Thursday, July 28, 2011

Saving Tomato Seeds

Saving seeds is an extremely easy thing to do once you know how.  To me, peppers are the easiest.  Simply cut the pepper open, scrape the seeds onto a plate or the counter, rinse them and lay them out on wax paper!  Easy!  Some vegetables require a little more effort, like a pumpkin or squash.  They are a bit messier to collect and need a more thorough washing than pepper seeds, but well worth the effort when you don’t have to buy seeds in the spring.  Tomatoes and cucumbers can be the most tricky when it comes to retaining viable seed, but don’t be afraid to try to do it, it’s easy once you get the hang of it.  In order to grow the same type of plant in the spring that you are saving seed from, be sure to only save seed from Heirlooms.  Saving seed from any form of Hybrid will result in a different type of plant.  Hybrid seeds are not good for saving.  We only save organic Heirlooms to be worth our time and effort, not to mention we believe in eating only pure food, not something that has been created in a laboratory.

Here is an example where I used Yellow Pear tomatoes.  The same process works with any tomato and cucumbers too.  For this batch, I halved the tomatoes and

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Farmers Market Time!!

Summer is here and it came early this year!  The plants are blooming, the bean vines are climbing, the Farmers Markets are out in full force and above all…..the bees are buzzing! Here on the farm, we have built several new garden beds this year and are still making more.  Not only did I get carried away in the greenhouse, but the plants have been so successful that we are building beds as fast as we can in order to not let any plants go to waste.  Each year, however, we always end up with more plants than we can use and the rest are donated to the local homeless kitchen’s garden.  I would encourage everyone to look for their local community shelter to see if they have a garden to donate their extra vegetable and herb plants to, or maybe just your local community garden.
One of the new garden beds we put in was for what was, by far, our most favorite tomato that we grew last year….the Millionaire.  It is an extremely sweet tasting pink tomato that is

Friday, July 15, 2011

Summer Squash Bug Trouble

Has everyone had as much trouble with these squash bugs as I have this year?  I have never, ever let a crop go because I couldn’t keep up, but this year, I met my match with these two insects.  Last year I only mixed up three bottles of organic dish soap and water throughout the entire growing season.  This year, I was using almost two bottles a day!  Then the continuous heat of July came where the temperatures were over 100 degrees every day.  Now if anyone is familiar with southern Missouri, July also means extreme

Sweet Pepper Salsa

Anxious to pickle up the banana peppers, I began the process eagerly.  After an unwise choice of not wearing gloves when cutting up some hot peppers several years ago, I am very careful to slip them on even for jalapenos.  Did I consider wearing them for the banana peppers?  Yes I did, however, how hot can banana peppers be?  After slicing 3 quarts of them, my hands began to feel very warm.  I touched one of my fingers to my tongue (quick test to determine pepper heat, not exactly the smartest way)  and wow, I knew I was in trouble.  The rest of the evening was spent attempting to remove the heat from my fingertips and scolding myself for not using a little more common sense.  The pickled banana peppers are for my dear father in-law who especially likes them, but I don't think he would be able to eat these.  Instead, I pulled out a recipe that normally calls for jalapenos, modified it somewhat and came up with some pretty jars of Sweet Pepper Salsa.  Don't let the name fool you though because of the hot peppers that are mixed in.

Sweet Pepper Salsa

3/4 lb. of hot garden peppers - your choice (try Georgia Red Flame)

1 medium yellow onion

4 medium carrots

1 large red bell pepper (Red Belgian Pepper)

1 large yellow bell pepper (Golden Treasure Pepper)

1 large chocolate pepper (Sweet Chocolate Pepper)

7 small sweet red peppers (Sweet Red Stuffing Peppers)

3 1/2 c. sugar

2 c. apple cider vinegar

1 Tbsp. yellow mustard seed

1 Tbsp. dill seed

Julienne all of the veggies in uniform widths and lengths when possible.  Cook the sugar and vinegar over medium heat until sugar is dissolved.  Add all of the veggies and spices.  Bring to a simmer and stir occasionally for 35 minutes until veggies are cooked down.  Jar up, leaving 1/4" head space and give them a hot water bath for about 15 minutes.

This stuff is incredible!  It can be put on hamburgers, meatloaf, sandwiches, burritos, tortilla wraps.....and many other ways that I haven't even thought of I'm sure.  It's a great way to use up the extra peppers in your garden.  Another idea is to chop the veggies up in small pieces and then this recipe would be good drizzled on crackers with some whipped cream cheese!