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Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Tomatoes, tomatoes, tomatoes...


This year has been a banner year at Growbox Hill for tomatoes!!

We have had a not so great season- wet and chilly, then dry and hot, then wet and hot, then dry and chilly, and now wet and chilly again. I have had some serious toppling over of some of the tomato cages- the ground is too rich and soft and those tall plants in tall cages require much tougher staking.

But hot damn the season has been good too. I've put up a couple gallons of tomato product in pints so far, and have about three more gallons to go, maybe more. Got a couple of quarts of dehydrated tomatoes. Got some Italian stewed tomatoes in the freezer. Got to smoke up a couple smokers full of tomatoes. And now I'm doing up a large amount of canned tomato juice. And I still have a lot of tomatoes on the plants! So it's likely that I will end up doing up a nice lil batch of extra hot white salsa.

With the way the weather is going, I might end up with a heap of green tomatoes at the end of the season as well- which would be fine by me, we could stand to have some fresh eating tomatoes for a while into the chillier months if possible.

The Patio and Tumbling Tom tomatoes have done well in their containers. The rest of the tomato containers not so much, I think the growing medium just wasn't quite right. But that's ok,  most of them were odd off hybrids I was just testing anyway.

So far beans are not too bad either. Got a big bag in the freezer, several jars of spicy and dilly beans canned up, and a quart of fridge pickled beans. The Top Crops I put in for fall are coming along right fine, I need to get on it with how to rig up frost framing for them soon. But they should see me into a nice fall crop of beans. The Mexican bean beetles really did a job on my summer crop, but I still have a plant or two that is chugging along for seed. The winner of the year so far is the Succotash bean. A couple pounds of beans so far off just a dozen plants, and some of those got pretty beat out by the tomato plants. I've been picking the pods off as they leather up so I don't have to shuck a big ole crop at the end of the year. Mayflower is still going along too, I'm hoping that barring something happening, I will end up with at least seed stock off of the one plant that survived the spring. The Tiger Eye is totally done for the season- enough for seed stock, but the volunteer gourd just simply smothered the few plants I had out of existence pretty early. I did choose the Succotash and Tiger Eye because of the difference in days to maturity, but I didn't think it would have played out quite as it did.
The fall pea crop is popping up. Dunno just what I will get off of them before I need to bring them inside for the winter to finish up their season, but we shall see how it goes. This is the first time I'm trying out a fall crop of beans and peas so I'm hoping for the best.

Peppers are still chugging along, some better than others. Some are kind of not right though, like they are not growing according to the original descriptions- like the Bulgarian Carrot that has two different kinds of plants that came from the same seed stock and the Costeno Amirillo that is supposed to be a green to red pepper but so far is a green to black pepper..... so, I'm saving seed anyway, and taking pictures, and going to ask questions about it. The ones I really know are right, are dead on and beautiful. I'm especially pleased with the fish peppers, they are astonishingly lovely. And the Black Hungarians are as tasty as they are pretty- I have a huge crop of them all in the black stage that I'm just chomping at the bit for them to get to their bright red stage so I can pick them and dry them out for the spice cabinet. Alma Paprika is pretty meh, I think it's getting lost in the bed- and I will need to dedicate some different space to it next year if I want to grow it again.

Squash was a really sad year this year. I lost half the plantings early on. What survived was Futzu Black that is yielding two squash, and the Italian Tondo- the round zuke- and that is getting decimated by squash bugs. Right now I left the last two Tondo's that were getting big on the plants to hopefully ripen up enough to make for some seed stock at the end of the season. I got to pick two small yellow zukes- and those were killed off by squash bugs and by the stupid straw bale- I am just not doing that shit right. Because lo, my buttercup squash died off the same way. The bushel gourds are growing great- but won't have any ripe gourds before the end of the season because of several die offs early on that made their planting out date waaaay later than it should be. And of course, the volunteer gourd that swallowed up the garden is doing beautifully and I should have at least a couple dozen beautiful little gourds at the end of season.

Something that has done exceptionally well this year is the Lemon Scented Pelargonium. Geez for the 5 bucks investment this spring.. I got a mom plant, three junior moms, and now I have about a dozen babies that should be well rooted by the time they need to come in with the frosts. Scented Geraniums hate the cold. But boy oh boy, do these plants fetch top dollars everywhere they are sold because of their bug repelling qualities. So if I get any luck on (and yep the cats seem to utterly ignore these plants so far), I will have a nice pile of these babies that I can sell in the spring along with other plants. Tomatoes and peppers did ok this year, I think the white tomatoes kind of freaked people out. Next year will be blacks, and those are currently raging popular. I'm thinking perhaps if I get some good gumption up, I'll build a more permanent kind of selling table before spring so I can just leave plants and stuff out and not have to haul it all in and out of the pole barn every day- that royally sucked ass.

Anywho, lol. Back to the garden and such. Herbs have done well, I have several cuttings of Rosemary that I need to repot. And marjoram, parsley, and thyme are all good. The mint plantings of this spring are now a huge weedy mass that I don't even want to contemplate. Picked the first flowers of the toothache plant for this winters medicine. Didn't pick a single blossom of chamomile dang it. Chamomile needs a new growing spot, and something else needs to help keep filling in that damn troublesome hill spot.


Hot as shit yesterday.. even hotter today.. this hot streak should be lasting well into Sunday and perhaps a day or two beyond.. which means that all those peppers and tomatoes just sitting around will really be ripening up fast. Too bad we did not get this weather a month ago, but hell, it's all good, bring it on now. I'll endeavor to keep up with it all :)

So been checking into how to use up all those dang tomatoes. Gonna go with some hot salsa for sure, and need to freeze up a heap of the smaller tomatoes to do canned quartered tomatoes with. Then I got to thinking about it, we don't do a lot of ketchup or bbq sauce, but we do love sloppy joes.. so now a gallon or two of tomatoes is going to get used up to make sloppy joe sauce. I don't like canned sauce, but I do love to do it up from scratch, but I hate the time consumption that doing it from scratch takes, because tomato product always takes some time, and sloppy joes should be just about instant gratification, lol. 
I'm also looking into getting a fresh propane tank so I can do up some bigger canning outside. If I can can up a gallon at a time in quarts or pint and a halves, that would help things right along. Amazingly enough, I'm running out of canning jars again. I think I might have to invest in a few new rolls of vacuum sealing bags and seal up several quarts or gallons of tomato product to put into the bottom of the freezer, lol.

In some super sad news.. went this morning to feed Glugg. Turned on the light to the aquarium and he had passed away sometime over the night. So I took him out to the sanctuary and buried him on top of Moon- figured both of them would be happier for the companionship and I just didn't feel right flushing him or just leaving him outside for any ole critter to pick apart.
So now I will tear down the aquarium and pack it away for another day when I get another fishie in. Right now I'm kind of not so bummed to be packing the aquarium away... but now I'm thinking about maybe unpacking the hermit crab habitat instead :)

And interesting news.. might be able to go home and visit with family this weekend.. ain't really counting my chickens yet with that one, but I'm utterly dying to visit everyone. If I really get the weekend off, it's a day of faire, and a day of time to hang with my younger sister.. maybe I can squeak in a visit to my older brother too, but not too sure about that, he's a busy boy. So maybe I will get a second vacation this year, how frigging exciting is that?