Sunday, September 20, 2009

Straw Bale Garden Goodies

I've been picking 3-4 tomatoes from our garden every day for the past week. My goal is to can a batch of salsa using my new canning equipment that I scored last week at a garage sale for $20. It's hard with only 4 plants to produce enough at one time to can though.

****Update***** Our neighbors were giving away tomatoes by the gallon so I now have enough tomatoes to can salsa and tomato sauce!!! PapaBear and I spent Friday afternoon chopping and peeling tomatoes.

See that tiny little grape tomato? They are Julia's favorite - she eats a half a dozen every day.

We've come up with a way to tuck away tomatoes for soups & chili one or two at a time by freezing them. Our high tech food sealer aka: vacuum with a straw taped on the end, keeps the tomatoes fresh until we're ready to use them.

(First you set the tomatoes on the tray in your freezer and then when they are solid, stick them in a freezer bag and suck the air out.) When you are ready to use the tomatoes run them under hot water and the skins will peel right off.

So what does our garden look like after almost 4 months? (click here for previous straw bale gardening posts) The bales are decomposing and the tomato cages don't like to stand up anymore, but other than that, things are great!
I cured the problem with my tomatoes rotting on the bottom (extra calcium did the trick) and by some miracle, a zucchini plant came back from the brink to produce some nice zucchini. I'm still in awe that a plant that I was planning to pull and throw away made such an incredible comeback.

The habanero peppers are out of control. There are WAY too many of them. The 5 I used in the salsa were yummy, but the 45 that we'll freeze should be enough for a while.
I will freeze them and not plant any for the next few years.

Next year I will plant twice as many tomato plants and green pepper plants. I was conservative this year since it was our first time planting in straw. If YOU decide to try a straw bale garden next year let me know! The hardest part about gardening in straw is the unknown, but I think much of that stems from the fact that it's my first year gardening in general. I have a lot to learn. In the meantime I'll be canning the fruits of our labor!

Have a blessed Sunday everyone!

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The Swann's September 20, 2009 at 12:48 PM  

I'd say that for this being your first try at Straw bale gardening, it was a success!!! :-) Did you notice a lot of bugs on the plants like you would normally get by planting in the ground or was this somewhat lessoned by the straw?? {I know absolutely nothing on this, hence the question, so it may be a stupid one to ask! :-)}

Tina Fisher September 21, 2009 at 7:59 AM  

Love it! We can't wait to move onto some land to have a nice big big garden.

We get tomatoes from a friend and I've always blanched them first and then freeze them. Your idea sounds a little easier!

mrs boo radley September 21, 2009 at 6:54 PM  


Sara September 21, 2009 at 8:32 PM  

Very cool. I cant wait to have a garden some day!

Jenney September 22, 2009 at 1:29 PM  

wow, those bales did very well! I canned some fresh salsa from our habeneros and tomatoes just this week. I HATE salsa, but #1 loves it.

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