Saturday, July 14, 2012

Pickled Green Tomatoes

In my last post, a dying tomato plant resulted in a little less than a pound of green cherry tomatoes.

I wanted to pickle them, but wasn't in the mood to can. I found this great Italian recipe on Public Radio's Splendid Table for pickled green tomatoes, no processing required. I added some chopped onions because a lot of other pickling recipes call for them, and because I had them. The mint and hot pepper were out - I didn't have any on hand.

I sliced the tomatoes, laid them in a single layer, and sprinkled a bit of salt on top.

A layer of onions was followed by more tomatoes, each layer sprinkled with a bit more salt.

At this point, the plate was covered in saran wrap and went into the fridge for 24 hours. When I removed it, I rinsed the mixture with cold water.

I tossed the tomatoes and onions with minced garlic, minced sundried tomatoes (the dried kind, not the kind in oil), and some basil chiffonade. (I love that word. Makes me feel French.)

Tomato mixture packed into jars and filled with 7% white vinegar. Result: 2 pints
Aren't they pretty? I'll marinate for four days and then they're ready to be sauteed with vegetables or tossed into scrambled eggs. Yum!

What concoctions would you like to make this summer?

Powdery Mildew

Look closely at the image below:

See the gray fuzz on those tomato leaves? I think that's powdery mildew. This is what it looks like when it's further along:

Yellow, withered leaves, curling up on the tomato plant. I attended a workshop at BNAN City Natives this morning and learned that the powdery mildew is unusual for most home gardeners in the Northeast right now, because it has been so hot. But because I have been growing these tomatoes in self-watering containers, they always have access to water. And so does the fungus that causes mildew. It doesn't help that my backyard is shady, getting maximum 5-6 hours of sunlight.

My fix:
I started by plucking the affected leaves, but this wasn't effective.

The mildew started to spread from its original hosts to its neighbors, so I decided to harvest the green tomatoes and pull the two plants most heavily affected.

Erica, garden educator at BNAN, recommended that I spray the less affected plants with a copper sulfate spray, available at hardware and gardening stores. She said to look for a spray certified by OMRI (Organic Materials Review Institute).

Prevention for mildew would be better drainage - next year, I will introduce more sand into the soil mix, and maybe drill a couple of extra drainage holes.

What diseases have you had in your garden and how do you deal with them?

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Harvesting the Fruits of Spring

The seeds and seedlings I planted this spring are finally coming to fruition. Pun intended.

 The garlic cloves I planted last November turned into fairly large bulbs, considering they're grown in a container. I had three. The third was delicious :)

I planted peas on April 16 (late) and harvested them July 5 (also late). Only one pea plant came up this year, probably because I planted the second in uncured compost. I got 7 pods, and a handful of peas. Their flavor was good but the texture a bit woody, so next time I will pay closer attention to the calendar and harvest earlier. This dwarf variety requires 65 days to mature, but I harvested them after 80.

I am also starting to harvest from two Red Robins. They are dwarf cherry tomato plants and heavy producers. The limbs were bowed over with the weight, but the plants are too short for my store-bought tomato cage, so I have a crazy staking scheme to keep them out of the dirt.

Of course, every harvest should end in a meal. With a bit of olive oil and salt, I made myself a summer salad.

What are you harvesting from your garden this season?