Hope you’re enjoying the long weekend celebrating the signing of Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
Not sure what your garden is looking like – mine is producing bountifully but looks like a bombsite. The tomato plants are pretty scraggly and many have peaked, but cherries and Romas are still producing well.
The pumpkin foliage has by and large turned up its toes. I’ve only grown buttercup and checked with Rob about whether I should be harvesting it. He says unless you need the space, leave it on the vines as long as possible, as nutrients are still flowing from the plant and adding flavour to the pumpkins. They are getting sunburnt which means they won’t store very well, but butterncups are not long keepers anyway. I’ve put a piece of cardboard under the pumpkins that are growing on the soil to stop any rotting IF we should ever get rain. The rain situation (meaning the lack of it) is crazy compared to what’s happening in the South.
Everything is else is producing well – beans, cucumbers, sweetcorn, lettuces, beetroot. And eggplants and capsicums are sizing up well.
Getting back to the tomatoes, we have had a good crop. In January I harvested 24kg! I’ve made relish and sauce which lasts us for the year. With the remaining Romas I’ll preserve them to include in winter dishes. This bowl-ful just picked today.
If you want to get inspired about preserving tomatoes, check out this post I came across! Brilliant! This is about making passata where you remove the skins and seeds. When I preserve, I only remove the skins by cutting a cross at the base, then dipping the tomatoes in boiling water for 30 seconds, then plunging them in iced water.
I was delighted to find Agee jars with the seals and screw tops available again at Mitre 10. It’s getting a good stick with the seal that makes for successful preserving. You really do need to use a new seal every time and they just haven’t been available to buy separately with other jars I’ve bought in the past. There’s that “ancient futures” again!
While we have had lovely tasty tomatoes and lots of Romas to preserve, I was disappointed in the actual plants of my other tomatoes and also the size of the tomatoes themselves – mostly I guess due to the blight we contracted. So this year I’m saving the seeds of them so as to breed a stronger plant which suits our environment.
Have a look at this video of Rob saving tomato seeds.
I’m saving the seeds of Moonglow and Tigerella. And I’m saving Black Cherry too, just because I think my bought seeds of Black Cherry might be getting a bit old.
Scrape seeds and flesh out into a jar, fill with a bit of water, cover with some tinfoil so the contents are covered but can breathe and leave in a spot for around 3 days.
Now they have a mould on top which I remove, wash the remaining seeds and flesh in a sieve, then lay out on a paper towel and dry. Store (in a ziplock bag ideally), well marked and dated, in the fridge.
Onion and leek seeds were sown in January and we look to have a good strike. Perhaps a bit weak in the red department, but I couldn’t find any fresh Californian Red seed this year.
More seeds sown for lettuces (trying out an Italian heirloom and a French one) and I’m putting a few broccoli in here too, just to see how long the cycle takes by sowing at this time of year. People in cooler climates should be sowing brassica seeds this month.
The comfrey brew is fully broken down, so with a good stir in one direction, followed by a good stir in the other direction to aerate it, the fruiting plants all got a dose.
The kumara laterals will need a chop back soon and we’re looking forward to our ‘Sugar Baby’ watermelons (tucked in under there)!
Happy late summer gardening!
From Jan and Rob 😊