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Saturday, September 24, 2011

Fried Green Tomatoes Anyone?

Finally, the tomatoes have been ripening as of mid-September and have been on a role only to have the weather turn this week. I suppose I should be grateful for the two weeks of redness. I would've been really bummed if we had a total repeat of last year. It sure seemed that it was heading that way, only to turn around mid-late September. This region is known to get Indian summers and this year has proven that true. We actually had temperatures into the 80's, just in time for the first days of Fall. Oh, the irony of it all. A real Shakespeare comedy. I was hoping that if we got hot weather into October, this might turn out to be a descent tomato year.

The cherries tomatoes are the first to ripen. It's the larger varieties that hang on to their greeness longer. The next smaller size after cherries are the romas which have started turning red along with the Red Zebra, a pseudo heirloom variety. The Yellow Brandywines are sitting there and have even developed tomato blossom end rot as I neglected to supplement them with calcium when blooming. I finally fed them some Epsom salts solution in hopes to deter any future problems. Of course it helps to test your soil for magnesium and pH levels, something else I neglected to do this year. Epsom salts helps tomatoes take up calcium from the soil. The properties of the two key components of Epsom Salt: Magnesium and Sulfate is what helps. Dissolve a tablespoon into a gallon of water and water around the roots. I use about a 1/4 of the mixture for each plant. You can also mix in 1 cup per 100 sq. ft. of soil before you plant, according to a salt web site. Of course the site promotes Epsom salts as a wonder drug for all your plants.

We didn't bother with a cloche this year, and actually have a larger yield this year. I attribute that to planting the tomatoes in a more exposed bed, that gets more sun and heat, two components that are a must for tomatoes. Now that the weather has gone south, I'll be out there just before the first threat of frost to harvest all the green one's left on the plants. Fried green tomatoes anyone?

I like to can, but just don't have the time to do it this year. Luckily, I subscribe to "The Cheap Vegetable Garden" blog and recently read a really good idea for dealing with the bowl of tomatoes sitting in my fridge. Mr. Cheap cuts his tomatoes in half, scrapes out the seeds and hard core, then grates them. The gratings store in the freezer well to be used for sauces later. He doesn't do the boil thing to remove the skins. The skins peal off during the grating process. He takes the skins and puts them in a dehydrator or low temperature oven to completely dry out. He then crumbles them and stores them to add to dishes like an herb for an intense tomato flavor. Sounds like a plan to me. I'll let you know how it goes. If you'd like to read the complete instructions on the powder part, click here.

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