Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Baby Tomatoes and Hope

One of my goals right now is to become more and more separate from industrial food. Growing lots of tomatoes seems to be one of the easiest ways to start. I used to think of tomatoes and wonder how people could eat so many of them. People who grew them in their gardens would give them away by the bags-full. I thought..just how many salads and sandwiches can I eat to use all of these before they get mushy (which happens so very quickly)? I never realized the possibility of preserving them until I tried it and saw for myself how easy it is. (If mom reads this, she may have a thing or two to say to me, namely, "Oh come on, where were you while I canned all those tomatoes every summer?" Answer: Somewhere far away from the kitchen.)

What things do I buy routinely that I could be putting up from my own tomato plants? Tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, whole tomatoes, roasted and pureed tomatoes...ketchup, even! I obtained a food mill last summer and the ease of making sauce increased ten-fold. So far I've done nothing more than freeze the sauce and diced tomatoes in freezer containers, but canning is next on the list of attainable goals. We use a LOT of canned tomatoes in our family, not to mention all the ketchup we go through. If we could provide the majority of our own tomatoes to last the whole year, not just in those glorious pick-them-straight-from-the-vine-and-die-of-happiness summer days, I think that would be an amazing step in the right direction.

Here are some pics of our growing tomato seedlings. They are started from seed that I got from rareseeds.com. A heritage variety called Amish Paste. The claim is that they produce well and that they make excellent sauce, so here's to hoping!

Also! This is our 3rd garden season starting our seeds without a growlight. Countless gardening sites assume that success will only come with growlights, but if I can do without, why not? I have big windowsills to hold the trays, and by rotating the seedlings throughout the day to catch as much sunlight as possible, they seem to do okay. In one of the following pics you'll see that on very cold days, I put a space heater (on lowest setting) under the window to keep the babies from getting frostbite. ;)

Big Orange Kitty watching over the babies
Small boy daydreaming next to the nursery

It's always hard to do...but it must be done. Culling the weakest sprouts so the hardiest one will grow into an amazing plant.

A little extra warmth on those frigid February/March mornings.

They eat up the sun and fill me with hope.

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