I’ll be honest, at first this heirloom tomato variety, the speckled plum was not my favorite. Some of mine got bottom end rot. Yuck! But as the season has progressed my Speckled plum tomatoes have become plump, over-sized, colorful, big and juicy. This particular heirloom tomato has very unique coloring and makes the perfect ingredient for tomato and fresh mozzarella sandwiches or a hearty marinara sauce. So as fall is now rapidly approaching us, the tomatoes are becoming ripe fast. I’m picking bucketfuls each day, cutting up and freezing them. Once the weather turns cold, I’ll process my seasons harvest and make a big batch of marinara sauce.Next spring I’ll experiment with other heirloom varieties. My Sunchocola heirloom tomatoes are super tall and draping over the metal tomato cages with huge clusters of fruits. They are yummy in salads, on pizza and great for sauce. What are your favorite heirloom tomatoes?
Summer has been pretty amazing. We’ve been taking day trips to the pool and my garden is flourishing with tomatoes, cucumbers and green beans. I planted three different varieties of heirloom tomatoes this year. One, I’ll be honest- I’m not impressed with. That’s the speckled plum tomato. I don’t think I’ll be planting that variety again. I’m in LOVE with the Sunchocola heirloom tomatoes. The plants are nearly as tall as me and draping over the metal tomato cages with huge clusters of juicy fruits. I truly enjoy freshly picking from the garden each afternoon, walking barefoot in the soil.
I just made a large batch of bread and butter pickles. I’ll be gathering every tomato I can, cutting up and freezing them. At the end of the growing season, I’ll make a big batch of marinara sauce. It’s wonderful to have marinara sauce, made from fresh tomatoes you grew stocked on the shelves in your pantry. With about 24 tomato plants, I can make enough marinara sauce to give to friends and last us all winter long.
By: Jessica Robinson
Gardening is very therapeutic to me. I love the simplicity of planting a little tiny seed, caring for it and watching it emerge from the soil into a beauty of green lush bountiful harvest. Getting the kids involved is wonderful too! They learn where your food comes from and how to keep the garden in good shape for healthy plants to grow. The kids LOVE getting dirty and then rinsing their toes off with the hose near the rabbits. We’re so very fortunate to have a farm, but anyone can make a really great garden in their backyard!
At my parent’s farm, we have a very large annual vegetable garden. We usually fill it with about 100 plus heirloom tomato plants, lettuce, peppers, squash, cucumbers, broccoli and plenty of rows of corn. Here my Dad is helping my son, Camden prep the rows to plant some green bean seeds. You’ll get the most out of your garden with it in full sun and lots of tenderly loving care. We sow the seeds in early to mid-May (we’re in zone 5/6) and tend to the weeds every single week. We plant corn in 2 week intervals. You need to make sure you plant two or three rows of corn at a time so they can properly pollinate. Planting a few different times will insure you have corn fresh every week for a few weeks.
My dad always takes wooden stakes and puts them at the end of each row, then pulls a piece of bailing twine tight to give us a guideline for straight rows while we plant. We always use mulch around our tomato plants in our garden, usually mulch hay (which is hay that is the 3rd or 4th cutting, which means it has NO weed seeds). One of the best pieces of equipment my parent’s farm has is a rototiller. It’s amazing. My dad has two. One very large one for prepping the garden and tilling the rows while they are still young. Then, a little rototiller to get in between the rows when plants get a bit larger. We also use wire tomato cages to keep tomatoes properly supported and up off the ground. This prevents diseases and also helps the tomatoes ripen perfectly.
Growing some of your own vegetables is rewarding. I love being able to slip off my flip flops and sink my feet into the summer warmed soil to pick a fresh piece of basil and a vine-ripened tomato. I know where it came from, what chemicals I didn’t apply to it and what a tomato SHOULD taste like. To save space, you can add vegetables to your perennial gardens. Use bamboo sticks, wooden plant stakes or metal stakes along with chicken wire to help support peas, mini pumpkins, cucumbers, grape tomatoes and more. This helps save space and the plants will get the most sun they need to properly grow. It will also help prevent disease with things like tomatoes. I also have areas of perennial strawberries and rhubarb mixed into my perennial gardens.