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August 2012

Growing Tomatoes

From now on, I'll do my gardening talk here instead of the main page, linked above. I also have a lot of garden photos at Flickr, and the link for that is in the right column.

These are some tomatoes I picked yesterday. Tomatoes
There are a few Rutgers, Early Girls, Tiny Toms, one Yellow Brandywine, and one German Johnson. These last two varieties are "heirlooms," which I know excites you. I also grew another heirloom variety this year; Black Krims. 

Here's the thing about the heirlooms. They aren't all the same, and part of what makes them "superior" also causes them to have drawbacks. So don't go assuming that any tomato that isn't heirloom won't be any good at all. I love the flavor of the Black Krims, but they're a bit more susceptible to little creatures. The German Johnsons are huge, and pink. They take much longer to ripen, and you have to have a great deal of support for them. If you love them, you gotta have two plants, as they won't yield as much as some others. The Yellow Brandywine is a huge beautiful plant, but also has a lower yield than some others. 

My Early Girl hybrid plant produced at least 200 very tasty tomatoes this year, even through those long extremely hot weeks of no rain. They started ripening in late June, and they are still coming, though they've slowed down finally, and will be finished soon. 

The Rutgers tomatoes ripen starting in mid-July. It isn't quite as prolific a plant or quite as juicy as the Early Girl, but the texture is good for all different kinds of uses, and good for preserving. 

If you have the space, it makes sense to grow at least two or three different varieties of tomatoes, along with basil and marigolds to help fight pests. If you have slugs in your garden, add nasturtiums. Plan a three year rotation, if possible. You can plant green beans in the same space the following year, for example, to add nitrogen to the soil. When the green beans are done producing, till the plant straight back into the ground. Little tricks like these will ensure you have a good crop even when the weather is so obnoxious, like it was for most of us this summer. 

Garden Dinner

Last night I chopped a variety of tomatoes and two Marconi peppers from my garden for a pasta dinner. Here are some phone photos of how that went. :-)

Yes, that's sausage on the same cutting board. Well, they were all being cooked together for a sizeable period of time, and of course I washed it anyway before doing the tomatoes. You just gotta use common sense. I never cut meat on the wooden cutting board at all, though. 

So there's about 2 lbs of tomatoes, 1 medium onion, 2 sweet garden peppers, 3 cloves of garlic, one pound of sausage. 

I cooked the sausage for about 5 minutes with a tablespoon of olive oil, then added the onions, peppers and garlic, and let them soften as the sausage continued to cook. The liquid they added to the pan assists with that. Then I added 1/4-1/3 cup of sweet vermouth. Any red wine that isn't too dry would do. Dry vermouth would be fine, as well. You can put that stuff in just about anything. Not a really cheap one, though; those are sorta sharp.

After that bubbled for a couple minutes, I added the tomatoes, a sprinkling of sugar, and 2 tablespoons of Kirkland Rustic Tuscan Seasoning, and put a lid on for a few minutes.

If this were just for me and not the kids, I'd have eaten it just like this, with a piece of bread and a little cheese. I'm not a big pasta fan.

But the boys would say, "Ew, it isn't really sauce." So I added a couple large spoonfuls of tomato paste, let it simmer for a few more minutes while the pasta cooked, and then finished it with a couple splashes of cream, and a couple dashes of salt and pepper.

For chunky sauce, you want a noodle that'll pick it up nicely. Rotini would work as well.