Tomatoes, Football and Martha Stewart!

OK, You just sat down to watch your favorite Football Team and the gang is going to be over any minute. Does it get any better than Fall Football? Well, Yes! If you take advantage of all your hard work out in the garden….NOW is the time to reap the benefits of your Tomato crop! Guess who’s going to help? None other than the Queen of the Kitchen….Martha Stewart. Yup, how about a “Roasted Salsa” recipe from Martha to enhanced that football game? Well, it’s Tomato 411 to the rescue! I’m doing some serious Cutting and Pasting here from Martha’s collection of Tomato Recipes…..A couple of Bags of Corn Chips, some homegrown Tomatoes and Tomato 411 stealing a recipe and you’re good to go.

Here You go…..

Ingredients

  • 2 large tomatoes (1 1/2 pounds) 1 medium white onion, halved
  • 3 jalapenos
  • 3 garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice (from 2 limes)
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Directions

  1. Heat broiler, with rack in top position. Place tomatoes, onion, jalapenos, and garlic in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet.

  2. Broil until vegetables are blistered and slightly softened, rotating sheet and flipping vegetables frequently, 6 to 8 minutes (garlic may need to be removed earlier, if it is browning too quickly).

  3. Discard garlic skins. In a food processor, pulse garlic and vegetables until coarsely pureed. Add lime juice, season with salt and pepper, and pulse to combine.

  4. Transfer salsa to a bowl and stir in cilantro. Refrigerate up to 3 days, freeze up to 3 months.

    There you go….Enjoy that Salsa and Your Team!!

     

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Harvesting Those Tomatoes!!

OK, it’s time to bring in the bounty! But before we do here’s a brief Video showing some of the short falls of Tomatoes being “Green” when the frosts approach, so take a look and get an education on bringing in Green Tomatoes….CLICK

Alrighty, let’s address a couple of myths about ripening and keeping Tomatoes. Firstly, do not place Tomatoes on a bright sunny window sill to ripen! More often than not the fruit will begin the rotting process before it becomes that flavorful Tomato we all love. AND……My favorite pet peeve about Tomatoes….DO NOT PUT TOMATOES in the refrigerator!!!! When you place a Tomato in refrigeration an enzyme is released from the Tomato that causes the flavor to spoil! Let’s be logical about this….Go to the store….go the vegetable aisle…..where are the Tomatoes? Do you see any refrigeration going on….hmmm? NO, the supermarkets of this country spend BILLIONS of dollars every year researching the best way to present and keep fruits and vegetables….so take their example….DO NOT REFRIGERATE those Tomatoes !!

Here’s a little Video to help those of you that want to save some seeds and start from scratch next year Click here

If you’ve never saved any seeds for the next season I think you’ll find it’s a helluva lotta fun…especially if you have children. It’s a life lesson and biological lesson and botanical lesson all rolled into one!

OK, you’re good to go with the Harvesting….see you next month, enjoy those Tomatoes!! ☺

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Tomato Fun For The 4th

An ordinary Tomato…..but a special Vegetable/Fruit!!
OK, a little fun for the 4th of July Holiday….We’re going to provide some fun facts for your educational benefit….so here we go!

Do You have any idea how many pounds of Tomatoes the average American eats every year? Well, quite a few….
The exact number according to the Department of Agriculture is between 22 – 24 pounds…..This is a typical response from our government folks….why not just 23 pounds? Now you’re probably wondering how everybody in the great land of America could eat that many tomatoes…..well they don’t! A large portion of that average is hidden in Ketchup and Tomato Sauce….so now you know…☺

Speaking of eating……Do you have any idea where Tomatoes rank on the “Popularity List” of vegetables? Think for a second, what do you eat way more than tomatoes? Now don’t forget they are hidden in sauce, paste, and ketchup….well our favorite veggie is actually 4th on the list. Can you guess which vegetables beat our favorite vegetable out? Well, here you go…..Potatoes, Lettuce, and Onions beat out our Tomatoes! I guess I can begrudgingly see that….:(

On a good note though….we’re gaining!! Over the last 20 years Tomatoes have gained market share by more than 30%…. 30%!!
Actually, if you think of the Super Market shelf, it’s not too hard to imagine! Remember when there were 2 kinds of Tomato Sauce? Ragu and Prego….Now when you look on the shelve there are 10’s of different kinds of Tomato Sauce, and how about SALSA?? I used to have to look high and low for any kind of prepared salsa……once again they’re all over the place now! As of 2008 Americans spend more on Salsa than Ketchup….How about That!!

