Tag Archive: tomato


tommy 1 tommy 2

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The front garden - looking lush & in need of a weed...

The front garden – looking lush & in need of a weed…

Out the back - starting to take over...

Out the back – starting to take over…

The garden has had a real burst of life over the past couple of weeks – especially out the back which is steadily becoming quite overgrown. I’m still waiting for the flash of ripe-tomato-red to arrive in the garden, but alas nothing so far. While summer salads may be awhile off yet, the garden still provided me with a weekend lunch – zucchini fritters with a side of freshly picked beans.

Purple king climbing beans

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Today's pickings

Today’s pickings

I’m generally renowned for putting zucchinis into almost every meal, but zucchini fritters would have to be my favourite. So simple too – flour, eggs, 2-3 zucchinis and fetta cheese – yet an extremely tasty outcome. Really enjoyable and hopefully the first of many summer meals provided by the garden.

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Rainbow Chutney

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It has felt like I’ve been waiting all summer for a glut of tomatoes that I’ve so desperately wanted. It was probably the same last year, I’ve just managed to block it from memory. Don’t get me wrong – the small little harvests that we’ve had most of summer have been beautiful – but I’ve been longing for tomato chutney for about 6 months now after my last lot ran out! I kept telling myself to be patient, but in the back of my mind was the worry that maybe the tomatoes were not going to be successful this year. Thankfully, when my faith that the glut would come had almost diminished – February didn’t fail to live up to expectations and I’ve been harvesting around a kilo of tomatoes a week. This only means one thing – chutney!!
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My recipe for chutney is actually a really easy one. I use the green tomato chutney recipe from “Jams and Preserves” (published by Murdoch Books). I tend to use riper tomatoes (rather than all green) and this year I used a combination of red, orange and yellow tomatoes. I also added a couple of green tomatoes to make it a colourful, rainbow chutney. Boiled with cider vinegar, sugar, a couple of onions, some sultanas and spices – the chutney takes half an hour to turn into a rich chutney colour. Although it takes half the time to stink out the entire house with the smell of vinegar!

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I’ve had so many tomatoes that I’ve already made two full batches, not including the ones I’ve diced and put in the freezer for later use. Think that definitely counts as a glut!

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Given how much chutney I now have, it’s safe to say a few friends and family will end up with a jar (yes, now taking orders) so I put little “enjoy” stickers on the top, hidden under cloth lid covers to hopefully add a homely touch. As with most preserves it’ll be a long month for the flavour to develop and I can open a jar and enjoy. My favourite: scrambled eggs with home made chutney on the side – beautiful! Hope it’s a good batch this year…

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Raining cucumbers

It really feels like it has been raining cucumbers over the past week! Not quite a “glut”, but as there are only two of us it really feels like a large harvest. I’m only growing them out the back this year as I had the fence available to place a trellis for the plants to grow up. This worked at first, but all three cucumber plants seem much happier growing up and around the tomatoes as they got larger. I even found a big one that had been hiding on the ground under the pumpkin leaves. I think some pickling may be in order….

Initial growth

Initial growth

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Starting to use the tomatoes

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One big cucumber-tomato mess! Oh well, if it works….

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Around half the cucumbers harvested (others left on the plants)

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cucumber 8 Big cucumber hiding under the pumpkins

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You know it’s summer when…

Dinner can be found in your front yard! We’re at the peak of summer here, with hot dry days and extremely little rain. Harvests from the garden are now a lot more frequent that during December, with enough tomatoes, lettuce and cucumber for a daily salad, and still enough blueberries for dessert! I love this time of year 🙂 summer harvest 1 summer harvest 2

I think the verdict is finally in on my seedling experiment (see previous posts: breaking the first rule of blogging and seedling experiment update) and now I know what to do in years to come. I’d love to show you a photo of the winning tray – which by far was the tray kept under a sunny window, but I can’t as the tray was so successful most of the seedlings are now out in the garden! Instead here are some healthy looking tomatoes, all grown from seeds from the winning tray and even starting to form fruit.

"Sweetie" tomoatoes

“Sweetie” tomatoes

"Florida Basket" tomatoes

“Florida Basket” tomatoes

"Tommy Toe" (left) and two "Sweet Grape" tomatoes

“Tommy Toe” (left) and two “Sweet Grape” tomatoes

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As the spring weather heated up – I did move this tray outside into full morning sun and then back inside at night for protection, which seemed to work well and the seedlings thrived.

Also a very big thank you to Rosalind (of Just Another Beer Blog) who recommended I try small shallow trays rather than just ready-to-plant paper pots. At first the tray was half demolished by snails in the greenhouse, but after I moved it inside the seedlings have grown really well. Particularly the eggplant seedling – I have never been able to grow eggplants from seeds into full size plants before! Now I know for the years to come how to make it happen – thank you!

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Eggplant seedlings growing

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Eggplants currently out in the garden

I’ve had a couple of chilli and capsicum seedlings growing – but they have been quite small and are growing a lot slower than the tomatoes and eggplants. Hopefully they’ll get big enough to plant out soon.

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Chilli and friend

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Capsicums

As for the control tray that was left outside open to the elements – I have planted out a couple of tomatoes from this tray, but that was really all and they haven’t thrived like the others. As for the greenhouse seedlings – it was a complete disaster. I have planted out nothing from this tray, and they barely grew after germination. Once slightly warmer weather during spring kicked in, despite leaving the door open during the day and watering daily, all the seedlings died.

