Tomatoes

“The federal government has sponsored research that has produced a tomato that is perfect in every respect, except that you can’t eat it. We should make every effort to make sure this disease, often referred to as ‘progress’, doesn’t spread.” – Andy Rooney

OK, so these really aren’t those dreaded government tomatoes, just the last picking of our vine ripened, home grown beauties.  The picture comes from my daughter and was an assignment for her photography class.  But really, special effects aside, is there anything better than a home grown tomato?

 

Early October 2011 in the Garden

Things are starting to wind down from the summer here at Stoney Acres.  The plants are looking spent and we are getting the last of the warm season produce.  Here’s a quick tour of what’s going on in the garden.

The tomatoes are still ripening and the plants really look pretty good.  There is some cold weather approaching for the next few days and then it will warm up again.  I think we will keep the plants in the ground and see if we can get some more of these tomatoes to ripen on the vine.

There are still a few summer squash maturing.  I don’t think the plants will hold out much longer, they are starting to show signs of some kind of blight or disease.  But we will still have some fresh Zucchini and yellow squash for a week or so.

The popcorn seems to be coming along.  We pulled a few ears this week and they are dry, but not quite ready so I think they will continue to ripen in the garden for a few weeks unless the weather really turns bad.

As you can see the melon patch is spent.  We picked and ate the last water melon this week,  the remaining cantaloupe that you can see don’t stand a chance of ripening this late.  We will probably pull all the plants out this week along with the cucumbers you can see in the background.

The everbearing strawberries are still doing well.  As you can see we are still getting flowers.  This late in the year chances are slim these flowers will ripen, but they may still have a chance.

As the weather has cooled this Tuscan Kale plant has really come on strong.  Kale really likes the cool weather and the taste will really improve after the first frost.

The bell peppers are pretty much done.  They most likely won’t survive the upcoming cold.

This may be my best crop of winter carrots ever.  The carrots in this bed are healthy and already starting to size up.  They will be ready for eating and will be one of the few fresh veggies we will get to eat in December and January.

The pumpkins are still struggling to ripen.  You can see two in this picture one will make it, the other on the bottom left is still up in the air.

The raspberry patch is still going strong with a lot of berries still to ripen and pick.  Last year we had ripe berries until November.

 

 

The winter garden is coming along well, this second bed of carrots are also starting to size up and will be ready to eat in early December.

This is our favorite type of lettuce, it called butter crunch and is really good this time of year.  We will start thinning this bed and eating the thinning’s in salads, that will let the other plants continue to add size.

This bed contains more lettuce on the right and some pac choy on the left.  These will be the first greens ready for harvest in about 30 days and will then be replaced with mache (corn salad).  Which is already planted between the rows.

These big plants of sorrel are ready to eat any time and will be covered with the cold frame soon for eating all winter.

If you look really close in this picture you will see the first of the winter mache coming up.  This won’t be ready to eat until February but will be a welcome addition that time of year.

Well, there’s where we stand at the first of October.  Things will be a lot less impressive 30 days from now as the first frost approaches and even the first snow.  Soon the only fresh veggies will be tucked inside the cold frames.

 

 

 

 

Ratatouille

As the gardening season winds down here at Stoney Acres we will start posting less on growing veggies and more on other self reliance ideas.  Included in this will be recipes to help you use your harvest.

As you will learn we are big “locavores”.  Whenever we can we try to make meals with local or home grown ingredients.  Last nights dinner was a good example of this.  My sister gave us this recipe and we thought the kids would get a kick out of it because of the Disney movie.  Turns out the kids didn’t like it all that much, but we sure did.

Ratatouille 

9 oz Eggplant (we aren’t big egg plant fans so we substituted yellow squash)

2 Tbs Olive Oil

9 oz (one) Zucchini, thickly sliced

2 onions, cut in wedges

1 red pepper, cut in bide sized cubes

1 green pepper, cut in bide sized cubes

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 lb 2 oz ripe tomatoes, chopped

Dash of whole oregano

Dash of basil (of course you can use fresh if you have it)

Salt and pepper to taste

 Heat 1 ½ Tbs of the oil in a LARGE frying pan.  Add the eggplant (or squash) and zucchini in batches and cook for a few minutes or until lightly browned, drain well on paper towels.

 Add the remaining oil to the pan and cook the onion over low heat for 3 minutes, or until golden brown.  Add the red and green peppers and cook for 5 minutes or until tender but not browned.  Add the garlic and tomato and cook, stirring for 5 minutes. 

 Stir the egg plant and zucchini back into the pan.  Simmer for 15-20 minutes to reduce and thicken the sauce.  Season to taste with herbs, salt and pepper.  Serve over rice.

Served with rice and a piece of fresh baked artisan bread; we thought this was yummy!   The kids . . . well, they ate the bread.  The older ones liked it but that many veggies in one dish was just two much for the younger ones to handle. Oh well!!