Hey how about all those varieties of Tomatoes….There are sources that put the number at 25,000 types. Realistically, according to American Scientific Botanist the number is slightly more than 10,000 distinctive variants….one helluva lot of kinds of Tomatoes!! ☺

Here’s a beauty……How much did the Worlds OFFICIALLY recorded largest Tomato weigh? In 1986 Gordon Graham of Edmond, Oklahoma grew a “Delicious” type Tomato that tipped the scales at 7 Pounds and 12 ounces!!

What state has made the Tomato their official state Vegetable?….Arkansas. New Jersey too!…The “Jersey Tomato” is their designee. What state has made Tomato Juice their official state beverage?……Ohio.

Well that’s it for the Holiday…..Hope you enjoyed the mini classroom of Tomato Trivia!

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Growing Upside Down??

Well, here we are…an Upside Down Tomato Plant! Now I don’t normally bitch and moan over new garden items, but this little beauty deserves it’s own spot in the BS Museum.
First of all you have to find some place to hang this monstrosity, go ahead and look around and imagine where this could hang that wouldn’t get partitions from the neighbors to have you drawn and quartered.
Second….after you’ve found an ideal spot to hang this abomination you get a BIG after thought…..OK I’ve got this baby 10′-0″ in the air, WAY off the ground and just the right height to pick your Tomato bounty as it matures. Now Genius, how are you planning on watering this? Yes Virginia, upside down Tomato Plants need water too! And they need LOTS of it because all they have to hold moisture is in that little basket they live in! So you go to the hardware and buy a 10′-0″ ladder to climb up on to get to the top with your watering can. Hey, while your up there about August you better check the integrity of the bottom of this contraption because a healthy Tomato plant with the abundant harvest awaiting picking weighs about 50 lbs….BELIEVE me these upside down containers were NOT built to support 50 lbs!
All of the above aside……Going out and buying these things, Hanging them wherever, figuring out how to water them, let me ask a simple question….What in the name of all that’s holy is wrong with just planting them in the ground??
OK, I’m off the soapbox….Good Luck with your Tomato adventures….wherever they take you! See you next month! ☺

 

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Tomatoes Don’t Have Meals Do They?

Before we begin today’s Blog…Don’t forget they “Run For The Roses” today! NBC will be covering the Kentucky Derby today with a 6:43 PM post time. This will be the 143rd Derby from Louisville, KY.
Alright, back to our regularly scheduled Tomato 411 Blog!!

OK….What do Bones, Fish, and Blood have in common? Well, it’s all in the title to this blurb on the Blog ☺
They all come in a form of fertilizer known as “Meal”…Bone Meal, Fish Meal, and Blood Meal. All of these “Meals” come from animals. They all have another common denominator, they are “Slow” release in nature. Bone meal and Fish meal are typically used on shrubs and trees, BUT they can be used in the garden with great success. Let’s take a look at all of them and get an education….

Bone Meal
Bone meal (or Bone manure) is a mixture of finely and coarsely ground animal bones and slaughter-house waste products. It is used as an organic fertilizer for plants and as a nutritional supplement for animals. Wow…..I’ll bet the PETA folks would have a conniption if they knew this!! Be that as it may, we now know where Bone meal comes from….BUT, bone meal is only readily available to the plant if the soil PH is below 7.0….Acidic….the very type our tomatoes like! Bone meal is made from the obvious source….Animal bones. Typically the bones are sterilized (steamed), dried, and then ground into a granular or powder form.

Fish Meal
Fish Meal is mostly made from fish that are not generally used for human consumption; a small portion is made from the bones and offal left over from processing fish used for human consumption, while the larger percentage is manufactured from sustainable, managed, and monitored fish stocks of wild-caught, small marine fish. It is powder or cake obtained by drying the fish or fish trimmings, often after cooking, and then grinding it. If the fish used is a fatty fish it is first pressed to extract most of the fish oil. Common fish types used include sardines, anchovy, horse mackerel, and pollock. These fish generally have high “Fish Oil” content and are not generally used for human consumption except those types that are specifically caught for the fish industry at large.

