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Is it Time to Plant Yet ?

Posted by Suzie Canale on Tue, May 24, 2016

If you’re anything like me, you could be a bit depressed by the lingering cooler weather that winter just refuses to pack up and leave with.  For weeks, we’ve been preparing our beds, weeding, reloading soil and getting our gardening tools in order but the frustration still burns with the question, ”Is it time to plant yet?”  The answer is well, sort of….  

Perennials can yes, absolutely be planted in the ground but as most of you know who have previously planted, you’ve already seen them making an appearance.  Flox was the first to arrive this year in my flower patch, followed by sedum and columbine. It was rather exciting to see something grow but it’s almost June right?  Shouldn’t the earth be covered in splendid color instead of the brown patches strewn across our lawns?  It’s known as a sluggish spring, which means that the nights are still too cold (not rising above 50 degrees) to place frost susceptible plants outdoors.  If you have a greenhouse, you’re all set.  If you don’t, your windowsills should still be hosting seedlings for another week or so.  Vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, eggplant and squash could still get nipped so stick to broccoli and cauliflower that can take the cold a little better than the others.  Snap peas are another great way to pass the time until things heat up because they take a bit to sprout.


Flowers are also something you want to be weary of before sticking them in the ground because although nurseries are carrying them now, it doesn’t mean they are ready for the great outdoors.  Many growers will harvest them in their nice warm greenhouses to get them ready for their customers but many are disappointed when they take them home and they die instantly.  In order to make sure that doesn’t happen, select springtime bulbs or species such as delphinium, lavender and rock flowers.  Not only will they pop a pretty color in your yard but they’ll return next year.  Stay away from geraniums, lantana and other “soft” blooms that need the temperature to rise above 60 in order to thrive and survive.  


I know it’s a lot to ask for but if we wait a little while longer, we’ll see a massive difference when it comes to our flower and vegetable gardens.  Happy Planting!

Now Later


      Snap Peas                       Geraniums

Sun Flower Seeds           Lantana

        Sedum         Cucumbers

        Lavender         Tomatoes

Tags: herbs, Vegetable Garden, Tomatoes, Garden, Gardens, May

Canning Your Own Tomatoes

Posted by Suzie Canale on Thu, Aug 20, 2015

If you’re lucky, you’ve got tomatoes coming out of your ears right about now and you’ve even considered the possibility that you might have too many?  Bite your tongues!  You can never have enough of those beautiful, juicy red vegetables and chances are if you’re like me - you’ve found plenty of ways to use your crop efficiently and effectively.  There’s the marinara sauce, tomato pies, tomatoes on the grill, garden salads, ratatouille, fried green tomatoes, stuffed tomatoes and if you’re a clever chef- you can even make your own Bloody Mary’s.  

If the stove has already been burning making these delicious tomato based concoctions and your pile is still overflowing with your harvest, you might be getting nervous about the possibility of waste.  Pitching vegetables because they aren’t used in a timely fashion is a shame and is often looked upon as a tragedy by hard working gardeners who have nourished the plants since they were mere seeds.  

Well, worry no further!  Canning tomatoes are a popular procedure when farms produce a vast amount of one crop and need a back up plan for preservation.  Many are deterred from this method because they believe it’s more work than its worth but honestly, its pretty simple.  Follow these steps for jarring your tasty tomatoes and enjoy them all year round.

Step 1 Select Your Preferred Tomato Variety.  

Keep in mind that less water such as Roma will keep better than juicier tomatoes with a thinner shell.

Step 2 Sanitize Your Jars for Canning

You need to make sure that your containers are squeaky clean so place them in your dish washer then place them and their lids in a pot of boiling water for approximately 10 minutes.

Step 3 Prepare Your Tomatoes

Place the chosen tomatoes in a pot of boiling water and then immediately drain by putting them in ice-cold water.  You’ll be amazed how fast their skins peel right off.  You also want to discard any bruised or damaged vegetables as well because they wont preserve decently once canned.

Step 4 Fill Er’ Up!

Fill the jars with tomatoes leaving at least 1 ½ to 2 inches of space, which will then be filled with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and the rest with boiling water.  Make sure all of the air bubbles have left the vessel and seal the lid securely.  If you’re feeling daring, add a sprig of rosemary or basil for seasoning.  

Step 5 One More Round of Boiling

You’ll need to boil the sealed containers in a pot of boiling water for about 40 minutes to make sure the contents will “can” properly.  Let them cool completely and then store in a cool place.  

Step 6 Bon Appétit Enjoy!  


Tags: Gardening, Chef, cooking, Vegetable Garden, Tomatoes

Gardening Calendar for August

Posted by Suzie Canale on Fri, Jul 31, 2015


Tags: Garden Calendar, Summer, Perennials, Tomatoes, August

Garden Tomato Sauce

Posted by Suzie Canale on Fri, Jul 24, 2015

There’s nothing like making your own sauce with the main ingredient being hand picked from your own garden.  Yes, it might be an overzealous bit of pride in the hard work it took to cultivate the delicious beauties but there’s no doubt that real tomatoes taste better than store bought.  I bet you didn’t know that while the “Anti Carb War” is still being fought, there are great benefits to eating certain dishes that, yes, contain some form of pasta.  Marinara can be looked at from an entirely different perspective if you just take the time to tweak what goes into your recipe.  The first step, of course, is to avoid the mainstream grocery stores and look for other locations where the food hasn’t been altered such as farmers markets, farm stands, and hopefully- are own backyards.  Once we’ve done that, it’s only a matter of creating the right taste and texture that you and your family prefer.

Different varieties of tomatoes provide different attributes that will change the way your sauce comes out.  For instance, some varieties are more watery while others have more seeds.  Some tomatoes possess a bite in seasoning while others lean to the sweeter side.  It all depends on what your recipe calls for and what you need those yummy veggies to do once they’ve been added to the pot.  When I make my own sauce, I depend on a meatier type but I also combine other varieties to flavor it with richness.  I prefer the Jet Star tomato for my base and then add baby heirloom tomatoes to finish it off but there is a multitude of different ways to do it.  These are some descriptions of popular New England tomatoes to help you choose what the right tomato is for you!  


These bad boys are big, juicy and most importantly, delicious!  They contain a great balance of sweetness and acidity making them popular in sandwiches and salads.  Since the rind holds well after cooking, Beefsteak tomatoes are perfect to use if you enjoy an earthy rendition of marinara because you’ll be able to have chunks of the fruit and a fair amount of seeds present.  


These guys are my favorite because depending on the shade of the fruit, the taste will vary significantly, making an otherwise boring pot of sauce an exciting treat!  There are a few guidelines though such as red being the sweetest while green holds the stronger tart characteristic.  Yellow heirlooms can be bitter so they’re fabulous when you need to bump up the flavor of a too sweet tomato sauce.  If you want my advice, mix them all together for the most interesting and delicious outcome!

Cherokee Purple

This one has a gorgeous color that your sauce will benefit from because it will turn a deeper shade of red than common sauces.  Originally from the heirloom family, this variety needs an extended amount of time to grow in the heat than other types but boy is it worth when they’re ready to be picked.  Pasta lovers will love their rich and complex taste while enjoying a recipe that requires little help of flavor from other ingredients. Olive oil, salt and pepper is all this variety will need!

Tags: Gardening, Chef, cooking, Tomatoes

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