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Oooooh ... the fantasy catalog came in the mail today!!! (Gardening pr0n)

Sarah's picture
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with these pictures of fruits and vegetables that are just ... well. If Hefner'd cornered this market, that girl wouldn't've been running away from his manse, y'know?

So what are y'all gonna plant this year?

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caseyOR's picture
Submitted by caseyOR on

Got my catalog from Territorial on Saturday. Still a couple of months to go before I can get things going in the garden, but much of yesterday was spent redesigning this year's plot and choosing what to grow.

I've never put-up food from the garden, but I'm thinking of trying to do so this year. My problem, other than no skill in this area, is that I live in a studio apartment; there is very little space to store things. Nonetheless, I'd like to try and do a little, anyway. Any and all advice and suggestions are welcome.

I was just looking at FoodSaver vacuum machines. Does anyone have experience with these gadgets? How hard are they to use? Are they worth the money? Is FoodSaver the best brand to buy?

Also, wondering what anyone knows about dehydrators.

chicago dyke's picture
Submitted by chicago dyke on

gf gave me a couple of catalogues i've not seen before, i really like "select seeds." prices aren't so hot, tho. i tend to order from Raintree (for fruit trees) and Burgess (super cheap flowers) and Jungs (veggies) but i saved a boatload of my own seeds this year and will do a seed exchange here as we approach planting time.
i saved both food and flower seeds and will be collecting more from foods i like as spring approaches; i had surprisingly good luck growing from store-bought plants this year (tomatoes, potatoes) and will try with others this year.

FoodSaver. i have totally mixed feelings about it. otoh, it's a great idea, and has many uses beyond just saving food (quickly marinates thick cuts of meat, for example). otoh, the one i bought came apart pretty quickly, and doesn't really function anymore in a way i can use. it's got a tricky "seal-maker" mechanism, and if you're not super careful keeping it just so, clean, etc., it degrades rapidly and the whole unit becomes more or less unusable. there's also the question of the bags themselves: if you really want to store food economically with it, you must buy the larger FoodSaver unit; the smaller size is mostly useless for large cuts of meat or veggies. i also had exactly no luck making the free-standing storage unit function. they sell a plastic jar with a 'food saver seal' top that is supposed to allow you to vacuum can your own stuff. but it never actually sealed for me. i guess on the whole, i found FoodSaver products a fun novelty for a little while but not a sound long term investment. i do old fashioned ball jar canning now, and that's just fine. jars can be stacked in really small spaces and don't require refridgeration. if you've got a free space under some furniture or in a closet, for example, you can get a lot of jars in those spaces and never miss it.

kerril's picture
Submitted by kerril on

I got three ripe tomatoes out of 4 plants before the cold and rain made the others mush. Granted, those three were the best tomatoes I'd eaten all year.
Can you take green tomatoes and ripen them indoors with any success? I'm afraid I'll end up with tasteless, grocery store tomatoes.
gonna do lots of potatoes this year. I want to get a large rectangle raised bed and put in soil and straw and grow them up. Finding something about 3 feet high and rectangle is going to be interesting.

connecticut man1's picture
Submitted by connecticut man1 on

So you can never be self sufficient and grow your own without buying more seeds from them! Blech! lol My garden sucked last year. Granted, I planted late and didn't take as good care of it as I normally would have.

Can you take green tomatoes and ripen them indoors with any success?

Yes... Put them on a window sill and they will ripen. But on the vine is always better.

Submitted by lambert on

The Zone 5b solution is to wrap them in newspaper.

However, IIRC you can rip the vines out of the ground and hang them up in the basement.

I will be very interested in your potato experiment. I'd like to try that too.

caseyOR's picture
Submitted by caseyOR on

or steam canning? Which do you use? My fear of botulism is pretty high. So, canning was not on my radar. Although, many people do can, and don't poison themselves. Anyway, thanks for the review of FoodSaver. It doesn't sound like it is such a great deal.

chicago dyke's picture
Submitted by chicago dyke on

i'm still not dead, and i've eaten about 1/4 of what i canned this season, of my garden produce that i put up.

i got a pressure canner off Craig's List, for a whopping 20$. the woman who sold it to me was a serious garden type who had a baby, and thus no more time for canning. it took a few tries to make it work and seal correctly, but after i got the hang of it, no worries. i grew boatloads of 'maters last year, and so ~60% of my home canned goods had high tomato content, and thus could be preserved with just a simple water bath canning method.

avoiding poison from home canned goods is really simple: check the seal. smell the stuff in the jar. if it doesn't pass those two tests, toss it into the compost/trash. i've only had to do that with 3 out of over 300 quarts of home canned foods this season. also, buy the "ball's canning book." or go to a home canning/preserving website. all the details are easy to find.

