Archive for the ‘Vegetables’ Category

Currant_Tomato_Sign

I’m going to be at the Eco-market in Sardis Park today (May 20) from 4pm to 8pm promoting my blog and displaying some of the weird stuff I am growing including miniature olive trees, a pineapple bush and there is even a carnivorous plant!
For $2 there are 3 other kinds of tomato plants (green Zebra, Grape, Tiny Tim) and plenty of herbs to choose from including but not limited to Stevia, Pineapple Sage, Chocolate mint, Rosemary, Garlic Chives, Dill, etc. and I’m giving out FREE pumpkin seeds while supplies last. So come see me…

https://www.google.com/…/data=!4m2!3m1!1s0x548440c88998d0c9…

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Killer Grape Tomato Prices!

Posted: March 1, 2015 in March, Seeds, Vegetables

The Grape Tomato Seed Adventure

A criminal/immoral idea that could potentially help you with your grocery and seed buying budget!
Guerilla Gardener wanted for suspected involvement and organization of the famous Tomato Caper of 2015!

Warning-The Grape Tomato Police could be looking for Guerilla Gardeners with ties and possible involvement in the rumored Grape Tomato Capers of 2015!

I love grape tomatoes but the price at the grocery store is killing me and quite frankly paying for them is starting to cut into my seed buying budget. As for the quality of store bought grape tomatoes…..well when they’re good, they’re very good……and when they’re bad, they are simply horrible! Paying for an expensive plastic container of little, tasteless, sour, wrinkled, red rubber balls is usually not what I had in mind when buying grape tomatoes at the supermarket, so whenever possible I try to liberate one out of the container and do a taste test before buying any. Even if they pass the taste test, the lifespan of a store bought grape tomato is so short that it doesn’t take very long before they start to get all wrinkly. After paying top dollar I find this more than a little offensive so I’ve added some grape tomato seeds to my seed buying list.
Since I’m trying to adhere to a self imposed seed budget I tried surfing the internet to try to seek out some deals on grape tomato seeds. As a Guerilla Gardener I was pleasantly surprised to discover that buying seeds in packages wasn’t my only option. Apparently there are some suspected fellow guerilla gardeners out there who have had great success using seeds harvested from store bought grape tomatoes. From a taste point of view, nothing beats the taste of a homegrown tomato and I couldn’t help but think that from a financial point of view this idea could help both my seed and grocery budgets to go just a little bit further.
Now, it just so happens (and I speak from experience) that if you mention this gardening idea to a Master Gardener they will tell you a bunch of technical stuff like it’s a hybrid, it won’t grow true to seed, it won’t taste good, blah, blah, blah.
As a Guerilla Gardener trying to work within the seed budget, my opinion is that if you already bought some good tasting grape tomatoes and there are a few wrinkled ones in the bottom of your refrigerator or rolling around on your counter, what do you have to lose? This especially holds true if you have plans to plant tomatoes on property that does not belong to you.

Tomato Plant hidden between some cedars along the back fence at Strata complex

A tomato plant hidden between some cedars along the back fence at Some-Strata-Property.

