There’s that certain time of the year when produce from your garden is drowning you from every side. What do you do with all the excess tomatoes your garden produces? You know in a few months, you’ll be longing for those delicious home-grown tomatoes again and they will be nowhere near.
Tag Archive for tomatoes
Tomatoes are one of the most popular vegetables grown in the United States. It’s easy to see why after tasting a tomato from the grocery store. Growing great tomatoes at home is a passion and an art, but it’s not that hard to learn how.
The month of August has been riddled with disappointment in the Little Sprouts garden. We fought squash bugs that decimated all the squashes, pumpkins, cucumbers, and now melons. We fought armadillos, raccoons, and possums. It seems like everything that could come against our growing has. But the good news is we still grew 115 pounds of food in August.
Normally August would be our glut of produce month, but the animals stripped the peaches, plums and apples off the trees. In addition, they stole most of the melons and stripped the tomatoes and tomatillos bare of all green fruit.
We have been busy picking squash bugs by the hundreds, and trapping live animals and relocating them in the country where there aren’t any people living. We have trapped 4 raccoons and 7 possums to date. We have evidence of an armadillo and at least one more raccoon that remain at large.
Most of our garden has died off from heat or bugs, but we are still growing sweet potatoes and okra. Our tomato and tomatillo plants are flowering again now that temps are under the high 90s every day again. Maybe if we don’t get a frost, we will have another round of fruits to enjoy. We are still growing hot peppers as well.
We have planted quite a few seeds for a fall garden and they are beginning to germinate now. I also purchased some fox and coyote urine to try to deter any more animals from wanting to hang out in the garden. We do have one helpful creature hanging out in the garden, this cute watch kitty. She’s exterminated a few pests for us and all she asks in return is to lay in the cool dirt of the garden (sometimes on a seedling or two) and to get a few pats on the head or scratches on the ear. She’s a keeper.
Our total produce production so far this season is 453 pounds of healthy, delicious, chemical free food for the kids and Mr. Kent and I to enjoy. Not what we had hoped, but definitely nothing to sneeze at. We have eaten watermelon, cantaloupe, hot peppers, okra, tomatoes, carrots, tomatillos, onions, Swiss chard, butternut squash, garlic, green beans, drying beans, cabbage, spaghetti squash, peaches, figs, peas, broccoli, herbs, kale, kohlrabi, blueberries, strawberries, asparagus, spinach, Chinese cabbage, bok choy, lettuce, radishes, and Brussels sprouts. What’s growing in your garden today?
Making pinwheels is a great activity for kids to do. Cooking with kids is fun and it doesn’t have to be difficult. Letting kids prepare their own food builds self-esteem, self-help skills, fine motor skills, social skills, and gives them a sense of accomplishment. Kids who prepare food are much more likely to want to try new and healthy things. Click here to see more benefits of cooking with kids.
Usually when a new child enters my program, whether they are a picky eater or not, at first they don’t try many new foods they haven’t seen before. Once we begin to build trust, they may try a few more things, but after we begin preparing food together, the kids really branch out and try more and more things. Introducing a new food takes some patience. You have to offer a food 11 times before the child no longer considers it something new. So don’t give up, healthy habits are worth the effort! By the time children have been at Little Sprouts for a few months, most of them are eating a much bigger variety of foods than they did before they came. I think that’s awesome!
Making pinwheels is a great way to incorporate some vegetables into something the kids already love. Most kids love tortillas and meat and cheese, so sliding a few veggies onto their pinwheel to make it look colorful and pretty just helps it to be more fun. This recipe was a big hit with my Little Sprouts.
The first step, after the kids wash their hands, is to give each child a tortilla and a hunk of cream cheese to spread on it. Spreading is a great way to build motor skills in kid’s hands that are needed for good penmanship.
The next step is to layer on some meat the kids love. Then on top of that, you can add thin slices of whatever veggies you think the kids will enjoy. We used tomatoes and cucumbers for the pretty colors they add. I let the kids choose how many vegetables to add, but they wanted to add more than they would normally choose because they were in control of the toppings.
Lastly, show the kids how to roll them up like a burrito and cut slices of them off. Then display them on a plate and when it’s time to each, let each child choose how many pinwheels they want to start with.
There are unlimited variations of this recipe. Your pinwheels could be sweet or savory. You could use the cream cheese and add fruits instead of vegetables for a fun side dish. You could add fresh herbs, super thinly sliced carrots or other veggies, or a multitude of other toppings. The only limit is your imagination.
Have you ever tried making pinwheels with your kids? How did they like them?
I’m on my own tonight and wanted something tasty to eat. I also wanted something that wasn’t too time consuming to make and that was fresh and healthy. I LOVE chopped salad and I LOVE marinated salads. I looked around to see what I had to choose from and this is what I came up with.
I’m eating it right now and it’s super delicious! Something about the combination of avocados and bacon is magical. I love balsamic on just about anything, and the little bit of microgreens I had left were just the touch needed to make it taste super fresh and delish!