chicago dyke's picture
Submitted by chicago dyke on

first off, if you get serious about tomato growing, let's all keep in mind: they are "weeds." as in, once you grow some, they come back...again, and again, and again. even the 'evil' genmod kind, that supposedly are sterile or need special growing conditions. these are Hard Times, and i don't turn my green thumb in the 'fuck you' position, at any plant that does well on my property. i've always planted young boughten tomatoes plants "for gardens," but you know what did really well for me last year? the 'volunteer' tomato plants that sprung up out of my compost, which i'd used in my veggie beds for other plants. despite being a 'short season' 5b, i got more tomatoes harvested from seed-grown volunteer plants, than from my heirloom, carefully selected and planned official tomato beds.

secondly: arrogance is dangerous, if you're a serious "planned bed" garden type. again, i didn't plan to have the tomatoes i ended up having last year. controlling the volunteers would've been next to impossible. and who am i to say no to agressive food productive plants? sure, they didn't taste as good as the heirloom vareity, but goddamn were they productive. i'm willing to go with the flow, and i've got the bed space to do it. but if i didn't? hell yes, i'd be buying "seedless" genmod frankenplants. sorry, i've learned my lesson. it only takes *one* rotten, unpicked, 'it fell off the plant and i missed it when i turned the bed over' tomato to guarantee that you'll have a whole mess of tomato plants the next season in that same bed. if you need to avoid that, seedless plants are the only way to go, short of endless weeding and the kind of tilling no one is really able to do, in truth.

like i've said before, i had surprising good luck with self-seeding accidental food crops that came from composted food i bought in the store, and never meant to use as "seed." potatoes (red) and tomatoes (cherry) were the two volunteer crops that i had last year, and wow! i'm so glad! they did really well, and i got over 3 bushels of food from volunteer crops, later in the season, that i wouldn't have gotten if i'd only harvested the fruits of what i planted on purpose.

re green maters: heh. i learned *all about* how to use them this past year, in canning and processing. and you know- they rock! what happened to me was that we had an early frost, much earlier than the year before, and foolishly, i took up and harvested all my still-green tomatoes right after that cold snap. i know now i could've left the plants out for a few more weeks, and gotten more ripe tomatoes despite the cold. but i took in about 1 bushel of green maters, and i was all like, "shit! what am i going to do with them?"

with a little research, i found recipies for green tomato salsa (fucking delicious), soups, juice, "mash" which can be used like a meat-based stock, and pickles. all of them have turned out SPECTACULARLY. i hate to brag (feh, no i don't) but having a boatload of green tomatoes last year turned out to me not only "not a problem," but a fun changeup in my culinary adventures. let's revisit this during harvest time this year.

connecticut man1's picture
Submitted by connecticut man1 on

and this is a huge BUT: Many of the genetically modified plants and seeds are protected under "licensing" that you agreed to by purchasing them. If you get caught growing them from sources other than seeds bought from the suppliers you can get in trouble.

I am not sure how hard they come down on an individual that grows those weeds but these companies do aggressively come down on growers on a regular basis.

Agribusiness giant Monsanto has sued more than 100 U.S. farmers, and its "seed police" have investigated thousands of others, for what the company terms illegal use of its patented genetically engineered seeds, and activists charge is "corporate extortion".

Monsanto prohibits farmers from saving seed from varieties that have been genetically engineered (GE) to kill bugs and resist ill-effects from the herbicide glyphosate (sold under the brand name Roundup).

Kem Ralph of Covington, Tennessee is believed to be the first farmer to have gone to jail for saving and replanting Monsanto's Roundup Ready soy seed in 1998. Ralph spent four months behind bars and must also pay the company 1.8 million dollars in penalties.

In total, U.S. courts have awarded Monsanto more than 15 million dollars, according to a new report by the Washington-based Center for Food Safety (CFS) called "Monsanto vs. U.S. Farmers".

"Monsanto's business plan for GE crops depends on suing farmers," said Joe Mendelson, legal director for CFS.

And the laugher here? You could be growing your own plants (tomatoes or whatever) that are not protected by licenses and they might get contaminated by GE crops nearby that are.

And they will try and sue you for that as well.

Yep... They contaminate your crops and you get sued. It is a fugly business for farmers.

Sarah's picture
Submitted by Sarah on

which on the scale of a farm (with GM crops surrounding it especially, or upwind) is not easy.
On the scale of a garden in your backyard? Feh. You'd need folded-newspaper 'tentage' and a fan underneath aimed outward to prevent crosspollination.

That said: I've got the kind of brown thumb that can (and has) killed mint plants. So maybe preventing accidental crosspollination is easier for me than it might be. Quien sabe?