The internet consensus on growing grape tomatoes from supermarket varieties is that the Santa Sweets® brand of grape tomatoes (the containers with happy little tomatoes wearing Santa hats on the label) seems to work the best. When I grocery shop and can find this brand of grape tomatoes in the supermarket I usually buy them because they are always very sweet and they always pass the taste test. Now, if you happen to live in the U.S.A you can buy these plants already started from the Santa Sweets® company website but they will cost $32 (plus shipping and handling) for 8 plants. However, even if you had the money to waste, you still could be totally out of luck trying to obtain these plants as the company does not ship live plants to Canada. As a Guerilla Gardener living in Canada, who is always open to new adventures the idea of trying to grow a grape tomato plant from my favorite brand of supermarket tomatoes seemed like a brilliant money saving plan that was going to help me to get the most out of both my grocery and seed budgets. However, there’s a bit of a hitch. Apparently the Master Gardener’s concerns are the least of my problems because it turns out that there may be some criminal/moral issues to this money saving seed plan. It seems that there is some kind of copyright/trademark/patent tomato-rule-thing going on with this particular brand of tomatoes. The Santa Sweets company grows only proprietary varieties of tomatoes such as the Santa Sweets® grape tomatoes. The company boasts that this is an exclusive “100% Pure Santa Variety (F1)®. This simply means that by law they are the only ones allowed to grow them and it has been highly recommended that I find out what kind of fine/legal costs/jail sentences might be incurred before trying to use the seeds from some Santa Sweets® grape tomatoes. After checking all the trademark/copyright/patent information out thoroughly I cannot in good conscience condone or recommend using any store bought tomatoes for seed harvesting, no matter how good an idea I think it may be. As a matter of fact, I am not willing to assume any responsibility or liability for anyone who decides to embark on their own Guerilla Garden Tomato Adventure. Just saying…if you get caught doing this you are on your own.
However….. if you are willing to take the risk of the Grape Tomato Police possibly breaking down your door and are willing to assume all liability, responsibility or legal/financial implications for your own guerilla gardening actions then according to what I’ve read here’s how you would go about embarking upon your own…..

Guerilla Garden Grape Tomato Adventure!

Step 1
Look around in your refrigerator or your counter for a spare grape tomato. If you bought a bunch and there’s a wrinkled one be sure to choose it-apparently, they seem to sprout better for some reason.

Step 2
Fill a 10-12” pot with indoor potting soil.

Step 3
Squish the grape tomato with your fingers and try to separate the seeds from the pulp.
Note-Kid’s love this job! Discard the pulp and spread the seeds evenly around on top of the soil and then cover with about 1 inch of dirt.

Step 4
Check your tomatoes everyday for water.
Keep the soil moist (do not let it dry out!) and in a week or two you will see a bunch of seedlings pop up. When they are big enough to grab, separate them and then transplant them into different containers. Note: The Brooklyn Seed Company has a really good tutorial on making self watering containers out of old pop bottles. These work great for those people who are not known to adhere to a strict watering schedule and would rather use their garden budget to buy more plants and seeds than spend it on containers.

Step 5
Harden the plants off and then plant them outside in the garden. Before transplanting to the garden be sure to fill the hole with rotted manure or compost. Tomatoes love this type of crap!

Step 6
Pick and enjoy the taste of your homegrown grape tomatoes. Note-if you used a Santa Sweets® grape tomato you also might want to keep your eyes out for the Grape Tomato Police…..just saying!

Additional Tomato Growing Facts and Tips for Success:
– Start tomato seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before the last anticipated frost in your growing area. In other words if you live in the Pacific North West and you don’t have some tomatoes started you should be starting them now!
(March 15th is ideal)March Guerilla Gardener-You can also plant tomato seeds directly outdoors in May but your yield will be limited.
-Any tomatoes (not just grape tomatoes) will work using this growing method but organic and heirloom supermarket tomatoes are more likely to grow true to seed. FYI-be aware that some tomato varieties might also have a copyright/trademark/patent tomato-rule-thing, so try this at your own risk.
-Choose the best tasting tomatoes but for a variety of reasons don’t be surprised if the tomatoes that you produce do not look like the ones you bought. Just remember, you’re most likely using tomatoes that you were going to throw out anyways, and as a guerilla gardener you should never look a gift tomato in the mouth.
-Some (but not all) supermarket type tomatoes are indeterminate –in guerilla garden simple speak they don’t usually do well in pots as they can grow quite large so they do best when transplanted directly into the garden. Also be aware that they may need a heavy duty trellis or a fence as a regular tomato cage usually doesn’t stand a chance of holding up most indeterminate tomatoes. Here’s the catch, you will most likely have no way of knowing if they are actually indeterminate. If space is an issue, just remember it’s only a old wrinkled tomato anyways so it’s worth trying to grow it in a large pot.
-When transplanting tomatoes outside (approximately the end of May/early June) place them where they will receive 6 or more hours of sun.
-When watering tomato plants apply water directly to the roots and try to keep water off the leaves. If possible plant under the eves on the southern side of the house to keep the rain off the leaves as well. This lessens your chance of blight.
– Keep your tomato plants well watered. Tomatoes are approximately ninety percent water and if they are not watered enough the tomatoes will end up being shriveled and sour.
-If you don’t see any bees or butterflies around the little yellow tomato flowers then pollination might be an issue. This means that you won’t get very many tomatoes. You can solve this by taking a Q-tip or a small (unused) paint brush and start poking it in all the flowers. This kind of works like artificial insemination for plants. Or if you are like me you can just go all guerilla gardener and grab your tomato plant occasionally and give it a shake to distribute the pollen and then give it a good talking to. Either way pollination will take effect and you will be rewarded with more tomatoes.

