Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Garden Harvests - July 25, 2012

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The garden is still holding on despite the record breaking drought and heat.  The zipper cream and purple hull peas are loving it, and I should have some harvests to show for it in a few more weeks.  Everything else is struggling despite my best efforts to keep things watered.  There is only so much time in the evenings and the heat is so draining I don't go out for long. 

I had a big harvest of eggplant this week

The tomatoes are still producing, they have even started to flower again.

More harvests of eggplant, bell peppers, and tomatoes

I harvested my first red jalapeno, I bet it is hot.  Giving this to someone at work.

Speaking of heat, my two potted habaneros are finally producing fruit.
These things just look wicked.  I can't wait to pass these bad boys out.

Garden Update - July 15, 2012

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Sorry about the repost, I deleted the original posting by mistake.  Thank goodness for Google cache.

My last garden update was almost a month ago on June 20, 2012.  There have been a lot of changes in the garden and in my personal life since that last post.  I will cover the garden changes now, and the personal changes in the future.  

As for the personal stuff, I will just say August and September are going to be busy months for me and I may not post or comment as frequently.  I will post more details about it soon, but it is not anything bad or dramatic, just change.  I can't wait to share with all my blogging friends.

I will start off with a picture of my peas.  I have got a bunch of them and they are my pride and joy right now.  Five rows of zipper cream and five rows of pinkeye purple hulls.  Over 250 ft total, and I am praying we get a good harvest.

The smaller ones on the left are the purple hulls.  They were planted a few weeks after the zipper creams on the right.
Zipper Creams
Overhead shot of the raised bed garden
One of my potted habanero plants, no peppers yet.
Best Boy Tomato plant
This was my squash bed, finally got off my butt and planted 3 zucchini here.
More tomatoes...
Silver Queen corn in 4x4 bed, this will be my last corn planting.
One of my Black Beauty eggplants, they are like trees.
Biggest disappointment this year is my butter beans.  Sure they look nice and healthy, but they are covered in aphids and ants.  I waited too long to treat them and now it will be too hard to get in there and get rid of them.
Another angle of the raised garden from my patio.
Last but not least, my grass is looking great from my sod project a few months ago.  Everything has grown together and looks so much better than before.

This is what it looked like in April.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Garden Harvests - July 12, 2012

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This week the tomatoes are coming in fast and furious and so far I have harvested over 50 pounds.  The eggplants and bell peppers are producing well also.  I am over 200 pounds in harvest totals which I think is pretty good.

The last three days have brought heavy afternoon showers, which is good, and lightning which is bad.  Long story short, lighting struck a pine tree in my neighbors yard, literally 30 feet from where I was sitting and fried some stuff in my house.  I will have to post a picture of the tree, it is pretty cool looking.

The better boy and best boy tomatoes fully ripened and ready. 

Romas and a few better boys, time to make some more sauce.

Nice variety in this basket.
Eggplant, bell peppers, tomatoes, Hungarian wax peppers, and a jalapeno

Tomato Basket 1

Tomato Basket 2

Tomato Basket 3

Eggplants and bell pepper

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Victorio Model 250 Food Strainer Review

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Last year I read a blog post from Rachel over at Grafix Muse's Garden Spot about her tomato harvest and how she loved her food strainer.  At the time I didn't even know what a food strainer was or why I would use it.  We didn't really grow a lot of tomatoes last year so I didn't really care, but I could tell from her post that this thing sounded cool.

Fast forward to this year and I have an abundance of tomatoes and a new found love for eating them.  I decided a few months ago to look up her post and find out which strainer she had.  It was the Victorio Model 250, so a quick amazon purchase later, and now I am the proud owner of one.

For those that don't know what a food strainer is, it is a device that allows you to make tomato sauce or apple sauce by dropping in whole fruits and it automatically discards the skin, seeds, and pulp.  You are left with pristine 100% pure tomato or apple sauce that is ready to be cooked.  You can also use it with other fruits like strawberries and blackberries by purchasing different sized screens.

The reviews of this tool on Amazon were mixed so I was a little skeptical, but this thing is freaking awesome!  I used it once last week to do a small batch to make home made spaghetti sauce.  Today I did a huge batch to make enough sauce to freeze, and both times it worked great!

The way this thing works is you drop whole tomatoes into this hopper.  They only need to be cut in half or quartered, you can leave skin and all on it.  You turn this hand crank and it feeds the tomato through a chamber and screen mesh.  Out of one end of the screen comes all the skin, seeds, and pulp, and out of the screen itself comes the pure tomato sauce.  I figured out it is better to only drop in a few tomatoes at a time and turn, instead of trying to fill up the hopper.  Cleanup and assembly is pretty easy too, the only thing that is a pain is cleaning the screen because the holes are so tiny.

This strainer costs around $50 dollars on, and to me that seems like a deal.  My time is worth the cost, and today it only took me 25 minutes to produce enough sauce to fill up a huge sauce pan.  I don't know what the alternative would be if you didn't have one of these strainers, but this is the only way for me. 

Thanks Rachel for posting about it, otherwise I would have never known.

Here are my tomatoes ready to be processed.

Here is the food strainer.  It has a vise on the bottom that allows you to mount it to a table or counter top.  The pulp comes out of the glass tube where the brown bowl is, and the tomato sauce is extracted through the screen and down that white chute into the clear bowl.  You feed the tomatoes into that top hopper and just turn the handle.

This was the pulp I was left with after using it today.  It leaves no waste.

Here is my huge pot of pure sauce ready to be cooked.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Garden Harvests - July 5, 2012

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We finally received some rain in the last few days, and I am so thankful for it.  The tomatoes are coming in fast and furious now, and so are the eggplants.  We have been eating a lot of the tomatoes on sandwiches, especially BLT's.  My wife and I have really taken a liking to tomatoes now, we never ate them until a few weeks ago.  They do taste better than what I remember as a kid.  I am finding it hard to keep up and will probably try making some home made tomato sauce this week.   

Here are some tomatoes fully ripe on the kitchen counter.

A nice batch of tomatoes with an eggplant and bell pepper

Last of the squash here with a few more eggplants and more tomatoes

California Bell Peppers

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Fourth of July - God Bless America!

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Happy July 4th everyone!  I am so thankful that I live in the United States of America.  I hope all my blogger friends have a great fourth of July holiday.  I like good patriotic songs that encapsulate what it means to be an American and my new favorite is Dierks Bentley's Home.  This song just came out a few months back and he sure hit the mark with this one.  Gives me chills every time, my favorite line..."Same, no we're not the same, but that's what makes us strong."  If you have never heard the song, I hope you enjoy it below.