We had to go ahead and harvest all the tomatoes as the temperature dove down to freezing here in northern part of the Inland Northwest. Here are the last of the veggies and tomatoes ripening in our kitchen.
The tomatoes are the bulk of what was left in the garden. At this point there are three 8′ long tables of them in the guest bedroom downstairs. So, if you were to rename that room it would have to be the tomato room now. I go through them daily and sort out the ripe to make tomato sauce to restock our pantry with.
Canned a dozen quarts of salsa yesterday. With salsa it begins with testing your chopping capabilities, the sharpness of your knives and your patience. Then there are a few days of letting it sit and stirring, re-covering while the enticing aroma fills the house. This is all before the real work of canning begins. But, now we have more than enough salsa for next year sitting on the pantry shelf.
I was fortunate to have a 12-year-old fabulous helper today named Nathanael, who is doing this canning tomatoes thing for his first time. He did not volunteer for the position, but instead was coerced into it by his Grandma. We were down in the garden today and have some tomatoes harvested. You can see some of them on the table being sorted through to find the ripe ones to put in the canning pile.
Wait a minute. Is that worker fooling around there instead of sorting?
Hours later, we are finally ready to can our tomatoes with a good selection on the counter. We had quite a wide variety this year due to many volunteers popping up all over our garden. Beef steaks, Burgundy Reds, Glaciers, Early Girls, Romas and Large Cherry tomatoes. Really, really large cherry tomatoes.
Complicated, canning tomatoes
Nathanael learned the whole canning process this year. How to blanch the tomatoes in boiling water for 10-12 seconds and then quickly set in cold water in the sink. It is fun to see how easy it is to peel and core them this way. We work to get our jar funnel with hot lid seals and rings ready and waiting for us on the counter next to the stove.
After a simmer in the saucepan with us stirring constantly, we are ready for the next step. Pouring the hot tomato sauce into hot jars lined-up on the counter, cleaning the jar lids and carefully placing the seal and tightening the ring. During this simmering process for the tomatoes we are also heating up our big canning pot “water bath” so we can seal the jars in it after we put the sauce into the jars.
Putting the jars into the boiling water bath is kind of tricky. Hot and a little dangerous. Canning has one of the strangest tools ever invented. Here is Nathanael getting used to the thing-a-ma-jig plier thingy used to pick up the steaming hot jars out of the boiling water.
Every year we put a supply of products; tomato sauce, catsup and salsa in the pantry covering our needs for the next 9-12 months. We also end up giving canned foods to family and friends but only if they return the empty jars. It is kind of an unspoken rule. We enjoy eating fresher, sweeter vegetables without additives.
It’s never dull moment in our garden. As you go about weeding, watering, planting, trimming and doing all the chores in the garden there is always humor available to perk up your day. As long as you keep your eyes open and imagination engaged, it is possible to endlessly entertain yourself.
Garden People Today
If you don’t believe me, then take a look at some of the garden people from today. Have you ever seen a tomato critter like this? Does this tomato have a close relation to Bugs Bunny?
Looks like a much happier bunny with a body. Hmmm.
Mr. and Mrs. Cherry were expecting a little bundle of tomato joy. They had gone to the hospital that morning and had been there many hours. They were both tired and getting a little concerned. It just seemed as though this child was taking forever to be born.
All of a sudden, Mabel’s contractions got harder and faster and the room got noisy. Everyone in the room rushed around, preparing for the new arrival. The little one finally arrived. Everyone smiled, feeling relieved. The doctor lifted the baby up, so the parents could see and said, “This is a surprise,
Our garden is a large part of my sanity. It is the place I go to do some weeding, watering, and picking. There are absolutely no screens to look at, and no phones to answer.
Free With Nature
I can hear the birds sing, play with dogs and kids, and get real dirty and never worry what people think of me. Anyone who knows me recognizes that is a really natural state for me.
Harvest Begins In Sanity
At the end of the summer coming into fall it becomes a lot more work as more and more produce needs harvesting and processing. My hands get blisters and dried out from all the washing, cleaning, cooking and canning but the quality of the yummy food is well worth it throughout the following winter months. Here are some cucumbers getting ready to be pickles.
Here are the buckets from this morning, tomatoes, dill herb, Dahlia’s, and tomatoes. Any kind of flower blossom brightens my day!
A normal sized zuchini is what I am holding. Honestly, it is how big they get all the time.
Back up at the house, the tomatoes are washed and sorted into ripeness groups. The group on the right is red and ready to eat or can. The group on the left will get to sit in my vegetable baskets by the window to finish ripening. I’ll process them probably the next time I pick.
The harvest doesn’t look real impressive sitting here on the kitchen countertop till you see the sizes of them compared to the size of my hand. These are oversized baking pans, so they look kind of normal but take a look at the third picture! Just slight large aren’t they?
Zucchinni, Yellow Crookneck Squash
Okay the zuchinni are the same way in deceit. They look small stacked there but average 3-5 lbs each. This is just 2 days from the last picking of both kinds. We are not planting this many squash ever again.
We love the sweetness of our own tomatoes. Sometimes I think there must be some sugar sprinkled on them but nope. We have a variety this year including, Early Girls, Glaciers, Beefsteak, and Large Cherry Tomatoes
Set to dry for next year-green beans, lettuce, spinach, peaches, zucchini. We got ourselves a book about how to dry your own seeds. It has saved us a lot of money and now that we have done it a couple of years, it has become real easy. Definitely something worth looking into if you enjoy growing your own food.