So I may not be the best salesperson for greenhouses or paper pots – but at least I’ll be enjoying my very own tomatoes and eggplants this summer (and still hopeful for capsicums) – all grown from seeds. But I won’t be getting rid of my greenhouse just yet – because apparently I’m not the only one who uses it…

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tom 1

Yes it’s that time of year again – the very first tomato of the season has ripened! It’s also the time of year I start receiving empty jars “just in case” I don’t have enough for tomato chutney this summer (have to take that as a big compliment). As soon as I slice open and eat the tomato it reminds me of exactly why I garden – the favour is astounding. Nothing like store bought tomatoes, not even close, and exactly the reason I long for so many tomatoes each summer.

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I also found a cucumber in the backyard patch this week, which seemed to have appeared out of nowhere. Beans have started to pop up as well! Add loads of home grown lettuce and so far everything is looking promising for a bountiful summer.

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The Garden In Spring

Although most of the spring bulbs have now gone, the garden is still looking pretty lush and inviting thanks to the spring rain we’ve had. The nasturtiums are looking great, but as they’ve started to take over most of the garden I’ve had to cut them back a little. All the summer veggies are growing well, including zucchinis and beans from seeds and a couple of tomatoes I bought as seedlings. More and more of my own tomatoes from the seedling experiment have been planted into the ground and continue to grow well which has made me a lot more positive about small seeds. I may end up with a lot of tomatoes at this rate – but that only makes me want to plant more! The capsicum and eggplant seedlings are still a bit too small to plant out, so I’ll keep my fingers crossed that they’ll make it in time for summer (and sneak in a couple of more advanced seedlings while I’m waiting – hopefully they won’t notice).

It’s been a month since I started off my seedling experiment (see previous post – breaking the first rule of blogging), but given the small amount of growth I wish I’d started a month earlier. By far, the winner at the moment is the seedling tray that has been kept inside under the window. The seeds germinated over a week earlier than the other two trays (greenhouse and “control” outside) and the seedlings are now visibly larger as well. A few tomatoes have even been large enough to plant out into the garden, which already feels like a success compared to last year.

Tray 1: kept inside under a sunny window

Tray 1: inside

Tray 1: inside

Seedling from tray 1 planted out in the garden

I was surprised that the seeds in the greenhouse tray took so long to germinate, but I think despite watering them daily they were drying out too much. After moving the tray to the middle shelf (rather than top) they seemed to do better. That was until snails found them…. I would have thought this tray would have been the safe one! But alas, having basil seedlings growing in there too – snails devoured the basil and a few of my other seedlings at the same time. Nightly snail checks over a week found a new snail in there each night, so I’ve moved some of the seedlings into the inside tray to keep them safe.  The seeds in the tray left outside (open to the elements) germinated around the same time as the ones in the greenhouse and growth has been at about the same rate. No snail attacks as of yet, but a few seed pots were obliterated by what appears to be a cat attack. Well I did say they were open to all elements…

Tray 2: greenhouse

Tray 3: outside

Tray 3: tomato seedlings (quite small compared to tray 1)

While I will still be updating on the progress of the three trays, I think I have already discovered why I have been struggling with small seeds – I bought a greenhouse. Two years ago I had a lot of success with small seeds, but I didn’t have the greenhouse then so I would move the seedlings outside during the day, and bring them inside (sheltered from the cold and snails) each night. The seedlings loved the attention and thrived. Last year I bought a greenhouse and grew all my seedlings in there. While it made sense to me at the time, the temperature fluctuations (even when keeping the door open on hot days) was obviously enough to stop the success of my small seeds.

Tray 2: greenhouse – eggplant seedling

I won’t be throwing out the greenhouse just yet though, larger seedlings do really well earlier in spring when it’s a bit too cold to be in the garden yet, and some plants can be moved in over winter to help keep them warm. For now though it looks like our house will be turning into a nursery each spring…

All of my gardening so far (apart from a couple of pots here and there) has been in our front yard. Our backyard has been, and will continue to be, part of the working space for our renovations. We have talked lightly about what we’d like to put out the back, but haven’t formed anything as of yet (probably because if it was left to me I’d turn the whole thing into one big veggie patch, and we haven’t finished the structural things like carports and paths yet). But when my partner suggested a veggie patch along the side next to the fence – that was all I needed!

Ok, in fairness he did suggest a raised veggie patch, but with the chaos that’s occurring in the rest of the house, it was being left to the backburner as a “non-essential” part of the renovations. Sacrilege! But I am probably one of the few people who would put a veggie patch above half a house (literally, we’re living in half our house at the moment). I decided while waiting that I would make the veggie patch myself, at least without the borders, until we decided what we were going to do (or my negotiation skills got better!).

Yes, we live here….

The soil out the back is actually pretty good as we’ve added a lot of topsoil already to the whole yard. I added a fair amount of my own compost to the section as well to help build it up. So far I’ve planted a couple of tomatoes, a couple of cucumber seedlings and a few flower seedlings to help attract bees (snapdragons, alyssum and linaria). I also planted a zucchini seedling and a couple of pumpkin seedlings which I realise are probably going to grow out of the patch and possibly take over the lawn… but give me an inch and I’ll take a mile! Although the pumpkins are supposed to be a compact variety that you can grow in pots, so I’ll see how it goes… if it gets too much I’ll take them out. Some climbing beans in a pot and a few strawberries have made the patch complete. For now…

The pets have already moved in