Vegetable Garden Harvest

Yesterday, I picked a few dozen of our ripe tomatoes. We are growing 4 varieties of tomatoes this year: one Early Girl, one Big Beef, one Champion, and about a dozen San Marzano tomatoes. The last two years we had a substantial harvest of tomatoes from just one Early Girl tomato plant and one Big Beef tomato plant. This year is the first time we have grown Champion and San Marzano. Most of the tomatoes I picked yesterday were from our Early girl and Big Beef plants.

Here is picture of some of our early girl tomatoes on the vine.

We still have about a few hundred more green tomatoes on the vines, not including the San Marzano tomatoes which just started blooming and fruiting. This is a photo of yesterday’s harvest, including tomatoes, onions, and a carrot.

Today, I made a spicy tomato sauce with the carrot, the onions, the tomatoes, and celery from a grocery store. Then, I bottled the sauce and processed it in our pressure cooker for about 45 minutes. Vegetables such as carrots, celery, and tomatoes are considered low acid. Therefore, they need to be processed at a higher temperature than the boiling point of water (212 degrees F) if they are going to be stored at room temperature for an extended period. A pressure cooker is designed to raise its internal temperature up to about 240 degrees.

Our eggplants are finally producing their first eggplant fruits. We are growing about a dozen eggplants this year from seeds and transplants we bought from a local nursery. I set out the transplants in late April and May, but they really didn’t start growing and blooming until about early June when the warmer summer weather began. We are growing the Japanese long, lavender touch, New York, and black beauty varieties of eggplants. This is a photo of one of our lavender touch eggplants. I really like this variety, because the color of the fruit is so beautiful and the flesh is creamier and moister than some of the darker varieties.

We are also growing cucumbers in our vegetable garden this year. We planted a variety called Straight Eight cucumbers by seed. I had planted some of the cucumber seeds indoors in March, but when I transplanted those seedlings outside in April they died even though we didn’t have any freezing weather. I think they died because I didn’t harden them off to the outdoor sun exposure and temperatures.

After that experience, I planted the remaining cucumber seeds directly in one of our raised beds in late April. Most of those seeds sprouted within about a week and grew quickly. Now we have about 20 medium and small cucumbers (4″-8″) from about 20 plants. This is a photo of few of them.

Last weekend, I tried pickling one of our cucumbers in a simple brine solution of water, salt, sugar, and dill spice. I cooked the cucumber slices in the brine for about 15 minutes. They tasted as good as the dill pickles that are bottled and sold commercially. Next weekend, I am planning on pickling and canning the rest of our cucumbers.

August 01 2010 10:22 pm | Cucumbers and Eggplant and Tomatoes