Blood Meal
Blood Meal is pretty much as the name implies….dried blood! Blood meal is a nitrogen amendment that you can add to your garden. Adding blood meal to garden soil will help raise the level of nitrogen and will help plants to grow more lush and green. The nitrogen in blood meal can also help raise the acid level of your soil, which is beneficial to some kinds of plants (READ Tomatoes) that prefer soils with low pH (acidic soil). Be careful to closely follow the instructions on how to apply the blood meal that you have purchased, as it is a very concentrated form of nitrogen. Too much nitrogen in the soil can, at best, keep the plants from flowering or fruiting, and at worst, burn the plants and possibly kill them. Blood meal is also used as a deterrent for some animals, such as moles, squirrels, and deer. It is thought the smell of blood meal is not appealing to these animals. BUT, it is also an attraction to other critters like dogs, raccoons, and opossums! So make sure they don’t have access to the garden….if possible ☺

So keep those Tomatoes Happy with the right fertilizers and garden care that will make those plants grow to their full potential!

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Where Does Your Tomato Live?

Every year I get a ton of questions about the best soil for Tomatoes. So we’re in April now and it’s just about the right time to think about planting. Where do we want to plant our Tomatoes?…..Well, the best place is in Great Soil!

How’s My Soil?
The best way to test your soil is through the local Federal or State Cooperative extension service. For a nominal fee they’ll give you everything you ever wanted to know about the soil content in your particular garden. Google your particular area for “Extension Services City, State” and you’ll get headed down the right track for testing your soil. Some states test for free and others charge a nominal fee between $10.00 and $25.00. You can also purchase a soil testing meter on line. The meter will give you a pretty accurate analysis of the PH in the soil but really not too much more. I recommend test your soil every 3 to 4 years and make adjustments as suggested by a cooperative service. NOTE: If your sample comes back with a suggestion of large amounts of Lime to be added to the soil I would follow the suggested application and leave that plot of soil untouched for the current year….I know…NOT good news! I recommend this because Lime is generally recommended only for HIGHLY acidic soil….or “Sour Soil” as the old timers used to call it. Apply the recommended amount and give the soil a year to adjust and next year you’ll have an ideal spot to place those Tomato plants!!

How Can I Improve My Soil?
There are TONS of folks that will tell you TONS of methods for improving your soil, but there is ONE machine that will do more than all the advice good folks will give you, and it’s actually right next to FREE!!! I’m talking about the common Earthworm…..Nightcrawler….fish bait if you will. The Earthworm is a constant worker. They perform some mighty important functions as far as any garden goes. One of the things I love about the Earthworm is their duties of aerating the soil. Oxygen is one of the MOST important aids in good crop yield, but nobody pays too much attention to it. Golf Courses have known the benefits of aerating the soil for centuries….literally! Keeping a flow of oxygen to the roots of ANY vegetable is a grand benefit….and our buddies the Earthworms do it for free and do a damned fine job of it. While doing their aeration duties they perform another invaluable service, they condition the soil. The Earthworm likes a soil composition that is just about perfect for any plant, and they’ll do their damnest to create the environment they like and plants love. The Earthworm “churns” the soil bring soil upwards from as far down as 6 1/2″. This churning creates a perfect blend of all the components critical to the perfect soil composition for the garden. On top of all of this work to make our gardens better they fertilize the soil while going about their duties. “Worm Castings”, or worm do-do, provide nitrates, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium and calcium. manganese, copper, zinc, cobalt, borax, iron, carbon and nitrogen….ALL in a reliably absorbed form. You might be wondering how you can add Earthworms to your garden soil…..that’s easy, buy them! There are bait shops all over the landscape….stop in and pick up a dozen or two AND they’re cheaper than running to Lowe’s, Home Depot, or Menards and laying down bundles of cash for store-bought fertilizer.

What About Regular Fertilizer?
I’ve spoken about fertilizers before, generally aiming at the proper blends of the big three….Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium. As a result, I’ll be looking to give you folks some directions with some of the lesser known soil additives. I’ll go over “Fish Meal”, “Bone Meal”, and “Blood Meal” as soil additives. Until then do a little snooping around on your own…..You’ll be amazed at the information out there on improving your soil and thus your garden!

 

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Tomatoes, Tomatoes Everywhere And Not One To Eat…..

Aren’t they beautiful? Naturally, there aren’t Tomatoes “Everywhere” this time of year, but I thought a loose reference to the “Ancient Mariner Poem” might be appropriate. But there are thoughts of Tomatoes everywhere it seems. We’re rapidly approaching that time if year when our thoughts wander to the soon to be reality of the Family Garden! Some of us have the annual problem of deciding which variety of Tomato to grow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A quick analysis of how we use our Tomatoes might be in order before we trundle off to a decision.

