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Planting Spinach

September 25th, 2008

Last night I planted some spinach in my new raised bed (which is already half full of red cabbage, kale & mache).

I didn’t have much luck last time I tried to start spinach so I used a different technique this time. I started with furrows made every 4 inches, then I dropped seeds every 2 inches into them (I had trouble with germination last time, so hopefully I’ll get a 50% rate then they’ll be nicely spaced).

Then I covered them with about 1/2″ of sifted compost (it’s supposed to help with dampening off & other problems). It made these lovely lines in the soil.


Then I watered well and I’m hoping for the best. I’m going to use a floating row cover and lots of straw to overwinter this spinach. This will give me an early crop of spinach next spring (at least that’s what all the books say, I’ve never done it before).

By the time I was finished it was getting dark, good thing we have a big security light to garden by. Anyone else had luck overwintering spinach?

Tomato Soup Recipe Anyone?

September 24th, 2008

Anyone out there have a great recipe for tomato soup to can? Mr Chiots and I love tomato soup for a quick meal and I’d like to get away from the canned stuff and go local. I found a few on-line for Roasted Tomato Soup and a Spiced Tomato Soup and this one for regular Tomato Soup. Just wondering if any of my readers had a great recipe they’d like to share? I’m planning on making a few different kinds to see which one we like best.

Empty Promises

September 24th, 2008

Here is NE Ohio frost will be arriving soon. Now I love winter, there’s just something about a hot bowl of oatmeal on a frosty morning. The only think I don’t like about winter is the lack of fresh tomatoes and other fresh green veggies. Especially now that Mr Chiots and I are trying to eat locally, I foresee a winter lacking in green things. Now don’t get me wrong, we will be eating veggies this winter, they’ll just be frozen ones from the garden or squash that stores well. We didn’t even come close to preserving enough food for us to last the winter, so I’m sure some California produce will be making it’s way onto our place (probably some steamed broccoli).

I think what I am most sad about is the lack of fresh homegrown tomatoes. I have only bought tomatoes a few times at the grocery and they are sad little things, not really fit for eating. So I’m trying to get the most out of my tomato harvest this year. I have canned a bunch of tomatoes and I plan on buying more at the farmer’s market this weekend for even more canned goodness.

I think I should be able to get a few more ripe tomatoes out of my plants. How? Well, I’ve read that if you pick all the large green or partially ripened fruit and trim all the growing tips off the plants you will get more mature tomatoes off your plants that you can harvest and ripen inside well into November. Since I have a ton of green tomatoes on my plants still, I’m going to give it a shot.

So yesterday I went out and picked all the largest ripening tomatoes. I also clipped off all of the growing tips of the plants. It was tough cutting off all of the new blossoms knowing that if given enough time these would have become delicious tomatoes. When I was done I had 6 pounds of greenish fruit and a bucketful of tomato cuttings.

It is sad cutting off all of the flowers knowing that if given enough time they would turn into delicious tomatoes. Oh well, anything to get a few more ripe tomatoes from my vines. Not all is lost though, the clippings made it into my compost pile to become plant food next year.

So what about you, what food will you miss most some winter?

For more info on pruning tomato vines visit Fine Gardening.

Tomato Update

September 23rd, 2008

I’ve been picking tomatoes like crazy here at Chiot’s Run. My Lemon Boy’s are in full swing, which is great because we’ve been enjoying eating them with every meal.

So how many tomatoes have I harvested so far this year? 38 lbs of Roma’s for canning, and 25 lbs of Lemon Boys for eating. I’ve given a bunch of the Lemon Boys away to friends and family. I think I’m going to save them up and make a batch of chutney.

I’m really sad that tomato season is almost over aren’t you?

When Life Gives You a Wind Storm (part 2)

September 22nd, 2008

As many of you know, on the 14th a huge windstorm (remnants of Ike) came through Ohio and left many of us sans electric for a few days. Since Mr Chiots and I both work from home and we didn’t have electric we had a few days of unplanned vacation. I was planning on doing some canning so I had bought a bushel of tomatoes at the Farmer’s Market the Saturday before. I wanted to grill them so I could can a batch of fire-roasted tomatoes (I’m a huge fan of Muir Glen Fire Roasted Tomatoes, they were the inspiration to can my own). Since we had an excess of sticks in the yard and time on our hands, we decided to build another fire last Monday evening and roast up our tomatoes.

Roasting tomatoes is super easy. You just cut the tomato in half and put skin side down on the grill or fire (you can coat with olive oil if you aren’t canning them). When the skins get blackened pull them off the grill. The skins will easily slip from the tomato then all you have to do is process them in your favorite way. I like to crush mine or cut them up and add them to sauce.

I was able to can 7 quarts of fire roasted tomatoes on Monday. Add that to the 7 quarts I did a couple weeks ago and we’ve got the makings for a good many batches of chili or sauce in the pantry.

I had a bit of sauce left over that wouldn’t fit in the jars and I made some pizza sauce, it was so delicious. I think next time I get a bunch of tomatoes a batch of pizza sauce will be in the canner. So what’s your favorite way to use tomatoes?

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but just recently moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine.

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