I hope you give this one a try while you still have a few veggies to throw in it before winter.  Enjoy!!

Harvest Monday 10-3-11

October has arrived here at Stoney Acres and that means the harvest that had been really big for the last 6 weeks is finally slowing down.  The weather forecast says today will be the last of the really warm days with an expected high of 82.  I suspect this will be the last time we see 80 this year.  Temperatures are going to drop 20 degrees in the next few days and that will pretty much stop the ripening tomatoes in their tracks.  As you can see we still had a pretty good week of tomatoes and the last few peppers.

These are the last of the watermelon for the year; both were pretty small but still were ripe and tasty.  The Zucchini was made into bread and the yellow squash will become an ingredient in ratatouille later in the week.

Of course the Raspberries are still going strong with another 2 big pickings.  I expect we will still have ripe raspberries for another 2 or 3 weeks as long as we don’t get too cold.

The total amount of strawberries we are getting has really dropped off with only one picking for the week.  But what we are losing in total volume is being made up in quality; these were some of the sweetest berries of the year.

Here’s this weeks totals:

  • Raspberries – 2 lbs
  • Strawberries – 1.5 lbs
  • Watermelon – 6 lbs
  • Zucchini – 3.5 lbs
  • Yellow Squash – 2 lbs
  • Cucumbers – .5 lbs
  • Tomatoes Cherry – .5 lbs
  • Tomatoes – 11.5 lbs
  • Peppers – .25 lbs
  • New Zealand Spinach – .25 lbs
  • Eggs – 15
  • Total – 28.00 lbs

 

This weeks total harvest brings our annual total to 597.75.  This post is part of the weekly harvest series sponsored by Daphne’s Dandelions.  Check out her site for a list of other gardeners and what they are growing!!

“A garden is never so good as it will be next year.”

— Thomas Cooper 

 

Sometimes this is our theme here at Stoney Acres, as witnessed by the beautiful pumpkin vine with out a single pumpkin.  OH Well, there’s always next year!!

 

 

The End is Near!!

They say all good things must come to an end and these tomatoes are living on borrowed time.

Look at our weather forcast for the next 7 days:

Friday                                    Satruday                            Sunday

High 88   Low 57               High 84 Low 59                High 80   Low 59

Monday                                Tuesday                             Wednesday

High  78  Low 57               High  74  Low 55            High 70  Low 54

Thursday

High 59  Low 39 

A low of 39 at the airport could very well mean frost where we live, given our micro climate .   Some of my neighbors who live closer to the river will have frost for sure!!

I guess this weekend we will have to get the hoops up and the boxes on the cold frame beds.  The tomatoes  and other warm season crops may be looking at their last week!!

Let’s hope we have enough time for this pumpkin to finish ripening!!

Utah Farmers Markets

We love our local farmers market.  The Salt Lake City area has several farmers markets, the largest is held from June until November in down town Salt Lake.  We have been to it and it is more like a fair than a farmers market.  The environment is fun but the crowds are huge and there are more arts and crafts vendors than farmers.

Over the years several of the local towns have tried to start their own markets with varying success.  Most are small affairs with only a few vendors.  But a few years back the Utah Farm Bureau moved their farmers market to the near by town of South Jordan.  The first couple of years I worried that they wouldn’t make it, there were only a few vendors and never a ton of people.  But last year it really took off.

As you can see from the pictures the crowds have grown and so have the number of vendors.  I like this market because it is all about local products.  Because it is sponsored by the Farm Bureau there are only farmers and other local food vendors.  There aren’t any vendors selling T-shirts and cheap jewelry.  Just good food.

There are a couple of vendors that actually serve food; funnel cakes and bar-b-que.  But the rest of the vendors are farmers selling veggies, fruit, herbs, honey and even fresh baked breads.  Each week they have some type of entertainment or big display.  This week it was a huge tent full of local goodies you could taste.  Last week it was a local band that was really very good for an outdoor street show.  We ended up staying for an extra half an hour just to listen.

This is the booth of our favorite local farm, they don't use pesticides and are only about 2 miles from our house

Because we are such big gardeners we don’t actually buy much of our produce at the market.  We primarily use it to fill in the gaps of items we don’t grow or to help with crop failures.  For example we don’t have enough space to grow corn for our needs, so we buy quite a bit at the market.  This year our pepper crop was an epic failure, so we bought a bunch from a local farmer.  We also found a great variety of garlic last year at the market.  We went back and bought more to use for seed and we are now growing it ourselves.  We also use the market to get a supply of fruit for the winter months as we don’t have any producing fruit trees on our small place.

I hope you take advantage of your local farmers market.  It gives local farmers a great place to sell there products and to actually earn full retail prices for they things the produce.

What are the farmers markets like in your area?  Please leave a comment and let us know.