“Mother, There Are Entirely Too Many Tomatoes in This Kitchen!”

…said my sixteen year old daughter one day last week as she was trying to get ready for school.

It was hard to argue when the counter looked like this…
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and then when she went to get some cereal she had to move this…

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I knew she had a point.

So I got busy, and started processing tomatoes.

The tomatoes in these green and orange bins came from my friend Betsey.

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Guess which opalka tomato Betsey and Ed grew?  Yes, the one on the left. Their compost must be incredible!  Ed gave me the plant that produced the puny tomato on the right that I grew, so it’s the same variety and batch of seedlings.

Anyway, I got busy and did some canning.

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Which was fun, but I’m still struggling a little.

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I did manage to can eight quarts of tomatoes, and I have plans to work on some apple butter this week.

It’s all about babysteps..
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Freezing tomatoes is definitely the easy way out so my freezer is quite full.

I just wash and dry them, put them in freezer bags and suck the extra air out with a straw before I seal the bag shut.

The skins come right off after they defrost for a few minutes. I also like to put them in the food processor, with skins, seeds and all, and puree them to  make tomato or pizza sauce. I cut them into pieces while still frozen for stir fry dishes, salsa and things like that.

Yes, that is Michael’s Dove bar to the left, clearly not mine 😉
IMG_9693On Saturday the frost forecast was looming so I picked as many green tomatoes as I could and decided to try storing some in newspaper to ripen.
IMG_9690I washed and dried them…
IMG_9699Wrapped each one in quarter sheets of newspaper.

IMG_9701And tucked them in a box, with the pinker tomatoes on top.

We’ll see how it goes.

Today’s project involves what to do with this guy…

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He weighs 2 or 3 pounds and looks just like a little pumpkin.

What do you think?

I’m going to have to force myself to cut him up later for dinner…

Or maybe I can carve a face, just like a real pumpkin.

This is Salem after all!

What did you do with your tomatoes this year?

Michele

A Few Thoughts About Growing Tomatoes From Seed

I’ve really gotten in to starting seeds this year. I have three varieties of tomatoes growing (Rutgers, Matina and Supersweet 100) and I think it’s safe to say that their doing quite well.  I spent a lot of time reading about seeds over the winter so I’ve approached the project from a different knowledge base this year.

I’ve made a few simple adjustments:

–I started the seeds on damp towels in sealed plastic bags and planted them in seed starting mix as soon as they germinated. This is one of my new favorite approaches with seeds of all kinds. When I visited my friend Betsey (the onion lady) in January she showed me that her husband often starts “harder to germinate” seeds in plastic bags. I’ve also experimented with forcing germination at work lately with great success. Betsey recommended a blog called Tomato Dirt  and as I read over their many tips for growing tomatoes from seed, I’ll be darned, this method was mentioned again. I tried it and the extra humidity got things going and before I knew it I had beautiful seedlings that had been transplanted into potting soil.

–I’ve kept the lights very close to the plants, about two inches above the tops of the seedlings. This keeps them from getting leggy and encourages them to grow stronger and sideways, rather than upward and spindly.

–I’ve brushed them gently with my hand once a day which also encourages a stronger, stockier plant.

–The lights are on a timer, twelve hours on, twelve hours off.

–I used one florescent bulb and one plant bulb in a regular shop light.

–I water from below encouraging strong root formation.

–I used seed starter containing vermiculite to encourage root formation.

–I talk to them, love them and spend time with them as I work on other projects.

I’d be growing well too if I were these tomatoes!

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Here they are today. I’m thinking about moving them away from the lights and up to my sunny office, maybe even into larger pots.

Are you growing tomatoes this year? How’s it going? Share your tips in the comments!

and of course, enjoy everything!

Michele