Those of you that have never been fortunate enough to live on a farm, plowshare (according to Merriam-Webster definition) is a part of a plow that cuts the furrow.  It cuts through the old stale gunk that may be devoid of any nutritional value and gets to the good stuff.  Starting this Thursday – May 25, 2017 – I am going to try to plowshare with you, my friends, family, and readers.

First and foremost, I want to make clear is I do not get paid for sharing this information!  I have no connection to any of my finds except that I approve of them because I use them and they work.  I only want to share the things that we personally do or use.  If some part of it didn’t work, I would share that too.

The subject today: Tomatoes.

tomato variety 2017

Since my blog is Helbergfarmstories, I will stick to the farm/gardens aspect of these shares. (I am developing a new blog just for human nature/survival items and will let you know when that is ready.)  The share for today is about growing the best natural tomatoes you can do at any place you have.

I love PBS (Public Broadcasting System), and our local station airs a show called Growing a Greener World.  I just finished watching Episode 803- Epic Tomatoes with Craig LeHoullier (dated by GGWTV on 4/29/17, but I tape all of them then sift through what we can use here in Colorado.).  I actually learned several new things and just couldn’t wait to share!

It is spring here in Colorado.  I have already put all of our seed starts from February into the greenhouse and outside gardens.  Since watching this program, I want to go back and do it all again.  I like to think that my sister and I know what we are doing (hahahaha – ok, stop laughing), but there is always something new to learn.  This was one of those “how could I have been so stupid for this long” moments.

The creator of the show, Joe Lamp’L, describes and share all the ins-and-outs of his garden (which, I must say looks pristine!?!), but he also interviews other influential people in the natural and organic gardening arenas.  Episode 803 what a hit and an eye-opener for me!

The first thing that caught my attention what the man he was out doing the interview on, got to name the “Cherokee Purple” tomato, which happens to be one of our most favorites!  Then I saw that he was doing most all of his gardening in his driveway!   WHAT??  Now we use pots, and plots, and rows, and have even grown in straw bales – but a driveway?  Well – IT WORKED!

The setup he has is amazing!  Everything from where and how he sows his seeds, to the layout in his driveway truly surprised me (not easy to do with this old lady!)!  Here we have been meticulously separating all our tiny little tomato seeds to carefully get only one in each little honeycomb space.  Now I see WE HAVE BEEN DOING IT ALL WRONG!!!

I fell in love with this guy’s methods and reasons for them!  However, I have a new problem…I want to do more!

  • I knew about pruning the tomato plants as they grow. Have known that one for decades.
  • I know about the value of the heirloom breeds also from experience. This experience was best proven by the taste method.

One year, about ten years ago, a good friend of ours decided to try his hand at growing heirloom tomatoes.  He builds a perfect setup in his heated garage and then proceeded to plant every single seed in the tomato packets AND about 20 different breeds of them.  This led to tomatoes coming out the windows – literally!  He didn’t know what to do with them all, but he knew we had much more room than he did.   Of course, we said we would take as much as he wanted to toss our way – oh silly us.

heirloom seed packets

We worked rigorously for several days straight to create our first two – hundred foot rows.  It was worth all the effort as we had no greenhouse at that time to extend the harvest.  Everything had to be done NOW – dig and weed the plots, put in the t-posts, hang the field fencing wires, layout the walkways around everything.  They were beautiful!

best tomato rows 2012

It was worth it!  That was the best Pico, salsa’s, and sauce’s that we ever made!  I also took it upon myself to taste-test every single one of those heirloom tomato breeds, and I quickly found my favorites.

  • The Cherokee Purple beat out my Black Krim (both are good, but the purple has a stronger flavor).
  • The Brandywine did not grow many (one more thing I learned, it is a heavy vine plant), but they carried a much sweeter flavor.
  • Then there was the Kellogg Yellow – less acidic so perfect for our friends that love tomatoes but can’t do the acid.

There was just so many different sizes, colors, flavors that I got lost in enjoying tomato salads all fall!  We froze and canned all that we could but gave away tons to others as well.

tomato salad

Episode 803 has now inspired me to revisit that year.  The fire took all my notebooks, but I still have great memories of it all.  This program also showed me some additional steps to help get the best tomatoes I can through the season, not just at the beginning.

I hope you all take a moment or two to watch it – well worth the time! Who knows, you may just learn something new?

never stop learning

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