Wednesday, August 28, 2013

freezing our tomatoes

if you haven't guessed by now, i'm slightly tomato obsessed! it was a long, sad winter without the delicious fresh tomato taste as i refuse to buy them out of season from a grocery store. between missing harvest season and moving suddenly last year, i didn't get the chance to preserve any of last summer's bounty. now i have the chance!
we may have planted a few more tomato plants than needed, and we didn't expect them to do so well as the past couple years have been bad for dry rot. anyways we ended up with a ton of enormous, delicious tomatoes and we don't want any of the bounty to go to waste.

we are currently housed in a small bachelor basement apartment which we refer to as our 'hobbit hole'. though it has many benefits such as a huge back yard in which we can grow as much food as we want, there are drawbacks like not having a real kitchen. our tiny little induction element isn't big enough for a canning pot, but we do have a chest freezer so we decided this year we would try freezing them.
as you can imagine we spent a great deal of time trying to decide what was the best way to deal with tomatoes before freezing.. should we skin them? cut them? core them? freeze them whole??? and we decided after weighing the pros and cons of all the methods that we would simply bag them up and freeze them whole. that way we can take from the bags as needed, and they should be easy to skin after thawing anyway. this will better lock in the flavour than if they were skinned or cut i think, no matter the method they're pretty well guaranteed to be mushy, so we opted for the least impact method. plus we had tons, and there's still five times more not ready yet.

we will have to deal with them when we return from the east coast, many soups and sauces are in the future of this batch. we have already used some of the yellow ones fresh for sauce, and they added a sweet fresh flavour to our pasta dish. i was planning to try roasting them with peppers and garlic and making a delicious salsa with them as well.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

late august bounty

it's harvest time in the garden.. there's something becoming ripe for our enjoyment daily. we have enjoyed fried green tomatoes, eggplant tempura and eggplant burgers [that turned out amazing!], various flavours of tea, some super fresh pasta sauce, spices, sandwiches [made with deli fresh bread!] and salads.. all grown in our very own back yard.

one thing i'm most proud of growing has to be our giant sunflower. there are half a dozen or so around the back yard, but this one in particular is massive. it stands well over our heads and the stalk is well over an inch across, and it hasn't even flowered yet! but it's working on it.. we had a late start this year with our last minute move, so we didn't have a chance to start a garden right away after last frost. on top of that we had to start from scratch in an overgrown backyard turned meadow after the grass had a chance to get waist height. what an adventure... and here we are, almost fall. what a great gardening experience, so much learned and so much yet to try!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

gifts from the garden

there has truly been no shortage of tomatoes in the garden this season, and i say keep 'em coming! i love fresh tomatoes, and this year we will learn how to freeze and can them so that we can make use of them over the winter. it's a good thing that toasted tomato sandwiches are one of my favourites, and matt loves his fried green! 
 i'm excited about the sunflowers this year. for some reason i never tried them until now, and they are certainly the biggest thing i have ever grown from seed. the biggest sunflower towers over me, and it's not even flowered yet! this one along the back bed i snapped a shot of as it's starting to bud, and i noticed after the fact that there's an enormous daddy long legs just hanging out on one of the leaves.
here's something that we weren't expecting, i was told by other tenants of the house that the grape vine along the back fence hasn't produced fruit in years. so i was surprised to find a few bunches hanging out on the vines. i was happy enough to have it as a wind block and a privacy screen, plus the vines are a lot more pleasing to the eye than the car lot on the other side of the chain link fence.

every day there's something new to discover in the garden. just having a garden is a gift of it's own, but it's an amazing feeling knowing that you can have something beautiful to enjoy, and it will feed you too. my partner agrees:)

Saturday, August 17, 2013

weekends in the garden

 i've been spending the past couple weekends camping out back with the garden patch, and giving it some much needed attention. it hasn't been quite the same since the storm hit, but most of the plants are still doing pretty well. the herbs, funny enough, were the things that suffered the most, we lost more than half of them under the blown over tomatoes and kale. next year's redesign will address the wind we haven't been used to preparing for in previous years. after another weekend of trimming and staking, i ws pleased to find a few good sized black beauty eggplants!
 the fig tree seems to be happy as well, the fruits are starting to show a bit more growth, but i'm still skeptical that they will become full sized fruits this year. i wasn't expecting the tree to fruit at all in it's first year, and yet here she is, decked out in little figs.
talk about a jungle.. what survived also thrived, especially along the west facing side of the patch. the purple kale looks as majestic as ever, as well as behind it the rainbow swiss chard. both plants looking almost prehistoric. the sunflowers are the biggest thing i've ever [successfully] grown from seed, and they are my trophies this year. i plan to plant them again next season, maybe right in the ground this time instead of starting them in jiffy pots. the squirrels and birds can't possibly find every seed, could they?! ha..
 up front some of our surviving herbs, and the heirlooms coming in enormous. this was one of the plants that broke right over and re-rooted itself right away. there's got to be over a dozen huge tomatoes on this plant alone!
 the garden looking a little less jungle like after a trim, you can get into the path once again. i was pleased to discover there is still life lurking beneath the tangled mess left by the storm, more than i had expected. our eggplants are survivors, even after being smothered once given space they bounced right back and are starting to flower like crazy.

Friday, August 9, 2013

tomato rainbow..

between the batch of green tomatoes knocked loose from last week's incident, and the ones coming up ripe on the vine, we have been feasting on many garden fresh specimens. cherries for salads, early girl for sammiches, and the greens were some delicious heirlooms that we ended up slicing green to make some fried green tomatoes. it was my first time trying them as i had never fancied the idea of eating them green, but they turned out to be very yummy, zesty and flavourful!

so flavourful in fact, that i refuse to eat 'fresh' tomatoes in the winter. these so called tomatoes that you can get at the grocery store are bland, watery and acidic in comparison to any tomato grown and picked fresh off the vine. luckily this year we should have enough left over to do some canning so that we have garden fresh goodness to make sauce and salsa with all winter, yum!