My only dilemma now is just what type or brand of tomatoes am I going to buy from the supermarket for my Guerilla Garden Grape Tomato Adventure.

PS-I know what you’re thinking;
When it comes to tomatoes
Does she, or doesn’t she?
Well, only my accomplices will know for sure!

GG_water-cart_Grey

It was the summer of 2014, cucumber plants were 10 for $5 and I live in a townhouse…….what was I thinking!
Well, half of them were planted in one of the community garden plots at the Sunshine Garden but the other 5 plants were planted in my personal garden plots. So many cucumbers, so little time! Through out the season I graced various strata units porches with cucumbers and liberally shared/pawned off some cucumbers to co-workers and friends as well. I never did seem to have enough of the same type of cucumbers or the right sized jars and lids to make pickles, or if I did have enough I didn’t have the time to deal with them. Besides pickles are kind of normal and I was looking for something a little more Pinteresting! So I found a cucumber jelly recipe on Pinterest, changed the way the cucumbers were processed and I now have bragging rights to having actually made something out that I pinned on Pinterest!

Cucumber Jelly

Cucumber Jelly

Yield 7 – 8 oz jam jars

  • 3 – 4 big cucumbers
  • 7  cups of sugar
  • 1  cup of white vinegar
  • 2  pouches of Certo Liquid Pectin  (No substitutions – it must be liquid Certo!)
  • 2 – 3 drops of green food coloring (optional)


Step 1

Shred cucumber with the peel on.
Strain through cheese cloth or sieve.  Be sure not to push too much, or the juice will be cloudy.
Note: If you need to justify your juicer purchase after an ill-advised attempt at juicing then run the cucumbers through the juicer after work and let the juice sit in fridge until the next day. This is what I did. The cucumber sludge sinks to the bottom and the clear cucumber juice on the top can easily be poured through a cheese cloth or sieve.
Either way, you will need 2.5 cups of strained cucumber juice from one of the above methods.

Step 2
Mix cucumber juice, sugar and vinegar in a big pot. Stir, and bring to a boil  for 2 minutes.  Then remove from heat and stir in the 2 pouches of Liquid Certo.  Continue to boil for another half-minute, and remove from heat again.  Stir and skim off any foam for 4 or 5 minutes.  The jelly will be a pale green.  Add food coloring if desired.

Step 3
Pour into hot sterilized jars, leaving 1/4 head space. Adjust caps and process for 10 minutes in a simmering hot water bath.
Note: If you have never canned before don’t freak out if you don’t know how to do this step
There is a really good tutorial on Hot Water Bath Canning  by Mavis Butterfield over at One Hundred Dollars a Month.

If one of the jars doesn’t seal, keep it in the fridge and use it first.
Serve with crackers, cream cheese and smoked salmon.

 

 

Cucamelons

Besides being called a cucamelon the other known names for these tiny little morsels include mouse melon, Mexican sour gherkin, Mexican miniature watermelon and Mexican sour cucumber. I ordered the seeds on line but I think I should have started them inside earlier instead of direct sowing as they are just now getting fruit. They have an intense cucumber/ lime infused flavor and are very crunchy and delicious! The bonus is they are much easier to grow than regular cucumbers, they are ignored by pests and are resistant to drought (or a lack of watering). Cucamelons are also said to make excellent pickles but I don’t think I will have enough fruit to fill a jar because I started them from seed too late in the year. However, cucamelons (Melothria scabra) are heirlooms so I’m going to try and save seeds and start them indoors earlier next year because they are so tasty!

