right now

right now

Aug 12, 2010

kinderGARDENS Week 18 - We're saving seed!

We all know how poorly the green roof has done this summer, it's creeping just as slow as can be so I have had to find other projects for the kids to work on in the garden.

This week: Seed Saving!
Teaching the next generation to just say "no" to genetically engineered seed one kinder "gardener" at a time!
The storms over the past couple of weeks have shown me that the time is NOW for saving seed from the UFO tomato aka J. Gyllenhaal if we are to have future generations.

History: This seed was handed to me on the sly in a Master Gardener training class by an elderly lady who could no longer garden. She had 6 seeds left in the world, they had been saved in her family since the early 1900's and she was the last. That's a lot to live up to! Even though we have no clue (obviously from the name I have given them) what they are, they are huge heirloom, a beefsteak-meaty interior, the taste has improved steadily over the season, and is hands-down the healthiest tomato plant I have ever grown, hybrids included. These laughed in the face of wilt and extreme heat and windstorms that my other tomatoes succumbed to. Even if they didn't taste good, I kind of owe it to her to save the seed!

Enter the kids: this involves goo and mold so it is the perfect project for them!

Step 1: Select the best looking, ripest tomato of the harvest (i.e. the most Jake G. looking specimen!)

Step 2: Slice in half across the equator exposing all the seed cavities

Step 3: squeeze seeds AND pulp into jar or container, adding water really isn't necessary and can slow down the fermentation process, just make sure to get plenty of the pulp/juice in there

Here's what's left after squeezing! The kids love this step for the goo factor!

Step 4: cover and put aside, wait for mold to start growing! This is a fun step for the kids, it can take several days but in our house with the A/C struggling to keep up it only took 24 hours!

oh, the science of it all!

24-72 hrs later you should have mold growing and fermentation is underway! This natural fermentation is what removes the protective seed coat to prepare the seed for germination. Think of it this way: if left to its own devices, the tomato simply drops to the ground and turns into a rotten, slimy mess - but it's nature's way of perpetuation, that's how we get all those volunteers, another way is by animals eating the seeds and in turn their digestive systems break down the seed coat and it is then "pooped out" somewhere else where the seed will grow! Believe me, this is fun gross stuff to little boys!

Step 5: Once the mold has grown and fermentation has obviously been taking place (you'll smell it LOL), skim off the mold, add water and stir up. Look for floating seeds now and skim out, they are most likely not viable. Strain the rest out, rinse well, and leave to dry on a paper towel for 1-4 weeks, you want them to be fully dry before storing.

The kids can't quite figure out why mom put a picture on the paper towel, but I'm sure you can guess! Maybe for those that want to try these next year, I can send you a homemade J. Gyllenhaal artsy seed packet - sounds like a good winter project, albeit a loony one. But that's me, crazy mom!

Step 6: Store in airtight container, envelope, baggie, etc and make sure you LABEL them!

Step 7: Revel in the satisfaction of watching budding little botanists (pun intended) take a plant from SEED TO SEED!

Kids training video!

Bonus Footage...

Check out The Inadvertent Farmer and click on the kinderGARDENS button to see other participants' updates!

Aug 11, 2010

just walkin' around...

Just out walkin' the garden this morning... dewpoint was 79 at 8 am!
No garden work today since it is "bread day" and I am having a big Harvest Swap party Saturday I need to get ready for, just photos!

J. Gyllenhaal Heirlooms (how about that name LOL)

Cucumber Bed with Yard Long Beans on the PVC

Japanese Climbing Cucumber

Black Swallowtail

Butterfly on 'Purple Homestead' Verbena

Zinnias in the Cucumber Bed

Unsere Biergarten: Cascade Hops, baby cones the first year!

Cosmos staging attack

I only planted these once last year.... can you say INVASIVE?!
They have almost completely obscured my Colonnade apple tree!

Aug 10, 2010

A sticky day in pictures...

It's time! The heirlooms are finally arriving in in groups rather than being lonely and anti-social! Heirloom tomato sauce is such a luxury come winter, I was rather afraid I wouldn't have enough to sauce thanks to the bad tomato year I have been having but it looks like we'll be okay as long as the hurricanes stay away for a few more weeks.

