Thursday, July 25, 2013

Ah, the tomato...

Just a note asking you to follow The No-Till Gardener on Facebook. Stay tuned for a giveaway when we hit the 100 FB likes mark!  We have a ways to go...

Perhaps it should be "Ah, the Tomato!! We love us some tomatoes and tomato products around here. We use about 50 quarts of home canned tomatoes and sauce each year -- hence the double exclamation point rather than the boring elipses in the title.  

Regardless, the tomato harvest is finally coming in. As you can see, there are quite a few varieties involved.  This year I think I planted around 12 plants (it's a little lame that I don't know exactly how many I planted).  This doesn't count the dozen or so that  I started in my Aero Garden.  Roma, Early Girl, Black Crimm (just for fun), and the wonderful Mortgage Lifter (and an as yet to be determined variety or two). I also purchased a grafted heirloom variety (Calabrese I believe it's called) that is in a huge pot out by the pool along side three gorgeous artichoke plants and a brown turkey fig.  This dubious variety list does not include all the volunteer Juliette's and Roma's  (I think that's what they are anyway)that have popped up here and there. At last count, there is only one bed that does not have some type of tomato growing away.  Only the Agrabond-hooped cabbage bed has escaped the nightshade invasion.  

Heirloom Black Crim - notice the black spot on the leaves.

Volunteer tomatoes are a sweet little game of gardening Russian roulette.  They may set up shop in the strangest places but I never have the heart to tear them out because they have such a strong survival ability.  They are little gifts from nature that keep on giving. They are also extremely hardy or they wouldn't appear year after year, of their own volition. I try to save a few seeds from each variety for starting and proper planting the next year. 

In years past, most of the tomatoes used in the 50 quarts of tomatoes and various tomato products were purchased from the grower and then processed at home.  Standing at the sink, steam rising as we peeled and filled jar after jar... then processed and cooled before storage. Now, thanks to my prolific N-TG, I don't even have to purchase a single tomato, not to mention peel before processing.  My little organic garden takes away the worry of wondering just exactly what pesticides the grower may have used.  Now I wash, plop in the jars, add salt and a bit of citric acid, and process.  
Salsa, chili, tomatoes with basil, and yellow tomatoes for lighter sauces, etc.

I am battling some black spot on some of my tomato plants.  The fact that I plant them so closely doesn't help. And we, like the rest of the eastern US, have had an inordinate amount of rain. It's been pretty darn soggy - perfect conditions for some pesky problems to arise.  Thicker mulch would have been a good idea... I think I'll put all the tomatoes in one of the new larger end beds next year. 4x12 should hold quite a few plants with room to spare. That is unless I get carried away again...

For a great, quick pasta sauce recipe, using some of your bountiful harvest of the red globe of goodness visit my other website,!

What's ready to harvest in your garden? What tomato varieties work best for you?

Now... get out there and get your hands dirty!
All Content ©2011-2012 by The No Till Gardener and Equimage® Ltd. All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

NOOOOOO more snow!

The garden in winter...

We're expecting another four to six inches of snow! Five days of unrelentingly gloomy, grey skies, followed by one tantalizing partially sunny day. Now, four to six inches of snow!  It's March for pete's sake. Spring is right around the corner -- technically -- a couple of weeks away. And, yet, more snow.  At least we're not in Minnesota...

I've been tinkering with my garden layout this year, using a fun FREE gardening layout tool from  Currently, I have four 4x8 beds.  I'm thinking of closing off the ends with additional 4x12 beds, connecting the northernmost beds together, and adding a small center raised bed on the diagonal (can't be well-represented here)  -- about 3x3.  This would increase my usable gardening area to 289 square feet! Whoo hoo! Here's a screenshot of my plan.  I have the hay, straw, and lumber.  Just need the time -- and A FEW NICE, SUNNY DAYS! 

I've been slowly sorting through my considerable seed stash. Like most February Junkies, I've purchased this and that interesting seed from a few purveyors of fine organic seeds.  I also stopped by the garden center the other day to look at  potato sets. I've come across a great idea from Growing Lots Blog about growing potatoes in towers created from old fence wire (I have a rusty roll just itching for repurposing), straw (a no-till gardener's best friend, next to moldy alfalfa hay) and compost (something of which I have in abundance). My plan is to create four of these potato towers and place one on each corner of my garden. That's the plan anyway... 

Time to plant a few things under the hoops... Collards, Kale (two to three types), garlic, lettuce carrots, chard, beets, bok choy, mustard, turnips, and radishes -- lots of radishes. I may add a layer of row cover just beneath the plastic hoop cover. Did you know that each layer of cover you add give you another USDA zone, or so. So adding a layer will give my beds about 20 degrees.  

Do you miss the smell of moist soil, getting your hands dirty in the garden?  If so, check out the Digging In radio program every Wednesday from 4-5 pm on WAIF Radio.  You can listen in on-line, via their live stream...

I'd bet that there is a local gardening radio show near you. If you find one, let me know. I love spreading the word about good gardening media!

Here's to dreaming of getting out there and getting our hands dirty!

Now, get out there and get your hands dirty! 

All Content ©2011-2012 by The No Till Gardener and Equimage Ltd. All Rights Reserved