 Hawaiian Current Tomatoes

 Hawaiian Currant Tomato seed packet description:
Produces clusters of tiny, round, pea-sized red currant tomatoes. Prolific yields all season long. Can be left to sprawl or be grown in hanging baskets. A super sweet and tasty treat.

In March I ordered some Hawaiian current tomato seeds from Salt Spring Island Seeds,  planted them in seed trays, then proceeded to kill all but 3 of them off due to neglect and lack of water while making a career change. The good news is that they are just as tasty as promised and the ones that have survived are loaded with little tiny tomatoes. This is a relief because the company has sold out of all the Hawaiian current tomato seeds and there are no more local seeds available. Since all the seeds from Salt Spring Island Seeds are untreated, open-pollinated and non-GMO I’m thinking  I should be able to save some seeds to grow these tasty little tomatoes with next  year.

Cucumber Jelly

Cucumber plants were on sale last June at Little Mountain Greenhouses …..10 plants for $5…..so of course I bought 10 plants. Keep in mind that I am a townhouse dweller. I then justified it to myself because I would plant some in the shared community garden plots, but 5 cucumber plants still ended up in my personal garden plot. Now I do like cucumbers, but there is only so many ways to preserve them. You can pickle them but you can’t dry or freeze them and there is only so many pounds of cucumber salad that you can eat. I must admit that I have also been known to get rid of excess veggies on fellow townhouse dwellers front porches when they weren’t looking. Then I found an obscure recipe for cucumber jelly. The recipe says that you serve it on crackers with cream cheese and smoked salmon and I thought to myself that sound’s delicious! So I pulled out my canning jars and got to work and as soon as I get some smoked salmon and cream cheese I’ll let you know how it tastes!

September Guerilla Gardener
How to Save Tomato Seeds

Most plant seeds can be saved simply by collecting the seed pods as they dry, but saving tomato seeds is a little trickier. The tomato seeds are enclosed in a gelatin like covering that has growth inhibitors to prevent the seeds from sprouting inside the tomato. Mother Nature being the genius that she is, also uses the gel to glue the seed to the soil until it has a chance to grow roots. In nature this gel covering is removed when the fruit falls off the plant and it starts to rot. As a Guerilla Gardener who is always looking for free seeds (potential seed bomb material) and who is currently the proud owner of 3 delicious heirloom Hawaiian Current tomato plants I feel the need to embark on a Tomato Seed Saving Adventure!
The itinerary is as follows:

Step 1: Choose your Tomatoes

• It is recommended that you save seeds from open-pollinated tomato varieties as they will grow up to be exactly like the parent plant. Hint-the original plant tag or seed packet will usually have “heirloom” written somewhere on it. Hybrid tomatoes are the offspring of 2 different tomato varieties and as it turns out are not the best choice for saving seeds. The hybrid seeds may not germinate and if they do manage to sprout its a crap shoot on what your going to get. The plant could exhibit traits of one or both parent plants or be something totally different.
• Remember to choose only the best! When selecting tomatoes to save seeds from, you want to only select the ones that are of the very best quality. They should be fully ripe, but not over-ripe, no cracks, no bugs, no disease and no mutant shapes..

Step 2: Extract the Seeds

• Wash the tomatoes.
•Slice large tomatoes in half and using your finger scoop out the seeds into a bowl, cup or jar. If you are using cherry or current tomatoes just squish the seeds out of them directly into container. Note-most children are only too happy to help with this!
• Cover the seed gunk with two to three inches of water.
• And most importantly if you are saving seeds from more than 1 variety be sure to label your containers! Trust me on this- you will never remember which variety of seed is which and even if you do SOMEONE (no names mentioned) will have most likely moved the containers around.

Step 3: Ferment the Seeds

• Allow mixture of tomato gel and water to sit at room temperature for 24-48 hours. This will help breakdown the gelatin like coating on the seeds.

