is nearly hollow; not a good thing in a tasting tomato.  I won’t bother to use it in future tastings.  We will use them for lunch, filling them with chicken salad, etc.

I did have a “there’s no fool like an old fool” moment last week.  I had it in my head that “Hillbilly” tomatoes were a big ugly red tomato that tastes good.  I had most of it right except the “red” part.  After researching the origins of the species for the tomato tasting, I discovered that “Hillbilly” ripens golden/yellow with red streaks.  My apologies to all of my friends that were given plants by the “old fool” and were told by “the old fool” that they were going to ripen red.  I even told my friend Rick Bertolami to be patient.  Sorry Rick.

NEARLY RIPE HILLBILLY TOMATO ON THE VINE

NEARLY RIPE HILLBILLY TOMATO ON THE VINE

Toward the end of the week I was able to spend a bit of time weeding the garden to make it ready for the “Dinner”.  I don’t know about you, but I find it harder to get my self motivated to weed the garden this time of year.  A couple of John Scofield albums on the Ipod helped get met through it, along with some Kermit Ruffins and a compilation of Meters hits.DSCN0833

A SHOT OF THE GARDEN LOOKING BACK TO THE HOUSE

A SHOT OF THE GARDEN LOOKING BACK TO THE HOUSE

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MY FOUR CROP ROTATION ON VIEW FROM LEFT TO RIGHT – ROOT CROP BED (SEE RADISH TENT), FRUIT CROP BED , LEAF CROPS, LEGUMES

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A CLOSER LOOK AT THAT FRUIT CROP BED. THIS IS A SHORT CROP TOMATO BED WITH SWEET PEPPERS, EGGPLANT, MELONS AND A CUCUMBER PLANT. THE METAL SUPPORTS ARE FOUR FOOT DIAMETER HOOPS THAT I USE FOR LOW TUNNELS IN THE FALL.

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FLOWERS ON THE END OF A LEAF CROP BED. THIS IS THE BRUSSELS SPROUTS PATCH

My next blog post will be devoted to the “Tomato Lovers’ Dinner”.  I bartered with a professional photographer who shot pictures of the whole event in exchange for a “Tomato Lovers’ Dinner” of his own.  He just dropped of the disc with the photos.  I can’t help myself. Gotta go.

All the best,

Greg Garnache

Garden Calendar – 2nd Week of August

Garden Calendar – 2nd Week of August

1.  Clean up the gardens and the rest of the property in preparation for our annual “Tomato Lover’s Dinner”.

2.  Prune excess leaves off of the tomato plants to expose more fruit to the sun to speed up ripening.  Also, prune off any diseased leaves.

3.  Harvest storage onions and set out for drying.

4.  Go over menu for the dinner to ensure that Catherine and I are in sync.

5.  Check the peach trees daily for ripening fruit.

6.  Polish my presentation for the tomato tasting portion of the dinner.

Garden Journal – 1st Week of August

Garden Journal – 1st Week of August

It was another busy week in the garden as more onions came to harvest, the weeds seemed to accelerate their invasion of the garden, yet more seeds were planted and the tomatoes got some TLC a week prior to our annual “Tomato Lovers’ Dinner”.

RED ONIONS READY FOR HARVEST

RED ONIONS WITH THEIR TOPS BENT OVER – THEIR WAY OF SAYING “I’M DONE. GET ME OUT OF HERE

“Red Zeppelin” Onions Ready for Prime Time

The gardening week started with another onion harvest.  I pulled the “Red Zeppelin” onions, set them out to dry and then cleaned them up so they could join the Walla Walla onions in our kitchen pantry.  I love red onions; in salsa, in salads and cooked dishes like roasted beets and red onions with balsamic vinegar.  For some reason, this year’s harvest has been fantastic.  Most of the onions are in the 3″ diameter range with very few small ones.  I will end up giving away two thirds of the harvest because my wife is not a fan.  That’s OK.  I can make a lot of people happy.

HARVESTED RED ZEPPELIN ONIONS

RED ZEPPELIN ONIONS – CLEANED UP AND READY FOR THE PARTY

SHALLOTS READY FOR STORAGE

I CLEANED UP THE SHALLOTS WHILE I WAS AT IT.

