Category Archives: tomatoes

Funny Vegetables

Check out this monster tomato!! It was the highlight of my morning. I’ve been canning for 12 hours now! Luckily, I’m done with the hard part. Now I can sit back and relax and just switch out the canner every so often. Yahoo!

These are my pitiful little onions…I’m still not sure exactly why they flowered instead of growing. They are so cute that I almost don’t mind except that they’re already gone! Don’t they look almost like little purple light bulbs?


It Has Begun…(drumroll please)

What is IT? Canning season that is. And no, that’s not why I’ve been missing. I’ve been missing because my blogging addiction has given way to a Ravelry addiction which has led me to begin knitting everyone’s Christmas presents now, while I’m still motivated and sort of have the time.

I promise to post more soon. My order of peaches came in tonight which will lead directly in to apple and tomato seasons which might clash slightly with the vacation to who knows where that we’re taking the week of Labor Day. That will all keep me busy but it will give me lots of blog worthy material too.

I leave you with this. Anyone who can tell what it is gets an imaginary pat on the back from me. 🙂

Canning Rhubarb, and more planting

I’m trying a new theory. Instead of eating within the seasons, how about preserving each season so I can have it all year long. Case in point: last year I made the heck out of rhubarb muffins for a couple months. I’ve been craving them for about 10 months now. I like to can as much as possible to save freezer space for meat so I thought I’d try canning rhubarb. It was the easiest canning experience ever!!

I had a bag of rhubarb that must have weighed 10 pounds. I could have run it through the food processor like I sometimes do but cut it up by hand instead. It is easier to work with and looks nicer. Plus, I didn’t feel good and sitting in front of the TV with the cutting board for 2 hours made me feel like I accomplished something. Anyway, I chopped it in small 1/2-1 inch pieces.

Add 2-4 cups of sugar to each 16 cups of rhubarb. I used only 2 cups because I prefer a very light syrup. Toss together in a big bowl and let sit for at least a few hours. The natural juices will seep out and create it’s own syrup.

After setting for awhile it is time to get the canner going and jars ready. Then heat the rhubarb and the juice in a pan until boiling. Boil for 30-60 seconds. Transfer to jars leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Wipe the rim and seal. Process for 15 minutes.

The Ball canning book says that each 16 cup batch will produce 8 pints. I had about 40 cups but only ended up with 13 pints, not the 20 I expected. The rhubarb must have cooked down quite a bit. There was not a lot of syrup but all the jars sealed and I expect them to store well. I already opened 1 jar to make muffins and I was very happy with the product. I’ll share the rhubarb muffin recipe as soon as I find the one I used last year.

In other news, I planted out some more seedlings tonight. 35 Waltham 29 broccoli and 17 more Amish Paste tomatoes, bring the total AP tomatoes up to 25 surviving.

Tomorrow is my early day at work so off to bed I go. Enjoy! 🙂

Growing Challenge Check-In: Planting

My garden isn’t small but I didn’t have any room to plant corn. Our neighbor Jeff was kind enough to come by with his tractor and rototiller and make the above long strip of garden for me. It is between the pasture fence and the road. We had to put the fence far off the road to make room for snow in the winter but can still use the space all summer.

I planted 5 different kinds of corn the first day. I still had some room so in went 2 packets of sunflowers, hopefully to use in granola bars this fall. Well, there was still a ton of room left so I just kept planting. All the peas and beans went in. Then watermelon, zucchini, and squash. There is still room so I added eggplant seeds and may stick in some eggplant seedlings to fill it up. I’m trying to plant less valuable crops there since I wouldn’t put it past some idiot to drive through it or pick from it. The tomatoes and other crops will stay in the main garden. Plus, now there is room in the main garden for pumpkins!!

Here’s the complete running list, new additions in bold, the rest are updated.

