What to Do With Excess Tomatoes – Recipe Included

tomatoes

Happiness is a bucketful of tomatoes. We had a bumper crop this year. One question we always get is how to save them. Canning is of course one option however some folks find it too difficult and demanding. One simple option we subscribe to is to roast them and then freeze them. See recipe below for Roasted Tomato Sauce.

Roasted Tomato Sauce

Roasted Tomatoes

2 pounds tomatoes, halved (or enough to fill a rectangular baking pan)
4 cloves garlic, smashed
1 large white onion, diced
1/3 cup olive oil
salt, pepper
2-3 tablespoon dried herbs (i.e. Herbs de Provence , Italian herbs, basil, thyme or oregano ).

Put the halved tomatoes cut side up in a sheet cake pan or other pan (pyrex) with high sides (at least 2″). If possible, make it just one layer.

Spread chopped onion and garlic on top of the tomatoes.

Drizzle olive oil all over contents of the pan.

Salt and pepper liberally, sprinkle herbs on top.

Put in a 350 F oven for 45 minutes. You can go longer if you want sweeter onions and more intense tomato taste. Just watch it carefully so it doesn’t burn.

Scoop contents of the pan (there will be a lot of liquid in the bottom) through a food mill to to get rid of skins and seeds. If you don’t mind skins, you can just put contents into a blender. Save the liquid as it makes for a flavorful tomato broth.

Taste, and adjust seasonings. Then freeze or use immediately.

As you become more familiar with the recipe you can roast other vegetables with the tomatoes such as peppers, eggplant or fennel as seen above.

Enjoy!

Guidelines for Summer Harvest


The height of summer is upon us and so is the height of the summer harvest. This week alone we picked about a pound of basil, 3 pounds of cucumbers, 5 pounds of squash, 5 pounds of tomatoes, 2 watermelons totaling about 30 pounds, and 65 ears of corn. One trombone zucchini was NOT picked in order to see how big it gets. At this size it is no longer edible but it will keep for some time as a decorative gourd.

Some guidelines you should follow for harvesting your summer produce:

Corn – Silks begin to turn brown and dry out as the corn cob matures, approximately 3 weeks after first appearing. You can check a few ears for maturity by peeling back the tops and pressing the top kernels with your thumbnail. If the liquid exuded is milky rather than clear the corn is ready to be picked.

Cucumbers – Harvest when fruits are a deep green color before any yellowing appears. Pick the fruits regularly to encourage more fruiting. Mature cucumbers left on the vine will signal the plant to stop producing.

Squash – Same as cucumbers, harvest often to encourage production.

Tomatoes – Tomatoes are best when ripened on the vine. Harvest when the fruits are uniformly red (or yellow, purple, etc.) The fruits should be beginning to lose their firmness just slightly soft.

Watermelon – Watermelons will be nearing maturity when the tendril across from the fruit turns brown and dry. Look for a yellowing underneath where the watermelon touches the ground and for the surface color to turn from shiny to dull.

How to Harvest Fennel Pollen

Fennel pollen is a gourmet spice collected from a flowering fennel plant. Use it on such dishes as sauteed string beans or grilled chicken.

Eat Your Thinnings

My summer lettuce patch is partially shaded by large squash leaves. This keeps the lettuce from bolting during the long, hot summer.

I originally broadcast my seeds rather than sowing in rows to maximize the amount of produce grown in such a small space.

Using this approach it is necessary to periodically thin out the plants to give them enough room to grow and allow for adequate sunlight and nutrients.

As you can see in the photo above I got a bagful of lettuce and one of basil by thinning out the lettuce patch. You could hardly tell that i made a dent.

Bottom-line: periodic thinning will keep you in lettuce (and basil) all summer.

Growing Corn

Corn is currently 7 ft tall and just began flowering last week. It is one of the best crops of corn we’ve had…ever. Secret to our success?

Picture of corn crop at Hamilton High School

In the fall we planted fava beans. Fava beans are known for fixating nitrogen from the air and turning it into a usable form in the soil. Following fava beans with corn allows the corn to take advantage of all that extra nitrogen in the soil.

We also fed the corn twice with additional fertilizer, once with worm tea and another time with fish emulsion.

How to Make a Keyhole Garden – African Style

Set in Lesotho, this video shows a group of schoolchildren making a keyhole garden. The charity Send a Cow showed them how to make it and the children can now make their own at home and have more food.

Grow LA Victory Garden Classes 2011

Once again I am delighted to be teaching the Grow LA Victory Garden Classes in 2011. Please see details below for registration.

The Grow LA Victory Garden Initiative helps new gardeners start their own gardens quickly and easily in a container, the backyard or at a community garden. Participants are able to turn their interest in gardening into successful, productive gardens that will generate positive changes in their homes by lowering grocery bills and enhancing opportunities for a healthier lifestyle.

The Grow LA Victory Garden classes are organized and led by UC California Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners. Those who complete the 4-week training will become UC-Certified Victory Gardeners.

Place:
Hami Garden, Hamilton High School
2955 South Robertson Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90034
Entrance on S. Canfield Ave (Between Cattaraugus and Kramerwood Pl)

The 4-week session is every Sunday for 3 hours.
Dates: May 1, May 8, May 15, May 22
Time: 1:00PM – 4:00PM

List of topics include the following:
Week 1: Planning, tools, containers, building raised beds, seed starting, plant selection

Week 2: Soil preparation, soil properties, transplanting, irrigation, and mulching

Week 3: Composting, pest management (weeds, diseases, insects), beneficial insects, organic pesticides and fertilizers.

Week 4: Harvesting, pollination, seed saving, fruit trees, recipes, review, graduation

The cost is $15 per class or $50 for the entire session. Only those taking all 4 sessions will be eligible for certificates. Please note, half of all proceeds go towards the Hamilton High School Garden Program.

Payment is available through Paypal or by check. My paypal account email address is gp305@yahoo.com or request invoice and I will forward one by email. You will be confirmed registration once payment is received.

Contact:
LA County Master Gardener George Pessin
Tel: 310-779-8816
Email: gp305@yahoo.com

Mailing Address:
834 Huntley Dr #4
Los Angeles, CA 90069