Beautiful, colorful peppers
The farmer and his pup
Last year, we spent DAYS weeding the garden. Literal weekends were consumed with pulling weeds. Although we knew it would be a big task, we decided that when the weather became tolerably cold, we would start the whole garden from scratch. The picture below shows the garden last year.
We started by removing all of the existing raised boxes and extended the garden area by about 50%. Next, we laid out long rolls of weed barrier. Someone at Greg’s job was throwing it out and it was a big money saver.
We put all the old boxes back in but decided to try to keep a square shape to the garden compared to the mish mosh we had last year. Greg built a few new boxes (the lighter colored ones) out of scrap wood.
As the weeks went on, Greg found more great wood pieces that were being thrown away by one company or another and brought them home. He added the too large boxes below after he drove by a company that had just had an enormous window delivered. They were throwing away the packing crate it came in; so he scooped it up. He added trellis to the back of the crates because he knew he would be planting cucumbers and tomatoes in there. The bamboo was added to beds that would house the beans and other sprawling plants. Once everything was finished, we added a combo of organic soil and compost to the boxes and organic black mulch to the walkways. Voila! A new garden.
Last season our tomato plants produced a total of 156 edible tomatoes. I’d say we had another 30-ish that were ruined by insects. This was our most successful year yet. After two years of trying different locations in our yard we finally found the perfect space for the proper sun and shade.
I think the most influential thing on our garden this year, was the nutrient rich compost that Greg makes. We maintain our supply year-round by constantly rotating the compost (in our homemade compost bins) with the house scraps we save, and adding from our stockpile of leaves and grass clippings.
We also learned a valuable tomato lesson from a good friend. Pick the tomatoes when they are GREEN. Put them in a brown paper bag and store them in a cool, dark place. Check the tomatoes every few days and in a about a week they will be a beautiful red. The last two years we would wait and wait and then all of sudden they would turn and it was too late. Once they turned red and got sweet, we would have a problem with the bugs eating them.
This was one of the last tomato pulls we had of the season (October). All of these tomatoes were pulled green and turned using the brown bag method.
In the beginning the flow was pretty steady and we would easily eat everything we picked on a weekly basis. As soon as the weather turned from warm to cool (Sept-Oct), I pulled 62 tomatoes in two weeks. I had to learn how to can…and fast.
I found a few canning recipes online since this was my first time and experimented with two. (I had also watched a canning demo at the tomato festival this summer) One recipe was for crushed tomatoes and one was for a sauce. The crushed recipe was a lot quicker but now that we’ve been eating them I prefer the sauce recipe more. I think I needed to “wring” out the tomatoes a lot more before crushing them because those cans came out very watery. Below is a pic of the tomatoes cooking down to make the sauce recipe.
The 62 tomatoes produced enough for 27 jars, half crushed, half sauce. I only have 6 left. It better warm up soon.