BEEFSTEAKS

These are your big, red globe tomatoes. They can weigh in at a pound or more, with a 6-inch diameter. They will mix a tangy, acid bite with a touch of sweetness, creating a classic rich flavor. These are juicy tomatoes, with lots of water. Beefsteaks come in more than 350 varieties. Often called “slicers” because of their size and meaty texture, these tomatoes are great stacked on a hamburger or BLT, or carved into wedges and sprinkled with salt.

BUSH TOMATOES

Think baby Beefsteaks. These uniformly round tomatoes are racquetball-sized, with a thick skin. They make a distinctive “pop” when bitten into. Prized throughout Europe and the Middle East for their rich flavor and juicy, explosive texture, their smaller size also makes them perfect for individual consumption.

Early Girl and Czech Bush varieties are relatively common. Sometimes called “saladettes,” they make bite-sized wedges perfect for salads or snacking.

PLUMS OR ROMAS

The thick-walled, oblong plum tomato is synonymous with Italy. Known in supermarkets primarily as Roma tomatoes, these big-sweet, big-acid tomatoes are known for their chewy flesh and low water content. Which makes them perfect for tomato sauce. These tomatoes also can be used for quick saute dishes or in fresh salads where you don’t want excess moisture. They offer longer shelf life than moister tomatoes.

CHERRY AND OTHER TINY TOMATOES

Generally, the smaller the fruit, the bigger the sugar. That’s one reason the tiny tomato industry has boomed in recent years. Cherry tomatoes run about an inch in diameter and traditionally are the most delicate and complex of the small tomatoes. Growers — and eaters — love the Sungold for its delicate orange tint and fruity, almost tropical flavor. The Juliet, which resembles a mini-plum tomato at roughly 2 inches long, is another favorite.  Grape tomatoes, named for their size and shape, have become grocery store standards and offer predictable, uniform sweetness. Mini-tomatoes also can be pear- or teardrop-shaped and often come in red or yellow. These will have a slightly bland, more subtle flavor than grape or cherry tomatoes.

BLACK TOMATOES

Among the more exotic summer offerings are “black” tomatoes, which sport a deep purple color and run from plum-sized up to nearly a pound. They generally have a rich, almost salty taste. The Cherokee Purple offers big flavor, as does the Black Krim, which is softer and juicier than the Cherokee. These tomatoes make beautiful caprese or tomato salad, and delicious salsa. Eat them simply, with minimal adornment, to preserve their nuanced flavors.

BI-COLORS

These super-juicy, gigantic tomatoes — up to 2 pounds — tend to be yellow with a red or orange blush. They have a big, fruity flavor with little of the acid associated with traditional tomato flavor.

GREEN, YELLOW AND ORANGE TOMATOES

Green tomatoes — meaning those that ripen to a gentle shade of green — generally offer an almost spicy taste. Among the most popular is the Green Zebra, a slightly firm tomato with yellow-green skin and purplish stripes that runs roughly 2 inches around. Aunt Ruby’s German Greens are softer and can weigh in at a pound or more. Yellow tomatoes tend to be sweeter and less acidic, with a generally mild flavor, Orange tomatoes offer a rich orange color and mild fruity flavor without the acidity associated with classic tomato flavor. For all of these, bask in their colorful glory. Generally too mild to withstand much cooking, these tomatoes should be served raw on a platter, possibly drizzled with olive oil and salt.

So there you have it….a few ideas to get the juices flowing on your choices for the coming growing season. Give your thoughts a few visions of what you enjoy and the rest will become reality ☺

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Tomato Hibernate Time!

Well here we are in November! Thanksgiving is on the Horizon and the Garden has been put to rest here in Michigan. This year we are taking a break from posting monthly and discontinuing the practice until next March in 2017. There’s 6 years of post here with every imaginable topic. Please feel free to search for whatever topic you’re interested in and if there’s not an answer here to your questions just drop me a line and I’ll get to it post haste…..Have a great Holiday Season and we’ll see you next year. ☺
tomato-rest-time

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Worlds Largest Food Fight….WITH Tomatoes!!

Imagine FIVE tons of Tomatoes and between 20,000 and 50,000 party goers let loose to throw said Tomatoes at each other….. Well don’t image, here it is!

Bunol, Spain is the site of this insanity….enjoy!

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The End Is Near, Tomato Canning 101

Hey gang….every year I kind of neglect folks asking about how to keep Tomatoes…..well long term anyways. I’ve talked about bringing Green Tomatoes in and how to ripen them but I’ve kinda left canning on the side….well no longer! I found a video that pretty well covers the A to Z of canning tomatoes. It’s a little crude in that the folks that made the video were REALLY down home types, but they cover everything necessary to can Tomatoes successfully.

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