It Works! Ripe Tomatoes in November

I have known many people over the years that wrap their green tomatoes in newspaper at the end of the growing season. Some folks enjoy ripe red tomatoes as late as Christmas time. This year I finally got around to trying this for the first time, and it works! Sometimes I think people will think I’m silly for getting excited over a tried and true practice. But when I try something for the first time, and it works, I think it’s exciting. It’s even better when it involves something that tastes good, like ripe tomatoes.

These are the last of our tomatoes for the season, picked right before the first frost on November 2nd. I wrapped each one in newspaper and put them on a shelf in a dark corner with the canned goods.

 


I didn’t know how long it would take for them to ripen, and I figured it was time to check them out. So I did, 11 days later on November 13th. Ta-da! Two beautiful, ripe tomatoes.

 

I did find one that was rotten and leaking through the newspaper, but it is the only one I found. I was glad for that.

 There were two more that are ripening nicely. I’m guessing they will be ready sometime next week.

If we can get two nice ripe tomatoes each week for a while, that will be a welcome treat. For those of you that haven’t tried this yet, like me, try it. It works! For those of you that have used this technique before, please share any words of wisdom that will help the rest of us. Learning and experimenting with things that increase the food on our table is invaluable at this time. It puts just a few more nuggets of knowledge in our pockets and on our table. 

Until next time – Fern

Seedlings for the Fall Garden

Frank made a great discovery a few years ago – a Pot Maker. We had always saved up a bunch of newspapers to wrap chickens in when we freeze them and various other things. When we got serious about growing our own seedlings, we wanted a way that would be economical, practical and ecological. With all of the information coming out about GMO (genetically modified organism) seeds, we were determined to grow and eat the most natural foods we could. Thus, the discovery of the Pot Maker. They are very simple wooden forms which make great little biodegradable pots. And since it is time (well, actually a little past time) to start my seedlings for the fall garden, I thought I would share this with you.

The pot maker comes with instructions and measurements for the

size of paper to use. At first I cut them according to directions. I soon figured out that you can cut six strips out of a standard sized newspaper and it works just fine, so I no longer measure. Start off by rolling the paper up on the wooden form. One 

trick I learned was to begin the fold under where the paper ended. This tucks that open part of the newspaper in first and lets the other folds hold it closed. After all of the paper is folded under, place the form into the base and twist back and

forth, shaping and somewhat sealing the bottom in place. It doesn’t take much effort or pressure to do this. Children love to make pots for seeds. So if you have any kids at home, this is a great project. Gently slide the paper off of the form. They tear

sometimes, but are still usable. The dirt will hold them together. These pots are easy to make. It doesn’t take any time at all to make up a hundred or so, and then you are ready to plant.

For now, we are buying garden soil for our seedlings. My handy red crate holds 100 pots and that will be a start. I will need to roll up about 400 more, which sounds like a lot, but it really doesn’t take long.

We buy our laundry detergent in buckets at a warehouse market and have found out that the lids make great trays for our seedlings. Each tray will hold 20 plants.

 

Another trick I have discovered, is to make sure I pack the dirt into the pots until they are full. Some of the first pots we did ended up with about an inch of dirt in them because after we watered them in, the dirt really settled a lot. It wasn’t really

enough to support the plant well and they dried out very quickly.  It doesn’t take long to fill the pots and get ready to plant the seeds.

One more thing learned by trial and error was paying attention to the way the pots are turned. If I put the open side of the pot toward another pot instead of facing out, they won’t gap open when I water them.


 

I mark my seedlings with popsicle sticks and I reuse them until they rot or break off. I have a fine tipped marker for writing the name of the plant, but some of these I have already marked and they are ready to go.

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A friend was at a yard sale and saw this bundle of popsicle sticks. She knew I used them, so she brought them to me. Some people may think that is funny, but I thought it was a great gift.

 

I am planting Acorn, Buttercup and Cushaw squashes along with some pumpkin and melons. The seeds we buy are heirloom or open pollinated or non-hybrid. This is so we can save the seeds. Hybrid plants don’t always reproduce the same product as the original plant.

Then there are the spinach, mixed greens, kale, kohlrabi, cabbage, broccoli, lettuce…… 

and snap peas…..

Here are some zinnia and marigold seeds we picked this afternoon. I’ll show you how I harvested and processed some cucumber seeds in another post.

 
There. I have them started. That feels much better. I hope I haven’t waited too late on the winter squash. We really enjoy it. The planter in the back in another experiment. We planted some of our chicken scratch to see what would come up. So far we have sunflowers and something else that could be wheat or milo. 

The seeds are watered in and ready to germinate. Tomorrow morning Frank will hear, “Did my seeds come up last night?” I am always impatient and excited to see new growth.

Seeds are truly miracles. It always amazes me to see what can come from a tiny little seed. Soon they will be worth more than gold. Do you have a good supply of seeds to grow the things your family eats, enjoys and that will provide the nourishment necessary to carry out your daily duties? Frank has been heard to say, “You can never have too many seeds.”

Until next time – Fern