Planting More of My Wife’s Favorite Radish – French Breakfast/Radish d’Auvignon

I can’t believe how fast we burn through each planting of French Breakfast radishes.  Yes, they are mild, but they seem to evaporate in the fridge.  We are quite fond of slicing them thin and putting them on top of a piece of baguette slathered with Kerry Gold butter.  Works for breakfast, works as an hors d’oeuvre with wine or cocktails, works as a snack with a beer.

I planted two rows, 8″ inches apart.   I planted the seeds 2″ apart in the rows.  In about 25 days we will begin to harvest.

SOME FRENCH BREAKFAST RADISHES HARVESTED EARLIER IN THE YEAR

SOME FRENCH BREAKFAST RADISHES HARVESTED EARLIER IN THE YEAR

This Time of Year, the Tomato Plants Need Love

With one week to go before our annual ”Tomato Lovers’ Dinner” I have been spending a lot of time watering, fertilizing, pruning and spraying fungicide on the tomato plants.  This year, I will be offering eight varieties of heirloom tomatoes during the tomato tasting portion of the dinner.  The dinner itself will feature marinara sauce made with our own plum tomatoes.  The salad will feature yet another tomato; Matt’s Wild Cherry.  All together, we are talking about 40 plants.  I know what your thinking,  Greg’s a little crazy.  OK, you might be right.  I’ve actually started thinking that it might be time to dial it back little.

That said, this week I found evidence of early blight on at least six of my tomato plants.  I sprayed OXIDATE fungicide using a curative concentration (1 oz. to a gallon of water).  Hopefully, that will slow down the disease long enough for me to harvest the ripe fruit I will need.

EARLY BLIGHT ON TOMATOES

EARLY BLIGHT ON MY GREEN ZEBRA TOMATO PLANTS

Despite the Blight, Tomato Season is Upon Us

This week we have enjoyed the following tomato varieties:

Black Ethiopian

Green Zebra

Rose

Nebraska Wedding

Matt’s wild Cherry

Margherita Plum

Roma II Plum

NEBRASKA WEDDING AND ROSE TOMATOE3SW

TWO OF OUR FAVORITE HEIRLOOM TOMATOES – NEBRASKA WEDDING AND ROSE

PLUM TOMATOES

RIPE PLUM TOMATOES

Processing Plum Tomatoes

I picked some plum tomatoes every day last week.  By week’s end we had enough fruit to process.  We use two different methods of processing.  The first one involves setting up a line consisting of a boiling pot of water, an ice bath, a cooling bin, a cutting board, a discard bucket and a clean bowl for the finished product which is either diced tomatoes or tomato halves.  We the  put the tomatoes in plastic bags, vacuum seal and freeze them.

FROM RIGHT TO LEFT - TOMATOES, BOILING WATER, ICE BATH

FROM RIGHT TO LEFT – TOMATOES, BOILING WATER, ICE BATH

The tomatoes are placed in boiling water for one minute and then removed and placed in the ice bath to make removing the skins easier.  One of us man’s this station.

PROCESSING TOMATOES, STATION 2

THE SECOND PROCESSING STATION RIGHT TO LEFT – COOLING RACK, CUTTING BOARD, DISCARD BOWL AND BOWL FOR FINISHED PRODUCT

AFTER REMOVING THE SKIN, I CUT THE TOMATO IN HALF LENGTHWISE AND REMOVE THE GREEN PORTION OF THE STEM AND THEN REMOVE THE SEEDS

After seeding I will either dice the tomatoes or leave them in halves for freezing.

VACUUM SEALING TOMAOTES

WE VACUUM SEAL THE TOMATOES USING OUR “FOOD SAVER” MACHINE.

It took Catherine and I approximately and hour to process our first batch of plum tomatoes, including vacuum bagging and clean up.  We froze 5 pounds of diced and 3 pounds of tomato halves.  Next time, we will use method number 2; roasting tomatoes in the oven for 30 minutes, cooling and then running them through a food mill.  The end product is puree.

Here’s wishing you all a great harvest and good times sharing with friends and family.

All the best,

Greg Garnache