Today is Halloween and tonight we are supposed to get our first frost. That will kill all our tomatoes, okra, peppers, and most of our herbs. I’m super sad to see this part of the garden go. But there are still fall veggies to grow and there’s always next year. We have learned so much and I can’t wait to start planning for that!
This week my Little Sprouts and I picked over 75 pounds of produce. We have 24 pounds of little green tomatoes to use, so if you have any suggestions, let us know!
We picked 40 pounds of watermelon. The squash bugs finally got our watermelon vines and I wasn’t sure if the tendrils turned brown because of that or if they were ripe. Nonetheless, the frost was coming anyway, so we picked our five watermelons. Sadly, the kids busted three of them on the way in the house… I cut those three up and one of the was ready and really yummy.
We picked 27 pounds of tomatoes, some green beans, tomatillos, okra, and a ton of peppers and HERBS! Over three POUNDS of herbs! Wow!
We also harvested two ten gallon buckets of drying beans, but I’m not sure how much weight is in the vines, so I’m going to weigh them after we shell them. We have to wait for them to dry to do that.
Have a safe and happy Halloween!
Has frost hit your area yet?
This week my Little Sprouts and I harvested 21 pounds of food. Our pear tree has fire blight and is dying and we didn’t see any pears on it this year. Sad, because we usually harvest over 250 pounds of pears. To our surprise there were a handful of pears ripe on the tree this week, hiding from us and the ornery raccoons that usually help themselves to much of our fruit.
We also picked this lovely 13 pound watermelon this week.
The kids have so much fun in the garden exploring and finding treats. I cannot remember what our life was like before we had all this great learning and exploration we enjoy in the garden.
Here the kids discovered a cute little ladybug crawling up the okra.
The days are cooling and the getting shorter so the time for the garden is coming to a close, but the garden has birthed so much awe and wonder for us this year. I can’t wait until Spring! I love cold weather and winter, but I’m going to miss all the fun we have watching amazing things grow. Is anything still growing around you?
Isn’t this lavender gorgeous? It smells amazing too. It’s glorious to sit near it and watch the busy bees working.
You won’t believe our harvest this week! My Little Sprouts and I harvested over 84 pounds of food this week! The tomatoes and okra are slowing down, but we dug our sweet potatoes today and yesterday we harvested most of our second corn crop.
This is one of our two sweet potato beds. To harvest the sweet potatoes, first we cut all the vines back.
Then we started digging. It was like hunting for treasures. We all had so much fun doing it.
This was the biggest one found while the kids were here, but they tired out so we finished harvesting after work tonight. We found a few that were bigger than this one. It was over 4 pounds, but we found three more that were about 5 1/2 pounds.
The kids were excited. We harvested 73 pounds of sweet potatoes total.
We harvested a couple of melons this week. The squash bugs have taken down all of our cantaloupe vines, so this will be our last one. We still have a number of watermelons growing though.
Here is a look at what else we harvested this week.
This is all the corn we got. It was about 4 pounds. I’m not sure what we are doing wrong, but the ears don’t get very big. We figured out how to pollinate it by hand and while we didn’t do it perfectly, we got a LOT more corn that pollinated than last time. Once the tassles formed and began dropping pollen, we took one off the stalk each day and rubbed it on the silks of all the ears of corn. Hand pollinating is as simple as that.
The kids had lots of fun picking the corn.
The weather has cooled off here so it’s 60-80 degrees when we are in the garden. It’s very pleasant work now that the summer heat is gone.
What is your favorite thing to harvest?
My Little Sprouts and I are still getting harvests each week even though they are getting smaller and smaller. This week we harvested over 17 pounds of food. Included in that was our very first fig from our fig tree!
This is Monday’s harvest:
I forgot to take a picture of the harvest today, but I did get shots of the kids picking it.
We picked a total of 10 pounds of tomatoes, 2 1/2 pounds of okra, 3 1/2 pounds of cantaloupe, and a pound of green beans as well as some tomatillos, hot peppers, and other assorted goodies including one beautiful little fig. 🙂
Is anything still growing in your garden?
The Little Sprouts Learning Garden is starting to rebound from the super hot part of the summer. As the weather has remained cool, the tomatoes, peppers, green beans and other plants have started to flower and set fruit again. Also, the things we did a second planting of are starting to produce. We replanted during an unseasonably cool week in august when it had cooled off enough for some things to germinate. We planted carrots, radishes, corn, peas, and green beans. We also planted seedlings for broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts. The green beans have started producing now and the corn is making ears. We harvested 18 pounds of produce this week.
This is Monday’s harvest.
It’s really nice that picking, weeding, and trimming have become bearable again. Our temperatures lows are in the 60’s and highs in the 80’s this week and it is lovely.
This is today’s harvest.
This week my Little Sprouts and I picked a pound of green beans, 2 pounds of okra, 7 pounds of cantaloupe, 8 pounds of tomatoes and a few other odds and ends.
Walking around the garden today, we discovered this perfect little gerber daisy hiding in the swiss chard. She was just peeking out to say hello. 🙂
What’s growing in your garden?