After squeezing out the excess juice and seeds, started cooking down the yumminess. Sauteed some shallots, garlic, red wine and bell peppers with basil & oregano. (I use whatever I have on hand, so this part changes sometimes)

Added to the sauce and started cooking down. I love the crock pot for this, I am able to leave the house and it also keeps the house cooler.

Ran the stick blender through and continued to cook down. (My $6 W@lmart stick blender is probably my most valuable kitchen tool this time of year!)

This will be used for pizza sauce so I cooked it down for 8-9 hours so it is nice and thick and tangy, I was left with 5 pints ready for canning or freezing!

Ended the day on a high note: my favorite garden dinner of all - STIR FRY! I don't know why I can't seem to cook a more sensible portion than this. The single dad next door received a large plate to share with his kids, they are always in shock to not be eating hot dogs or frozen dinners I think LOL. My kids amazed me by not only trying every vegetable, but devouring most of the dinner. I kept them extra hungry today thinking I was going to have to fight the vegetable war with them tonight. I am just slap-happy over these yard long/Chinese Long beans, they really add a lot to the dish and they grew faster than any pole bean I've ever tried, and they are the prettiest things out in the garden!

Things are looking good for another batch of sauce soon...

I hope Pizza Boy/hubby is happy, I know he was probably scared seeing all my container tomatoes die, then the others in the storm... but the UFO's were my contingency plan I guess, they are the most gorgeous and healthy looking tomatoes I have ever seen, and I tell them how much I love them every time I walk by, they are pretty much my Jake Gyllenhaals of the tomato world, hmmm, I still need to name this mystery seed!

Aug 9, 2010

Sharing a sale!

If anyone is interested, I just received an email from one of my seed suppliers, Sustainable Seed Co. that their 50% off sale ends in 24 hours, they have a good variety in the clearance section for $1 a packet!

Harvest Monday & A Peek at BFF's Garden!

Harvest Monday, and I'm on time this week!

Quadrato d'Asti Rosso Peppers, Mini Bells, Cukes, Raspberries & Blackberries, Yard Long Beans, Fourth of July, Orange Wellington and UFO Heirloom Tomatoes. It almost appears as if the pot of Orange Wellingtons that blew over in the storm are only half dead, it's possible since I crammed 3 plants in there. There are some attached to green leaves that I left to ripen more, but these I picked off completely dead vines, luckily they ripened a bit from green, but still not the flaming bright orange they should be.

On to more exciting things:
Meet "L"! She is my go-to gal for everything imaginable and I don't know what I'd do without her, her hubby works with mine so we frequently find ourselves navigating deployments together. She used to live next door and we started gardening at about the same time, learning as we go. She had the BBQ the other evening we went to. Of course she found me snapping pictures of her garden and cries "oh NO!"... oh YES, I'm a blogger, right?! Ha! I'll probably pay for this later, I even pirated a picture of her off her FB account since I don't have too many (why is it us girls are always so absent in photos?!). I assured her my readers love ALL gardens, and like peeking at them the way some people go through medicine chests at cocktail parties! To tell the truth, hers is great, and whose garden really looks that good in mid-August in triple digit heat anyways?

"L" and her boys, same age as mine! Let's give a big "hell yeah" for the Midwestern girls, I'm from MN and she's from Iowa, it's always nice to have friends from the same "homeland" in the military. But does Iowa explain that damn Kohlrabi she likes? Blech!

Here's the garden!

Hers is a standard lineup of raised beds and she uses the fence to full advantage tying everything up, this works great except for watermelon as she found out when it smashed through the fence into her neighbors yard without her realizing it for awhile LOL!

Of course she was embarassed of the above pic but it's not the state of the vines that caught my eye, it was how that squash is so brilliant in spite of it all and her ingenious use of an old mattress spring as a trellis!

Love the use of a teepee to span 2 beds for extra space

Fun Fact: "L"'s favorite garden tool is a steak knife from the kitchen and you can usually find steak knives jabbed in the beds randomly, LOL

Her compost area is shockingly neat and tidy!

Here's the 4 boys playing together Saturday night, they have been together pretty much since they were all born, so they are actually more like cousins than friends!

OK, I'm hitting "publish"...I'm sure I'll get a phone call soon... No one is safe from blog fodder.... LOL