Note: Old school gardeners have been known to use the fermentation process in which tomato seeds are allowed to ferment in a glass of water until a smelly/moldy scum forms on the surface, then the seeds are rinsed and dried. However, several recent studies  have shown that tomato seed germination works best when seeds are soaked for only one to two days before they are rinsed and dried. It turns out that if you ferment tomato seeds longer than three days it has a negative effect on germination.
This is great news for someone like me who doesn’t want a glass of smelly/moldy seeds sitting around.
So here’s kicking it to new school garden rules that are backed by science!

Step 4: Rinse the Seeds

• Add a little water to the container, stir the mixture several times and then wait about 10 seconds. Tomato seeds that float are bad seeds and are not viable. The tomato seeds you want to save are the seeds sitting at the bottom. When it comes to seeds the bottom feeders rule!
• Pour off the liquid and scoop out the floaters (bad seeds).
• Repeat the rinsing process as needed until all the gunk is rinsed from the seeds, the water is clear, and no seeds float to the top of the cup.
• When seeds are thoroughly rinsed pour them into a fine wire mesh sieve to strain out the remaining water.

Step 5: Dry the Seeds

• Spread the rinsed seeds in a single layer on a paper plate, a coffee filter or a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper and protect the seeds from direct sunlight by placing a paper towel loosely on top.
• I can not stress this enough…if you have saved seeds from more than one tomato variety be sure to label them!
• Shake the plate or stir seeds daily to prevent clumping and then spread seeds back into a single layer after stirring. This will assist in even drying.
• Allow seeds to dry for 1-3 weeks until they feel dry and papery and crack when broken in half or crushed. Don’t feel bad about this…when guerilla gardening there are always a few casualties! Adequately dried seeds will make a faint snapping noise when broken in half or crushed. Seeds that bend or still seem flexible rather than snap will need to be dried longer.

Step 6: Store the Seeds

• Store dry seeds in either paper envelopes or zipped plastic bags. Glass jars and pill bottles are also good storage options.
• Make sure seeds are 100% dry before storing them, especially if using plastic bags. Otherwise, you will just end up with a bag of mildew and rot that will ruin your seed collection.
• Label seeds with variety and date. This is important! When cleaning out your junk drawer several years later you will want to know what kind of tomato seeds they are and how long they have been in there for.
• Store seeds in a cool, dry place. Many gardeners store tomato seeds in the refrigerator or freezer. Note-you can also add silica gel packets to saved seed bags as an additional moisture deterrent and to increase shelf life but it is not necessary.

Conclusion:

When tomato seeds are handled this way and are given cool, dry storage conditions, they can stay viable for 4 to 6 years, and sometimes longer. If it seems like too much work to do or if you happen to be saving a large volume of seeds and are short on time you can skip steps 3 and 4. The shelf life of tomato seeds that are dried without fermentation and rinsing may only be viable for 1-2 years, but that is usually plenty of time for any guerilla gardeners who might be thinking of some targets for Hawaiian Current Tomato Seed Bombs.

Veggie Bombs Away!

Brenda Dyck

A Guerilla Gardener on an Adventure!

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9 cobs of corn
1 lemon boy tomato
1 onion
2 zucchini
8 cucumbers
8 Pomodoro Ciliegia tomatoes
6 large Bush Champion tomatoes
1 small bowl of Hawaiian Currant tomatoes
3/4 of a large bowl of grape tomatoes
5 medium sized mystery tomatoes

FYI-Mystery tomatoes happen when a tomato plant goes on sale for a $1 and it has no identification tag but you buy it anyways because you still have some room in your community garden plot.

Tomato Smiles!

Posted: August 16, 2014 in 2014, Random Blog Thoughts, Vegetables

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Some people may call this tomato a mutant but after watching the movie Little Shop of Horrors I am going to stay on my bush tomato’s good side and consider it a smile.

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7 zucchini
2 green peppers
3 hot peppers
2 onions
4 roma type tomatoes
16 grape tomatoes
2 medium sized slicing tomatoes
And 1 over flowing bowl of assorted cucumbers