Dad and I were chatting today, and both agree, we wouldn't mind one bit if it was March 2010, instead of July. This year is going far too fast, for either of us. But it's July, so onward we go, and must simply try to make the most of each of the remaining days.
Today was a rather productive one. I weeded, put more hay down, pruned and checked over my tomato plants. I had heard rumor that the tomato hornworms are out and about, but I found none. This made me mildly nervous, until my dad came down with about 40-50 of them, to feed the chickens. His garden, next door was crawling with them! Now I'm just on pins and needles. I want to go outside every few minutes to check the status. This is nerve wracking, especially since I am going to be out of town for 5-7 days next week! Eeek. I knew I was asking for trouble with my fragile tomato crop when I agreed to this work engagement. I guess Mini is going to learn pretty quick, what a tomato hornworm looks like so she and Husband can keep them from annihilating the plants while I'm gone.
I pruned the tomatoes for the first time in my life. I had no idea, but you are supposed to prune them to make them more productive. Cut all the leaves below the first fruit set, then remove all the suckers. The task started out a little gingerly, but by the end I was cutting branches that even had a little fruit set already! This is supposed to concentrate the energy of the plant to the business of making fruit, instead of leaves. This is an ongoing thing that you need to keep doing as the plant grows. I'm hoping I chose well, and they produce boldly this year!
As if pruning, and keeping the hay stocked, and pulling bugs off isn't enough, there is a confirmed case of Late Blight in Maine! It's a gardener, and I have no more details than that. Seems everything wants my tomatoes.
Speaking of tomatoes…I canned my first batch tonight. I had a box from a friend, they were green house tomatoes, nothing exciting, or heirloom, but the price was right and it gave me a guarantee of tomatoes on the shelves come fall…Bird in the hand beats two in the bush after all.
I put some basil leaves and garlic flower bulbs in each jar, with a little extra lemon juice. I wanted the basil and garlic for flavor, since the tomatoes, while yummy enough, are not super flavorful. I hope my little experiment worked, but there are 6 quarts and a pint resting on my counter calming my tomato frenzied nerves, at least a smidge.
Canning tomatoes requires the removal of skin, which was made a lot easier due to my awesome find of a $4.00 colander that is the size of my large canning bowl! I placed the colander in the bowl of cold water, added ice, then once the tomatoes had been heated in boiling water a couple minutes, I scooped them into the colander and, once cool enough, simply lifted the colander out, dumped the tomatoes into a bucket to work with them, and replaced the colander, added a bit more ice and repeated the process. It was so fast, clean and easy. Yay!
I took all that skin, placed it in my Vitamix, and blended them to pulp. This is in my refrigerator awaiting the moment that I have enough free time to turn it into ketchup! I'll let you know how that goes in the coming days.
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