Archive for the 'Tomatoes' Category

From Tomatoes to Pizza Sauce





Yesterday, my partner and I harvested over 100 tomatoes from our vegetable garden. Those 100+ tomatoes came from just two plants! One was an early girl tomato and the second plant was a big beef tomato. The second picture above shows the early girl plant. It doesn’t look like it has a lot of tomatoes in this picture, which was taken before our harvest, but there were dozens of tomatoes hidden underneath the branches of this plant. And this is the second harvest of tomatoes we have gotten from our two tomato plants. We picked about 30 tomatoes from them about a month ago. We also picked carrots, onions, and 2 ears of white corn from our vegetable garden.

We spent most of the day turning our tomatoes, carrots, and onions into a basic tomato sauce, and then into pizza sauce using this recipe. The pizza sauce turned out really well. I think it is the best pizza sauce I have ever tasted. It is much more flavorful than the store bought pizza sauces we typically buy. I’m sure that’s at least partly because our home grown tomatoes are sweeter and more tender than most commercially grown tomatoes.

After spending over 6 hours cooking the sauce, we then made our own pan-fried pizza with the sauce. It was delicious. We also ate our home grown white corn, but the corn was a big disappointment. Although it was large like grocery store corn, it was also just as tasteless. Last year, we grew bi-colored yellow and white corn, which was much more flavorful. I plan on growing bi-colored corn again next year.

Pizza sauce made using this recipe is really versatile. We use it on pasta and in other Italian dishes. Because we made so much sauce, I felt that the best way to preserve the sauce for months to come was to can it.

I sterilized several jars by running them through the dishwasher. After adding the pizza sauce, I boiled the jars in a pot of boiling water for about 12 minutes to sterilize them. We filled 14 jars with pizza sauce, as you can see in the last picture above. I am not sure if these will keep for long at room temperature, because we did not add an acidifying ingredient, so I am planning on refrigerating or freezing these jars.

August 16 2009 | Corn and Tomatoes | Comments Off on From Tomatoes to Pizza Sauce

Summer Harvest


As shown in this picture, we harvested yellow and white carrots, walla walla onions, a bunch of big beef and early girl tomatoes from our vegetable garden today. We are making homemade pizza sauce, minestrone soup, and vegetable lasagna with our harvest. We saved money by growing many of the ingredients for these recipes ourselves, and all of these vegetables were easy to grow. Beyond planting in the spring and then harvesting months later, maintaining our vegetable garden did not require a lot of effort.

The automatic watering system in our vegetable garden saves us the trouble of having to water regularly. I fertilized multiple times after planting. But once the plants started growing rapidly, I figured there wasn’t a need for much additional fertilizer. And I only needed to do a little bit of weeding. I think that the weeds just didn’t get a chance to grow, because I planted the vegetables relatively close together. Once the vegetable plants started to grow together, there wasn’t much sunlight to stimulate weed growth in between them.

I just planted another set of carrot seeds. July and August is the time to plant carrot seeds for an autumn and winter harvest. One nice thing about carrots is that they hold well in the ground after they reach maturity without rotting or losing quality. That means you can leave them in the ground for months until you are ready to harvest them.

July 26 2009 | Carrots and Onions and Tomatoes | Comments Off on Summer Harvest

Vegetable Garden Update




We have been growing vegetables in two 6′ x 7′ raised beds since last summer. In these two small beds, we are growing several different types of fruits and vegetables including peppers, eggplant, zucchini, green beans, tomatoes, corn, carrots, onions, cantaloupe, and honey dew.

Our most successful plants so far are the green beans and zucchinis. They are producing more green beans and zucchinis than we can eat. Only a few of the tomatoes on our two tomato plants are have ripened so far (see second picture), but there are dozens of green tomatoes hanging on the vines.

Several of our carrots and onions are just about ready to harvest. The third picture shows some of the walla walla onions we are growing this season. Our corn stalks have reached their maximum height and are now starting to grow small corn ears.

Our eggplants and peppers are growing several small fruits. Although the peppers have not grown very much since I planted them in April. They seem to be getting crowded by the beans, carrots, and tomatoes growing next to them. One of the problems with growing so many different types of plants in a small area is that the slow growing plants like peppers and eggplant tends to get crowded by the faster growing plants. Next year, I may try to plant the slower growing plants together in one bed and the faster growing plants in the other bed.

I haven’t fertilized most of the plants in our vegetable garden since mid-May. I was fertilizing them with water soluble fertilizer for about the first 6 six weeks after planting. After that, most of the vegetables started growing so fast that I decided to stop the fertilizing. I have only been continuing to fertilize the eggplants and peppers in an attempt to get them to grow more.

I have also been fertilizing our strawberries about once a week. I know that sounds like a lot of fertilizer, but they have been producing strawberries continuously since early May. They show no signs of slowing down their fruit production yet. I have been harvesting a small bowl full of berries every few days for over two months. I attribute the huge production of berries to all the fertilizer. Last year, they stopped producing berries in early June. But as soon as I started fertilizing them, they begin to produce berries again.

Our strawberries are growing in pots around the raised beds, which makes it easy to pick them. Strawberries tend to rot quickly when the fruits are lying directly on damp soil. The berries mostly hang over the edges of the pots, so the berries stay dry.

July 12 2009 | Onions and Strawberries and Tomatoes and Vegetables | Comments Off on Vegetable Garden Update

Big Beef Tomatoes Ripened Just in Time

I planted one big beef tomato plant and one early girl tomato plant in our raised bed garden in early July. As of a month ago, the big beef tomato plant hadn’t produced more than 3 or 4 ripe tomatoes, but the plant was full of green tomatoes. As shown in this picture, many of the big beef tomatoes ripened just in time to be picked before a change in the weather that occurred here about 2 weeks ago.

Before Halloween, I picked about 15 large red tomatoes and made a big batch of tomato sauce with them. The weekend after Halloween, a large rain storm came in, and the temperature got much cooler. The highs were only in the low 60s (F) here, although the lows were well above freezing in the 40s. After that weather event, most of the remaining tomatoes turned mildew, and the plant’s leaves turned brown. I pulled up the plant a few days ago.

Our last frost usually occurs in February. So next year, I plan to plant a big beef tomato in the ground by April 1st. It just takes too long for big beef tomatoes to ripen to plant one after about June 1st.

Our early girl tomato that we also planted in early July produced ripe tomatoes by September. If we have the space next July, I would consider putting in a late early girl planting again to ensure an autumn harvest of tomatoes.

November 15 2008 | Tomatoes | Comments Off on Big Beef Tomatoes Ripened Just in Time

Big Beef Tomato

Our big beef tomato plant is full of tomatoes, but most of them are still unripe. I planted it late (early July), which is probably the reason they haven’t ripened yet. 

Our tomato plant grew very fast in the summer and produced an abundance of tomatoes. It grew out of the round cage I bought to support it and eventually fell over. I used a second round cage to prop it up, but that didn’t keep the branches from bending and growing on the ground. Next year, I plan to buy one of those large square cages. The small round cage was adequate for supporting our early girl tomato, but it wasn’t strong enough for a large, fast-growing tomato plant like big beef.

Our tomato is only getting a few hours of direct sunlight a day one month into autumn. The tomatoes are ripening very slowly, the leaves are full of mildew, and the plant has stopped growing. But I am still holding out hope that most of the tomatoes will turn red on the vine in the next few weeks.

October 19 2008 | Tomatoes | Comments Off on Big Beef Tomato

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