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The End

September 26th, 2016

Well, we have our first frost advisory for tonight (Sunday night, which was last night). Luckily, I’ve been out all week harvesting all the remaining peppers, tomatoes, and beans. I’m amazed by the amount of green peppers I had on my plants, they totaled about a bushel. I had about the same amount of tomatoes.
first-frost-2
The peppers already made their way into the freezer, the green tomatoes are laying in wait till they ripen. I may make some green tomato chutney if I have the time.
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The hot peppers (cayenne and Korean bird peppers) are going to be dried for crumbling into curries and stews to add a little heat this coming winter. There’s actually something nice about having a frost, it’s a definite end to the season. Sometimes I need that to get me to finally rip out the tender plants and prepare for the coming winter.

When is your typical first frost?

Here They Come

August 22nd, 2016

Our hot summer has been difficult for some crops, but the tomatoes and peppers are loving it. It’s that time of the year when the tomatoes are fruiting in full. We can eat sliced tomatoes at every meal, enjoy tomatoes on top of a salad, make eggs in hell for breakfast, or in whatever way we want. Having fresh, vine ripened tomatoes is one of the joys of having an edible garden!
heirloom tomatoes 1
heirloom tomatoes 3
Not only are all the cherry and beefsteak tomatoes coming ripe, the roma types are starting to ripen as well. That means I’ll be making all sort of tomatoey deliciousness for the pantry.
heirloom tomatoes 2
heirloom tomatoes 4
One of the most wonderful things about seasonal eating is enjoying food at the height of its season. There’s really nothing as delicious as ‘Brandywine’ or ‘Gold Medal’ tomato plucked from the vine and eaten within minutes. This time of year we happily feast on fresh tomatoes knowing it’s a short, but delicious window. Probably our most favorite way to enjoy this bounty is sliced with a sprinkle of salt & pepper, simple and delicious!

What’s your favorite way to enjoy a vine ripened tomato?

Truly a Gold Medal Winner

October 14th, 2015

This is my first summer growing ‘Gold Medal’ tomatoes and it won’t be my last. In fact, I’ll never not have them growing in the garden. After trying this lovely tomato out, I know exactly how it received its name. For starters, this huge beefsteak tomato produced a ripe tomato around the same time that my cherry tomatoes were first ripening in the garden. If you’re a fan of heirloom beefsteaks, you know the patience required to wait for what seems like forever for one to finally ripen. Not this beauty, even with it’s gigantic size, it still ripened quicker than anything but the cherry tomatoes.
Gold Medal tomato
Not only does this delicious tomato ripen super early, it produces loads of tomatoes and it just keeps on producing. This photo was taken yesterday in my garden, yesterday. It’s mid October in Maine. My ‘Brandywine’ and ‘Cherokee Purple’ tomatoes quit producing tomatoes long ago, not this baby, it’s still flowering and setting fruit. If you live in a northern climate, especially one with cold spring and fall temperatures I’d highly recommend adding ‘Gold Medal’ to your list of must grow tomatoes. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed, in fact I’m guessing you’ll be singing its praises and will grow it every year.

What’s your favorite no fail tomato? 

Happy 4th

July 9th, 2015

When I was younger, I remember my mom always trying to have a ripe tomato by July 4th. She used wall of waters, started planted early, and did all sorts of things to have tomatoes extra early. This year, I started ‘Glacier’ and ‘Stupice’ in early April. I planted some in the garden and some in pots. The ones in pots produced lovely ripe tomatoes on the 4th of July.
first ripe tomato 1
first ripe tomato 2
This isn’t too bad for Maine with no greenhouse. Next year I may try growing some in a low tunnel to see if that hastens ripening.
first ripe tomato 3
If you live in a colder climate, consider starting a few cold tolerant varieties and grow them in pots in a sunny location. The warmth of the soil in a container will help them grow and fruit faster.
first ripe tomato 4
I also realized that I haven’t yet published my list of the tomato varieties I’m growing this year, it includes a few old favorites and some new and exciting ones as well. I think I might wait until I start getting a few ripe ones so I can show you what they look like.

What’s the earliest you have harvested a tomato in your garden?

Grafting Tomatoes – Will It Work?

May 22nd, 2014

On Tuesday I grafted my first tomatoes. It should be an interesting experiment. The grafting seed stock was purchased earlier this spring and the seeds were started at the same time I started all of my tomatoes. You’re supposed to wait until your tomatoes have two sets of true leaves, which mine finally grew.
grafting tomatoes 4
grafting tomatoes 3
It’s really not difficult to graft tomatoes since tomatoes seem to want to live. I used this method from Herman’s Farm, I replanted a root grafting tomato and an heirloom tomato in the same pot. Then I simply cut the top off the grafting rootstock at a 45 degree angle and then cut a slit in the plant I wanted to graft and slid the rootstock stem up into the slit. I taped it with medical tape and in a week I’ll cut the stem of the heirloom tomato from the roots. Some methods have you cut the top off the heirloom tomato and graft it to the rootstock. This method seemed like I’d have better success for my first go at grafting.
grafting tomatoes 2
After grafting all of them I spritzed them with water and down into the basement on a heating mat they went to give them the warm dark environment they will need. I also put a clear plastic tote over them to hold in the moisture. They were left in darkness for a day and when I checked on them yesterday they had all perked up and looked great. Today the grow light will be turned on and hopefully they will start healing their wounds.
grafting tomatoes 1
I’m planning on planting these grafted tomatoes side by side with their own root counterparts in the garden. This will give me a good idea of how the grafting affected both disease resistance and fruit production. Stay tuned, it should be an interesting summer!

Are you doing any interesting garden experiments this summer?

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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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