Seedlings still under light (they really need to get outside but the weather is poor):
Amish Paste Tomatoes
Green Zebra Tomatoes
Waltham 29 Broccoli
Ping Tung Eggplant
Long Purple Eggplant

In the main garden:
Red pioneer potatoes- 10# – growing well, need straw
Red onions – 8-10″ tall
Dwarf Grey Sugar Peas (hybrid) – 1 20′ row – 8″ tall
Asparagus – mostly gone to seed, some still coming up
Black seeded simpson lettuce – 1 20′ row – up
Black seeded simpson lettuce – 1 20′ row planted 4/27 – up
Sugar Ann snap pea – 1 20′ row planted 4/27 – 4″ tall
Victoria Rhubarb – approx. 25 seeds planted 4/27 – didn’t come up, disappeared!
Amish Paste Tomato seedlings – 10 planted out 5/25 – 2 died, others holding on

In the long garden:
Country Gentleman sweet corn – 1 packet – planted 5/25
Golden Bantam 8-Row sweet corn – 1 pkt. – planted 5/25
Carousel mini ornamental corn – 1 pkt. – planted 5/25
Strawberry popcorn – 1 pkt. – planted 5/25
Japanese White Hull-less popcorn – 1 pkt. – planted 5/25
Mammoth Grey sunflowers – 1 pkt. – planted 5/30
Buff Valentine (Contender) bush bean – 3 pkts. – planted 5/31
Sugar Ann snap peas – remainder of 1 pkt. – 5/31
Laxton’s Progress 9 garden pea – 3 pkts. – 5/31
Tall Telephone garden pea – 1 pkt. – 5/31
Blacktail Mountain watermelon – 1 pkt. = 5 hills – 5/31
Butternut Roosa squash – partial pkt. = 2 hills – 5/31
Black Beauty zucchini – partial pkt. = 2 hills – 5/31
Ping Tung eggplant – partial pkt. = 2 hlls – 5/31

Around the farm:
Heritage Raspberry – 4 canes planted 4/26 – doing great
Strawberries – a few blossoms, only half dozen plants survived winter without mulch
Gooseberry and Currants – 2 of each – planted last year – huge w/ small berries forming!
2 Red Haven Peach trees – planted – all fruit trees are healthy and green
1 Harrow pear tree – planted last year – only tree with blossoms
1 Bartlett pear tree – planted
1 Montmorency Cherry tree – planted
1 Gala apple tree – planted
1 Golden Delicious apple tree – planted
4 blueberry bushes – planted last year – greening up
Mature apple trees – small apples forming!

Here’s a pic I snapped from where I sat planting the endless patch.

Also, this is the broken hoe that I’ve repurposed to help me plant. It makes a great little tool to cut rows in the soil. Then I just drop the seeds in and pat over them with my hand.

I’ve enjoy reading many of your garden updates and how everyone’s plant are flourishing. What’s your favorite garden tool? How do you plant your seeds?

Almost Local Homemade Whole Wheat Pizza

This is a quick and relatively easy dinner option for us. I personally don’t like pizza so I make a separate pan of breadsticks for myself. I like the following recipe which can be found at

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 package active dry yeast/instant yeast
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup hot tap water (120 – 125°F)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon honey or granulated sugar

I mix the ingredients together in a bowl and then dump it out on to a floured countertop. I add parsley, oregano, and a little garlic salt to the dough to taste. Knead for a couple minutes adding extra flour as needed. Then roll out with a rolling pin into a circle big enough for your pizza pan. You can make 2 thin crust pizzas or 1 regular crust with this recipe. Carefully transfer the dough to a greased pizza pan.

Last time I bought cheese sticks Kraft brand was on sale so I bought that kind. We think they are gross: plastic like with no flavor. I thought I’d use them up by making this pizza with a stuffed crust. Just push some extra dough up over the lip of the pan. Place strips of the cheese around the edge and push them in to the dough slightly. Then roll the lip down and over the cheese while pushing the whole edge back against the lip of the pan.

Time to add the toppings. I used home canned tomato sauce and shredded 4 more cheese sticks to put on top of the sauce. I add venison pepper sticks from Brian’s deer, sliced thinly with a knife, in place of store bought pepperoni. On goes 1 small can of mushrooms.

As a special touch I melt some butter, mix in a little garlic salt and herbs, and spread that over the crust. It makes it a little more moist which is part of what Brian missed from take out pizza. He approved this recipe and doesn’t dislike it like he has some of the others I’ve tried.

Bake at 400 for 15-20 minutes, or try a little longer if it isn’t crisp.

For our pizza the ingredients are as follows:
Veggie oil, sugar, flour, tomato sauce, pepper stick – all very local
Sea salt – purchased at Lansing Market
Yeast, mushrooms, cheese – purchased at local grocery

Theoretically one could grow their own mushrooms and purchase local cheese for a totally local experience! What is your favorite almost local dish? Or easy dinner idea?