Month: August 2022

Mid-summer Tomato Plant Chores

Pruning Suckers

Mid-Summer Tomato Plant Chores

A mid-summer tomato plant needs attention even though the tomatoes are still green. Suckers like to grow out between the main stem and branches at a 45-degree angle, so they are easy to spot. Suckers will not harm the plant, but they can make the tomato get too big for the space.

Therefore, I try to check for suckers on a weekly basis. It is best to pinch back the suckers when they are relatively short. Sometimes the suckers escape my notice. So, a mid-summer task is to spend one entire morning trimming back the tomatoes, both suckers and lower branches where leaves are fading.

Any suckers that have escaped my notice and are longer than an inch or two are carefully evaluated. If they already show signs of budding flowers they are left alone. Otherwise, I use clippers. The longer suckers don’t pinch easily and thus clipping causes less damage to the plant. Attempting to pinch a long sucker often strips the stem.

Small suckers are perfect for pinching.
Mid-summer tomato plant suckers at a 45-degree angle.
Suckers grow at a 45-degree angle.
Small suckers can be pinched by hand.

Recycling in the Garden

This year I have been focused on organization and decluttering. During my purging of unneeded items re: Lose the Clutter Lose the Weight, I discovered some bendable hair curlers in the girls’ bathroom. Instead of trashing them, I put them with the garden supplies.

Now they are part of the mid-summer tomato plant patch. Branching stems need to be tied to the supports to keep the tomato plant upright. This keeps air circulating around the plant deterring diseases and attracting beneficial insects. Furthermore, gardeners in a hurry don’t step (or trip) on ripening fruit.

Curlers.
Using recycled hair curlers in the garden.
Bendable curler training branch to a support.
New use is perfect for recycling objects that would otherwise be tossed.

Mid-Summer Tomato Plant Chores

After tying the plants and pinching or clipping suckers, it is time to add a little compost at the base of each tomato plant. I use either homemade compost or a commercial mushroom compost mid-summer on my heavy feeders. Tomatoes qualify as a heavy feeder. I just spread a fistful about two inches away from the plant base and water in.

Clippings without signs of disease can be added back into the compost. The whole process takes me the better part of a morning. It is quite satisfying restoring order to the tomato row.

Mid-summer tomato plant out of control.
Mid-summer tomato plant out of control.

Freeze Fresh Book Review

Preserving Fruits and Vegetables

Freeze Fresh: The Ultimate Guide to Preserving 55 Fruits and Vegetables by Crystal Schmidt stood out on the new release rack at the public library. Almost two hundred pages of tips for freezing fresh produce. And recipes for the frozen products.

I love learning new things and Freeze Fresh provides a multitude. Did you know avocados can be frozen? Or that flash freezing keeps smoothie ingredients from forming hard to handle frozen blocks? But the idea I already put into play involves the freezer itself.

An Organized Freezer

Interior page in the book Freeze Fresh showing an organized chest freezer utilizing heavy duty boxes.Home organization has been a key in 2022. But I overlooked my chest freezer. Schmidt recommends using heavy duty cardboard boxes like the ones copy paper comes in as organizers. Since I don’t have any boxes of that type, I substituted a banker’s box and a heavy-duty smaller box formerly housing my new modem.

The smaller box holds various types of nuts. I buy walnuts, pecans and almonds in quantity when they go on sale during the holidays and use then throughout the year. The larger box contains meats from the locker. In rural America, small independent butchers still operate and give grocery stores some competition.

After organizing my freezer in this fashion, I gained unrealized space, much needed since it is harvest time for peaches. So, I tried the flash freeze process.

Freeze Fresh Peaches

The flash freezing technique works great on my freshly picked peaches. And it is so simple! Parchment paper and a lipped baking sheet which fits into the freezer is all that is needed. The slices freeze fresh and remain separate once they are moved to a freezer bag. From now on, all the smoothie ingredients will be flash frozen.

Recipes

The author offers two types of recipes. First are recipes for freezing. Think pesto cubes and B-B-Q sauces. The avocado falls into this category as well, although I have not tried this one myself. Along these lines are pie fillings and marinara type sauces. Schmidt’s suggestion of using stackable containers has much merit. My experience with spaghetti sauce frozen in baggies has been messy at times.

Freeze Fresh also contains recipes for the frozen produce once it has been thawed out. These recipes follow each section of the 55 fruits and vegetables. They are categorized as “For the Table.” So, if you are thawing out blueberries look in the section on blueberries for a few recipes.

Recommendation

I love Freeze Fresh so much that I have ordered a copy for myself. Crystal Schmidt also has a YouTube channel you might be interested in. Click on this tab for the link. If you have a big garden this year, consider freezing some of the produce and find a copy of Freeze Fresh to guide you.